A great article about tithing by Kris Valloton:
Probably the most frequently asked questions about Kingdom finance are focused on the subject of the tithe. Questions like these come up all the time:
“Is the tithe a New Testament principle, or is it relegated to the Old Covenant?”
“What, exactly, is the tithe?”
“Whom should I give my tithe to, and what’s in it for me?”
These are great questions and I’ve answered some of them over here on the blog. But if you’re reading this and have similar questions, and if we were able to sit down together and talk about it, I’d follow up by asking you: “Are you trying to give more or trying to give less?”
I have been asked these tithing questions more than a hundred times, and only once in twenty years was the person who was doing the inquiring trying to give more. Most often, the people who are debating these questions have other agendas that they are often not even aware of.
WHAT’S AT THE ROOT OF YOUR STRUGGLE?
That said, let me ask you four questions that may help you come to grips with the root cause of any struggle you may have with tithing:
1. Do you trust God to take care of you? If you answered no to this then here is a great Scripture that will help you move forward in your quest to grow in trusting God: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). I find that when we’re afraid that we won’t be taken care of, we hoard and try to control all of our money. Trusting God to provide in your life will set you free to express your love to Him with your tithe.
2. Do you honor the leaders over you who give an account for your life?
The writer of Hebrews gives us insight into the heavy responsibility that God has entrusted to His spiritual leaders. But in an age when family values are being exchanged for independence and even rebellion, this verse feels as if it were written to Martians, or at the least to cavemen: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). To state the obvious, if you cannot honor your leaders in the sense of trusting them to steward well whatever you give, perhaps you ought to be under different leadership.
3. Are you serving Mammon (the spirit of greed and materialism) or God? You will always protect the God (or god) you are loyal to. Jesus put it best: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). If money is more important to you than God then you will protect your money more than you will trust Him.
4. Are you afraid of not having enough? I love the fact that the God of heaven cares about the practical needs we have here on earth. Jesus reassured us that the Father takes care of us with these words: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31–32).
If you are struggling with the subject of tithing, I want to challenge you right now to stop reading and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart. Ask Him if your resistance is really rooted in the theology of the tithe, or if there are deeper issues that trouble you. Let Him lead you into all truth and deliver you from poverty, the fear of lack, and the need for control.
HOW TO LOVE GOD WITH YOUR GENEROSITY
Let’s take a look at how the tithe can actually touch the heart of God. I believe that once we understand that this is a holy act that expresses our passion for our generous Father, that our heart issues and fears listed above become smaller and smaller.
It has always astonished me that the God of the universe actually has any interest in humans giving Him gifts at all, much less money. If you are God, what are you going to do with the stuff? All He has to do is speak and the very thing He needs appears in front of Him. So what’s up with giving to God?
There is one thing that God wants but that He cannot make happen—to be loved freely. God gave us a free will so that He could experience us freely giving our love to Him. Love, by its very nature, requires freedom of choice. Love forced or love programmed is not love at all. God is love, which means He has the capacity both to give love and to be loved. Because love “believes all things,” our trusting in God (in every way, including with our tithe) is a manifestation of loving Him (1 Corinthians 13:7).
God can discern a gift that is given out of obligation or manipulation from a gift that is rooted in love. This is evidenced in the story of Cain and Abel. Here is a short account:
“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” (Genesis 4:3–5)
A few things come to light in this story. First, the need to give back to God is deeply rooted in human nature, so much so that Cain received no sympathy for giving God a crummy offering, even though he did it without God asking for it. I think that God had no regard for Cain’s offering because He had no respect for Cain’s motives. In other words, God refused to be manipulated by Cain’s gift. It is like having a teenage son who is in complete rebellion against you, and then he picks some old, wilted flowers out of your garden and hands them to you. You would be thinking, “What’s the catch? What is he trying to bribe me into doing?”
Unlike Cain, Abel gave God the first and best of his flock as a precious gift, and God loved it. Here lies the beauty of our wonderful Creator basking in the love of His mere mortal creature, giving Abel a pathway of expression to unleash the passion that gushed within him for his God. More than a thousand years before Moses ever wrote the Law that required the people of God to give their Creator the first and the best, Abel already was loving God freely with his extravagant gift.
So my challenge to you today is two-fold: first, work through the questions and any heart issues that may be getting in the way of your tithe. Second, when you go to tithe, give God your first and best. Lavish your love upon Him and watch the extravagant ways He will pour back out to you!
Do you want to learn more about why God cares how you spend your money? Then check out my latest book, Poverty, Riches and Wealth. I wrote it to help demystify God’s heart for us to live in true Kingdom prosperity, and I pray that it will bless you to become a blessing to those around you!