Tithing: A Matter of the Heart

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 5, 2018 1 comments

by Steve Risner

I'm switching gears this week and leaving the topic of creation and evolution for another time. We'll be talking about giving this week. That's right—the tithe. I've recently seen some discussion on the topic and feel like this is a good time to broach the subject. It seems there are a variety of views on the subject. I have fairly strong feelings on it, but I hope to be sensitive to the fact that others may disagree with me. Let's jump into it.

Tithing is generally considered to be handing over the first 10% of our gross income to the Lord for His work. We call that giving our “first fruits.” We don't wait until we pay all the bills or see what's left after we've spent what we want. We take to the Lord our first 10% and the rest is for us. But is this a Biblical concept? Let's take a look.

First, I guess my question to anyone who suggests tithing is not necessarily an obligation is, How does the Church pay its bills? Keeping the lights on costs money. Paying the staff takes money. Sending missionaries takes money. Distributing Bibles costs money. Clothing or feeding the poor takes money. Helping someone “down on their luck” costs money. Where does the Church get this money, if not from those who call it their church home? It seems rather silly to suggest that we are not responsible to contribute to the financial needs of the assembly of believers we regularly meet with. So whether you think you “have to” tithe or not, you should. Otherwise, you're a taker and not a giver. The Lord Himself stated that it's “more blessed to give than to receive.” Paul, who shared this saying of Jesus with us, was well known for raising donations for the needs of others. He collected quite a sum for the believers in Jerusalem. Collecting for the poor is an obvious reason to support the local church. However, I believe we should feel obligated to help and it starts with the tithe. It's a matter of the heart.

Here's another tidbit for you. I feel strongly we don't “give” our tithe to the Lord. We're only returning what is His to Him. Take a look at Malachi. He says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). God doesn't look at the tithe as something we give; it's His and we're returning it to Him. He refers to it as “robbing” if we fail to tithe. How can we rob God if the tithe isn't His first? We “give” offerings. The tithe is NOT an offering. It's first and commanded. Offerings are not necessarily obligatory and are on top of the tithe. It's like this: if I gave a friend $50 to hang on to for me and he then returned it later, would I say, “Oh, wow! Thanks for the $50! I appreciate this gift!” or would I simply accept what was mine in the first place? You probably get the idea. The tithe is God's. Anything beyond that may be called a gift or offering. We cannot give an offering without first giving the tithe.

Giving of the “first fruits” was demonstrated for us as early as Abel (Adam and Eve's son) who gave his best as a sacrifice (Genesis 4:1-5). Tithing, giving the first 10%, was also demonstrated by the patriarch Abraham when he offered a tithe to Melchizedek. You can read about that here. Now, this did pre-date the :aw given to Moses. However, some will suggest this has nothing to do with the “tithe” found in the Law. That may be true, but the idea is the same. The tithe written about in the Law funded the Temple and made it possible for the Levites (the priests) to eat and survive. It was necessary. That's the same, in my mind, as funding the local church and paying the staff that oversee the operations of the church as well as to bless those in need and advance the Kingdom. It seems rather simple. It's a matter of the heart.

Others will suggest that we are no longer “bound” by such things because the Law is no longer for us. I say rubbish. There are certainly parts of the Law that we follow today—we don't murder, lie, commit adultery, etc. That's the moral law. Jesus spoke about the tithe and seemed to support it. He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23). It sounds like Jesus supported the practice of tithing. And why wouldn't He? The Church needs financing. Of course, there are STILL those that will suggest the Old Testament practice of the tithe is not for us. I say to those people, “Perhaps you're right.” We know Jesus actually raised the stakes on everything; living right rather than just following the Law was the idea. If you hate someone, you're guilty of murder in your heart. If you lust after someone, you've committed adultery in your heart. And if we follow the example set forth in the early Church, we see they didn't just tithe. They gave all they had in many cases. They pooled their resources and gave as each needed. So go ahead and follow that New Testament example and give all you have. Jesus suggested this for some as well. It's a matter of the heart.

For me, I believe that giving the tithe is an example and demonstration of putting our faith and trust in God. I give Him a measly 10% but He then blesses the 90% He's allowed me to keep. From that 90%, my wife and I choose to give offerings, supporting specific needs, helping friends and family who are in need, and providing for various ministries. That's “giving” an offering and can only happen AFTER we've brought our tithe. It's been a cliché, sure, but I'd rather have the 90% blessed by God than the 100% cursed by Him. Don't believe in curses? Read Deuteronomy 28. The blessings for being faithful and trusting in the Lord are amazing and I want them. The curses for not following His commands are not something I want to mess with and certainly don't want to bring down on my family because I lacked the faith to trust the Lord with my finances.

That is the rub for me. The excuses for NOT tithing are generally lame in my humble opinion. I believe the real reasons for not bringing the tithe in are a lack of trust in God and His provision or simply greed or selfishness. That's really it in a nutshell. We could expound on those reasons, but behind all the excuses is generally either the idea that we don't trust Him to provide so we keep all we make for ourselves, or we're simply unable to let go of something like money that we worked for. It's a matter of the heart.

I suggest bringing 10% of what you make to God first. You feel great about it. You're following Biblical principles and demonstrating faith in the Lord. You're helping the Church and supporting ministries, maybe even around the globe. You're advancing the Gospel with your resources. This is true for every dollar you make—whether you worked for it or not (like birthday money or even finding a dollar on the ground). No matter how small, test the Lord in this and watch Him bless you for your faithfulness and your trust in Him. God's economy works very different than the world's economy. You have to give to get. I'm not suggesting some sort of skewed prosperity Gospel here. I'm simply telling you God is in the blessing business and He loves to bless His children—or so He says in His Word. But if we're not faithful, we prevent those blessings from coming to us. If we choose to use the finances He blesses us with to further His Kingdom, He'll be able to share more with us. That's explained in the parable of the talents.

Wouldn't you rather have the 90% of your income knowing you gave to those in need and to further ministries both local and worldwide rather than having 100% of your income (because, let's face it, 10% isn't much) and hoard it for yourself? I love giving and appreciate the opportunity to do so every time the Lord presents me with one. It truly is better to give than to receive. It really is a matter of the heart.

There are certainly those who have given the Church and, specifically, tithing a bad name. They take and they manipulate people so they can support their extravagant lifestyles. Of course this doesn't mean the idea isn't Biblical or necessary. It just means, like everything, man and Satan both can pervert anything God has deemed good. I believe the tithe is a demonstration of good stewardship. If God can trust us to return to Him a very small portion of what He blessed us with, He can trust us with more. If we show Him we are more concerned with keeping His money, it makes it difficult for Him to bless us. The amount of the tithe is of little importance. It's a heart issue as Paul even stated when he said, “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others” (2 Corinthians 8:8). I suggest reading all of those chapters on the subject. He further states that giving little will result in getting little blessing and vice versa. God's economy works that way, and Jesus explained it that way Himself.

I would love to further talk with you about this if you have any questions concerning the tithe and giving offerings. It's an awesome privilege to be able to give and bless and I would love to help you open up that blessing in your own life. You're never too young to start and it's never too late to start. Shoot me any questions you may have on the topic as I have hardly taken a glimpse at it in this brief writing.

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Becky said...

I agree with your statements. When our hearts are where the belong, tithing and giving is a joy.