Tithing is the giving of the first 10% of income to the work of Christ, and then we are encouraged to grow beyond that as God prospers us, His children.
1. Faithful Remembering
Tithing honors how God has choosen for us to provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of their ministry.
In the Old Testament of the twelve tribes, the tribe of Levi was designated by God to be the tribe that would have the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple. They were not given a portion of land, instead God said these vocational ministers would be provided for from the tithes of the eleven other tribes.
God said to Aaron,
"You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting."
In giving a tithe, we honor this principle. Those who are called to be pastors, ministers, missionaries, and ministry assistants are not meant to be the moneymakers. The lay ministers, those not called into full time ministry, should seek to be gainfully employed to support those called and the cost of that ministry. God established this to be done by the tithe.
Jesus endorsed the tithing practice in the New Testament in Matthew when he said,
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."
2. Honor God as Owner of All
In letting go of a tenth of our income and give it to the ministry and mission of Christ we honor God, the Creator, who owns everything, including our income.
Our lifestyle reflects our view of God and what he means to us. Offering a tithe to God proves that we believe everything we own is His.
3. A Cure for Covetousness
Paying a tenth of our income to the mission and ministry of Christ is like medicine for the sickness of covetousness.
The tenth Commandments is: "Thou shalt not covet."
Jesus warns us to, "Beware, and be on your guard against every kind of greed."
And to parphrase Paul, who in Colossians 3:5 says, wanting things too much is incredibly dangerous for your soul.
Then finally, "Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.
When we tithe, we must fight, almost daily, the desire for what we might have purchased or saved for ourself. God has provided in his great mercy a cure: giving. Knowing our hearts He tests us over and over to see if we desire our own sercurity and comfort over the advancement of His name.
Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
4. Master the Need to Spend
When you look to tithing and beyond, we master the need to spend.
As humans we find it easy to spend to fill the income. If you make more, you can buy more, and the things we purchase require storage space, repair, and insurance. If you have less to spend, you typically spend less and won't even think about it.
As our income grows, if we practice tithing, we can begin looking beyond the tithe and resolve to give a larger percentage to advance God's kingdom. What a wonderful way to apply the brakes to our tendancy to move towards frivilous spending.
John Wesley is a great example. He began limiting his expenses so he could have more money to give to the poor. In one year he earned 30 pounds the first year, found he could live on 28 so he gave away two. The next year his income doubled but he chose not to increase his expenses so he had 32 pounds to give away. In the third year he made 90 pounds and gave away 62. His income advanced to where he made 1400 pounds a year yet he rarely let his living expense rise about 30 pounds.
5. Bring About Good Deeds
Our tithing, and beyond, is God's way of bringing about many good deeds for His glory.
II Corinthians 9:6-8 says,
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
In these verses Paul says when you sow bountifully and cheerfully, you will "have an abundance for every good deed." What is our goal then? Good deeds, of course. Extra money makes good deeds. If we live like everyone else making gains only for ourselves, we do not give people a reason to think about our glorious Father in heaven. Good deeds shine light into a dark world.
Christ died "to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good deeds."
Going back to II Corinthians 9:8 says, the aim of material bounty is "for every good deed."
6. Provision for You
Moving to the tithe and beyond is God's way of providing sufficient money for the tither's needs.
Disciplined, generous, and regular giving make good sense. Looking at verse 6 of II Corinthians 9, "He who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully." Then verse 8, "God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency . . . "
These verses demonstrate God's promise to give more than enough for us and a plethora for good deeds.
Malachi 3:10 states,
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Wow! Did you ever think God would seek for you to test Him? What a wonderful way to express His desire for us to feel complete confidence in tithing. God, who provides for every need, will not let you fall. Don't think this is a get rich tactic, it's not What is is, is a guarantee of "an abundance for every good work".
Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.
7. Strengthen Our Faith
Last, when we move towards a tithe and beyond, we prove and strengthen our faith in the promises of God.
Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He has said, "I will never leave you, or forsake you." So we can say with confidene, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
When you chose to live on less, you allow the most wonderful promise of God to strenthen your faith. "And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus".
Trust God. He will never fail or forsake you. He will supply all your needs.