So far, we have looked at two spiritual exercises; prayer and Bible study. Those are daily exercises. Today we are going to look at a spiritual exercise that we can do once a week, tithing. We will begin by looking at a definition of tithing. Then, we will look at why we should tithe, how to tithe, and finally the benefits of tithing.
I. What is a tithe?
Leviticus 27:30 (NIV) says this. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Tithe in the Hebrew language means one tenth. A tithe of our income would be ten percent of our income. Concerning our giving to God, a tithe is giving the first tenth of my income. An offering is anything I give in addition to my tithe. For example, some of you give ten percent of your income each week as an offering to God. In addition to that, you also give an offering to different missions’ offerings. Or maybe you give an offering to another charity outside of the local church. Bottom line, ten percent of our income belongs to the Lord and it is holy to the Lord.
II. Why should I tithe?
- Because God commands it. From this same verse, Leviticus 27:30 (NIV), we learn that this is God’s will and he expects us to give ten percent to him. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Most of us have income in the form of money, not produce from the land. The Bible teaches us that we are to take ten percent of our income and give it to God. It belongs to him. This is God’s command, not man’s. This is God’s expectation.
- Because tithing demonstrates that God has first place in my life. Deuteronomy 14:23 (TLB) says this. “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” God is a jealous God and he doesn’t want anything else, especially money, to have first place in our lives. Therefore, if I dedicate ten percent of my income to God, then I am demonstrating that God has priority in my life rather than money having priority. I also am demonstrating that I am in control of my money rather than my money being in control of me.
- Because refusing to tithe is stealing from God. Malachi 3:8-9 (NIV) says this. “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.” We learn from this statement that God knows everything about us including our finances. So the question we must ask is this: When I give an offering at church, is God pleased? God is the one who has blessed me with an income, a house, food, a car, clothing, furnishings for my house, and the stuff in my garage. Is God pleased with my offering or am I stealing from God?
III. How should I tithe?
When we looked at the spiritual exercise of prayer, I encouraged you to prayer with the right motive. The same is true with giving to God. We must give with the right motive and attitude. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT) gives the right motive and attitude for our giving to God. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” From this scripture, we gain four ways to tithe.
- I must tithe with a hopeful heart. This verse teaches us that whatever we sow we will also reap. When we give an offering to God, the percentage we give is an indicator of the hope and trust in our heart about the future harvest. If I really believe that God can create a fruitful harvest, then I will give generously. If I don’t believe that God can create a fruitful harvest, then I will not give generously. What is the hope in my heart? Is there any hope in God? Is there any hope that God can do something great and awesome with my offering? I challenge you to give with a hopeful heart. Believe and trust in God to do something wonderful with your tithe.
- I must tithe with a prepared heart. The scripture teaches us to “make up our own mind as to how much we should give.” I would encourage you not to wait until you arrive at church to decide on how much to give. Instead, sit down with your spouse or family and make out a family budget with a certain percentage dedicated to God. Start with ten percent. If your income goes up or down, you can still give ten percent to God.
- I must tithe with a willing heart. The verse says “Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” If some pastor or Christian puts pressure on you to give, then the Bible says don’t give. Instead, we are to give willingly.
- I must tithe with a cheerful heart. The last part of this verse says “God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” The word used here in the Greek language of the New Testament for cheerfully is our English word hilarious. Our attitude should be that of great joy and cheerfulness when we give to God.
IV. What are the benefits of tithing?
- Tithing is an investment in eternity. In Matthew 6:20 (CEV), Jesus gives us this instruction about money. “Store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.” Jesus points out to us that we have the opportunity to make investments in heaven that will last forever. These investments are secure and incorruptible. There are several ways we can make these types of heavenly investments, and our offerings to God are one type heavenly investment. When we give our offering to God, we are investing in something far greater the stock market or mutual funds or bonds. We are investing in something more secure than real estate. We are investing in God and in the lives of those who love God.
- Tithing helps me overcome greed. In the same passage of Matthew 6:24 (NLT), Jesus goes on to say, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” There are two choices here. Either we can serve God with the money he has given us and overcome greed or we can serve money as our god and be overcome by greed. The choice is yours to make. Jesus makes it clear we cannot do both at the same time. We cannot multitask when it comes serving God and money. Serving God with my money helps me overcome greed.
Will you develop the spiritual exercise of tithing?