“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
No matter how much you make, it is important to make wise decisions concerning your finances (a truth we have learned especially well with me working for the government!). A while ago, though, I had a conversation with a coworker about finances. With him having worked with DEQ for many more years than I have, the conversation was pretty enlightening.
Almost everything that he talked about including retirement contributions, budgeting, and investing I was on board with. What was so interesting was what happened as soon as I mentioned that I had read one of Dave Ramsey’s books. Out of all of the topics that Ramsey teaches and talks about, my coworker quickly honed in on a single principle: tithing.
He said that one thing he would disagree with Dave Ramsey on is the concept of tithing. I did not delve into his complete ideology on the subject, but I heard enough to get a picture that he was okay with people tithing and giving to the church as long as they had plenty to go around.
Honestly, I can completely understand where he was coming from but the idea also struck me pretty hard and it made me revisit the reasons why I make it a point to tithe. The following is certainly not a full doctrine on the subject, but they are the reasons that weigh the most in my motivations.
Before I go too much further I want to lay some groundwork. To tithe literally means to give a tenth of what you have which is where we get the association that to tithe means to give 10% of your income. Many people think of it as an obligation to tithe, but traditionally to tithe was simply the baseline of what someone was giving and was not even considered a part of their actual income. But I do not want to get too far ahead of myself. Now that we are clear on what tithing is, here are a few reasons as to why we should do it.
- I tithe because I am commanded to do so
This is the most obvious but does take some getting around to. The first time tithing is mentioned in the Bible is when Abraham offers it to Melchizadeck for his blessing. Later on God actually commands the Israelites to offer a tithe to support the priests in their work as well as care to for orphans and widows. Then in Malachi 3, the prophet writes the words of the Lord saying, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse…”
Under the old covenant it was generally accepted that at least ten percent of a person’s wealth was to be given back to God as a minimum. Some argue that now that we are under the new covenant, tithing no longer applies to Christians. In the strictest form of the idea I would agree. However, even though we may have been freed from the letter of the law we are in no way free from the spirit of it which was to support spiritual and physical ministries as well as the poor and destitute as evidenced by Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23-24.
From this passage and others, it is clear that God cares about how we spend our money. And though we may not be explicitly commanded to give ten percent of our wealth to the local church, it seems that there is an expectation that Christians will be the ones to support the body of believers through the giving of their resources.
- I tithe because it is a practice in generosity
I do not know about you, but in all honesty I will let you in on a little secret: I am not the most generous person. And further I am not even sure that this culture truly knows what it means to be generous. When you think of someone generous, who do you think of? Most likely that person has a lot of money, right? But where we err in thinking is that only people with a lot of money can be generous. This is simply not true.
Generosity is not a bar that we might meet one day. Generosity is a lifestyle whereby one holds loosely to those things we are given in life. Generous people live their lives with open hands, not closed fists holding tightly to those things we think we own.
By stepping out in faith and giving consistently and even sacrificially at times (which sometimes tithing definitely seems to qualify as), I am training myself to be more generous. We have to realize that generosity is not something to attain by first gathering in plenty, it is an attitude that we can have every day no matter how much is in our bank accounts.
- I tithe because it aligns my perspective with God’s
As evidenced by my conversation I referenced previously with my coworker, there is definitely a type of wisdom that says to only give out of your excess. I call this wisdom “airplane wisdom.” Whenever you fly in an airplane and tune into the in-flight safety speech there is a section that concerns the oxygen masks. Hopefully you never have to use these, but the airplane explicitly instructs you to place your own mask on yourself before assisting others with theirs.
Obviously there are good reasons for this, but this is airplane wisdom: taking care of yourself before you take care of others. In other words, airplane wisdom tells you to focus on yourself and then give others your leftovers if you are so inclined. However, heavenly wisdom is in direct opposition to this way of thinking.
Heavenly wisdom leads us to give when we are asked (Matthew 5:42), to share freely as in the first days of the church (Acts 2:44-45), to give in secret (Matthew 6:3-4), and to care for the orphan and widow in their distress (James 1:27). Heavenly wisdom teaches us that every single penny we own belongs to God and so in many ways we are only giving back to Him a portion of what is already His.
Money is not only the currency of our times, in many ways it is an indicator of our trust, desires, and perspectives. We spend our money on people we value, places we believe are trustworthy, and things that satisfy needs or wants. When we turn over a portion of our money directly to God in faith we are indicating that we trust Him. And truly, why would we not trust Him with what He has given to us in the first place?
- I tithe because it fuels the Kingdom
The fourth reason that I will bring up today is this. When we tithe, when we give to the church, we are fueling the kingdom of heaven on earth. Can God create money out of thin air and suffuse believers with riches? Absolutely. But instead of doing this He allows the world to operate through resources (in fact there is a whole science that is devoted to this topic called economics!).
Why does He do this? I have to answer you in faith. I do not know why He allowed the system to operate the way it does. But what I do know is that if God allows it then it will be to our ultimate good.
God’s kingdom is a spiritual one but He allows his followers to use their physical resources in such ways that allow for the extension of this spiritual kingdom. The institution that God has created in order to bring this kingdom to earth and use His Spirit to work is the Church.
When we tithe we are supporting the local body of believers, the Church, and therefore furthering the Kingdom of God. Going briefly back to the previous point, when we give of our time, talent, and treasure and commit it to God’s able hands, we have no idea how He will use it to bless others as well as yourself.
- I tithe because it is rewarded
This brings me to the final reason that I tithe. I kind of feel convicted even putting this in here, but in all honesty it is hard to avoid the idea. Listen to just these two passages previously mentioned in this post:
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” – Malachi 3:10“…and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:4
I am not saying that a reward should be the main motivation for giving through tithes and offerings, but Scripture definitely seems to promise such!
Any one of these reasons would probably be good enough on their own. But stack them up on top of each other and it is more than enough reason to give back a portion of what God has entrusted to us. If you have made it through all of the above, I applaud your perseverance and thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on other reasons Christians should be tithing!