Summary: Part 2 focuses on paying God. This message focuses on Scriptures references from the Old Testament.
Scriptures: Ex. 23:19; Num. 15:20-21; Gen. 28:22; Lev. 27:30-32, 34; Malachi 3:6-11
This is part 2 of my series on “Godly Financial Management” and this morning I will focus on “Paying God” from an Old Testament viewpoint. Next week I will focus on this from a New Testament viewpoint.
There are many people who believe that they do not need to give their money to the Church because it is actually going into the pocket of the preacher. Others believe that they should handle all of their other financial responsibilities and then, if anything is left over, give to God out of what is left. Every one of you sitting here today or reading this message via email knows that we have a responsibility to give to the Church so I am not going to waste time trying to convince you to do that. However what I am going to do is try to ensure that Scripturally you have the documentation you need in order to make the best decision possible as it relates to how you choose to give to God from your abundance. As I’ve stated before, if we consider “paying God” as part of our annual budget then we will discipline ourselves to live off less. Let’s start with what God says about giving the first fruit.
I. The First Fruit
On Thursday evening during bible study we had the opportunity to play a short game of monopoly. As each team passed “Go” they were given the opportunity to tithe off of their earning. Each team, at every opportunity, decided as a team that they would pay their tithe each time they received a paycheck. One team even decided to give an offering over and above their tithes. This generosity could have been because it was a team effort and it was monopoly money. I truly believe that many Christians would choose to pay their tithes “if they believed that they could” but are in such dire financial straits that they cannot see themselves giving that kind of money to a Church. There are also many Christians who because of their spending habits cannot afford to pay their tithes – in their minds. I say this because many people who don’t tithe somehow find the money they need when they wish to do the things they like to do as in going out to dinner, movies or going on vacations. Then there are those who actually pay their tithes and stop. That is as much as they are willing to give even though they could give more. What I want us to understand is that paying God is important and the tithe is the starting point, not the end. Let me start with what God said in the Old Testament about giving of the first fruits. Let’s begin with Exodus 23:19.
"You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God……" (Exodus 23:19a) (NASB)
Here is what is recorded in Numbers 15:20-21.
"From the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor so you shall lift it up. From the first of your dough you shall give to the Lord an offering throughout your generations.” (Num. 15:20-21)
In the Old Testament, in acknowledgement of the fact that the land and all of its products were the gift of God to Israel, and in thankfulness for His bounty, all of the first fruits were offered to God. These were offered in their natural state (fruits, grapes, cereals) or after preparation (musk, oil, flour or dough). After they gave their first fruits, the Israelites were at liberty to use the rest. This was their practice and it was carried forth for many generations. After you give what is due to God you can do with the rest what you will, but here is the thing: I believe that after we give God His He shows us how to maximize what we have left. Whatever they received from their labor down to that of making dough, they gave an offering to God of the first fruit, not of what was left over. In other words they gave God His first and then they decided how to use the rest. This is the mindset that we should take – give God His first and live off the rest. In their practice of giving God their first fruits two things were addressed; acknowledgement and thanksgiving. The Israelites understood that everything they received, from their fruit to the dough from which they made their bread was from God. In their giving to God from their first fruits (fruit meaning anything they received) they were acknowledging that God was their source. Because they understood that God was their source, they did not mind giving back to Him of what He had provided for them; especially since He would continue to provide more.