Tithing is simply paying, not giving—you can’t give what you owe, you pay it—the first portion of the increase of your income back to the One who gave it to you as your worshipful recognition of his ownership and rulership of all that is you. Tithing is an unleashing of the storehouse of heavenly treasure laid up for your pleasure—not pleasure in the sense of fleshly lusts, but in the sense of the enjoyment that comes from using your time, talent and treasure for the glory of God.
Going Deep // Focus: Leviticus 27:26-28
You don’t give what you owe—you pay it!
A lot of people these days will push back on any teaching on tithing as something that was under the law, not grace; as legalistic obedience and not loving surrender. There are preachers who never preach on it (often as a reaction to preachers who have over-preached on it), churches that don’t receive public offerings (you surreptitiously drop it into a box on the way out of church) and people who abandon the church as soon as the subject of money comes up.
But if the spirit of the law is still in play—in other words, if the Old Testament represents the values that God wants his people to live out—then what is the role of giving in the life of the believer today? Do we owe God anything—not just spiritually, but materially. It is still appropriate to honor God, recognize his rightful ownership of everything we have anyway, and sanctify our wealth by worshipfully giving it to God in our offerings? I think so. And I would offer God’s inexplicable blessings in my life as Exhibit A that is pays to tithe.
That’s right—it pays to tithe. Tithing is simply paying, not giving—you can’t give what you owe, you pay it—the first portion of the increase of your income back to the One who gave it to you as worshipful recognition of his ownership and rulership of your life.
But here’s the deal: when you pay your bill, worshipfully speaking, it is not really a debit to your account. No, it is an investment of God’s money in an eternal stock in a venture owned and operated by God that the Lord himself guarantees will yield impossible, eternal, ever-increasing return on investment. Tithing is an untying of God’s hands to bless you. Tithing is an unleashing of the storehouse of heavenly treasure laid up for your pleasure—not pleasure in the sense of fleshly lusts, but in the sense of the enjoyment that comes from using your time, talent and treasure for the glory of God. When you tithe and become generous in your giving to the things of God, you become a conduit: the more you give, the more God gives you to give, so that when you give, God gives you more. Crazy, but it’s the economy of the Kingdom.
Leviticus 27 reminds us that God demands the tithe. It is rightfully his and you owe it, so he expects you to pay it. But rather than being legalistic and mean-spirited, it is actually one of the most loving invitations you will find in the Bible. For when you come into loving obedience in your financial stewardship, God opens the floodgates of blessings upon your life:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Malachi 3:10-12)
Chances are some of you will just blow this off and keep hanging on to “your” money. (Actually, it’s God’s money; not my words but his.) Some of you will get mad at me and accuse me of Old Testament legalism, or being judgmental. Some of you will be fearful of trying this; you’ve got a mentality that thinks you can’t afford to tithe. (Actually, you can’t afford not to tithe.)
Listen, if you don’t believe me, then test God in this. That is actually what he invites you to do: “Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10) That is the only place that I know of in Scripture where we are given permission to test God. Normally that is not a good thing, but in this case, God himself begs you to let him prove his promise to you. So give God a shot.
Do it for your own good. Truly, not only should you pay God what you owe him, but it really does pay to tithe.