There are actions that can look similar but are different. The difference is made up of both my attitude to and the purpose of the activity.
Every month I transfer money from my account to other accounts. Most of them are about paying for something, but I make it a point not to pay anything to my corps/church fellowship. The ten per cent (tithe) I transfer to The Salvation Army is not a payment. It is a gift. The difference is important.
If I have the attitude of paying something towards the building, salaries or programmes, that attitude makes me a customer. I play a part in a trade. I give something to get something back. A payment is based on a contract (a bill) where there is an agreement on the value of the service I have received.
If I identity myself as someone who is dealing in financial matters, it brings me closer to Mammon’s realm than the Kingdom of God. It is important to know who my Master is. I cannot serve two masters. I have to choose one and be faithful to his attitudes. (Matthew 6:24)
When I transfer money to my corps or anywhere else that has to do with supporting the Mission of God here on earth, then I give. Sometimes it can even be an offering. An offering is more noticeable in my finances than a gift. An offering is not valued by how much I give, but by how much I have left.
When I give money, the action is not an outcome of what I have received or what I expect to get back. Giving is an expression of what I have and who I am because of the life of Jesus in me. By giving to the corps/church I attend, I make a confession of being part of the body of Christ.
If I do not give, it makes me a parasite of that body. (A parasite is an organism which lives on a host organism, feeding by sucking life from it.) I give as an expression of obedience to God and as an outcome of his love in me.
The obedience part is, for me, related to the tithing. To give ten per cent is like a precaution against greed and love for money, a simple measure that keeps my relationship with God stable. Depending on my own needs and my financial situation, I can sometimes give more, because I have said to God: “All that I am and all that I have belongs to you.”
To summarise my part: I have a responsibility to be clear about my attitude, understanding and motivation as a giver – not a payer. However, the people who receive my gifts, on behalf of God, also have a responsibility. They are first of all accountable to God, but in a healthy body, a healthy fellowship, there is also openness and accountability to people as well.
I began to give my regular tithe in my late teenage years. The Holy Spirit spoke to my conscience about trusting God in this area. I would never find out if his promises are true unless I was willing to obey him. Over the years I have heard numerous excuses from people about why they do not give regularly to the fellowship. Some think they have clever arguments, but the bottom line is often that their attitude and identity is that of a customer who pays for church programmes and not as a follower of Jesus who is happy to be part of God’s Mission on earth.