The Bible has a lot of practical advice to give when it comes to money, especially how to manage it well and how to stay away from bad debt.

Australia has one of the highest household debt rates in the world. While other countries’ household debt has levelled out or is decreasing, Australia’s is still on the rise.

In 2015, the ratio of household spending to income was 212%. This means if a person earns $80,000 net, they are spending $169,600 per year. Obviously, this is not sustainable.

We live in a society that encourages debt: “have it now – pay later,” which is all very well if you’re able to pay later. But if something happens and you’re unable to repay, the interest rates are crippling.

We need to remember that banks and other financial institutions are businesses. They aim to make money. That’s why they will frequently allow you to increase the limit on your credit card. It’s not because they love you, they want you to spend more and pay them more interest. Then, when your credit card statement comes in, they’ll give you a “minimum amount to pay”.  But if you only pay that amount, you will be slugged a high-interest rate that will only compound your debt problem.

Ancient wisdom

In managing money and defeating debt, we need to look no further than the wisdom found in the ancient Book of Proverbs. Complied in the 4th Century BCE, it contains a thousand years of wisdom that dates back to 1,400 BCE. The knowledge that is just as relevant today!

For example, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). So, how can we manage our money well?

Spend less than you earn

It may sound like stating the obvious, but the best way to manage money is to spend less than you earn! As noted above, most people spend much more than they make, and this naturally leads to increasing debt. Some say all they need is a pay rise, but if you are in the habit of always spending more than you earn then a pay rise won’t help, and “If you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you” (Proverbs 22: 27).

One way to spend less than you earn is to resist the manipulative nature of advertising, especially the alluring power of a bargain. Remember, goods that are on sale still cost you money – you haven’t saved – and if you buy two, you don’t save more! It’s only a bargain if you need it and you can afford it! If you can’t afford it, it isn’t a good deal, no matter how cheap or tempting it may be. Proverbs tells us, “A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in a bargain” (Proverbs 17:18). You may be clapping your hands now, but you won’t be later.

When you’re shopping, practice restraint, and prayer. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life, so acknowledge his presence with you and pray for help rather than purchase irresponsibly. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28; cf. Phil 4:6-7).

Credit where credit’s due

If you use a credit card, be disciplined to pay it off every month. And if you can’t, don’t get one or perform plastic surgery! Christie and I have used credit cards all our married life, but we always pay it off fully each month. We also tie it in with frequent flyers that go towards our annual family holiday. If you currently have a credit card debt, then restrain yourself until you’ve paid it off. Discipline yourself to limit your spending to the essentials until your obligation is paid – “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another …” (Romans 13:8).

Realise that NOTHING in life is free. There’s no such thing as a “free” puppy, and that’s true of a lot of stuff we buy, whether it’s a car, home, or computer. Everything costs more than the initial price. Be aware!

No short cuts

Follow the God-ordained means of acquisition – hard work, saving, planning, self-control, patience and sowing. Jesus taught his followers to count the cost (Luke 14:28-30). I realise this is concerning the cost of discipleship, but how about we count the cost of what it takes to flourish in this world? Over the years, Christie and I have worked extremely hard. When we pioneered Bayside Church, we both worked outside of the church for many years because the church wasn’t able to support us financially. We gladly did this, not only to provide for ourselves and our children but also for others. We have worked hard, saved, planned, tithed, and waited for the blessing of God.

Proverbs gives us some eternal wisdom encouraging the lazy person to watch the ant as it “stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (6:6-11).

Debt can turn a want into a need. For example, “I WANT a plasma TV” quickly turns to “I NEED to pay it off.” We have found it far better to work hard, save, and then buy. It’s a much more satisfying journey that way.

Good debt

Debt is more appropriate in purchasing appreciating rather than depreciation assets. For example, I believe it’s okay, in fact wise, to borrow money to buy a house more so than buying a car. I encourage people to, where possible, buy a home rather than rent one. I am very grateful that God led us to buy the Bayside Centre in 1999. Although it was a stretch at the time (we borrowed $960,000), it didn’t break us. In fact, the church grew, and God prospered us. Today the building is worth several million dollars and so it’s been an excellent investment for the Kingdom of God.

How to get out of debt

If you’re in serious debt today, then you need to have a plan to get out of it as soon as possible. Ask yourself: How did I get into debt in the first place? To get out of debt, you’ll need to seek some sound financial advice. Remember, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). You’ll probably be advised to consolidate your debts and arrive at a manageable weekly/monthly figure to pay it off. It may take months or years but stay focused, and you’ll eventually have great joy in paying the last payment and entering the freedom of debt-free living. Hopefully, the pain you experience will be an excellent deterrent to repeating the process!

Should I tithe if I’m in debt?

It’s a good question and one that only the person in debt is qualified to answer. Personally, I have made it a habit to always honour God with everything I own; and to give him the first and the best (Proverbs 3:9). Christie and I have tithed all our married life, and before we were married. On top of that, we have given offerings to various needs and causes. The tithe come out of our income FIRST, we then budget on the 90%, and spend less than we earn: “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Ps 37:21).

But if you’re in debt, only you can decide how much to give (if at all). “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully” (2 Cor 9:7).

There’s a fascinating principle of interpreting and understanding Scripture that is one of the proofs of the Bible’s inspiration.  It’s called the Law of First Mention and it can be defined as follows: The very first time any important word is mentioned in the Bible … Scripture gives that word its most complete and accurate meaning to not only serve as a “key” in understanding the word’s Biblical concept, but to also provide a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible” (

The first mention of the tithe in the Bible is in Genesis 14 after Abram had rescued his nephew Lot, Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’  And he gave him a tithe of all” (verses 18-20).

The word “tithe” just pops up with absolutely no explanation at all.  But did Abram just pluck this figure out of thin air?  And, if so, why not 2% or 5% or 25%, why 10%?

According to Jewish sources ( Shem (one of Noah’s sons) taught Abram to tithe.  Abram was in Shem’s family line and Jewish tradition identifies Shem and Melchizedek as the same person.  The Book of Jasher (which is quoted by Joshua and Samuel in the Hebrew Scriptures) records the fact that Shem had been Abraham’s teacher, “And when Avram came out from the cave, he went to Noach and his son Shem, and he remained with them to learn the instruction of YHWH and his ways, and no man knew where Avram was, and Avram served Noach and Shem his son for a long time.  And Avram was in Noach’s house thirty-nine years, and Abram knew YHWH from three years old, and he went in the ways of YHWH until the day of his death, as Noach and his son Shem had taught him” (Jasher 9:5-6).  Thus Abraham paid the tithe to Shem because Shem had been his personal teacher.  The apostle Paul brings this truth into the New Covenant Scriptures, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (Galatians 6:6).  The context of this verse is the disciple giving material support to his or her teacher.

The influence of Shem’s teaching about God’s tithe is found among the earliest nations (family clans) after the flood.  Tithing was commonly practised among Gentiles.  It was a custom required by the earliest priest-kings and tithing was practised in ancient nations even before the time of Abraham.  Tithing was a universal act among the earliest nations.  The money was used to maintain holy shrines and support the priests.

In Genesis 14 Abram was still a Gentile.  Although he became Abraham and the first patriarch of the nation of Israel, his tithing was not a Jewish act at all; in fact this event was 430 years before the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses adopted the principle of tithing and developed it.  Under Moses there were three tithes:

  1. The Lord’s tithe: 10% of gross income that went to support the priesthood and temple (Numbers 18:21).
  2. The Family tithe: 10% of the 90% that was saved for the future support of the family (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
  3. The Poor tithe: every third family tithe was given to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

It’s fascinating to note that four per cent of the American population today is Jewish and yet they own 40% of the wealth.  The reason being that many of them still practise tithing.

The principle of the tithe was then adopted by almost every ancient culture from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire to the temples of Apollo in Delphi and Athena in Athens, pre-Christian centers of worship collected tithes for their gods.  Ancient cultures as different as the Greeks and Chinese—including the Arabians, Sicilians, Cretans, Phoenicians, Romans, Egyptians and Carthaginians—gave in ways mirroring the tithe.

Old Testament truth is still applicable to us today unless the New Testament presents truth that supersedes it.  For example, Jesus cancelled the Old Testament food rules in Mark 7:17-19, but did not present truth that superseded tithing.  In fact He endorsed it in Luke 11:42 & Matthew 23:23.

The New Testament actually increases the conditions of the Law (read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in which He increased the definition of murder and adultery amongst other things).  If a tenth was required under the Law, no less than a tenth is required under grace.  The final mention of tithing in the Bible (Hebrews 7) refers back to the first mention – to the story of Abram and Melchizedek.  Here the writer relates this mysterious King-Priest to Jesus the eternal King-Priest.  As Abram willingly paid tithes to Melchizedek we willingly pay tithes to Jesus.

In New Testament times the Eastern Church began tithing out of obligation because they believed Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man demanded sacrificial generosity.  Church fathers like Clement and Irenaeus encouraged the church to exceed the Old Testament tithe because Jesus had freed them from the Law.  I agree!  In my experience those who proclaim that tithing is not for today are usually using it as an excuse to give less or nothing at all.

It’s likely that teaching on tithing originated with God and was then adopted by various nations and individuals from that point on.  It seems clear that teaching on giving and generosity occurred very early on in human history. Consider the story of Cain and Abel who brought an offering (first mention) to God.  Who taught them to do that?  And why did God look with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor?  It had nothing to do with animal sacrifice.  It appears that Cain’s offering was an after-thought and was probably insufficient.  God says to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Gen 4:6-7).  In some way Cain was disobedient to what God – and probably his parents – had taught him.  God’s displeasure with Cain’s offering implies that Cain failed to meet some divinely revealed requirement.

Tithing is an ancient practice of giving 10% of a person’s increase in order to support to a certain person (a king or priest like Melchizedek) or an institution (like the priesthood or a sanctuary).  The New Testament Scriptures make it abundantly clear that a church community has an obligation to meet the financial needs of its pastors – especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:7-12).

Members of a local church have all the privileges of belonging to such a community but with all blessings come responsibilities and that includes financial support of that community.  We have a responsibility to fund the spread of the Gospel, to plant churches, to help the poor and to encourage justice.  All of this takes a lot of hard work, and being generous with our time, energy and resources.  It starts with the ancient practice of tithing!  Have you started?

The prophecy of Malachi is the last book in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is God’s last word before His last Word – Jesus.

In this short prophecy Malachi points out a number of ways in which the lives of His people were displeasing to God:

  1. They were marrying wives outside the community, thus introducing ideas that were contradictory to Judaism.
  2. They were divorcing their ageing wives so that they could marry younger ones (2:10-11)
  3. They were being careless in their offerings (1:6-2:9)
  4. They were failing to pay their tithes (3:8-10)
  5. They were being neglectful towards the poor (3:5)

Overall things were not good. And so God sends Israel a messenger to remind them of His love, grace and expectations (like any good parent).

The prophecy is set out as a series of questions and answers. For example, in Malachi 3 God challenges His people to return to Him. The people ask, ‘how are we to return?’ It’s a fair question that receives an interesting answer. I mean, if you asked me how you were to return to God I’d suggest things like repentance, prayer, studying the Bible, and being connected to a good church. But God addresses their giving – or rather their lack of it.

The same happened when people came and asked John the Baptist about how they could get right with/return to God (see Luke 3:7-14). No one asked him about money and yet the three answers he gave all addressed the people’s attitude to money – including giving, greed, contentment and sharing.

When the people of Malachi’s day asked the question, ‘how are we to return?’  God answers with another question, “will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘how are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.” You are under a curse — your whole nation — because you are robbing me.”

That’s the problem, now for the solution:bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

The remedy for spiritual drifting was for the entire community to recognize their responsibility. The WHOLE nation was to bring the WHOLE tithe. This was something the WHOLE community was to do, “that there may be food in my house.”  When they all did this the WHOLE community would be blessed.

God throws out the challenge, “test me in this.” The Hebrew word for test, Bachan, refers to the testing of metals to see how valuable they are. God is challenging His people: you be generous with your tithes and offerings to me and my work and see how valuable I will be to you in return. I will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

In Scripture, the phrase the floodgates of heaven is used in relation to Noah’s flood (Genesis 7:11; 8:2) and the supply of Manna for Israel in the desert (Psalm 78:23-24). Both are acts of abundance.

And so to apply this prophecy to the New Testament church: bringing the whole tithe, in addition to offerings, is the responsibility of all believers in order to make sure the Church community that they are part of is fully provided for, healthy & effective in outworking the vision God has given it. In return, God promises to abundantly bless and protect that community to such an extent that even those outside the community will take note.

Being part of a church community is an enormous blessing, and every blessing carries with it responsibilities. I encourage you to take the responsibilities of tithing, generosity and giving offerings seriously. You won’t be disappointed!

Money, especially the giving of it, is one of the most often-mentioned topics in the Bible. It is also one of the most controversial and likely to provoke a response, which is often a negative one. Many years ago I attended a Christian financial seminar in which the speaker presented some simple but powerful truths about handling money. I have put his “two basic rules” into practice ever since: (1) Spend less than you earn; (2) Tithe on the first fruits on all your increase.

Tithing is the Biblical principle of giving one-tenth of all our increase, income or possessions to the Lord, so that His work can be accomplished in the world (tithe = tenth). About tithing Dr. Billy Graham wrote, “God’s blessing upon the nine-tenths helps it to go further than the ten-tenths without His blessing!”

The most frequent objection to tithing is that it’s part of the Old Testament Law that doesn’t apply to Christians today. I’ve found that this statement is often used as an excuse not to tithe. But tithing predates the law. The first mention of tithing in the Bible is Genesis 14:18-20 in which Abraham willingly gave King Melchizedek 10% of all his increase. Where did Abraham learn this principle? Did he just pluck 10% out of thin air, or was he privately instructed by God on a universal principle of life? I would suggest the latter because God later included the tithing principle in the Law of Moses. The final mention of tithing in the Bible (Hebrews 7) refers back to the first mention – to the story of Abraham and Melchizedek. Here the writer relates this mysterious King- Priest to Jesus the eternal King-Priest. As Abraham willingly paid tithes to Melchizedek we willingly pay tithes to Jesus.

It should also be said that Old Testament truth is still applicable to us today unless the New Testament presents truth that supersedes it. For example, Jesus cancelled the Old Testament food rules in Mark 7:17-19, but did not present truth, which superseded tithing. In fact He endorsed it. Have a read of Luke 11:42 & Matthew 23:23.

The New Testament actually increases the conditions of the law (read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in which He increased the definition of murder and adultery amongst other things). If a tenth was required under the law, no less than a tenth is required under grace.

What God taught Abraham about tithing was adopted 400 years later in the Law. The Law of Moses presents truth on tithing that, if implemented today, gives excellent advice on giving and saving. Under the Law there were three tithes:

  1. The Lord’s tithe: 10% of gross income that went to support the priesthood and temple (Numbers 18:21).
  2. The Family tithe: the next 10% that was saved for the future support of the family (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
  3. The Poor tithe: every third family tithe was given to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

It’s fascinating to note that 4% of the American population today is Jewish and yet they own 40% of the wealth; the reason being that many of them follow these principles. Revivalist John Wesley put it this way, “make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.”

Another question people ask about tithing is, “should I tithe on my gross or net income?” Jesus often answered a question with a question so I’ll follow in His footsteps: are you looking for a way of giving more or less to God? I have always made it a practice to tithe on my gross income because I believe it is the right thing to do. In any case this is only a question because of our taxation system. Until just over a hundred years ago people were paid their full wage and were then responsible for paying their tax. It’s still this way in some countries today. The question that flows on from this then is “who should be paid first – God or government?”  Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:13-17). He also taught us to seek God’s Kingdom FIRST (Matthew 6:33). That leads onto the next question, how should I tithe? Three principles should be followed when tithing:

  1. The First: as mentioned above, we are to put God first in our giving, “honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9). Throughout the Bible the first of anything was sacred to the Lord.
  2. The Best: in Old Testament times the people of Israel often fell into bad habits. One of those was to start giving to God lame, blind and imperfect animal sacrifices. This was as displeasing to God as an imperfect gift given as an afterthought would be to any of us. Lamb sacrifices were always to be a firstborn, unblemished male (Exodus 34:26; Numbers 18:12-13; Ezekiel 44:30). This flows through to God’s sacrifice for us in Jesus, the firstborn sinless Son. God gave His best for us, should we not offer Him the same out of pure appreciation and love?
  3. The Lot: out of any increase we receive we are to give a tithe to God first – salary, lump sum payments, inheritance, superannuation pay outs, gifts, holiday pay, share dividends, bonuses and so on. God calls us to honor Him with the first fruits of ALL our increase. Any less dishonors him.

Where should I give my tithe? As mentioned already, The Lord’s tithe (10% of gross income) went to support the priesthood and temple, “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house  (Malachi 3:10).  God expected His people to provide for His work that they and others would benefit from. Nothing has changed. In the New Testament Book of Acts people brought money and laid it at the apostles feet (Acts 4:34 – 5:2). The placement of the gift “at the apostles’ feet” was an indication that the money was for the work of the church and not meant to be a personal gift. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that God’s people have a duty to give to God’s work through the leaders He has placed over them (1 Cor. 9:9, 14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18). These leaders in turn will be called to account for the way they have distributed this finance in order to further God’s kingdom on earth.

Why should I give a tithe? We tithe out of gratitude for the past. “God, I realise that everything I’ve achieved up to this point, anything I have, all belongs to you anyway. I want to give 10% back to you as an act of gratitude.” We tithe to keep our priorities right in the present. Deuteronomy 14:23 says, “the purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first” (TLB). It’s a reminder that God is really first in my life, and it helps me set my priorities.  We tithe as a statement of faith for the future. When I tithe I’m saying, “God, you’ve taken care of me in the past, so I trust you and I’m giving this to you as a demonstration of my faith that you will provide in the future.”

Tithing is a great floor but a lousy ceiling. Giving the first 10% of our increase to God’s work through our local church is a good place to begin, but this principle is meant to be freeing rather than restrictive. C.S. Lewis used to give away 2/3 of his income. R.G. LeTourneau (Mover of Men and Mountains) gave 90% of his. The more God blesses us the greater percentage we should give to him.  Finally, J.D. Rockefeller wrote, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”  It’s got to start somewhere and at sometime.  Why not start today?

If you ask the question, “could you do with more money?” I’m sure most of us would reply with a resounding “yes.” There are a couple of challenges with this though.

Firstly, most people live about one-third beyond their means. That is, most of us are in debt. So, for those who think their problems would be over if they simply had a pay rise, think again. Unless you modify your behaviour a pay rise is the last thing you need because you’ll simply put yourself into a higher debt level and still live one-third beyond your means.

Martin Luther put it this way, “Satan doesn’t care which side of the horse we fall off, as long as we don’t stay in the saddle.” Some people fall off the horse on the side of poverty.

The poverty gospel claims that money is inherently evil and avoiding it is the best policy. Believing this message, countless Christians over the centuries have taken a vow of poverty and submitted themselves to some bizarre practices. They believed that doing this made them more spiritual as well as more acceptable to God.

But if we follow this reasoning to its logical conclusion then:
• The poorer you are the more spiritual you are
• Sell everything and live under a bridge
• Don’t help the poor because you’ll make them unspiritual!

And yet the Bible teaches that poverty is a curse (see Deuteronomy 28). Over 2000 times in Scripture God tells His people to help relieve poverty – Why would He ask this if poverty was spiritual? Jesus said, “… do to others what you would have them do to you.” If you and your family were hungry what would you want prosperous Christians to do for you?

"Give me neither poverty nor riches." The other extreme to those who have a poverty mindset is people who hold to what has become known as the prosperity Gospel. This teaches that money is a sign of godliness as well as God’s favour on a believer’s life. But the Bible teaches that financial blessing is a sign of God’s goodness not ours …

Matt 5:45, “[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” There are plenty of wealthy people who don’t care for God or others. The psalmist lamented this very thing when he observed, “… the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Ps 73:12; cf. Psalm 37:35-36; Eccl 7:15; Jeremiah 12:1)

The poverty mindset views money as always evil. Prosperity teaching sees money as always good. But money is neither good nor bad. Things don’t have morality – people do! Think about that $20 note in your pocket. What has it been used for in the past? What will you use it for? What will it be used for in the future? For all we know it could have been used in a drug deal or to buy porn. You might use it to buy lunch. The next person could donate it to charity. It is the person who has the money that makes the money good or bad. It’s what resides in the person – their goodness or lack thereof.

The apostle Paul addressed this when he wrote, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Money isn't evil but the inordinate love of it is. “In the midst of prosperity, the challenge for believers is to handle wealth in such a way that it acts as a blessing, not a curse.”

The balance between these two extremes is generosity. I believe this is one of the signs of true spirituality, and generosity doesn’t depend on the amount of wealth you have but rather on what you do with what you have! One day Jesus was observing people putting money into the Temple treasury. All the wealthy people were putting in large sums of money but it was only a small percentage of what they had. Then a widow put in two small coins – everything she owned. Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on." She was demonstrating generosity. In Matthew 27 we're introduced to Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man who was also a disciple (follower) of Jesus. He was wealthy and also demonstrated generosity by donating his tomb to the deceased Jesus.

The Bible is full of examples of both poor and wealthy people who lived lives of generosity (read 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:8, 10, 11; 1 Kings 17:7-24; 2 Kings 4:1-7, 8-37). Over the years I've met generous poor people and stingy poor people. I've come across generous wealthy people and stingy wealthy people. I t's not how much or how little we have its whether or not we have a generous heart. And so it doesn't matter if you find yourself with plenty or little or somewhere in the middle, practice living a generous life.

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.

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