Summary: Encouraging people to take the next step to tithing.
Task: To help God’s people make this the year of their tithe.
Title: Help for Becoming the Tither You Secretly Desire
Time: November 12, 2006
I am so very excited to be able to preach today. I get to proclaim one of the most exciting activities in the Christian life. I get the privilege to share with you something that I consider as fulfilling as anything I’ve experienced in the Christian life. In fact, I place it right up there with my conversion experience. It is quite liberating, exhilarating and fulfilling. I’m speaking about the act of tithing.
Yes. Tithing. I think it’s one of the lost joys of the Christian life. It is a wonderful experience. And yet there is a lot of resistance to it. I can say that because I used to resist it with the best of them. I resisted it well into my third year of full time ministry. I know what’s it like to budget and pay all the bills and see what was left over which was never enough to amount to a tithe. Besides, I needed a few dollars cushion in case something came up.
I know there’s resistance to tithing because of a study by the Barna Research Group in 2002 that reported that 3% of Christians tithed, which means that 97% of Christians resisted (Barna.org). The average American Christian now gives between 1.8% and 2.5% of their income to the Lord. Resistance.
And yet, in spite of that resistance I sense that a lot of Christians really want to tithe. [S] If that’s you, then I want to help you become the tither you secretly desire. And I think a good place to start is by affirming five biblical truths. The person who affirms these truths will be very close to becoming the tither they desire.
[S] Affirmation #1: Affirm what God’s tithe is and is not.
Genesis 28.20-22 reads, “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” [S] And Deuteronomy 14.22 reads, “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.” [S]
“Tithe” is literally translated as tenth. In the ancient Middle East when a nation was conquered in war, the people of the conquered nation had to give the conquering king one tenth of their possessions. Under King David and Solomon a tenth of ones income became the standard national tax for Israelites (1 Samuel 8.15-17). Israelites were also expected to give one tenth of their crops, produce and cattle, etc., to the Temple to support the Priests and the religious life of the nation.
A tithe involves giving one tenth of one’s income to the Lord. But, that’s not what every Christian has been taught. I had a conversation with someone the other day who told me they tithed. But then said, “I don’t give ten percent, but I tithe every week.” That person had been taught that tithing was about giving on a consistent basis regardless on how much it was. For example, they have been taught that if a person makes $2,000.00 a month and gives $50.00 a month faithfully to the Lord, that they were tithing. That’s a myth. A tithe for a person making $2,000.00 a month is $200.00 a month. [S] If it’s a tenth it’s a tithe. If it’s not then it ain’t.
[S] Affirmation #2: Affirm that God still supports the tithe.
I read a blog the other day where a young adult Christian believed that tithing is not a valid New Testament practice. It was part of the Old Testament law and therefore not applicable to New Testament Christians. One of his reasons was that the New Testament is somewhat silent on the subject when compared to the First Covenant. But listen to what Jesus had to say about the matter in Matthew 23.23.
[S] “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Jesus did not condemn the tithe! Jesus did not say the practice of the tithe was obsolete or should be ignored. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite. Jesus said to show more mercy while not neglecting the practice of tithing. He wanted them to practice the tithe alongside the practice of mercy. [S]