If someone invited you as a guest to their house, it would just be common courtesy to show appreciation in some way to acknowledge their generosity. Whether it be to bring them a gift, contribute to the meal, or offer to help prepare or clean up. Whatever it was, it would mean most if done naturally, authentically.
That’s the picture I believe God gave me to set me free from the horrible teachings on tithing that I’ve been exposed to over the years. There are so many awful teachings associated with tithing including it being a way to manipulate God, pay for wrong doing, etc.
I now see it very differently. I see it like if I choose to meet with people in a particular building, and someone goes to all the trouble to host me, then I want to show my appreciation by contributing in some way. That’s it.
On the flip side, if someone invites me to their house under the guise of me being their guest, and then they demand or try to guilt-trip me into giving them money or doing things for them, or try to sell me stuff, I will feel betrayed and used and stay far away from them. Especially if they do it in God’s name.
I enjoy hosting a Bible study in my place. I enjoy preparing a meal for everyone. I never want people to feel pressured to bring or do anything. They are my guests. I hate the word “serve” because there is a connotation of duty versus joy, but for the sake of proving a point – I am happy to “serve” them and I don’t invite them to my house to serve me. In fact, I make it a point to tell people not to feel pressure to bring or do anything specifically because I don’t want there to be any question about my motives. I want them to know that I am excited to just be with them discussing God.
But if they of their own hearts offer to bring a dish or help me clean up – would it be wrong of me to accept their generosity in return? Of course not. And in agreement with a preacher I recently heard, I now think that’s all Paul meant when he talked to the church about tithing. I think people were accusing him of selling the gospel because he accepted gifts, and he was saying wait a minute guys, this is common courtesy. I don’t think he ever spoke about tithing as a right to demand that people give or as a license to fleece the lambs in the flock.