Giving to God

Published by DonDavidson on

Tithing goes back at least as far as Abraham. When he defeated the king of Elam and his allies, Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek, whom Genesis 14:18 refers to as a “priest of God Most High.”  (See also Hebrews 7:1-2.)

In Genesis 28:20-22, Jacob vowed to give a tenth back to God if He would protect him and provide for him.

Tithing ten percent is specifically mandated in the Jewish Law, for Leviticus 27:30 and 32-33 required that the Israelites give one-tenth of their crops and their livestock to God. The tithe belonged to the Levites, who were the Temple workers and the priests’ assistants, and the Levites were in turn required to give a tenth of the tithe to the priests. (See Numbers 18:21-28.)

During the revivals under King Hezekiah and Nehemiah, one of the first orders of business was to restore the tithe so that the priests and Levites could resume their duties. (See 2 Chronicles 31:4-6 and Nehemiah 10:37-38, 13:10-12.)

In the days of the prophet Malachi, God chastised His people because they had stopped tithing. In Malachi 3:8-10, God says:

“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Paul makes clear the importance of giving in several of his letters, both to support those who are spreading the gospel and to help the poor. (See, for example, Philippians 4:10-18, 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, and 2 Corinthians 8:1-8.)

So how much should we give?

In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul says:

On every Lord’s Day each of you should put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for this offering.  The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn.

Personally, I believe tithing ten percent of our income should be the minimum we give. But giving to God is a privilege, not a duty. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We give to God out of love and gratitude for what He has given us. We should enjoy giving to God, just as we enjoy giving to the people we love.

Is there a maximum we should give? Jesus’ praise of the poor widow in Mark 12:41-44 would suggest that the answer is no:

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

But please do not give to God with the expectation of receiving anything back that the world considers valuable, such as money, possessions, or even healing. God is not a vending machine. The “blessing” promised in Malachi 3:10 is not necessarily a monetary blessing, but a spiritual one.


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