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The Money Question: Why Do We Tithe?
I’d like to discuss an issue that probably stumbles more people and gives non-believers an excuse to stay away from “religion” than just about anything.
Before I go any further, let me say without reservation: God does not need your money! Neither His love for us, the work of His Spirit in our world, or the existence of His church depend on our money. So if anyone ever tries to tell you they do, direct them to God’s Word. The Psalms declare that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills! “The world is Mine and all its fullness,” He said (Psalm 50:10-12).
So why do we talk about tithes and offerings?
Because part of our spiritual growth depends on our ability to realize where our blessings come from and to be able to freely give to others, sharing our material blessings. It is freeing to not worry about hoarding our money. It’s a good feeling to be wise with our resources, and in the process, learn to give liberally.
God set the example for us by giving freely to us -everything. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He gave us life, light, love, warmth, food and everything that is good! He gives us the gift of eternal life. Giving is part of God’s nature, and therefore, will become part of ours when we follow Him.
The word “tithe” means “a tenth part.” The guidelines given in Scripture are that we should give, or “tithe,” ten percent of our incomes back to the Lord. Why? The Bible gives the following reasons:
Because God commands it.
He told the children of Israel, “A tenth of all you produce is the Lord’s, and it is holy” (Leviticus 27:30).
Because Jesus commends it.
Tithing was not just an Old Testament law. Jesus also strongly encouraged believers to give, but with this strong exhortation: “Woe upon you, Pharisees and you religious leaders-hypocrites! For you tithe down to the last mint leaf in your garden, but ignore the important things-justice and mercy and faith. Yes, you should tithe, but don’t leave the more important things undone” (Matthew 23:23, Living Bible).
Tithing demonstrates that God has first place in my life.
“The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives,” says Deuteronomy 14:23 (Living Bible). When you can let go of the fear of giving-and it is a fear, of not being able to have enough or keep enough-then you are exercising your faith by completely trusting the Lord with your life, including your finances.
Tithing reminds me that everything was given to me by God.
“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18, NIV).
Tithing expresses my gratitude.
“How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” the Psalmist asked (Psalm 116:12). The answer is, you can’t. But you can demonstrate your gratefulness with your generosity and trust in His provision.
God says that refusing to tithe is like robbing Him.
That’s kind of a hard concept to swallow, but this is what the Bible says:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me.
“But, you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me” (Malachi 3:8-9).
The other side of this is what God wants to do for us when we do tithe:
Tithing gives God a chance to prove He exists and wants to bless you!
“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 you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10, NIV).
I believe this is the only time in the Bible that God says, “test me.” He not only wants to prove to us that He exists, but He also desires to pour out blessings in abundance!
Tithing gives us an opportunity to express our love for God through obedience.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15, NIV).
One last thought on tithing. The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). His Word promises right after that verse, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you.” He never wants us to give grudgingly, or fearfully. But if it is hard for you to give “cheerfully,” then pray and ask Him for a heart that desires to give and to bless others.
By Pastor Ray Bentley