"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.IX Pg.2b-3a
April 1942

A Better Plan

The word "plan" seems to have a great fascination for the common run of people. This is especially true in religion. All sorts of schemes, some of them fantastic and impractical, some of them good as measured by human standards, are acceptable and given currency if they are christened "the better plan." Lack of a plan suggests chaos and even some of the Lord's requirements are subjected to human alterations to fit into some plan or scheme devised by man. Sometimes the "simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ" that Paul feared the minds of the brethren would be "corrupted from" is rejected because it does not fit into the ideas that some entertain of what a "plan" should be.

A case in point came to my attention as I listened to a religious broadcast. The speaker was earnestly insisting that all Christians should tithe and read extensively from the Old Testament in support of that view. Because the Jews robbed God in withholding their tithes, he concluded that Christians also rob God when they withhold the tithe. He declared that there is nor has there ever been any "better plan" than tithing. If God requires that his people give the tithe, then it becomes obvious that those who do not do so are in rebellion against him as the Jews were who robbed him in this particular. There are some sects that make tithing a test of fellowship, require it on penalty of excommunication in which case the tithe is paid as a form of taxation and cannot be classed as a voluntary gift or offering. Since there is evidence of confusion as to what tithing means, the man who pays the tithe, pays a tenth of his gross income. A church therefore in which all the members pay in that much, either has a very small membership, or else it has a considerable amount of money to carry on its "plan." A large religious denomination so organized that a central authority has control over its funds would be something to reckon with, at least financially, should its members all tithe.

This system was evidently good for the Jews or God would not have given it to them. It does not follow that Christians should borrow it from the Jews and call it "the better plan." I have noted some confusion even among gospel preachers when it comes to comparing Christian's liberality with Jewish taxation. We are gravely told that a Christian ought to be ashamed, in view of our greater blessings, to give less than the Jews were taxed. In most cases, if not every case, the preacher himself does so. It might be well to check up on this matter of Jewish "giving" before making rash comparisons. The tithe was only a small part of it and that for a special purpose. It has been estimated that the Jews parted with about a third, or more, of their gross income in support of their religion. It should be remembered that the Jewish nation was a theocracy, a nation whose law was the law of God. The law required a tax, called the tithe, for the support of the priesthood. The support of the government, also a part of the religious scheme, had to be supplied by additional taxation.

Surely, Christians should be liberal in the use of their money in carrying on the work which is peculiar to the church. Saints must be edified, the poor must be remembered and the gospel must be supported. Is tithing "the better plan" to get the money for this necessary work? If the Bible teaches it, then of course it is. If the Bible does not teach it or any other "plan," then expediency might suggest it as better. It happens that there is considerable teaching in the New Testament on the matter of liberality among Christians. Covetousness is classified with idolatry and stinginess is downright sin. Opposition to tithing as a "plan" prompted by a covetous spirit must of course be ruled out as wicked. Plan or no plan, Christians should give as the Lord directs. It is significant that there is no direct command, or necessary inference, in the New Testament binding the tithe on the disciples of Christ. This is in vivid contrast to the binding obligations of the law, often repeated, which bound the Jews in this respect. Paul made a widespread appeal to the churches to give sums of money for a much needed work. He went directly to the churches in these words: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come." (1 Cor. 16:1, 2) "As he may prosper" does not sound like a command to pay the tithe. The curious might pry into the question of the amount, whether equal to, more or less than the tithe. Such curiosity is not satisfied. It might be more. It was to "be ready as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion." (2 Cor. 9:5) "But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:6, 7) Why did not Paul just come out and say plainly for these disciples to follow "the better plan" and pay tithes as God required then they would always have plenty of money on hand to take care of all the calls that came to the church. There is not as much "plan" about God's requirements as some brethren and others seem to think we need. If "each man" does "according as he hath purposed in his heart" and "each man" loves the Lord as he ought to, then sufficient money will be forthcoming to take care of the work of the Lord. If the money is not forthcoming somebody is evidently falling down on a responsibility. We may resort to corkscrew methods to twist it out of them, or try to scare them into submitting to the legalistic system of tithing, but it does not occur to twist it out of them, or try to scare them into submitting to the legalistic system of tithing, but it does not occur to me that either is "the better plan." "Because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us" should be a greater incentive to liberal giving and the discharge of duties related thereto than any of the constraints of legalism. Properly led and properly taught, the Lord's people should and will respond voluntarily and generously. This is the better plan because it is found in the New Testament. — C. E. W.