Money is a touchy subject. We all have our own ideas about what to do with it. And we don't always like what the Bible has to say about it. Many pastors don't like to preach about it, and many of us don't like to hear about it.
Yet, God has a lot to say about it. There are 113 verses in the Bible that have the word "money" in them. There are another 126 that include the word "wealth." There are only 114 that contain the word "salvation." If God talks about money as much as He talks about salvation in the Bible, then He must think it's pretty important.
I think God spent so much time dealing with the issue of money because He knows that we struggle with making it, holding on to it and using it wisely. Yesterday, we talked about ownership and how important it is for us to recognize that God owns everything. He just loans it to us.
It takes that attitude to faithfully commit to tithing, our topic for today. This may well be the touchiest subject for Christ-followers. I've heard all sorts of explanations for tithing that absolve people of the responsibility. Let's look at a few of them.
- A tithe just means a portion of my income. It doesn't mean 10 percent. There's no getting around this one. The word tithe in Hebrew means 10 percent. It doesn't mean anything else.
- I can tithe my time or talent. Nowhere in the Bible does the word tithe refer to anything but income. It does refer to livestock and plants, but those were the currency of the day. Few people used money to buy things in those days. They traded with one another. So a tithe refers to 10 percent of your income. Nowhere is the word tithe used in reference to time and talents.
- I don't have to tithe because that's an Old Testament ritual. By this logic, we should throw out everything that's in the Old Testament. The 10 Commandments would no longer apply as well.
The truth is that God commands us to tithe. And, He promises us a blessing if we do. Malachi 3:8-11 says:
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
God is talking to the Israelites who were not tithing, and He tells them that by not tithing, they are robbing Him. Then He promises to bless them beyond their imagination if they tithe.
If we truly believe that everything belongs to God, then that includes our money. God commands us to tithe: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse." God graciously allows us to hold onto 90 percent of our money. He simply asks to keep 10 percent of it to do His work.
Tithing is a tough concept for many of us because we look at our money, and we don't see how it will possibly stretch if we take out 10 percent. Yet, I have never known God to go back on His word. He promises to richly bless you if you tithe. He also promises to provide for us. We'll never know the blessings, if we don't follow the command.
The easiest way I know of to stop struggling with the concept of tithing is to simply make it a habit. Decide you're going to do it, then step out in faith and write that check every pay period. You may have to make some adjustments to the budget, but God will provide all that you need.
Teach your children to tithe at a young age, so they won't struggle with the concept when they are adults. Nearly everyone I know that was taught to tithe as a child has no trouble with the concept as an adult. Every time your child gets money, immediately show them how to separate out what belongs to God. Let them put their tithe in the offering at your church. Show your kids what your church does with that money. Talk about how our tithe money lets our churches reach out to both the local and worldwide communities. Focus on the things your church does to help kids, so your child can see that he is helping other kids.
The best thing you can do to help your child form a habit of tithing is to form one yourself. Let your kids see you tithing, and encourage them to follow your example.
God promises to bless us if we tithe. I know that God's blessings are much greater than anything I can buy with that 10 percent of money that God asks to hold onto. Don't miss the blessing.