September 27, 2012

What Is The Purpose Of Tithing?

As with the Sabbath, God gave us the command to tithe for our benefit. Both teach us to depend on Him and recognize God as our sole source and provider. Taking one day off every seven days and giving back ten percent of our income to God demonstrate our dependence on Him. It also honors God as we give back a portion of what He has given us trusting that He will continue to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus. It’s the only time in the Bible where we are told we could put God to the test. Tithing demonstrates the existence of God and the goodness of God as well as the faithfulness of God. Malachi 3:10-12 says, “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ‘Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

This passage is packed with understanding and promise about God’s program of the tithe. Tithe literally means a tenth, so when we give back we should offer God at least ten percent of our income. Anything above the ten percent would be a free will offering. We are never limited to just ten percent. The tithe belongs to God’s storehouse; His temple, the church to enable the ministry and mission of the Gospel to spread throughout the world. God promises that if we are faithful in giving, He will be faithful in supplying what we need. In fact, He challenges us with a dare. God says, I dare you to put Me to the test when it comes to the tithe. Try it for a month at your local church. Go ahead. You have God’s Word on it. Look again at what He says, “’If you do’, says the Lord of Heaven’s armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!’” Talk about a dare! Not only does He promise to bless but that blessing would come in two ways:

1. Provision for all we need in the future. “Your crops will be abundant…”
2. Protection of all we have in the present. “… for I will guard them from insects and disease.”

Finally, God says that through our obedience in giving, He would also demonstrate His power and provision in such a way that His presence would be undeniable even among the skeptical nations surrounding you. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight.” Do you live your life in such a way that those around you would even say you are blessed by God? How amazing that God instituted the tithe to make all of that possible, for you and me to live in the blessed zone! That happens when we align our lives with His commands.

Jesus also talks about the tithe in Matthew 23:23. He was speaking to the religious leaders at the time who practiced the tithe but were doing it for all the wrong reasons. It had become a ritual void of any expression of love and trust. They were using the tithe to make themselves appear righteous. In a rebuke, Jesus said to them, “You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

God gave us the tithe so that we may have an antidote to greed. The only antidote to greed is giving. In addition, the root word for miserable is “miser”. The Bible teaches us that “it is more blessed (joyful) to give than to receive.” If you want to experience greater joy, less misery and more blessing than you can contain, then start to tithe. I dare you to prove me wrong. Make it a discipline by giving from the “first fruits”; from the top and not waiting to give left-overs. If you’re like me there will be nothing left over. The first check my wife and I write out each month is our tithe. It’s been a practice in our lives since we were married. God has always been faithful to meet all our needs regardless the income level we were in. This is a great way to teach your children as well to depend on God and not to become selfish. It will teach them faith as they see you model it.

//Theological Thursday: Questions are welcome. Asking them makes our faith personal and real. On Thursdays I will be answering theological questions. Enter yours in the comment box below and I will select one each week to answer on our blog.