(All scripture references from NIV)
Every year when the calendar has rolled over to a new year, it is not long before I start to think about gathering all my information so that I can get my taxes filed. One of the things I calculate is how much I contributed to my church and others the previous year. Most years I am satisfied that I have done what I believe is my responsibility as a Christian.
I can still remember in the early years of my marriage when we attended a Methodist church. When it came time for the board to work on the budget for the next year the drive would begin to get people to obligate themselves to a certain amount of money, with the optimum, of course, being the 10% tithe. My husband and I were still pretty immature Christians and would actually get somewhat offended when they would visit our home and try to coerce us to obligate ourselves to a certain amount. We would refuse and tell them that we would give what we could afford to give.
A few years later after a more intimate encounter with God and going through a study about giving, we became aware of the fact that we needed to tithe; and, additionally that there will be times we should give offerings over and above that 10% tithe. We started to practice this in our lives and were surprised that our giving did not seem to impact our lifestyle in a negative way. We still had what we needed to pay our bills and buy the things we needed and wanted. (Note: When we first started tithing, we were tithing on the net amount of our income. We later realized that we were still shorting God and that we should be tithing on the gross amount of our income. So, we corrected.)
I believe the time in our lives when we were tested the most with the practice of tithing was when we made a move from Texas to Oklahoma. We had lived in Midland, Texas for about 10 years and during our time there we had seen an oil boom that revolutionized the city. It was almost like money was growing on trees. But as they say, what goes up must come down, and down it did come – hard. There were many people that literally had to walk away from their homes because they had lost their high paying jobs and could no longer afford the payments. Some people just moved to smaller, more affordable homes but many were completely moving away from Midland. That left a glut of homes on the market with few of them selling.
It was during that time I had an opportunity to transfer with my company. We put our home on the market and struck out with our moving truck to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we rented a small but nice place. That put us in the situation of making house payments, utility payments and upkeep on our home in Midland, while paying rent and utilities in Tulsa. Although I had a decent paying job it was not enough to pay for everything and it took my husband a while to find a job, so money was very tight. However, although tempted to not tithe, we continued to do so.
Each month we were making the house payment a little later and a little later. I was getting very concerned and was not sure how much longer we could manage it. Just as we got to the point of likely not being able to make a payment during the month it was due, we got a contract and sold the house. Not only did we sell the house, but we did not lose any money on it – we actually got all our equity out of it plus a very nice profit. I firmly believed then and still believe to this day that God was faithful because we were faithful. It was a really tough test that left a lasting impression on me.
I will not lie and tell you that since that time (approximately 29 years ago) that I have continued to tithe every single month. Sixteen to twenty years ago I went through some difficult emotional times that caused me to question God, get angry at Him and for a period of time walked away from the church completely. But when I turned back to Him I began with giving offerings again until I was back to tithing – plus some additional offerings as well.
Needless to say, I am a believer in the practice of Biblical giving, because I have experienced the blessings in my own life. I fully believe that my faithfulness in giving over the years probably contributed to the fact that I had good jobs, making decent money which overflowed to my life now. Believe me, I am far from wealthy; but, I am a good money manager. That enabled me to pay off my 30 year mortgage in 17 years and I now own my home free and clear. My car, although it is 11 years old, has less than 68,000 miles on it and other than some scraps and scratches on the exterior is in very good condition, and best of all has been paid off for a number of years. I have no debt at all. I confess I do use my credit card – a lot – because I am all about those airline miles! But…I pay it off in full every month. I do not have a large, but an acceptable retirement income that allows me to live comfortably. Could I use more money? Yes. Would I like more money? Sure. But I am content, happy and feel very blessed with my life just as it is. I am confident that I will continue to be just fine.
I can still recall when some people would get very irate when a pastor would even dare to bring up the subject of money and/or tithing. They would be so offended that sometimes they would actually leave the church – they just did not want to hear about the subject of money from the pulpit. Their attitude? “We need to be all about love and seeing people get saved….etc, not talking about money!” Do they really believe that can all be accomplished with no cost financially? How do they think a church pays just to keep the church running, in addition to the programs they offer and the benevolence they share in the community? I have always heard that the people that tithe rarely if ever get upset by sermons about money – it is the people that do not tithe that get upset. (That is probably why my husband and I would get offended when asked to make a financial pledge to our church back in the day.) If you have ever felt this way, or maybe still do, I challenge you to Google “How many times does Jesus mention money in the Bible?” Be prepared for a surprise!
I have heard it said that tithing is not for today that it was an Old Testament law. But in Matthew 23:23, Jesus Himself says: “’Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.’” So during Jesus’ time, they were tithing; and, He tells them they should have followed more important matters but at the same time, not neglected their tithing.
Jesus also said in Luke 6:38: “’Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’” This scripture certainly applies to money, but it also applies to anything else in our life that we generously tithe to the Lord. We can tithe our time, our talents, our abilities, our skills as well. The fact is we cannot out give God not now, not ever.
To further shed light on the benefits of giving, I will go to this story that opens with Moses on Mount Sinai where God was preparing to give him instructions on how to construct the tabernacle. Exodus 25:1-2 says: “The Lord said to Moses, “’Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” It is important to notice that this was a freewill offering given from the heart – not a tithe.
After Moses came down from the mountain, he assembled all the people to give them their instructions. Exodus 35:4-5a says: “Moses said to the whole Israelite community, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the Lord.’”
The work started on the tabernacle with skilled workers of every kind working at what they were best at doing. Then in Exodus 36:3-7 we read: “They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsman that were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’ Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.”
These offerings were not yearly, monthly or even weekly – but daily! Can you imagine that? Today so many churches have to beg and plead just to get Christians to consider tithing – that is, just giving back to God His fair share of what He has given to us, much less any kind of over and above offering. Imagine what the churches could accomplish for the kingdom if our hearts were willing to just “make an offering from what we have?”
The end result of all the generous offerings made by the people for the building of the temple is reflected very simply in the last passage of Exodus 39:43 where it says: “Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded so Moses blessed them.”
There is no doubt that we can expect blessings when we do as God asks – Jesus, as our intermediary will bless us just as Moses did the Israelites. We need to pray regularly that God would touch our hearts and the hearts of all Christians to rid us of our selfishness and cause us to give generously to the kingdom’s work. Just imagine what good could be done! If you will implement this practice into your life you should be prepared for blessings. I dare you!
Written by Karran Martin
Originally October 2018 – Revised January 2019