Deuteronomy 26:12 “When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.”
Moses instructed the people who in the first of their produce, they were set aside a portion as the offering of first fruits to the Lord, which would become food for the Levites and priests. Additionally, he taught them that in the third year they harvested crops, it was to be a year of tithing to God. A sacred portion was to be set aside and brought to the Lord, who proportioned this food for the Levites, who had no inheritance in Israel but the LORD, the fatherless, the widowed, and the foreigner. This group was those who had nothing of their own and relied upon God to provide their subsistence.
I am appalled by the number of people calling themselves Christians who do not tithe let alone give on a regular basis to the house of God. People give all kinds of excuses as to why they don’t tithe: “It’s OT and under the law, which has been fulfilled,” “It’s not in the NT,” or “I give what I feel led to give,” etc. The truth of the matter is that people don’t tithe out of the hardness of their hearts and greed and pride and lack of faith in trusting God to provide should they actually do what He says.
Tithing started prior to the Law actually when Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek after defeating Lot’s captors. That act was 470 years prior to the giving of this command from God by Moses to Israel. But let us look at the real reason why God had His people tithe and why we should continue the discipline today. If we read closely in this passage above, we see that the tithe (1/10 of the produce grown by Israel) was for the preachers, the fatherless, the widowed and the foreigner. All of these groups in Israel were not able to own land of their own in great quantities to grow mass produce. The Levites had land to grow produce but no permanent inheritance among Israel. God was their provider through the sacrifices and offerings/tithes. The poor and alien had nothing generally.
So how do we translate that in today’s relevance? When we bring God’s portion (tithe) into the church, God provides for the “ox treading out the grain” or preachers, God provides monies to buy goods to take care of the poor within our congregation, and God provides for the homeless and aliens that may be in our churches and neighborhoods, who have nothing on which to survive. The tithe is not about making the pastor(s) rich, not at all! It is about loving God enough to do what He says foremost and about trusting Him to provide for the portion we give back to Him. This first tenth is sacred and belongs to God, technically all our money is His while we are allowed to be stewards of that resource. When we bring back the sacred portion to God, He blesses that portion, which thereby blesses the remaining 90% He left in our care.
Today we don’t grow crops like they did in ancient times. Agriculture was a source of income for most. Today, we trade in currency and coin not produce for the most part. Thus, instead of bringing produce to the church to care for those who are without necessities, we bring 10% of our gross income to the church and allow God to use us to help provide for those that are without the necessities of life. So, now ask yourself, why don’t you bring your tithe to the church? Are you so stubborn and selfish that you don’t want to help the brethren and the less fortunate? Where is your grace being extended that God extended to you? Are you giving freely what has been freely received by you from God? What would you do if you suddenly lost your source of income? Would you come running to the church for assistance and find none because you didn’t bring your tithe?
Jesus said that those who ministered to Him were those who offered drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothing for the naked, visitation to the shut-in. Then He followed that up with those who have done these things to the least of my brethren (the body of Christ) has done so unto Him. He can provide everything for us (see Matt. 6:33), but He likes to work through us to grow us in Him and conform us to His image. Is your “tithing” reflecting God’s image, or is your lack of tithing deflecting God’s image? Think about it.
Father, I am a cheerful giver when it comes to the tithe. I know firsthand the blessing that comes from bringing to You what is already Yours. You bless my giving and my remaining 90% as well, which includes the 28% that goes to the government that is withdrawn before I ever see it. Your principle of tithing has taught me to withdraw and bring the first tenth to You and to not miss it and learn how to live on the remaining 72% (minus taxes) and still be able to give offerings above and beyond that to further bless Your people and those who don’t know You. Thank You for Your abundant blessing and favor on my house. May the Giver of blessing be praised! In Jesus’ name, Amen.