I have seven children who are all becoming adults and making their way in the world. One of the many things I have tried to impart to them throughout their lives is the importance of tithing. But why should we tithe? My family also spends a lot of time and talent serving the church and the needy. Why is tithing an important component of stewardship?
It is about giving the first of everything back to God because God owns everything we have and is the source of all our wealth. I want my children to trust that God loves them and cares about their livelihood, just like the Gospel of Matthew tells us how much God cares for the “birds of the air that do not sow, reap or store food, yet He feeds them.” By putting God first with our tithe, we learn to trust Him to keep his promises about caring and providing for our needs.
Why does God ask us to tithe? Does He need our money? In Psalm 50:12, God says, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine and all it contains.” God does not need our money!
The word tithe in the Bible means “tenth.” Long before Moses and the Law, when people were grateful to God for His provision they would give back to God. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of his victory to the priest, Melchizedek, in order to honor God for his safe return from rescuing his nephew, Lot. The Israelites were required to give a tenth of all their increase to God. Back then it was mostly crops and animals. Some of this tithe was sacrificed in fire to God and completely consumed; much of it went to support the Levitical priesthood and their temple and synagogues. Today we give money to support our church and for the needs of the poor.
God gave us the tithe so we can honor Him and learn to trust Him. The tithe is really about building our faith and fostering an attitude of gratitude. The church uses the money that is given to it, but God tests us to see whether we really believe that He is the source of all our wealth. In the book of Malachi 3:10-11, God told the Israelites, “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. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes, says the Lord.”
Even though most of us don’t worry about our crops and vines being destroyed, we do worry about losing our incomes, paying tuition, our cars breaking down, house repairs, medical bills, etc… God loves us and He cares about all these things as well. He also wants us to cry out to Him daily to “Give us this day our daily bread.” He desires our gratitude, and tithing is one way we show Him that we honor, trust and are thankful to him.
When the widow put her last mite (a small coin) into the temple collection in front of Jesus and His disciples, I don’t believe for a minute that she went home and starved. When we give to God, He gives back to us abundantly. My wife and I have always trusted God with our tithe and He has always been faithful to open the windows of heaven to us. This is what we teach our children. We do not force them to tithe, but we set the example of trust in God and we have made it clear that we think it is a VERY big blessing to tithe. We have a God who will not be outdone in generosity when we are faithful to Him!
(Stewardship article written by Bob Downey, St. Theresa Church, Des Moines)