Summary: Today we will talk about the priority of the tithe. Not only does it show who you trust, but it shows who is first in your life.
Putting God First
-Intro: Last week we talked about the tithe being a “trust” fund. Why did we call it that? Because whoever you give the tithe (the first tenth of your income), that is where you are putting your trust. Every time you receive income there is a test. Every time you receive a check you have an opportunity to worship someone with the first fruits of your increase. What you do with the tithe shows who you trust. Today we’re planning to build on that theme as we talk about the priority of the tithe. Not only does it show who you trust, but it shows who is first in your life.
-Now I realize these are bold statements that you might take exception to. And maybe you just flat out disagree. If you’ve heard me preach very long, you might have picked up on the fact that I don’t always draw the lines in bold. I tend to leave room for people to consider the truth they can see in God’s word and draw their own conclusions. I have no choice but to do that today as well; however, what I’m about to share with you could change your life! While I’ve always been a practicing proponent of tithing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the principles of giving God the first part pop out so clearly as in this study. “Now these things became our examples.” (1 Cor. 10:6). We can learn from the examples in the OT to see what is important to God.
-Before we jump into the text, I wanted to get the word, “first” imprinted on your mind, so enjoy this vintage clip from Abbott & Costello.
[Play Abbot & Costello Clip, Who’s on First?]
Exodus 13:1-2 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal."
Exodus 13:11-14 11 "After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your forefathers, 12 you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons. 14 "In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1. The first-born must be sacrificed or redeemed
-Notice here that only clean animals are sacrificed to God. It was an act of worship to sacrifice a clean animal to God in the way He had instructed. As a side note, I find the word sacrifice very interesting. When people came to worship God in OT times, they would sacrifice animals. I don’t know what comes to your mind, but in my mind I’m thinking that the animal is the one sacrificing or giving up something. After all, it dies!
-A hen and a pig were asked by the barnyard committee to consider making a contribution to the morning breakfast of bacon and eggs. The hen said, "Why, sure, I'll be glad to help." The pig snorted, "Now, wait a minute. Bacon and eggs! For the hen it's a contribution; but for me it's a real sacrifice."
-The word, sacrifice can refer to the "act of giving up one thing for another; something given up for the sake of another." But the word sacrifice literally speaks of doing what is sacred. And then I think of when King David said that he would not sacrifice to the Lord that which had cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). Every sacrifice and gift that we bring to God in worship should cost us something. It is the act of giving up one thing for another. When someone sacrificed a lamb in OT times, they were giving up the value of that animal. Animals were part of their currency, their wealth. So, giving up the first part of our money as a tithe to God is a form of sacrifice, doing what is sacred as worship to God. We’re bringing it to Him because it never was ours in the first place. If we make it ours, then we are really taking it from God, and the Lord called it robbery in Malachi 3:10. So, it might seem to hurt, when we give a sacrifice to God, but the alternative is disobedience. The alternative is living with our finances under a curse. No matter how much comes in, it will be devoured before it does us any good. Sound familiar?