Why do we give to God? Why does anyone give anything to God? Most often than not, it is because we expect something in return, tangible or intangible. With people, we crave their favor in return or at least their gratitude for our help to them.
When it comes to God there is nothing that he needs from us yet we still want to give him something, expecting his favor on us in return. When a local politician flexes his muscles and gets someone a new job in the local government, he accepts a commission for his efforts. Is that how we treat God, that if he provides we would give him a share of our blessings?
Well Jacob (the father of the twelve tribes) seemed to have that idea about God. In fact in Genesis 28:20-22 he promised to Tithe if God would provide all his needs.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”Genesis 28:20-22
What is Tithe?
Tithe basically means a tenth of something and was first mentioned in the book of Leviticus when God is asking the Israelites to offer him a tenth of whatever they have.
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.Leviticus 27:30
And was primarily used as a reserve to pay salary to the priests and support the destitute of the land.
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.Deuteronomy 26:12
Even today a major chunk of our tithes and offerings are used to cover our church expenses and build other churches around the world. Churches partake in wonderful outreach programs that feed the destitute in our neighborhoods and maintaining our church should be our responsibility. But that is a separate issue than what God wants from us.
What Does Jesus say
We think that by tithing, our return gift to God for his everlasting gift to us, is taken care off. But does God want only ten percent from us. Let’s see what Jesus had to say about this,
“Sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
Jesus is not merely speaking the words but if we ask Him, His spirit will enable us to follow His word to the letter. And we see just that in the actions of the early church when they sold all their possessions for the common good.
Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.Acts 2:45
Insurance premiums whether for car or house involves us paying a small amount as yearly fees, in lieu of which, we get the protection from damages to our possessions. The way the actuaries model the premium cost it seems too good to pass. We pay only ten percent and insure hundred percent of our possessions. Sometimes, people treat their tithes and offerings also in a similar manner. And when hardships come, we queue up the complaint department of God asking why did this befall us when we regularly paid our tithes and premiums.
Tithing gives us a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction, that our part is over and we can move on with our lives. I have heard people boast that as soon as their salary comes in their hands, they make it a point to take out ten percent to donate to various missionary organizations. And then they are content, satisfied for the entire month. That satisfactory feeling comes from satan and not God. Satan gives that instant satisfaction lest we start spending real time with God. When God gives you something, He gives it completely. God gives overwhelming joy and not a sense of satisfaction.
There’s an old story, where a father gave his little girl two dollars and said, “You can do anything you want with one of the dollars, but the other dollar belongs to God.” With joy she ran to the candy store. On the way she tripped and one dollar fell into the storm drain. She got up and said, “Well Lord, there goes Your dollar.”
Does that girl remind you of someone? Whenever we are in a difficult situation financially, the first place we look to cut back is our offerings. And when we are in a difficult situation emotionally, the first place we look to cut back is our fellowship with God. We rather prefer fellowship of human beings who can sympathise with us and encourage us. Rather than coming to God who can actually help us with our burdens, we open our hearts to our friends and families hoping to gain their sympathy but rather we provide them ammunition for their judgement.
Does God want only ten percent from us? Whether you give ten percent or even hundred percent of your income as offerings, what God desires is hundred percent of your heart. Anything that stops us from giving that to God should be removed from our lives.
If money is stopping you from giving yourselves completely to God then, sell everything to poor and follow God (Matthew 19:21). If your family is a hindrance in your path to Christ, Jesus told us leave everyone and follow Him (Luke 14:25). If your eye is causing you to sin then, gauge out your eye and if your hand causes you separation from God then, cut off that hand (Matthew 18:9). And lastly, if a fellowship drives you away from God, leave that Fellowship (2 Corinthians 6:17). Jesus uses such harsh words to let us know the importance of us being connected with him.
People have the wrong notion that worship session is about us receiving something inspirational from God. No, it is about us worshiping God and forgetting ourselves. Our tithes and offerings help run our local church and is the need of the hour, given the uncertain world we live in. But what God wants from us is to reside in our hearts and not in any buildings made by man. Don’t be satisfied by giving a tenth of your money or time or your anything to God. Give yourselves completely as an offering to God.
Do not present the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and present the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.Romans 6:13