Bravo to the comment left as a result of my previous post. Bravo! Tithing and giving can be looked at in many different ways. For me, giving to a down-and-out family across the street is doing God's work. Giving to the "Because I am a Girl" program is also the hand of God reaching out. Giving to the poor and the homeless, toys and coats for kids, any reputable charity -- in my humble opinion, is the mark of a Christian.
You don't do it for recognition, but for love and compassion for your fellow man. That, my friend, is following in the footsteps of true Christianity.
I think many evangelicals have lost their focus of what it means to give. We've become so wrapped up in believing that God wants His people to have the best, that we forget Christ lived and dwelt among the poor and the destitute. I'm not saying it's wrong to have nice things, and I don't have a problem with sitting in a pretty church, but I do have a problem when it becomes the focus of a church to make sure their pastor lives in the lap of luxury. I have a problem with pastors who wear designer clothes when the majority of his congregation can barely feed their kids!
I realize there are churches claiming to be good stewards with their money. I'm sure they'd be happy to let you see where their money is spent. Many congregations where I lived in the south, were extended family to their members, loving them and taking care of their needs during a family crisis. Church families can be a beautiful thing to have as part of your life.
But when you're hounded week after week to give your 10% and your love offering so that He will pour out His blessings upon you! -- It makes me wonder. TV preachers and marathon praise-and-worshippers know exactly what to say to make you weep. They can send you to the phone to donate before you realize you've left the comfort of your Lazy boy. You ever think about the psychology that goes into all that?
We can reach out in many directions, inside and outside of the church. And we shouldn't feel guilty for it. I believe He blesses us according to the intents of our heart. Just my humble opinion. I don't belong to any church. I doubt I ever will. So I can't judge, but I've experienced the strangle-hold of a megachurch. I know first-hand the guilt involved in not paying your tithes.
I also know not all churches are bad when it comes to forcing you to give, and even in the bad ones, there are still good people. But you'll never see me clutching my hard-earned money in my hand and walking down the aisle to throw it at the pastors feet. A pastor who wears Italian leather shoes for $500 bucks a pop. I'd rather take my chances and give it to the pan-handler on the corner.
Just my humble opinion.
Find a reputable charity. Sponsors for children in underdeveloped countries are needed, as well as here in our own country. With our economy the way it is, there are many families in your own neighborhood who need help. Be an anonymous donor. If you know a family who is hurting, pay their light bill. Send them a gift card to their local grocery store. Leave a note on their door with a word of encouragement. Don't wait to be an angel of mercy just at Christmas.
That, is all of our priority. Christian or not.
Blessings to you and yours.