Summary: The purpose of this study is to take the focus of tithing off money and obligation and put it on trusting God and thankfulness. What is the purpose of God’s blessings and the motive of our giving?
Stewardship – Conduits of God’s Grace
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.
Stewardship through tithing did not begin with the Mosaic Law, but as a part of Abraham’s faithfulness to God. Abraham was well before the law. Abraham was the picture of justification by faith that points directly to our faith in Christ. Abraham was not justified by the law, but by trusting God. It is through Abraham’s faith that the first tithe was given. The principle of giving was not the tithe. Giving to God’s work was the tithe, but the principle of giving is stewardship – all things belong to God and entrusted to our care. Abraham testified to this in Genesis 14:22-23. After giving a tenth to the Priest of God, Abraham then declared that God was the Possessor of all things and Abraham took an oath that He would not take anything so that he would not become rich outside of God.
This principle from Genesis is revived in the New Testament after the law was fulfilled in Christ. God’s people were no longer following the letter of the Law of Moses, but the law of faith written in their hearts. The law of faith is written in our hearts when we are born into the new life through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:27). We are not constrained by the Law, but compelled by faith and the love of God. For a child of God, obedience comes from a desire of the heart, not a command of the law. In the New Testament church, we see the same focus that Abraham had – He is the Possessor and we are the stewards. Look at Acts 2:
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
The Law demands 1/10th but faith acknowledges all things are His. It is true that Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law, but this opened the door for us to live in complete trust toward God. Between Abraham and the Cross, the people were blinded when the law was obeyed outside of faith. Obedience and justification have always been a matter of faith. Before the law, faith justified. During the time of the Law, people were justified by keeping the law out of faith. Now that Jesus has been revealed and the veil has been removed, we are justified by faith alone. In the past, the law guided people to faith in God, today faith in Christ guides us to keep God’s law. The things that pleased God in times of old, still please God today. The things that grieved God in the Old Testament days, grieve God’s heart today.
In this study, I want to look at four principles of giving: Trusting God, being Conduits of God’s Grace, God blesses the giver, and Giving with the right motives.
1. Trusting God
Tithing and giving is trusting God with finances. It is an act of faith, believing God and putting our trust in Him and not our own strength. When I give back to God, I am showing that my trust is not in my money, but in my God. I am taking my trust out of my hands and out of the world’s control through money and placing my confidence in God. It is easy to horde and put my confidence in my ability to build up a large reserve. I am not saying that planning for the future is wrong. It is good stewardship to get out of debt and to prepare for retirement. But I am saying that this is secondary to trusting God. To plan ahead without God is foolishness.
In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus told a parable about a man who put his trust in wealth. This man was prosperous. He worked hard and it paid off. He decided to build bigger barns, stock up with plenty and live the good life. God judged him, not for prospering, but making his prosperity his trust and his god. Jesus concluded by saying, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”.
Possessions will become our god if we do not take care to place our hope in God. Tomorrow the economy could collapse and every penny would be worthless. Proverbs 23:5 says, “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” The Bible also tells us that in the last days, people will throw their silver in the streets and gold will be cast away like abhorrent trash (Ezekiel 7:19). Those whose trust is in God will still have their strength during hard times, but whoever trusts in wealth will not have a foundation.