Do you give financially to your local church? Long standing denominations and extensive traditions value tithing, giving back 10% of your income to God. The first ten percent, to be sure. But as our culture grows increasingly self serving and as traditions are slaughtered for the sake of innovation, young churches and seeker friendly churches who aim to not offend find that the younger generations are either not willing or disciplined to give consistently.
There is a fundamental concept which must be grasped in this conversation. And that is the simple reality that everything in the Earth was created by God and belongs to Him:
“For the Earth is the Lord’s and everything it contains.”
– 1 Corinthians 1.26
God Himself states,
“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
The cattle on a thousand hills.”
– Psalms 50.10
And everything that we have is blessings that have been entrusted to us and with which we are expected to be good stewards. Finances, personality, Spiritual gifts, power, status, possessions, everything.
“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
– 1 Corinthians 4.7
Jesus argues that we prove our faithfulness to God in the way that we steward His belongings which He entrusts to us, and our eternal reward will be determined by our faithfulness:
“And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”
– Luke 16.12
If we cannot return to God the first ten percent of everything that already belongs to God which He is loaning to us, He will not give us more. Jesus actually says that what He has given us will be taken away (Matt 25.28-29)!
But God is not interested in us giving out of obligation or out of requirement. He also does not want us to set up an automatic withdrawal where we have no Spiritual interaction with the decision of giving back to Him every pay period. When God first addressed Moses in the wilderness and began outlining the Law, He said,
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.”
– Exodus 25.1-2
God was concerned about the hearts of the giver, back then and still today.
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
– 2 Corinthians 9.7
So why do believe it should be ten percent off the top? Throughout the Old Testament, God regularly established that He got the first ten percent (Gen 28.22, Deut 14.22, Lev 27.30). Tithing is not done away with when Jesus came and established the new order. Paul, when he was collecting for the church in need at Jerusalem, instructed the willing members of the church at Corinth thus:
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”
– 1 Corinthians 16.2
Jesus observed the widow who gave her two mites, which were literally everything that she had, and said we should all live as such – not giving the minimum. We must have this heart. Not that we give ten percent and the rest is ours to do with what we please. Not that give out of obligation, because God does not need our money. But out of love and excitement and thankfulness. We give to the local church and ministries to invest in the work God is doing in our cities and around the world!
God does not promise to restore every dollar that we give or financially bless us when we give. He wants us to give sacrificially. That means to the point that it hurts. And our ultimate reward, when we do so, is in Heaven. There might be times that He blesses us and provides unexpectedly, but it is not because you have put into the cache and are building up credit with God. Give until it hurts. Like the widow, who loved God so much that she gave all of herself and all that she had. And your father who sees in secret will reward you in Heaven.