When it comes to the “tithe” there are differing views among believers. Some declare freedom from the tithe, rationalizing that they are no longer under the law. This is true – we are no longer under the law. Thank Jesus for that! While Jesus frees us from the yoke of the law, He calls us to something even higher – love! And lovers are givers!
Abraham wasn’t under the law either. He lived long before Moses wrote down the rules. Yet Abraham left a trail of altars on his journeys. When he encountered the priest Melchizedek, he tithed. What do you suppose motivated him, if not the law? We can only assume he wanted to please God.
Let’s go back even further. The first altar we read of in scripture is found in Genesis. It is here where Cain and Abel brought their offerings. No one said they had to; they just did. Abel’s offering pleased God, but Cain’s did not. Being the religious man he was, Cain merely went through the motions. He didn’t offer his best. Abel, on the other hand, gave from the heart. He gave the first fruits. It wasn’t the law that compelled him. It was love.
Cain and Abel show us the difference between religion and relationship. When it comes to giving, we either follow the example of Cain, or the example of Abel. We either give out of religious duty, or we bear fruits of relationship. What does your giving say about your relationship with the Lord? We can debate the tithe till Jesus comes back. Those who do, miss the point of giving entirely. As a matter of a fact, let’s drop that word “tithe” all together. (Sounds a little legalistic, don’t you think?) Let’s refer to it as a “love offering.” Yes, that sounds much better. When it’s put that way, we feel a whole lot better about giving, don’t we?
Though the word “tithe” is never mentioned in the New Testament, the principle of giving is repeated throughout. Furthermore, we are taught how to give. With love being the golden rule, we are to give generously, purposefully and cheerfully. Here’s what the Word of God says:
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
It’s not about law; it’s about mindset. As mentioned earlier, lovers are givers. Not because they have to. They just are. Jesus makes them that way. That’s how Christians are to be known – by His love. Love may not be easy to define, but it is easy to measure. It is best measured by sacrifice. Suppose I have money coming out of my ears, millions and millions. What would it say about my love if I went to Dollar General to buy my wife an anniversary gift? I’d be called a cheapskate and rightly so. Now, with regard to God, my love for Him should be even greater.
Jesus said of the harlot who washed his feet with her own tears, “She loves much because she is forgiven much.” (See Luke 7:47) If only we realized how much we’ve been forgiven. One’s offerings just might shed some light on this. It’s worth pondering, anyway.
Here’s one thing we can bank on: should we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly. It’s just a fact. There are no heavenly blessings associated with stinginess. However, if we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully. In other words, God blesses generosity. One reason is because God is generous. It only makes sense that He would want us giving in a way that’s best reflective of His nature. It’s a wonderful tribute to His influence on us.
Not only should we give generously, we should also give purposefully. As we read in the passage above, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart.” Once again, the idea of ‘love offering’ comes to play. It’s from the heart and not something we get through our thick skull, or else. Giving should be viewed as an opportunity and not an obligation. God isn’t broke. He doesn’t need our money. Yet He gives us opportunity to express our love to Him through financial giving. Therefore, we purpose in our hearts how much and how often. Only you can decide what that is. All I’ll say is this: follow Abel’s example, not Cain’s.
Finally, we are to give cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver! That’s what the Good Book says! I have to confess, I’m not very cheerful when I pay the bills. That’s because I pay them out of obligation. Should we view our offerings the same way, as another debt, it doesn’t make for a happy soul. Nor does it make God happy. However, when giving is something we get to do, and not something we got to do, it becomes something we can look forward to. We’re blessed because were giving in a way that God loves!
If I may, I’d like to encourage you along these lines. As you give, pray over your offering. Thank God for the opportunity. Pray that He use your offering for His purposes, His Kingdom and His glory. This way, it’s not another payment you make with all the others. I also suggest that your offering be made prior to paying the bills. You may not be so cheerful afterward. Give to the Lord first and you will be – if it’s truly a love offering.
In summary, as you give unto the Lord let love be your guide. Give generously, purposefully and cheerfully and you will be blessed. Don’t be like Cain. Give of the first fruits if you are Abel : )
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660