About Biblical Giving
1. The Tithe Is the First 10 Percent
"Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field." (Deuteronomy 14:22) Few of us bring in a yield from the field these days. But a "yield" we do possess.
Wondering how to calculate your tithe? It's easy! The tithe is the first 10 percent of your gross income—before any expenses or obligations, including taxes. Find out that number for the year, month or weeks and move the decimal point one place to the left. How do we know? God says, "Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce." (Proverbs 3:9). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines firstfruits as "the earliest gathered fruits offered to God in acknowledgment of the gift of fruitfulness" (See also Genesis 28:22; Leviticus 27:32; Hebrews 7:2, 4).
There's something spiritually significant about giving God our first and best, rather than the leftovers. And it means something to him, too. In Malachi 1:6-12, some of the priests at the Temple got a bright idea. Instead of offering unblemished animals as sacrifices to the Lord, they decided to make sacrificing more convenient and cost-effective. So, they began encouraging people to give their blind and lame animals, instead of the best of the bunch. The priests were giving God the leftovers instead of the first and best. In response, God said, "Where is the honour due to me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due to me? says the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 1:6). God viewed the practice as dishonouring him—because it was!
When God gave his first and only Son as a sacrifice for our sins, he gave his first and best. He deserves nothing less from us.
2. The Tithe Belongs to God
"Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21)
Some people get very defensive when a church leader talks about the tithe. "All they want is my money!" they'll say. That kind of attitude comes from a spirit of fear and judgment, and it is outside of the walk of love we are called by God to make our way of living. Most pastors are trying to help others understand the principle of tithing for their own benefit! But the real question isn't about whether or not a pastor is trying to get your money—it's whether we understand that the tithe belongs to God.
Is God really of first importance in our lives? If he is, there won't be such strong opposition to the idea of giving him our first and best. Scripture says, "All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the Lord's; they are holy to the Lord." (Leviticus 27:30).
In other words, when we tithe, we aren't giving our money to a pastor or a church—we're giving it to God. Certainly, it's important to be sure we are giving into good soil, but once we make that determination, our heart needs to release the tithe into God's hands for his purposes. If we don't, release it, there's no way around it—we're robbing God (Malachi 3:8). There is no blessing in robbing.
3. We Present Our Tithes to Jesus
"In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives." (Hebrews 7:8)
In the Old Covenant, the people presented their tithes to the high priest. Today, Jesus is the High Priest, so we present our tithes to him (Hebrews 4:14-16). That's why tithing isn't about money—it's about honour. We honour God with our tithe when we present our tithes to Jesus. How do we do this? First, we do it joyfully—we don't murmur. "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) Then, it becomes a deliberate act of worship.
"Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10) So, every time we give—we present our tithe to the Lord with honour. That's the heart that leads to increase; that is the heart with which we tithe.
4. We Give Our Tithes in Faith
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
If we tithe in fear—fear that we won't have enough left over, fear that we won't be able to make ends meet, fear that we won't get a return, fear that it won’t be used properly—we're not tithing in faith. And if we're not tithing in faith, we're not eligible to receive the benefits.
So, don't just tithe—tithe in faith! Do it believing that God will rebuke the evil one for your sake (Malachi 3:11) and that he'll open the windows of heaven over your life (Malachi 3:10). If we aren't tithing faithfully, our priorities are in the wrong place. Our priorities are in the temporal realm instead of the spiritual realm. And it's what's in the spiritual realm that will always bring us out of trouble and bring about abundant blessing.
Faith says, "We're going to tithe first." And faith knows God will take care of us in the meantime.
5. We Tithe Using Words
At harvest thanksgiving this year we read from Deuteronomy 26:2 "Take some of the firstfruits…. and say to the priest ...”
If we approach our giving as a matter of the heart, rather than just bucket-plunking, we'll not only begin to see it as an act of honour and worship, but an act of faith. Part of that act of faith is that we give using words.
In the Old Covenant, God's people would place the firstfruits of their increase—in a basket, present it to the high priest, and say to him, "Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us." (Deuteronomy 26:3). Redemption was being spoken.
For the Christian, Jesus is the High Priest. When we present our tithe to him, we should do so with our words, declaring the benefits and protections. Say out loud, "As I give, I believe the evil one is rebuked in my life, and the windows of heaven are opening up over every part of my life. As you give, it "... it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Luke 6:38) And it is!
6. Giving the Tenth Protects the Other 90 Percent
"I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 3:11)
Isn't it "the locust," which threatens to destroy, for no good purpose, that which we hold dear?
"I can't afford to tithe." Have you ever heard or said those words? You may have even thought, “When I can afford it, I'll tithe. “ Some of us may have been thinking that for 10 years, and we still don't think we can afford it. That should tell us something. What we're doing is not working.
Here's a simple truth about giving the 10 percent: Give God what is his, and he will protect what is yours. As you honour God with the 10 percent that belongs to him, he'll get involved with the rest. The other 90 percent will go further than ever before because you've got the generous heart God wants you to have when making financial decisions. Good financial decisions is what stewardship is all about. The majority of us don't make them. It’s the witness of every tither that the tithe given is never missed.
The tithe of our income belongs to God. It lays the foundation of our financial success and abundance. There’s a protection plan attached to the tithe.
If you're not a tither, you can look back in your life, and you can see where your fruit was destroyed, where your situation didn't work out, where your job didn't come to full fruition, where you weren't able to do what you intended to do. What's missing in all of that is assurance that we have invested in what really matters. Of one thing we can be assured, what we invest in the work of God matters and it is blessed. With that blessing also comes enormous blessing for us.
7. Tithing Is the Only Area of Life Where God Says "Test Me!"
"Put me to the test!" (Malachi 3:10)
This is God himself speaking, and God is saying, "Prove me in this." This is the only time in the whole of the Bible where God instructs us to test him, and it is the one area where most people have withdrawn from proving God. He tells us the evil one will be rebuked. "See if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing." (Malachi 3:10-11) Have you ever tried to test God? Have you experienced a result? Why not?
Tithing is a lifestyle choice, not a hobby. A tither is a giver from the heart. So, don't just toss some money in a bucket and wait to see what happens. It is necessary to test the Lord with the giver's heart. That's when harvest comes. If we're not sowers we're not entitled to the harvest. Harsh reality. Vivid truth.
8. Tithing Is a Covenant Connection
"They have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you." (Joshua 7:11-12)
Refusing to give based on Scripture's direction, disconnects us from the Covenant which blesses. When we tithe, we give God the legal right to intervene in our affairs, to bless us richly, and to defend us against the destruction the evil one brings.
Why should we wait until our back is against the wall? Why not begin now? Meditate on the blessings God's Word promises. Learn to act on the Word now, and when Satan tries to put you in a financial corner, failure will result. Live into the covenant of God and there will be little which can ultimately prevail.
9. God Created the Giving Heart for Our Benefit
"Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10) Has that been quoted before?
Tithing isn't sowing—it's giving back to God what belongs to him. As a result, we will live in the overflow! That's the harvest. A good harvester is one who plans to give back what is already owned.
10. Our Giving Only Opens the Door to Blessing
"Then you ... with the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house." (Deuteronomy 26:11)
Being a wise and obedient steward of what God has given us is the least and the most that God requires of us. Perhaps it all begins with the proper handling of what belongs to God—the tithe. Tithing is an open door to the blessing that God set forth to bless us and keep us.
In Deuteronomy 28, God spoke to the Israelites about the curse and the blessing. But just prior to that, in Deuteronomy 26, he spoke to them about letting him in on their finances—through the tithe. Why? Not because God needed the money, but because they needed the help. They were going into the Promised Land where there would be many challenges. He told them about tithing, the curse and the blessing ... and in that order.
It's still the same for us today. If you've been thinking, “I believe in tithing but, I just can't afford it,” you're going backward. Because if you don't invite the blessing, you invite the curse.
These are 10 truths about giving. Is any of this magic or empty promises? Put these truths to work in your life—perceive them as the revelation they are—and just see if the result of God's promises don't increase. Are you hesitant to walk the life of a tither—take the plunge. Read the verses in scripture about giving, its central role in the walk of faith and, act on them. Start to tithe! Then, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a truly exciting journey!
Scripture from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Growing in Giving ... #3 - Principles of giving - a biblical quiz
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