The annual budget process of our church has recently caused me to think a little more about tithing than I usually do and why it is that we give our tithes and offerings. As I have thought about it, I have also been reminded of my own journey and growth in this spiritual discipline and God’s faithfulness.
As Christians, I think we know we should give a tithe, but if we are honest, most of us will admit that doing it is much more difficult than just knowing it. I hope I can encourage you with a few things I have learned.
So, why should we tithe?
1.) God commands us to.
Throughout Scripture, God gives us both the written directive to give our tithes and offerings, as well as the demonstrated example of individuals giving to the LORD. Giving our tithes and offerings is a precept given to us by God throughout His Word (Malachi 3:10). It provides for the pastors of the church who have charge over us and work to preach, teach and instruct us in the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17-18).
2.) Giving is worship.
“Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the LORD.” Romans 12:1
When we give, we are demonstrating our trust in and dependence upon God to be Who He says He is – Provider (Genesis 22:14).
Here is an appropriate time to consider our motive for giving as well. Throughout Scripture, we encounter instruction that God uses to convict us of our misplaced motives. If I am giving my tithe as just another check off of the list of things I need to do to be pleasing to God, or pleasing to myself as the case may be, I am missing the point. David wrote of this in Psalm 51:15-17. Separate in your mind any connection between the act of tithing and gaining favor with God. The only means we have of gaining favor with God is the precious blood of His Son flowing from the cross of Christ who gave His life to redeem us from the wrath of God that each of us deserves because of our sin. On the contrary, when we consider what He has done for us through the cross of Christ and are moved to give as an act of love for Him and as an act of love for others that they may hear this good news, we are fulfilling the two greatest commandments as reveled to us by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the LORD your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
3.) Means of grace.
Giving our tithe serves to free us from the bondage of money and materialism. Consider the second point above – worship. Tithing often serves to reveal to us misplaced worship. You may have heard before that how we spend our money reveals what we are worshipping. True, money is necessary in our society in order to acquire the things we need, but I encourage you to take some time to analyze where your money is actually going month to month and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any idols that have been erected in your life that have taken your attention off of God. The love of money and the stuff it can buy causes us to despise God (Matthew 6:24). The discipline of regular tithing alerts us to this idolatry in our lives.
Tithing also reveals to us the faithfulness of God. When we proceed in faith and give when it seems impossible, we have the opportunity to see God’s hand at work in our lives. I remember when Stacy and I were newly-weds and were beginning to get involved at FBC Canyon. Together, we made the decision early on to tithe regularly on our paychecks. After Macy, our first child, was born, Stacy sensed a strong urge to stay at home to raise our family. As we began to contemplate our budget on my salary alone, we both began to wonder how it would be possible, but we decided to trust God and keep tithing. Not long after we followed through on the decision for Stacy to stay at home, I received a promotion at work along with an increase in pay. In the years since that event, Stacy and I have often recalled God’s faithfulness in that moment; in fact, just this week, Stacy had to remind me, “He has always provided for us before.” (Thank you, God, for the gentle reminders from my wife.) Incidentally, memories like these take us back to point number 2, spurring us to worship our loving Father with gratitude (and tears).
4.) We function as part of the body and every part of the body is necessary.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains the need for every part of the body to do its part. The Church is the body of Christ. Just like our physical body, when a part of the church body is not doing its part, the whole body suffers.
I offer you a personal example. I am probably breaking some HIPPA rules here, but nevertheless, I am going to be vulnerable and share with you that I am a Type I diabetic. That means that the part of my body, the pancreas, that produces insulin, a hormone necessary for the body to convert sugar to be used by the muscles for energy, does not work. At worst, my pancreas sitting inactive on the side line can kill me prematurely due to the unused sugar in my body clogging up my vascular system and thus causing damage to all of the other parts of the body. At best, I can artificially control my blood sugar levels to postpone and minimize the damage; however, it is much more burdensome and inconvenient than the process God created the body to do naturally. So it is in the church. When each part of the body is not functioning, it slows down or makes ineffective the ministry that God has given us to do. This burdens and inconveniences the other members of the body as well as the community around us that God has placed us in to minister to and share the gospel with.
Often times in the discussion of tithing, the question arises as to where we are to give our tithe. While studying 1 Corinthians 12 recently, I was convicted and believe the question is answered here. True, the Church (meaning the Body of Christ) is not just limited to one local church; however, your local church is where you are most connected and related to other members of the body. As a result, as it applies to all of our activity as a Christian, we should be giving first priority to our local church as we worship and serve together.
This does not just apply to our tithe, but also to the spiritual gifts that each of us possess that are necessary for the health and building up of the body.
So, what do we do with all of this knowledge.
Pray Ask God for His guidance and His help. Ask Him for the faith to trust Him to provide and believe His Word.
Examine your motive (whether you are currently tithing or not) Ask yourself, “Am I worshipping God and surrendering to Him in the area of my finances?” Even if you are already tithing, take an honest look at why you are giving. Ask yourself, “Am I giving because I love and worship God?” Or, “Am I giving so I can check off a required act of being a Christian?” [NOTE: If you answered “yes” to the latter, go back and revisit the gospel. Stay tuned to the next sermon Pastor Steve preaches and to future Voices Blog entries.]
If you are married, discuss it with your spouse, and your kids Your relationship with God and your family is interrelated. As God works in you, He influences those nearest to you. Likewise, when you are disobeying God and are in conflict with Him, it has a negative effect on those same people. Most often, this is your spouse and children. You and your spouse are one flesh. What you do affects your spouse. As a man, I want to take the opportunity here to specifically encourage husbands to lead your wife and children in this area. They are looking to you as the spiritual leader of your home. Your strength, with the help of God, will encourage and grow them in their faith as they see you trusting God in the area of your family’s financial condition.
Step out in faith, trusting God to provide Remember, tithing is a means of grace. As you do it, He grows your faith in Him.
Joel and his wife Stacy have been married since 1992 and are the parents of Macy, Matthew and Mallory. Their family has been part of FBC Canyon since 1992. Joel works as a CPA for a local accounting firm in Amarillo. Joel enjoys spending time with Stacy and visiting the adventures their kids are involved in. He also enjoys serving “men in white” at a local prison.