Tithing is the practice of giving one-tenth of one’s income or possessions to God’s work so that it can be successfully accomplished. The word tithe simply means “tenth” (Hebrew: Ma’asar) and is first found in the Bible in Genesis 14:20 when Abram met Melchizedek king of Salem. As well as being a king, Melchizedek was also a priest of God and he blessed Abram. In return, Abram blessed Melchizedek by giving him a tenth of everything.
In the New Testament book of Hebrews we are once again acquainted with this king/priest and this time we find out his true identity. Melchizedek is symbolic of Jesus the Messiah – the One who blesses us. The One we give a tenth of everything to.
The story of Melchizedek is fascinating, especially for those who reject the responsibility of tithing with the excuse that its just part of Old Testament law that doesn’t apply to Christians today. The story of Abram pre-dates the law by nearly 600 years. The Book of Hebrews, of course, is in the New Testament.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus reinforces tithing as something He requires. In his rebuke of the religious leaders of the day he challenges them for being pernickety about tithing while neglecting the more important things like justice, mercy and faithfulness. Jesus says, “you should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (that is, tithing).
There are many reasons why we tithe. Here are a few of them:
• It is a principle of God (Numbers 18:24-28)
• It belongs to God – not you (Leviticus 27:30; Malachi 3:8-9)
• It brings the blessing of God (Malachi 3:10-12; Luke 6:38)
• It defeats the spirit of this age – greed (Colossians 3:5)
• It demonstrates that we serve God not money (Matthew 6:24)
• We are called to fund the work of God (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
• We recognise that everything we have belongs to God (1 Cor 6:19-20)
• God gave his most precious possession for us (John 3:16)
• Obedience is proof of our love for Jesus (1 John 5:1-3; John 14:15)
• Giving is the gateway to receiving the true riches (Luke 16:10-15)
• We believe in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:19-21)
Evangelist Billy Graham said this about tithing:“God’s blessing on the nine-tenths helps it to go further than the ten-tenths without his blessing!” His words are true. I can’t explain it to you. All is know is that for most of my Christian life I have honored God by giving him the FIRST ten percent of ANY financial increase I have received and, as a result, I have experienced the truth of Billy Graham’s words. There was a short season many years ago when I stopped tithing and it was one of the leanest and most difficult times I’ve ever faced. It was like the river stopped flowing.
And so, as we approach the beginning of a New Year, let me challenge you to develop the habit of honoring God with the tithe. Don’t wait until you’ve paid all your other bills. Put God FIRST because that’s what He did for you.