Many of us may find tithing to be a hard thing to do and some even struggle with it. The subject about tithing can be quite sensitive to touch at churches and many pastors even hesitate to address it. My hope of writing this article is to give some clarity about tithing and some thought to ponder. So, what is tithing and why it is important? We read in the bible, in the book of Genesis, Abram gave tithes to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. In Genesis 28:20-22 we see that Jacob vowed to give a tenth unto God if God would be with him and provided for him. Thus, a tithe is a ten percent of what our increase. We give this amount back to the Lord, and generally to the church we attend regularly. However, many struggle in rendering their tithes for many reasons. Some people are deeply in debt so they could not justify giving their tithe; others view tithing as another obligation or another burden; still other could not justify the reason to tithe.
So, what is the purpose of tithing you may ask. The first purpose is to see the true stage of our heart. If we say we love Him, we have to show it in our action. Just as Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me more than these (Peter went back to fishing)?” Peter said for the third time said, “Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.” Jesus’ answers for all these three times were still the same, “Feed My sheep”.
The second purpose of tithing is to advance the kingdom of God. The tithes that have been collected are usually being used to pay for various expenditures so that the gospel can be preached through out the world. It is the will of God that the gospel be preached through the world. Without having sufficient funds, many outreach projects could not be carried out.
What is the benefit of tithing or giving? Speaking from personal experiences, there are many benefits in tithing. One obvious is that the more you give, the more you will receive in return. Hard to believe? For example, if one person plan only one tomato plant and his neighbor plant 10 tomato plants; during harvest time who will reap more tomatoes? The answer is clearly the one who planted 10 tomato plants since he will reaping 10 times the amount of tomatoes. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, it says “He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” It goes on to say that God loves a cheerful giver, so the most important of tithing is not about what we give or how much we give but it’s all about our attitude toward it.
When we see tithing as a burden, we cannot be a cheerful giver, but if we see tithing as a privilege thing to do, our attitude will change and we will be grateful that we could give back at least a tenth of it. One way to have that attitude is to realize that everything we own, they actually do not belong to us. For instance, if you are an employee for a company you may have an office or a desk that you refer to as “my office” or “my desk” but in reality none of it belongs to you for they belong to the company you work for. Even if you generate lots of revenue and closed many deals, none of those revenue belongs to you. Now let’s say the owner comes to you and tells you that he needs you to transfer some money from his checking account to his savings account for him. Would you do it? Of course you would because it’s his money and he can allocate his fund however he wants. Similarly, whatever we think we own on this earth is not really ours; they belong to the God. So when God said to give Him a tenth back, He is merely instructing us to move some of ‘His fund’ to another location (church).
Some people may be deeply in debt while others may be have lost their jobs, and for those reasons they justified to not tithe. Yes, they have a very valid reason to not tithe since they could better use that fund to pay their debts and/or their bills. Although it may sound like a valid reason, think again. What happen if we don’t tithe? Here’s the straight answer taken from Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. In verse 10 it says, “ Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now says the Lord of Host if I will not open you the window of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there will not be enough room to receive it.”
So how do we tithe when we are deeply in debt? The answer is simply yet profound; tithe by “faith”. As long as you are faithful in your tithing, God will take care of the rest, including your debt. Several years ago, my husband, the only breadwinner in our family lost his job. As we know, many families that experienced unemployment situation ended up facing financial hardship, some had to downsize their home while other declared bankruptcy. At that time, we had 6 mouths to feed, bills to pay, and mortgage payments to fulfill. When I told my close friend about what happen to our family, her advice was, “Just be faithful in your tithing, God will take care of the rest.” My husband did not find any job for the next three years. Although I got hired a few months later, I was barely making anything.
However, within these three years, the blessings were more than abundant than ever. The fruit trees in our backyard yielded so much fruit. Our only cherry tree that yielded only 6 six cherries the year before, gave us more than 60 lb. of cherries that year, and 80 lb. the following year. Our vegetables were in bloomed all summer. After giving about 90% of them away, we still had plenty to consume ourselves. More importantly, we were never late in paying our bills. Everyone in the family was healthier than ever. My husband went back to school without having to go into debt. In the second year, our family went on a two-week vacation half around the globe for free. What a blessing!
Although there are so much more to talk about in tithing, but hopefully, this article has helped some of you who have been struggling and debating with the issue tithing, to understand a more of its importance as well as the benefits of it. If you are in financial difficulty, cling onto this promise “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3.