Why I Tithe

Money is a touchy topic.  Even though it is talked about everywhere all the time, we don’t all like to hear it talked about at church.  But right now in our nation’s history where finances are failing on every level, we need God’s principles on handling our finances.  I have shared in a recent blog how God speaks to all our financial decisions with principles that work, always, all the time.  But I want to share God’s first principle on handling a budget.  It comes from Proverbs 3:9 – Honor the Lord from your wealth first. If we miss the first priority in handling our finances, it will always be harder to see everything else line up.  I know some will disagree, but I encourage you to do more than disagree.  Know why you disagree, biblically and concretely.  Something has to change in America.  If God’s people do not get this right, how is the nation?  On that note, read Malachi 3:7-10.

I want to share with you what my wife and I do, any why.  We give a minimum of 10% of our gross income to this church.  Why do we do that?

1.  My parents did.

You may not have seen that coming as a reason, but that is a reality for me.  I think part of my openness to this is partially because that was what was modeled for me.  When I saw that in them, it looked right and good.  My dad is small business owner and I saw them struggle.  There were several times that it was a question whether the business would survive.  I remember a summer where all we ate was hot dogs and they weren’t the good ones.  It was what they could afford, but in all that, they remained faithful to give the first 10% to God, and I saw God be faithful to them.

2.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Prov.1:7, 9:10)

When it comes to handling finances, I want to be wise.  I don’t want to make a lot of mistakes.  According to the Bible, being wise financially begins with the fear of the Lord.  What is fear of the Lord?  It is very simply the knowledge that you have to answer to Him, therefore you act in light of that.  So it is not just the owner/manager thing, but wisdom says I have to answer to God for the resources He provided, so I better learn what He said about finances.  Last week we saw what God said about paying bills, taking care of a family, and contentment.  God gives principles for saving and for borrowing.  God also says there is something first we are to do with our money – honor Him.  I honor Him by giving the way He prescribed.  That leads to . . .

3.  The tithe is what God presents as the starting point to giving.

The tithe seems to have become this super amount that only the legalists and super saints give.  It is talked about like it is way out there.  I have bad news: nowhere in Scripture is less suggested and it gives many examples of more.  The word tithe literally means 10%.  It is the first amount ever referred to as a standard for giving.  We see that with Abraham in Genesis 14.  His son Isaac gives the same, probably following the model of his dad.  The tithe was later commanded in the law, which we are not under anymore.  We do not give the tithe to obey the law, but we still look for guidance on how much and the concept of 10% predates the law and shows up after the law which I will show you in a moment.  It was also the minimum in the law.  There was a variety of other offerings required that when all fulfilled a Jew under the law would have given 25-33% in a year.  The New Testament does not use the word tithe.  There is not a specific command that says directly to give 10%.  But we see Jesus applaud a woman for giving 100%.  Jesus calls the rich young ruler to give 100%.  Zacchaeus gives 50%.  So when the New Testament is holding up models, telling us stories it wants us to interact with, 10% doesn’t sound so bad.

I do believe Jesus affirms and commands the tithe for the NT follower in Matthew 22:15-22. The Pharisees and Herodians came together to trap Jesus with a question about taxes.  There were those who felt paying taxes to Rome was giving the money of God’s people to an ungodly government, so it was morally wrong.  Others were friends with the Romans and wanted their peace and protection.  The question was designed so that no matter how Jesus answered He alienated someone.  His response is a well-known phrase today, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”  But Jesus answered more than they asked, for He added, “and give to God what belongs to God.”  Doesn’t that beg the question, “What belongs to God?”  The answer to that question is in the context of our speaker and audience.  Jesus is Jewish.  His Scriptures were the Old Testament.  His audience was Jewish.  So when Jesus says, “Give to God what is God’s,” for that audience it did not beg the question.  They already knew what was God’s, the tithe.  And Jesus does not change their understanding.  If the tithe was null and void, if less was okay, this would have been the spot to say it.  But He affirms the kind of giving for us today, that was already known from the past.  Give to God what is His.  I can come to no other conclusion, no other direction from Scripture on how much I should give than the tithe, 10%.  Malachi 3 actually says that any less is robbing God.   That is why I tithe.

4.  I want my money to last forever.

Jesus, my Savior, who really loves me, looks out for me, tells me always what is best for me; commanded me to send my treasure to heaven.  I don’t know why and I don’t know what for, but that is what He tells me in Matthew 6.  I choose to trust Him.  I choose to obey Him.

5.  I don’t want to find out what it is like not to tithe.

I can’t find a reason to stop giving.  In Malachi 3:10, He literally calls us to test Him and see if He is faithful.  I have and He is.  I just filed my taxes this past week and saw that total contribution line.  I used to look at that and think, “Man, I wonder what I could have done with that?”  I long ago stopped being tempted by that.  What could I have done with it if, if what?  If I had robbed God?  If I chose to kick Him out of my finances?  I really believe God has meant a lot more to our budget than that 10% ever would have.  I know it is a cliché, but I really mean it, “I can’t afford to not give to God.  I can’t afford not to have His wisdom, involvement and smile on my finances.”  He called me to test Him and He is faithful.  I just don’t have a reason to stop giving.  Times are tough?  Well, then I want Him involved all the more.

6.  I want to do something with money that makes a difference.

I don’t want to just consume.  I didn’t say I don’t want to consume, I just said I don’t want that to be the total of what I do.  I want to do things with money that makes a difference, and not just a difference, but a difference in eternity.  For me, giving to the church has given me that opportunity.

That is why we do what we do.  Why do you do what you do?  You don’t have to explain it to me, but you will have to explain it to the Lord.


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