This morning I read about tithing in Deuteronomy.
It caught my curiosity because it said;
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.” Deuteronomy 14:22
I've never heard that before.
What is that about?
While there might be more to the reason why God commanded them to eat it, I noticed that in the passages here on the tithing laws that it also mentioned sharing and rejoicing. Sharing with the Levites who worked for the temple and didn’t have anything of their own. And sharing with the widow, orphan and foreigner. Moreover, they were told that while offering this tithe they were to rejoice!
This sounds like a harvest festival to me? A Thanksgiving of sorts that was called a "tithe".
I wanted to write this blog post and share it with you because I believe a spiritual gifting of mine is generosity. And because I believe there are some misconceptions about what it means to give a tithe. I can assure you, there is a real and wonderful joy found when we give.
The topics of money and tithing can quickly become heated with rich and poor judging each other or legalistic laws being thrown around. Unfortunately when this happens, we miss out on the aspect of joy.
Here’s something to consider; how much is joy worth? How much money would you pay for some joy?
I once heard a pastor say "we are most satisfied in Him when He is most glorified in us". It's so true. There's this truth about life that I'm sure you already know; that the more we focus on what we want and our own pleasures, the more we become miserable and joy seems to evade us. But the most joyful people are the ones that seem to forget about themselves and are focused on blessing others. That's really the base line to what giving is about; it’s about God's goodness. He's asking us to do something that is good for us!
Have you ever been to a church where the congregation comes enthusiastically to the front to give their tithe? They play joyful music, and as each person comes forward they are dancing! It's beautiful. You might have to travel to another country to find it. But it truly represents the joy of giving.
It’s with this concept that we discover what tithes and offerings really are. It’s not a percentage (necessarily). It's not the plate or basket at church (necessarily). It's not even money (necessarily). Its having a heart that says "I love you God! And I'm so thankful for all that you have blessed me with”. And it's a heart that says "It would be so great to give that person _____. I can just see the blessing and joy it would be for them."
What does your heart speak to you when tithing or giving or offerings are mentioned?
Clenched teeth and clenched fists?
Scepticism about a charities' intentions?
The reasons why you don’t have to.. or why someone doesn't need or deserve it?
Pray for your heart. Pray for God to change it to align with His will. Pray for continual guidance from God to show you how and what to give, whether it's a one time small or large gift or whether it's a giving/tithe plan.
Here are some practical suggestions
Read your Bible and see what else it says about giving
Find a charity that speaks to your heart, that you believe in, and give to it. If that's the church you go to, great. If it's something else, great. If it's both, great.
Consider how Jesus said to invest not in the things of this earth that waste away but instead invest in the eternal. Does what we're spending our time and money on matter for eternity and for people seeing and knowing Jesus or is it just for our pleasure?
Make a plan. Whether its 10% or something else - having a plan and structure always helps with putting our words into actions.
Maybe consider a "graduated tithe" that can help keep you from slipping into expanding your lifestyle every year your income increases instead of expanding your generosity and joy? Here's a link for what "graduated tithe" means.