I had friends in college who were servers in restaurants. Their income depended on tips, which in turn depended on their service, their smile, and a few things outside their control, like the quality of the food and the patrons on which they waited. As to that last one, all of my server friends hated the Sunday lunch shift because that was when the Christians would get out of church, go to lunch and leave the tiniest tips my friends got all week. Some left nothing at all.
My wife has babysat for Christians who didn’t pay her enough to cover the cost of her gas. I’ve seen church events where volunteers spend all day doing manual labor, but the church doesn’t even give them doughnuts.
When did the church become so stingy? And more importantly, why?
God was not stingy with us. He’s been the God of too much for us ever since we were created. Adam and Eve were put in paradise. God made covenants time and again with the Biblical patriarchs that if they would just follow Him, He would bless them richly. They should serve Him regardless, even for nothing, but He rewards them generously for all they do for Him. Then, despite all the times the Israelites walked away, He restored them when they returned to Him. As if it wasn’t enough, He sent Jesus, His own Son, to die for us. We could earn no gift from God, yet He gave us one greater than we could ever ask.
Are we not called to live like God? If He is so generous, doesn’t that mean we are to be?
I have heard a few different excuses for Christians being so parsimonious. The first is that other people are working for the Lord when they do things for a Christian or Christian ministry, so God will reward them. God will, but He may want to work through you to do it. The Bible says the workman is worthy of his hire (1 Timothy 5:18) and “Woe to him who…uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work.” (Jeremiah 22:13). Those who serve us are to be dealt with as God would deal with them, and He deals very generously with people.
Second, some have said that they already pay tithes and so shouldn’t have to pay others. God says in Matthew 25:40 that even as you do unto the least of His people, you do to Him. God loves everybody, even those who aren’t Christians, simply because He is love. You can’t have a duty to God without having a duty to those He loves; to say you love and serve Him without treating others as He commands shows that your love for Him is a hollow shell.
Lastly, some have claimed they would love to give, but can’t afford to after tithes. Perhaps it might be a more loving idea to skip lunch then and save the money for next week, so you can give both a decent tip and have a meal. To want the meal without paying the person fairly for their efforts is to put yourself over them, which does not show Christ’s love well. Also, the money is not yours and never really has been. It’s always been God’s because He has given you charge over it and He can add to it or take it away as He sees fit.
The overall point is that God wants you to treat others as He treats them: generously. When you do, God blesses both them through you and you for your obedience to His will. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24.