Friday, November 11, 2016

Tithing: a practice that's blessed

Give in the old way or in the new!

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Malachi 3:1-15

TO CHEW ON:"'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,'
Says the Lord of hosts,
'If I will not open for you
the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.'" - Malachi 3:10

Do you tithe? By tithe I mean give 10% of your income to God.

I know some people argue against tithing, saying that it is a form of legalism hearkening back to Old Testament times. However, I believe that it is a practice that carries on for us today (supported by Jesus in Matthew 23:23), and that when we give in such an accurate and consistent way, we benefit.

Three blessings of tithing are mentioned in today's Malachi reading:

1. Tithing supports the church (Malachi 3:10). Malachi phrases it "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse / That there may be food in my house..." Our tithes brought to the churches where we worship and are spiritually fed (the 'storehouse') means that they will flourish as headquarters for spreading the Gospel in our communities.

2. Tithing is grounds for God's blessing (Malachi 3:10). What sweet words from Him! Who of us wouldn't welcome an open heaven, and so much blessing we couldn't contain it?

3. Tithing frustrates Satan (Malachi 3:11). God says through Malachi, "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes." For Judah He would do it in a very practical way by blessing crops and causing a bountiful harvest to the extent that she would gain an international reputation as "blessed" and known to be a "delightful land" (Malachi 3:12). Rebuking the devourer for us could be God's blessing and protection in a myriad ways from preserving our property, to keeping our machines from breaking down, to prospering us at work, to keeping our clothes from wearing out (the way God blessed the Israelites when they trekked through the desert during the exodus - Deuteronomy 8:4; 29:5; Nehemiah 9:21).

Of course our primary motive in tithing shouldn't be to get a blessing. As a sidebar article in my Bible explains:
"Nothing will keep a wise believer from tithing and giving, but he or she will never be found to tithe or give offerings just to get something in return. ... Do not be afraid to prove God with your giving; He is God and He will stand the test every time" - Oral Roberts in "God's Giving Plan Begins With Tithing," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1272.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this clear teaching about accurate, systematic giving. Help me to understand how this is a spiritual as much as a monetary matter. Amen.

MORE: Is tithing needful for salvation?
If you are looking for arguments against tithing, you’ll find lots online. There are a multitude of books and articles that insist on things like tithing was only for the support of the priests (descendants of the tribe of Levi who had no land) and the poor, that it was only given as agricultural produce (never money), that Jesus’ mention of it (Luke 18:12) means nothing for us because He was speaking in a time before His death when the law was still in effect, and more.

My position is:
  • Tithing is not required. It is not necessary for salvation. We are under grace.
  • Tithing is a good place to start when figuring out what part of my income/substance I should give. When I tithe, I am reminded that all I have really belongs to God. Some challenge tithing of other things as well, like one’s time.
“The old covenant required 10 percent. The new covenant does not specify a percentage, nor do we. However, the new covenant admonishes people to give what they can, and tithing still provides an instructive point of comparison” - read all of “Is Tithing Required in the New Covenant?”
  • Paul talks about how ministers of the gospel deserve to be supported by those who benefit from their ministry (1 Timothy 5:18). In the Old Testament that support came from the tithe. Tithing seems like a good practical solution to support the “house” but, again, it is not a law or requirement.
  • Because the New Covenant is so much better than the old one, why limit oneself to giving only one tenth? That’s the point John Piper makes on this 7-minute audio file where he answers: “Is Tithing Commanded for Christians?

***********Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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