For some reason I think money and finances, specifically tithing, are one of those topics that most churches are hesitant to address. Maybe it’s the stigma talking about money brings; maybe it’s the thoughts among the congregation that the church is asking for money. Thankfully, with Christian based financial management systems, like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, the church is becoming more open to talk about monetary issues.
When it comes to money, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the worldly view of “more is better” and “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” Just look at the greed and corruption sweeping through our society. I Timothy 3:3 Large corporations and banks, elected officials taking bribes, financial advisors stealing billions, the list goes on and on. Is it any wonder the Bible tells us the love of money is the root of all evil? I Timothy 6:10 Pay close attention, note that the Bible doesn’t say money itself is evil, but rather the Love of Money. After all, God wants us to be successful and that includes financial success, so that we will freely bring our tithe and give Him the glory. Proverbs 3:9-10 speaks to this very matter. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Tithing isn’t biblical in origin. It’s actually a mathematical term for 1/10 or 10%. In Christian culture, or within the church, the context is known as freely giving 10% of our income to the Lord. II Corinthians 9:7 However, there’s a different concept I want to touch on. Instead of our 10% being our “gift”, think of it as actually bringing to God what is already His. In fact, we are just stewards of God’s money and all he asks in return is His 10% back. Let me explain further. Anytime we go out to eat, most of us generally give the standard 15% tip to the wait staff – that’s really all they expect, right? But in church most of us don’t even give 10% to God, which is all He expects. Kinda messed up isn’t it? We would probably only give our wait staff less than what’s expected if they provided poor service, but yet we try to justify giving only a percent or two to God. Keep in mind our tithe isn’t about who gives the most or who gives out of abundance (or what’s left over), but rather bringing to God what is His. Luke 21:1-4
Now think about this, the Lord asks us to bring His percentage back. Anything we give above that is our offering. Did you catch that? In our restaurant analogy that would be like giving the “expected” 15%, plus an extra 5% for good service. Does God deserve any less for the blessings He has given us? One additional point I want to clarify is that your tithe should be made to your local church. Giving to charity, missionaries, Christian organizations is great, but those should be counted toward your offering or gift above and beyond the 10% that is God’s.
I know what some of you are thinking, “You mean you’re saying give 10% right of the top of my salary, including any additional income? I’ve got bills! You don’t know what kind of debt I’m in! I’m living paycheck to paycheck just bringing 1% to tithe!” Really? Well I’d ask, “Do you question sales tax when you purchase something? Do you not also pay income tax?” You’ve likely heard Matthew 22:21, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s”, but maybe you haven’t heard Malachi 3:8-12. It’s here we read of God’s second usage of the word “floodgates” in the Bible. The first concerned Noah and the flood, Genesis 7:11, NIV. In this second example, God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it.” Malachi 3:10, NIV
You see, tithing is acknowledging that God is the source of our income, not our jobs, investments, etc. God wants us to freely and willingly bring to Him what is His. It’s not an obligation, not a tax, but a faithful declaration that God deserves the glory for the blessings He has given us. The next time the “offering” plate passes you, truly think about to whom you’re giving, what you are giving for, and pray about what you have given, that all the Glory be given to God. I want to leave you with the following verses, Deuteronomy 8:17-18, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth….”