I suspect most (all) people of Christian faith, who have more than their basic needs of nutrition, housing, and clothing met, ask this question at some time in their lives. Am I greedy? How do I know when I cross the line and enter greedy territory? How do I know how much more is too much more? It is a tricky and sensitive question for the person of Christian faith, especially in light of Jesus’ teachings to love our neighbor and to care for the poor, perhaps best encapsulated in Jesus’ words about the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25.

There are, probably, numerous acceptable (to God) answers to this question. I provide one answer – one that works for me. Tithing. Tithing, I believe, keeps me from crossing over into the land of greed. Without tithing, I am confident I would become a greedy person in the sight of my God – the God who revealed himself in Jesus the Christ. My grandmother first shared this saying with me, “Some people say they cannot afford to tithe. Other people say they cannot afford not to tithe.” Granny GG never told me what category she was in! However, I am among those who cannot afford not to tithe. I have practiced tithing from the earliest days of my Christian journey. I tithed when my income was minimal, and I tithe now that my income is stable. Tithing simply works!

The Old Testament standard for a tithe is 10 percent of one’s income – in this case mostly agricultural income (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 14:22-24)). In fact, the word tithe means one tenth. Interestingly, the New Testament does not appear to repeat the specifics of tithing we find in the Old Testament. Jesus, of course, affirms tithing (Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 23:23). Paul instructs Christians to give as they are able (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Paul also tells us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). However, there is no specific mention of a tenth in the New Testament.

Due to the lack of specific directions as to how much to give in New Testament teaching, throughout my life I have simply gone with the Old Testament concept of a tithe as a tenth. Earlier this week, I received my 2021 FBC Ahoskie giving statement. As I looked it over, I was reminded yet again that tithing works. Indeed, at this stage in my life, I am fortunate to have a stable income, a nice house to live in, and more than enough food on my table. And I give, at least, a tenth of my income to the First Baptist Church of Ahoskie. We are a church that takes seriously the worship of God and the love of neighbor. Tithing, indeed, is an excellent repellant to greed.

In Christ,

Paul R. Gilliam III