Consuming joy

Modern Christians are mad not to tithe! We just don’t realize what we are missing out on.

Whenever the subject is raised, we immediately think, “How can I survive if I put 10% of my salary into the collection plate instead of just flicking the bottom with my thumb as usual?” Tithing sounds hard, solemn, joyless—a feeling that is reinforced by some advocates of the practice.

But it is not that kind of tithing that we modern Christians should adopt. We should go for Biblical tithing. When the Israelites tithed, they were instructed to “be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year” (Deut 14:22). But then what?

“Eat the tithe … in the presence of the Lord”, or “exchange the tithe for silver … buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice” (Deut. 14:23, 25-6).

They were to use the tithe for a self-indulgent, slap-up party! They were also to remember the Levites, and occasionally invite the widows, orphans and strangers to their party as well. This partying had a promise from God attached: “so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands”.

The implications for us are obvious. If you earn $300, that gives you $30 upon which to feast before the Lord. That’s a pretty good feed at McDonalds for a family of five, and plenty enough to invite a friend or two along to share the culinary delights of the Scottish restaurant.

If Christians strictly tithed in this biblical fashion, what a difference it would make! We would be expressing a different lifestyle to the penny-pinching, mortgage-watching stinginess of late-20th Century materialism. There would be a weekly model of God’s generosity shining out of every McDonalds in the country. There’s food for thought.