Summary: The principle of the tithe was established in the Garden of Eden
# 1 “The Garden”
A steward is one who is entrusted to be the keeper of another’s goods and interests. Since the steward is given a great deal of control over the interests of the owner, there is a considerable degree of trust involved on the part of the owner.
God has entrusted His church and every member with His interests – the building of the Kingdom of God on earth. Each of us are stewards and to each of us are given personal trusts that we alone have the ability and responsibility to keep. No one else can do it for us. These trusts are precious, of greater value than anything else in this world. God gives us our family, our church, its mission, our individual spheres of influence and a great deal more and asks us to be good stewards of all that he has given. We must remember that everything belongs to God and He gives it to us to superintend as stewards. In recognizing this great truth, Saint Paul wrote:
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I Corinthians 4:1-2.
We are summoned by the Lord to understand what it is He has given us as a church and to be faithful stewards, faithful keepers of that which has been given and that which He will add in the future.
Essential to good stewardship is the understanding that, we, as stewards do not own the things God gives us. He alone is the owner. More than that, our entire being, spirit, soul and body belongs to God as well.
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore, God’s ownership encompasses everything. Not one part of our lives is beyond the sphere of His ownership and control.
The Trees in the Garden
When God created the first man and woman, He placed them in a garden called Eden. The word Eden means, “delight”. God placed the first humans in the best possible circumstances. Everything about Eden was good and when creation was complete with the forming of the man and woman, God said it was very good. Everything God does is good! (Genesis 1:31). It is important to know that this hasn’t changed for you and me. We live in a broken world full of sorrow and pain. But, God did not create the bad, only the good! Through Jesus Christ we are restored to the good!
The Garden of Eden was filled with plants of every kind. Among them were trees that flourished and provided beauty, shade, rest and many wonderful varieties of delectable fruit. Among these trees were two that were very special:
And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9
The tree of life was first and foremost. It represented the nature of creation, especially the creation of mankind. Life alone filled the garden – death was non-existent. This life was not the bane dreary life often experienced in our world of sin. It was the abundant life of God, the kind Jesus said He came to restore to us. (St. John 10:10). This was life at its fullest, life like none known since then. The earth was in complete harmony with its creator, and nothing could be better. When sin entered the human race, the tree of life was lost to mankind. God expelled the first man and woman from the garden. Mankind lost the life they had known and death took its place. This actually was an act of mercy for if God had not done this man would have lived forever in his sins. The rest of the Bible is a record of the efforts God puts forth to restore man to the life he lost through sin. In the end, in the last chapter of the Bible, the tree of life appears once again.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life… Revelation 22: 1-2.
In the Book of Revelation, we see the tree of life in even greater splendour than we saw in the Book of Genesis. Notice that the tree stood at both sides of the river. This is unusual since a tree normally must be on one side of a river or the other. That the tree of life stood on both sides of the river is a wonderful portrayal of the all-encompassing influence of the tree of life in God’s coming kingdom. The end of the Bible paints a much better picture than the beginning does. With God the end is always better than the beginning!