By Renee Bethel, Crosswalk.com
Tithing - such a yucky word/thought/thing - in my opinion - so much so that I avoided it for years. And now I know why I didn’t like it or the thought of it. Learning more about how God created me opened up insight into this area of giving. As an Enneagram 5 personality type, I tend to conserve my energy and resources to avoid being depleted. When I’m out of alignment with the truth of the gospel, I can withdraw to conserve my resources. I’m embarrassed to say that I did not have a generous heart for a long time. Giving was difficult for me. As my children were growing up, it was really difficult for me when my young daughter wanted to buy gifts for a little girl for Operation Christmas Child. Of course, I did it, but my heart was not in the right place and I wasn’t sure why or what my problem was at the time.
I don’t recall any teaching, if there was any, on tithing within any of the churches I attended that really helped me understand it or apply it personally. So the years passed without any foundation or clarity on this important topic.
I read the Bible story of how Cain and Abel both gave offerings to the Lord, and how one was accepted and the other one wasn’t. Truly, I did not understand why one was accepted and the other one wasn’t.
It wasn’t until I came across Pastor Robert Morris’ teaching on tithing that it all made sense for the first time. I learned why the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering. Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his flock (Genesis 4:4). The Lord did not look with favor on Cain and his offering. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord” (Genesis 4:3). Did you notice the wording there, “in the course of time”? It means the fruits of the soil weren’t the first fruits of his labor.
Let’s look at what the tithe is and what it means for us as children of God:
In Hebrew, the word tithe means tenth. A tithe is ten percent of your income given to your local church. Pastor Morris teaches that understanding tithing starts with understanding the principle of the firstborn which can be found throughout the Bible.
Robert Morris, author of The Blessed Life says, “the first portion we spend should be the tithe. That is the firstfruit. And according to Exodus 13, the first portion is the redemptive portion. That’s why it’s so important that our tithe is our firstfruit. The first portion has the power to redeem the rest, and I promise you a redeemed 90 percent can go a lot further than a cursed 100 percent.”
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” Exodus 23:19
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” Proverbs 3:9
This is the hard part for me. It takes a lot of faith (complete trust that God is going to provide for my needs) to give my tithe before I pay my monthly bills. I want to know ahead of time how God is going to provide for my needs.
In The Blessed Life devotion, Robert Morris asks, “Is it really an act of faith to give 10 percent after all your other bills are paid? What does it say about our priorities when we willingly pay everybody else first and then see if there is enough left to give God His portion?”
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
3. Steward/Manager vs. Owner
Shifting my mindset from being an owner to a manager gave me a new perspective on tithing. It loosened my grip on “my” things. When I release control and ownership, I can give more freely. It reminds me to rely on God to meet my needs.
Robert Morris states, “God gives us stewardship responsibility over our lives. Though it all belongs to Him, He richly gives us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). But He has asked us not to touch the firstfruits because they’re His. We demonstrate faithful stewardship and show God that we realize we are stewards, not owners, when we give Him the tithe.”
4. Heart Condition
God is looking at the motives of my heart when I tithe. I have to remember that God does not need the money I earn and that he did not create giving for His sake. God created giving for my benefit so I could experience the blessing of being a giver.
According to Robert Morris, “giving, more than any other activity a believer does, works selfishness and greed out of our lives.” He further reminds us that, “We need to be aware that our attitudes toward possessions have a powerful ability to expose the true nature of our hearts. Whether it is gratitude or greed, money and material things will bring it out.”
Dave Ramsey says, “When you give with a right heart you become a grateful and generous person who is highly attractive (meaning you attract opportunities) and you are fun to be around. Givers are generally smiling and happy people. Generosity changes who you are.”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
The tithe (meaning tenth part) represents the ultimate heart test for Christians regarding how we handle the money we earn.
Throughout the Bible the number ten represents testing. It can be seen in the ten plagues (the number of times God tested Pharaoh’s heart), in the ten commandments (the number of times our obedience is tested), in Daniel and his three friends (the number of days they were tested regarding the food they ate), and many other instances throughout the Bible.
God invites us to test him in this area of tithing.
“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.’” Malachi 3:10
Spiritual disciplines are meant to help us grow spiritually and deepen our relationship with God. Tithing is a spiritual discipline in the life of Christians that helps us have a grateful and generous spirit. It’s about putting God first in our lives and returning to God what is his.
Father God, thank you for all the blessings in my life. Give me the faith I need to give you the first of my finances and put you first in all areas of my life. Help me have a right-heart attitude and remember my role as a manager of your resources and not have the mindset of an owner. I pray that you would bless my finances as I set apart your tithe.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Find Your Enneagram Type - The Enneagram is an ancient personality tool that reveals why you think, feel, and behave in certain ways. It can illuminate your core motivations and help you see where you are, where you are heading (your best path or veering off course), and how to get to your healthiest destination.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Enterline Design Services LLC
Renee Bethel, author of Finding Me: A Woman’s Guide to Learning More About Herself is a Professional Christian Life Coach and whole body wellness advocate. She helps midlife moms find their purpose and reignite their passion and excitement for life. Join her free Facebook community for bite-size trainings on emotional, spiritual and physical wellness. You can also connect with Renee on Instagram.