My wife and I are half way through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It’s a great class for anyone interested in a better way to manage money. This week the class took a break for parents to spend time with their kids during their mid-winter break from school. Our Pastor preached a sermon on tithing and it filled the week with an important lesson. God will protect us from credit vultures if we give diligently.
Read Malachi 3:8-11
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
My Personal Tithing
I’ve heard verse 10 numerous times throughout my life. It is one of the strongest challenges in the Bible where God tells us to test him. Unfortunately, I have never read the verses around it. Tithing was something I grew up in, but I don’t think I ever truly understood the impact or importance. Over the last few years, that importance has become more of a focus in my life.
My wife and I got into a bit of debt over the years. It started out using credit as a crutch to maintain our lives through a lower-income period of time. After that it became a quick and easy way to pay for things while we were out. More time went by and we found credit being a means to surviving a short period of unemployment. Then a huge life event occurred and we rang up another card. Tithing took a back-seat at this point.
When you think about taking hundreds of dollars per month out of your budget, you can easily get wrapped up in the mentality of “I can’t afford to give any money at Church this week.” After all, there are lots of other people who can “keep the lights on” for you. The Pastor doesn’t make performance bonuses based on a percentage of revenue. The elders don’t get a cut if they pull in a certain amount more.
I can’t tell you what your Church uses their money for, but I can tell you that mine uses it for paying our small staff, utilities, missions and ministries. It isn’t squandered and it certainly isn’t misdirected to wasteful line items. We live lean and give generously. If you haven’t talked to an elder about your Church’s finances or been to a business meeting, I would encourage you to seek both out.
What is Tithing?
Tithe comes from the greek word “dekaté”. Simply put, tithe means “tenth”. This is where the basis of giving 10% of your income back to God comes from. You give 15-25% or more of your income to the government and generally don’t think about the financial impact of that from check to check. Why should we think about it when we take 10% out for the right cause?
Matthew 6:21 tells us “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”.
Numbers 18:21 says “And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us too “9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
How Can I Afford This?
I think the question I ask myself is “How can I not afford this?”.
Some simple excuses anyone can use:
“I have too much debt.”
“My mortgage is too high.”
“I have 2 cars to pay for.”
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy in our minds. Fortunately for us, it’s easy for God. Remember Malachi 11’s promise to protect us from those that will seek to devour us.
Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”
This doesn’t imply that all lenders are evil in nature. It simply warns you that if you put yourself under the burden of credit and loans that you’ll tax your life away and become slave to the lending. Adjust your budget to pay God first, yourself second and then work on attacking your debts.
Tithing is not just a way to fund your Church. It is a challenge from God to give back to Him. He will reward you with prosperity and a good life. Don’t rob God just because you feel you don’t have enough money or think you need it for yourself. If you have your heart in the right place, this will come naturally without fear.