Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him… I Corinthians 16:2 (KJV)
In a meeting the other day, we were discussing funding for certain of our ministries and the need for economy. Someone piped up with, “If everyone tithed, we’d have enough for all the ministries.” That wasn’t exactly a revelation, but we all moaned in agreement.
Statistically speaking, “Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation. Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income” (relevantmagazine.com). There are reasons people give for not tithing, but it all boils down to relationship—relationship with God.
You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. And actually, tithing is not a gift. A tithe is just a basic payment in recognition of God’s generosity. A tithe is a payment; anything above the 10 percent mark becomes a gift. With all that God has given us, how can we fail to recognize his generosity by our giving in return? “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (I Chron. 29:14 NIV).
Do we foolishly think we can out-give God? Will our faithful stewardship cause us to suffer financially? In response to that, God challenges us, “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” (Mal. 3:10). He promises blessing in response to obedience. But we don’t obey to be blessed; we obey out of love.
Perhaps you’re thinking, this is old stuff. I already tithe and don’t need any reminders. So, what about becoming a giver and moving to another level? In Freedom of Simplicity, Richard J. Foster suggests practices such as simplifying our lives by giving away all the extraneous things we tend to warehouse just because they might someday be needed. He cuts even deeper proposing that we begin giving away (all or in part) monies that we weren’t expecting, such as tax refunds or inheritances or rebates, those unexpected windfalls. And there are even more ideas in Freedom…
Foster’s thoughts could be considered radical, but considering all God’s marvelous abundance with which we are constantly and consistently blessed, our giving back is nothing. Think about your giving as an index of your relationship with Jesus.
Lord, we cannot begin to express our gratitude for you and your ongoing kindness, love, and mercy. Work in us a heart of thanksgiving so that we willing let go of more and more of those things with which you have blessed us. And let our joy abound. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.