It seems like every time I am presenting the importance of giving our children a biblical education, the same question is always asked. It doesn’t matter if I am doing a teacher in-service, speaking to a group of parents or preaching at a church, the question is always the same. In fact, it is usually seen as one of the biggest threats to the future of Christian schooling. How can we make Christian education more affordable? What about those families that want to give their children a biblical education but simply can’t afford it?
When asked these questions, I am hesitant to answer. This is not because I don’t believe there is an answer but because my answer seems too simplistic. Last week I asked two questions that everyone needs to answer.
- What do you own?
- Why do you have it?
I would encourage you to go back and review last week’s blog and remember that everything we have has been given to us by God. God gives to us so that we can first give back to Him. Then we can use the remainder of what He gives to us in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives.
Unfortunately, we have strayed far from these truths about all that we have been blessed with. All of us have been influenced and our thinking tainted by materialism. We have become a totally materialistic society. Materialism has even corrupted our concept of work. No longer do most Christians see work as a gift from God with the purpose of fulfilling a stewardship responsibility over some part of God’s creation. Materialism can be summed up as working in order to consume. And if we want more, then we must work longer hours and climb higher on the corporate ladder. This is part of the reason why many Christians “cannot afford” a biblical education for their children.
I am convinced that the only way that Christian education can be affordable is to get back to what I refer to as biblical lifestyle stewardship. I do not believe God would expect us to educate our children biblically and then frustrate us by making it unaffordable. However, we have to be willing to follow God’s principle of tithing.
Some say that New Testament Christians are not required to tithe because we are no longer under the law. However, the concept of tithing is found in Scripture long before God gave Moses the law. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Jacob had an encounter with God that is recorded in Genesis 28:10-22. When Jacob awoke, he stated Surely the Lord is in this place…this is none other than the house of God (verses 16 & 17).
Jacob then prayed that God would keep him on his journey and give him the food and clothing he needed. Jacob then made a powerful statement when He told God that of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to you (verse 22). To make this even clearer, God spoke through the prophet Malachi about the importance of tithing. In Malachi 3, God told His people that they were robbing Him. When the people asked how they were doing this, God gave a straightforward answer. He told them that they were robbing Him in tithes and offerings (verse 8).
My pastor was speaking on the blessings that come when one tithes. In the message he described tithing as the willingness to share with God what He has already given to me. God owns everything and gives us everything we have. His one expectation is that we give to Him the first tenth of all of our increase. I believe that the tithe is the Lord’s and it is to be given to Him through one’s church. However, the reality is that studies indicate that only around 20% of Christians actually tithe a tenth of their income to the Lord.
To illustrate how this strains one’s relationship with God by robbing from Him, my pastor used the following illustration. He asked a person in the audience to come up and stand by him on the stage. For the purpose of the illustration, he told this person to think of him as being God. Then he had her pretend she was worshipping God by raising her one hand. With the other hand he had her reach into his sports coat pocket and take out some of his money. It became evident that it was hypocritical for her to raise one hand to praise God and then try to rob God with the other hand.
So how does all of this play out when we are talking about the affordability of biblical education for our children? It applies in this way. When only 20% of Christians tithe, it strains Christians relationship with God. When our relationship with God is strained, God withholds His blessing from His people just like He did with Israel. If fact, neglecting to tithe was part of the reason that led to Israel going into captivity. I have to wonder if the fact that the majority of Christians are robbing God in tithes and offerings today, is the reason why so many of our children are being taken captive through secular education and leaving the church.
I believe that the ideal way to educate our children is for the home and church to partner together in this all important effort. I also believe that if Christians obeyed God and would do as Jacob vowed to do, the resources needed to provide our children with a biblical education would be readily available.
I shared in another post a clear example of how this would be possible. One of the churches we were members of several years ago was trying to approve a budget of about $5 million dollars. In one of the services, the pastor referred to an article in our local newspaper that reported that the median income for our county was $54,000 per family. The pastor told the congregation that let’s assume that our median household income was only $50,000 (the truth be told our congregation was probably above the reported median income). He then told us that there were 3,000 active households in our church’s membership. As soon as he made that statement I immediately calculated that if our membership tithed, our budget wouldn’t be $5 million but would be $15 million. If it took $5 million to do everything the church wanted to do, we would have $10 million to provide the children of the church with a biblical education.
Again, I want to emphasize that my response to the question of affordability of Christian education is simple – the body of Christ needs to stop robbing God in its tithes and offerings. However, since we have swallowed the lies of materialism and are working only to consume more, we are debt-ladened and raise up all the arguments of why we can’t afford to tithe. My challenge to Christians is the same challenge that God gave to His people back in the days of Malachi.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…and TEST ME…if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Malachi 3:10
Until we test Him by obeying Him, we will never afford to give children the biblical education that God expects us to do.