Summary: Giving is rooted in God's love, releases God's blessing and results in God's kingdom advancing
THE JOY OF GIVING
A man had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He could receive little company and was not to be excited. While in the hospital a rich uncle died and left him a million dollars. His family wondered how to break the news to him with the least amount of excitement. It was decided to ask the pastor if he would go and break the news quietly to the man. The pastor went, and gradually led up to the question. The pastor asked the patient what he would do if he inherited a million dollars. He said, “I think I would give it all to the church.” The pastor wound up in the bed beside him, recovering from a heart attack himself.
Today we are starting a new series on giving. Over the next couple of weeks we want to look at what God says about giving, and also tell you about some exciting new opportunities and apps to help you in your giving. We are doing this series on giving because it is an important subject. The Bible has a lot to say about money. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke 1 of 6 verses deals with money. Of the 29 parables Christ told, 16 deal with a person and their money.
As a church, when we speak about giving we often talk about tithing. So what does it mean to tithe. The word tithe means a tenth. Today I just want to start by describing what tithing is. In the Old Testament God asked that everyone give back to Him a tenth of their income.
Leviticus 27:30 A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
Why did God ask this? What was it used for? The tithe was used to support the priests. It was God’s way of supporting those who worked at the temple.
Numbers 18:20-21 The LORD said to Aaron, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. 21 I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.
Why did God ask the nation of Israel to do this? Was it just about supporting the Levites? Does God need our money? Not really…
Psalms 50:9-11 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
While the tithe went to support the priesthood, the act of tithing was much more than just a practical way of supporting them. The focus of tithing is not on where the money goes, the focus of tithing is on the person who gives it. The tithe was God’s way of regularly reminding us that everything we have belongs to Him.
Deuteronomy 14:22-23 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.
In the Old Testament God gave many laws that applied to Israel as a nation. There were dietary laws to help them to stay healthy. There were civil laws to help maintain law and order. There were ceremonial laws and religious festivals to help bind them together as a nation. Tithing did not fit into these categories. It was given, much like the principle of the Sabbath, to be a constant reminder of our need and to combat self-reliance.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
It was God’s way of reminding us of the truth of Psalm 24 which says;
Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Tithing was an important principle in the Old testament, something that God took very seriously. So seriously in fact that it is the only area in our lives where we are permitted to put God to the test, to see the cause and effect relationship that tithing has.