[Willow Creek Association] 1998-04-15 - Giving

I want to talk about giving or tithing. I want to just look at some practical and Biblical guidance to giving. Interestingly enough God laid out tithing before the law was given.

Genesis 14:20 (NCV) And we praise God Most High, who has helped you to defeat your enemies." Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had brought back from the battle.

Through the prophet Malachi, God spoke strong words in regard to tithes.

Malachi 3:8-9 (NCV) "Should a person rob God? But you are robbing me. "You ask, 'How have we robbed you?' "You have robbed me in your offerings and the tenth of your crops. So a curse is on you, because the whole nation has robbed me.

Strong words, words that we as Christians need to take more seriously. Ok, great, give me some practical stuff. Here are four reasons that I believe God instituted tithing.

  1. Tithing acknowledges God's sovereign rights. By tithing we are being obedient to God and saying "here God, this tenth is yours." This friend, is the first step to becoming a tithing member of your local church. And for many others and me, it is one of the last steps in maturing into a fully-devoted follower of Christ. When we tithe we are saying, "all that I am and all that I have is because of You, Lord."

  2. Tithing is the antidote for greed and covetousness. When we realize that all we have belongs to Him, its hard to be greedy. It instills in us a systematic way of letting go of money and not becoming a hoarder of money. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a lot of money, as long as we acknowledge that all we have is from God. Thinks of it this way, what will you own in 100 years? Nothing. Just like when the Monopoly game is over, it all goes back in the box.

  3. Tithing is a test of our Faith. It is the only place I can find in the Bible that God asks us to test Him.

    Malachi 3:10 Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn so there will be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD All-Powerful. "I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need.

    Now some people take this verse a preach a "prosperity theology." Nowhere do I read in this verse, "give a tenth and you will become wealthy;" I read it to say, "give and you will be blessed." And blessings from God are immeasurable by worldly standards.

  4. Tithing leads us to financial responsibility. When we give the first tenth of our paycheck to the Lord, it teaches us financial responsibility. I suggest when you get your paycheck, to write one check to your local church for 10% and then write another check for 10% to yourself, to put in a savings account or mutual fund or whatever. The problem with most American families and their finances is not the inflow of money but the outflow. Instead of living on 80% of our income, the average American lives on 113% of their income.

Now, lets really get down to it. With Easter -- the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection -- fresh on our minds, I want you to ponder this last point: Throughout the Bible Jesus is referred to as God's "First Fruit." Our tithes are to be our "first fruits" to God. God gave us his Son, His First Fruit. Don't you think the least we can do is give our first fruit to Him? How could we ever out-give God? How can we not trust God? Isn't that what we are saying when we don't tithe? Lord, I just don't trust you. Think about it.

Lord, forgive us for not trusting You. Forgive us for robbing You. Lord, instill in our hearts that all we have and all that we are is a gift from You. Thank You for giving us your First Fruit, Jesus Christ, who gave ALL for us, so that we may live a life eternally together with You. In His Name we pray, Amen.