Summary: We had more new tithers after of this message than any other I have preached.
A. Have you noticed how many factories today have a big white banner prominently displaying how many days they have gone without any injuries? The reason for this is because any injury makes everyone pay a price. When you count the cost of treating the injury, replacing the worker, loss of productivity, higher workman’s comp rates, and higher health liability insurance rates you can see why getting employees to follow the safety rules is so important. Too bad we don’t count the number of people keeping God’s rules in the church. When God’s people keep the rules then everyone benefits just as when only one breaks the rules, everyone inevitably pays a price.
B. Tithing is one of God’s rules. Tithing is not a test to see how much money the church can raise, tithing is a test of faith to help us grow in our relationship with Christ.
C. The reason I am speaking on tithing today is not because we need more money. In fact, the income from your tithes are what we anticipated them to be when making our church budget last year. The reason I am talking about tithing is because it is a crucial element of your relationship with God. Tithing is between you and God, it’s not about the church or me.
D. Just because one out of eight verses in the Bible talks about bling bling caching caching is reason enough to talk about it at least a couple Sundays of the year. Would it be Christian of me to not talk about money when Jesus talked so much about it?
I. What is tithing?
A. Tithing is bringing 10% of the increase of my wealth to the Lord. Anytime you receive more wealth as in paychecks, sales of cashed out items, etc… you are increasing your wealth and God is asking for 10% of what that figure is.
B. Martin Luther said that a Christian must be converted three times. The first time for his mind. The second time for his heart. And the third time for his wallet, and of the three the most difficult conversion is of the wallet.
C. Someone once said that a Christian is someone who is content to live on leftovers. When it comes to tithing isn’t that basically true? We give to God the first of what comes in and then we gladly live on what’s left over.
II. What’s the origin of tithing?
A. The idea of 10% probably had its origin with simple math. Since people have always had 10 fingers, figuring out how to compute one out of ten would be fairly easy.
B. The earliest biblical reference is 4600 years ago when Abram got through a war fairly unscathed and rescued his relative Lot. The Bible mentions that Abram then went to Melchizedek, a king and a priest of God, and gave him a tenth of everything he owned (Genesis 14:20).
Another early place we see the tithe is in Numbers 18:21 where Moses gives the people a law of God telling them to bring all their tithes to the priests.
C. In the New Testament Jesus assumed the old law was the rock bottom expectation of the Christian. According to Jesus, his followers should not only give according to the law but also a whole lot more.
D. The early church in the east tithed from the inspiration of the story of the rich young ruler.
In the western church, Chrysostom shamed his stingy church for marveling at the tithes of others!
So tithing has been practiced by God’s children for thousands of years.
III. What’s good about tithing?
There are many good things about tithing but I will focus on four of them.
1. Tithing is evidence of a growing faith. Tithing and faith are intricately connected. It takes faith to tithe, especially to get started. When we tithe we are stating that we are practicing faith, that God will do what he says he will do regardless of how likely I am to see it happening.
2. Tithing reminds me of God’s ownership. In the great San Francisco earthquake a century ago, one of the complicating factors was that the ensuing fires destroyed nearly every document. As a result people who had rented their houses told judges that they had owned them instead and that the deeds had been burned in the fires. Only the landlords who had rent receipts were able to retain ownership of their properties. When we tithe we are giving a type of receipt to God that we acknowledge that he is the owner of all things.
3. Tithing proves God can trust me with more. One of the biblical reasons God gives us wealth is for us to share it with others. A 90% commission isn’t bad for any job, is it? But that is exactly what God does in giving us money when it is his intention that we should pass it on to his saving work in the world. Wouldn’t it be sad to get to heaven and discover that one of the reasons you did not have more wealth on earth was because God couldn’t rely on you to pass a tenth of it on to others?