Growth is a necessary but nasty little word we use in Christian circles to mean that we have not, nor will we ever, reach the epitome of what Jesus wants for us in this lifetime. Any time we try to rationalize our decisions in an area of spiritual growth, the internal dialogue goes something like this: “Of course I trust You, God. Everything I have is Yours. I feel confident that I’m allowing You to lead me. I serve at church, give back to the community, and do my best to set a godly example. All things considered, I think of myself as a pretty solid Christian. Wait. You want me to do what? I don’t know, Lord. What if (insert infinite list of problems here)? There’s no way. I can’t. I can do anything but that.”
For many Christians, that one thing we tiptoe around is a very touchy subject: Our finances—more specifically, tithing. Ouch. If there’s one surefire way to discover what’s important to someone, all you have to do is look at her calendar and checkbook. Time and money are valuable resources to be used for God’s glory, but I am ashamed to admit that many of us apparently don’t think He’s able to replenish what we give away.
Tithing is an Old Testament command that required one-tenth of the firstfruits to be given as a sacrifice to the Lord. It was an expression of thankfulness to God for His provision. Although today we give money rather than the wealth of the land, God still asks us to give back to Him as an act of faith. It is the only area in which God says to test Him and see if He will not pour out the blessings of Heaven so that there will be no more need (Malachi 3:10-12).
Keep in mind that it all belongs to Him anyway so how does our frugality make any sense? I sum it up in one word: Control. We feel like our efforts are rewarded with the money we earn; therefore, we get to decide how that money is used (bills, activities, etc). After all, the Father doesn’t need our money, right? The answer is no…and yes. Does the Creator of the universe actually need your money? Absolutely not; He has every known source of wealth at His disposal. Although the money we give in Christ’s name is used for Kingdom building, the real work is taking place in our hearts.
Tithing is a lesson in building our faith, not a giving contest. The more we do it, the more we grow and see God’s hand at work in our lives. We cannot possibly outgive God. Blessings for faithful giving may not always come in the form of money; we may have opportunities for extra income when we need it, energy to sustain us through a hectic time, friendship, guidance, love, etc. We aren’t able to reach everyone with the “good news,” but by giving, we enable those who are positioned to do so reach others for the Kingdom.
In the present day, tithing should be sacrificial and done with joy. If we need to be recognized for what we give, we have already received our reward by receiving affirmation from others. The goal in this life is to look more and more like Jesus; what better way to do that than to give back a small portion of what He’s given us? We could argue for days whether we should give a literal tenth of our earnings, but I believe that Jesus is looking for a sincere heart change as we sacrificially give. That looks different for everyone, I believe.
For many, it is finances. The world has become a pretty expensive place to live and work in, but I also believe we could be better stewards with our money. For others, time is the issue. The same 24 hours a day exist for each of us, and how we spend it is our choice. Personally, I think this area of our lives should convict us more than anything; if we focused more on feeding our minds with the Word, the outflow of giving would be more than generous. Embrace that nasty little ‘g’ word this year…your inner dialogue may just sound a little different next time.
Featured Image by Allef Vinicius