GENESIS 28:18-22: “Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had put under his head. He set it up as a marker and poured olive oil on top of it. He named that place Bethel [House of God]. Previously, the name of the city was Luz. Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and will watch over me on my trip and give me food to eat and clothes to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be the house of God, and I will surely give you a tenth of everything you give me.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What about “Tithing”? If you want to get a vigorous debate started, try talking to another believer about tithing. Is tithing New Testament? Should the tithe be given to the local church? Is tithing legalistic? Is tithing giving 10% of your gross income, or your net income? Should I give a tithe of my tax return? Should I give a tithe of money that is given to me as a gift? Why didn’t Jesus ever teach about tithing? The questions go on and on.
I tend to look at this issue in a much simpler and more pragmatic way. In these verses from Genesis we see that Jacob pledged his tithe to the Lord based on his relationship with the Lord. Jacob was entering into a trust relationship with the Lord, and the physical expression of this was to give a tenth of everything the Lord would give him. This is simple, it is pragmatic, and it has nothing to do with the Law, which had not yet been given through Moses (there were still over 400 years before this would happen).
Jacob’s father Abraham also gave a tenth of all he had to the Lord.
- “After Abram came back from defeating Chedorlaomer and his allies, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Shaveh Valley (that is, the King’s Valley). Then King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram, and said, “Blessed is Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth. Blessed is God Most High, who has handed your enemies over to you.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”. (Genesis 14:17-20 GW)
Abraham is called the “Father of Faith”.
- “Abraham’s faith was the basis of his approval by God while he was still uncircumcised. The mark of circumcision is the seal of that approval. Therefore, he is the father of every believer who is not circumcised, and their faith, too, is regarded as the basis of their approval by God. He is also the father of those who not only are circumcised but also are following in the footsteps of his faith. Our father Abraham had that faith before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:11-12 GW)
So, to keep it simple, tithing, giving ten percent back to the Lord, of what He entrusts to us, is not about the Law, it has always been about faith. And to make it pragmatic, it has never been about what we do not have, but only that which God places into our hand. And to follow the example of Abraham and Jacob, the tithe was always given to the work of the Lord, and to the house of God. For the New Testament believer that would be his or her local church. All the other questions are simply straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.
Everything I have is from the Lord. The air I breath, the food I eat, the ability to work, the health I enjoy, the home I live in, the family I share these things with. Tithing is simply a question of faith. If I trust the Lord, and if I truly understand and acknowledge that all I have is from Him, then as an act of worship and proclamation of faith – I will tithe, and I will tithe freely, joyfully, and without strings attached. If I have difficulty tithing, it is not about the questions that surround the issue, it is simply a question about my faith. Faith calls me to give a tangible expression of worship back to the Lord of everything He places in my hands. And love calls me to experience the overwhelming joy that is found in adding to this expression of love and faith my offerings that are above and beyond the tithe.
Lord, thank You for your faithfulness and provision in my life. I acknowledge that all I have, all I am, I have received from Your hand! Thank You for the call and privilege to offer to You a tangible expression of worship and love through my tithe and offerings. And thank You that through these expression of love and faith the wonderful message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be offered freely, so that all may believe!
In Jesus Name!