I was convicted by my own message last night.
Last night’s subject was on Tithing.
Tithing shows up in the Old Testament many times. And it is a covenant He has established with His people.
First mention was in Genesis 14 when Abraham gives a tithe to the King of Salem who is also concurrently a High Priest – Melchizedek.
Second mention was in Genesis 28:22 when Jacob makes a declaration to God that as God provides for his needs, he would give the tenth to God. Both were pre-Mosaic law.
Many more mentions right after than in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. (Lev. 27:30-33; Deut. 14:22-29)
The tithe is…
Proverbs 3:9-10. Honor the Lord with your wealth…the firstfruits of all your crops…
Malachi 3:10. Bring the whole tithe to the storehouse…
Lev. 27:30. A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
Now the question that follows…
Is tithing in the Old Testament? Resounding YES.
Is it found in the New Testament? BARELY. (Besides a few references in Matthew 23:23 and Heb. 7:8)
Should we even tithe?
I believe God did not talk about tithing explicitly in the New Testament because He wants us to ask a different question.
It’s no longer “How much should I give?” but “How much dare I keep?”
John Piper clearly explains it when he said,
“And it is irrational to think that giving ten percent of that money to the church settles the issue of good stewardship. In a world of such immense need, and in a country of such immense luxury, and under the (Great) commission of such a powerful Lord, the issue of stewardship is not: Shall I tithe? But rather, How much of God’s trust fund dare I use to surround myself with comforts?”
I love Jesus because He is such a radical teacher. He would take things a step further.
Adultery? If you look at a woman with lust, then that’s adultery.
Murder? If you hold a grudge against a brother, then that’s murder.
Luke 3:11 says, “He who has two coats let him share with him who has none. And he who has food let him do likewise.” Now, that’s no longer 10%, that’s 50%.
Matthew 19:11, Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler, “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” Now, that’s not even 50%, that’s now 100%.
Luke 21:1-4, Jesus commends the widow. “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” All means 100%.
Giving in the New Testament takes a radical shift. It’s not even about 10% anymore.
Why is that?
Jesus really doesn’t want our money, He wants our hearts. It just so happens that our finances has an invisible string connecting to our hearts. He says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
He doesn’t want something FROM you. He wants something FOR you. Remember, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Ps. 24:1). He owns the cattle in a thousand hills (Ps. 50:11). He doesn’t need anything from us. But He wants our hearts.
So the question is no longer –
“How much should I give?” but “How much dare I keep?”
It’s no longer-
“Shall I tithe?” but “How much of the money that I hold in trust for Christ can I take for my private use?”
“Can I afford to tithe?” but “Can I justify the lifestyle that consumes the 90% of my income?”
Remember the first principle of giving –
Everything that I have is HIS; None of what I have is MINE.
And as I said in my first statement, I was the first one to get convicted in my own message.