Wed., Jan. 26/22
According to a recent survey by Grey Matter Research, and reported in the Jan.-Feb. 2022 issue of Faith Today magazine, only 13% of the 1,000 Evangelicals surveyed fully follow this teaching of scripture. A further 20% have not obeyed it at all, and 50% have given the command only a token obedience. The command originated in the Old Testament as did other commands such as those not to kill, not to commit adultery, and the command to be open-handed and lend sufficiently to a brother in need.
These commands not only continue through the church age but are added to in the teachings of Christ. Hatred of a brother becomes tantamount to murder, a lustful thought equates to the act of adultery, and to the one in need we are instructed to go the second mile, give the cloak as well, pay the Samaritan’s tab. The same is true of this one neglected duty. (See Exod. 20:13-14, Deut. 15:8).
Have you guessed what this unnamed obligation is? It is the Christian’s responsibility to tithe! “The tithe… is the Lord’s,” says scripture (Lev. 27:30). When we refuse to let Him collect it, we sin. Through Malachi the Lord says to His people, “You have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them… You rob Me.” “How are we robbing you?” ask the people. “In tithes and offerings,” comes the Lord’s reply!
Now, God doesn’t need that tenth of our income. He both created and owns everything! But He knows we need to give it! We need to faithfully surrender from our resources and see that He faithfully provides from His. In fact, He promises to provide even more than we need: “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (see Malachi 3:6-9).
Abraham (Abram) is often cited as the first tither (Gen. 14:19-20), yet as far back as Cain and Abel, we see the practice of sacrificially giving back to God (Gen. 4:3-5). Jacob vowed to give God a tenth (Gen. 28:22), and Moses established the giving of a tenth (tithe) into law (Lev. 27:30-34). In Numbers 18 we see these tithes were given to the Levites who served as priests and had no inheritance as did the other tribes. They were to receive the tithes of the people instead. Then, they too paid a tithe from this – “a tithe of the tithe” (Num. 18:26).
The tithe is the Lord’s, so when we surrender it to Him we have not truly “given” Him anything – no more than an employer has “given” when he distributes the payroll. To truly give we must go beyond the tithe.
Jesus upheld the practice of tithing while emphasizing the inner attitudes of the heart. To the Pharisees who legalistically tithed every minute particle He said, “you… have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matt. 23:23). He taught that giving must be done in secret (Matt. 6:1-4), and that the sacrifice of the giver is more to be valued than the amount given (Mark 12:41-44).
A careful study of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 will show that Paul taught a regular, personal and joyful discipline of planned giving, and that this ought to be given to those in ministry (1 Tim. 5:17-18), and Jesus taught that in so doing we actually give to Him (Matt. 25:40). To give back to Him Who has “freely given us all things” ought be every believer’s chief-most joy!
”So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7).