When giving less means giving more
This is it. Here comes the dreaded message about tithe and offerings. This is the blog that is going to try to reach into your pockets and pull out a couple of franklins to keep things running. Can we guilt you to give? Is it in your left pocket or right pocket?
Just kidding. We’re not planning to reach down into your pockets. We’re reaching up towards Heaven’s floodgates. Philippians 4:19 says “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” We count on God to look out for each and every one of us.
Yet we still want to spent some words expanding on the concept of giving back to God. For our sake we do not write about this concept, but for yours. When we talk about tithe, oftentimes we hear from Malachi 4, about robbing God and how we can test God and give so we can receive. Today we will explore the very first time the Bible mentions tithing and how we really should go about it.
A battle waged in goo
In Genesis 14 we read about how Abram goes out of his way to save his nephew, Lot. Recall earlier that when giving a choice between the lush country and the desert, Lot selfishly took the nicer land for himself (okay, maybe he didn’t do anything wrong here, but it would have been courteous to offer Abram a first pick). An enemy comprised of four nations (Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim) attacked the nations of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. Turns out these five nations had served the king of Elam and grew tired of it, so they rebelled (Revolutionary War style).
You would think the brigade of five kings would outlast the army of four kings, but they did not wisely choose the place to battle. The area they chose contained many bitumen pits (think black goo, like petroleum residue or the stuff used for asphalt), and many fell into them. Annihilated, the army of four kings took captive many peoples and goods, and celebrated their victory.
Don’t mess with the godfather
Here’s the thing with Abram. You never take sides against Abram’s family. When he heard about what happened to Lot, he rounded up his troops (a whopping 318 of them) and pursued the enemy at night. He successfully defeated the forces of the four kings and brought back everything that was stolen. Melchizedek met and praised him, then Abram paid tithe. Then he let the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah take back what was stolen, so that no one could say that he became rich by the means of men.
The context of tithe
Did you catch that? Paying tithe was one small thing in the context of a much larger narrative. The focal point of this story centers around the goodness and mercy of God. God delivered the enemy into Abram’s hand, and saved the wicked nations of Sodom and Gomorrah (for a time) through it! A tenth of the spoils appeared as something habitual that Abram regularly practiced. That’s it!
Changing our approach to tithing
Too often when we approach giving we approach it from a “me first” perspective. We take a look at our revenue, deduct our expenses, then consider whether to pay tithe/offerings or not. Some of us see tithe as the initiator of blessings to come – similar to a quasi-prosperity gospel. However, in this story, the context of tithing is the response to the blessing God has already delivered.And the story does not make a big deal about it! The story focuses on what God has done, not what Abram should do.
Even within tithing discussed in Malachi, while the people of God are charged to test God and see if the windows of Heaven will pour out a blessing, the real truth lies in the fact that God had already been pouring blessing after blessing upon them. This is why they were accused of robbery, because God had given them so much and they had not returned the tithe. Tithing does not initiate the transaction for blessings, it is the result and confirmation of receiving God’s blessings.
What to take from here
When we talk about tithe, we want you to dig deep…into your heart and remember what God has already done for you. What battles has God won in your life? How has your life changed for the better because of Him? What has God given you? Based on the answers to those questions, what can you give God as a thank you gift? In our experience, we’ve heard story after story about how God made 90% of a paycheck go farther than 100% of a paycheck. It is the kind of math that makes absolutely no sense from an economical perspective. But tithing is a heavenly standard. It operates on a different field. Next time you think about tithing, please take the time to reflect on what God has done for you, and give accordingly.
Remember, tithing does not come before the blessing, the blessing comes before the tithe.