My husband and I were thinking about sponsoring a child that was orphaned from the tsunamis which would only cost us $32.00 per month. Then, I was talking to a Christian friend about this and she replied, “You can’t do that, you don’t even tithe!” Now, I know the importance of tithing, but if I did, I would not be able to pay my bills. Sponsoring a child costs less, and it seems like I’d be doing alot more good to someone who REALLY needed it. I’m not saying that my church doesn’t, but those kids in SE Asia have nothing left!
Which would you say is more important-
Tithing, or sponsering a child?
You ask alot of very intriguing questions, none of which have perfect answers, and all of which will result in a load of email telling me what I SHOULD have said. But here goes anyway….
First, of course there is nothing wrong with sponsoring a child and giving to the needy UNLESS you are violating your conscience, which for a Christian is guided by the Holy Spirit.
- 1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (NKJV)
Now, you’re friend says that you would be wrong because you are not “tithing”. I would have to take exception with that EXACT statement because as New Testament Christians, we simply are NOT commanded to tithe.
Most certainly we are commanded to give:
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (NKJV)
And we are commanded to give in the “assembly” on a regular basis:
- 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (NKJV)
Without getting into the whole “are we supposed to tithe” (10% giving) debate, we can safely say that we are indeed commanded to give as we have prospered, on a regular basis, and in a cheerful manner.
So in this sense, your friend has a point. You are ignoring one of God’s commandments and the “goodness” of wanting to help the needy in Asia does not excuse that. You should study the Scriptures and pray for wisdom about the matter (James 1.5)
However, I think you bring up a point that is very important but not talked about today. Alot of Christians see their giving (“tithes”) going to opulent buildings, more goodies for it’s members and being spent on all sorts of things other than spreading the Gospel, supporting missions, helping the poor and needy and furthering God’s work.
So it is not an unreasonable to be concerned when you see significant amounts of money spent on things that basically benefit the members of a given church such as programs, gyms, resources, facilities, events, entertainment, etc. It has become part of our “seeker friendly” focus that churches have to “compete” to keep members by offering more and more things that benefit the membership itself.
Don’t get me wrong… it is not my place, nor do I have the ability to sit in judgment on how churches spend their offerings… but it does not change the fact that a WHOLE LOT of money is spent making Christians comfortable and entertained – as well as getting our “needs taken care of” with the Lord’s money while Missions and helping the poor go wanting.
To summarize: yes, it’s fine to sponsor a needy child. Yes, you should be concerned about ignoring God’s command to give on a regular basis to the work of the local church (the “assembly”) in your community. Yes, you have a legitimate concern about how church offerings are spent, and you should prayerfully consider talking to your leadership about it.
Let me close with a disclaimer… do not take my answer as an excuse to become divisive over this issue. I cannot in any way pass judgment on how a church spends their offerings. That is between that local church and God. My answer is not a sweeping indictment on having programs, events or gyms at a church.
My answer is simply meant to cause the reader to seek God’s truth about these matters.