I know, I know… it has been a minute since I last posted anything here! And it would seem a bit strange to make my first post since Easter, be about giving! Not a hot topic, and certainly one that is quite controversial for almost everyone! At face value, what does the bible actually tell us about giving? I hope to dig into this and maybe spur you on to searching out with me. My plan is to cover a little bit at a time in multiple posts, so GET READY!
So many questions people ask to create “levels of faith” and obedience. Do you tithe on the gross or the net? Is tithing even suitable for the church of today? Statements like “the tithe is a “Jewish thing” that doesn’t apply to the church that is free from the law” don’t make the argument go away either. NEVERMIND your opinion on the matter!
Firstly, we must recognize that giving comes down to two categories: tithe and offering. A tithe is a “tenth” or ten percent. Offerings are over and above the tithe. With the simple definitions out of the way, we can now begin. And you always begin in the beginning! So from the beginning, we start with God and not ourselves.
The Heart of Giving comes from God!
John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God’s response to saving mankind wasn’t to take from but to give. God didn’t just give “whatever”, he gave his very best, his most prized and beloved, HIS SON. The heart of giving comes from God’s own selfless determination to give. In Genesis 1:29, “Look–I am giving to you every plant that bears seed which is on the face of the whole earth and every kind of tree that bears fruit. They shall be yours as food.” Since God created it all, it belongs to him, and he chose to give it. NOTHING that we have in our possession we actually own, it comes from the heart of God.
Genesis 1:26 says God created man in his image. God infused man with his quality of giving. SIN entering the world has injured this quality and manipulated our hearts into the opposite of giving: selfishness and greed. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISHING THE BASIS OF GIVING–BECAUSE THE BASIS OF GIVING BEGINS IN THE HEART!
God Gave us His Firsts!
In John 3:16, it is not just the heart of giving, but that God gave us the FIRST and not the last; he gave THE BEST and not the leftovers. Look at the life of Abel, Adam’s second-born son. Scripture says in Genesis 4:3-5, “And in the course of time Cain brought an offering from the fruit of the ground to Yahweh, and Abel also brought an offering from the choicest FIRSTLINGS of his flock. And Yahweh looked with favor to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. ” This offering was an act of worship to God (Yahweh).
Was that cruel? NO! While Abel brought a First, Cain brought leftovers. It wasn’t that Cain’s offering was bad, it was the heart behind his gift that was his undoing. God is worthy of the best, not the leftovers! The point that Genesis is making is that God gave the very best, and he deserves our first and best in return!
In fact, didn’t God think that everything he had created was good? This would imply that his good by far outweighs our good since his good is His Best! At that time, good would simply be an abstract concept since there was nothing to judge good by. If God esteemed human creation to deserve the first and the best, did it not also mean that in return our worship given to Him should be our first and best? I think it does. Abel’s decision to worship God with the firstlings of his flock was a reflection of the heart of God in giving to us. Cain was selfish. He kept the firsts to himself.
The truth covered in this post is the foundation upon which I will build the case for a biblical understanding.