In the Word we are told to give our tithes and offerings, including firstfruits and many specific offerings, such as peace offerings, sin offerings, offerings for the Feasts, and others… yet, how often do we? Time flies by, expenses come, and it is easy to lose sight of what we are supposed to give.
God readily forgives these oversights, yet, why do we make them?
After all, the Word speaks of blessings that come with obedience… but the frenzied pace of our lives and our oftentimes stubborn flesh can conflict with our spiritual desire to obey. The distraction comes in like a thief and God’s Word can easily become lost in the pace of the day.
Yet, He is our hope and glory. With Him we find rest and the ability to follow His will.
The Prophets Speak:
In both the Old and New Testaments, we were instructed to give, by priests, prophets, apostles… even Jesus Himself felt it important enough to teach on. Our God-given ordinance to give, and give cheerfully, never ended with the Old Testament. Yet, God also never asks us to give more than we have. He lightens of our load… not burdens us down.
Interestingly, Malachi, the final prophet of the Old Testament, gives perhaps one of the most famous prophetic words on tithes and offerings—aside from those of Jesus. His words regarding robbing God in tithes and offerings are still vital today (see Malachi 3:8-12). Surprisingly so when we look at a few statistics…
According to the most indulgent sources, we find that only 1 out of 4 regular churchgoers actually tithe at all, and of those only 1 out of 10 on a regular basis. Most do not even tithe 10% of their income; tithing irregularly. Further still, many sources claim that as few as 2% of those identifying as Christians may actually tithe at all—often not giving to God’s house, but instead, to secular charities.
Could it be that churchgoers are broke? Barely scraping by? Some yes, but remarkably those who make more are less likely to give that 10%. Someone who is scraping by might give 15% despite the strain on their finances, while someone who makes more than enough might feel disinclined to give half of that. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak is the only answer that readily springs to mind. The more you have to give, the more your flesh perhaps balks at giving?
While in the days of Malachi the tithes and offerings given to God were polluted, as His people gave Him leftovers and stolen goods, today we rarely give to God at all. Even more rare is giving at the Feasts God has ordained, making Malachi’s words timelier than ever…
“‘Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
“In what way have we robbed You?”
In tithes and offerings…
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be food in My house,
and try Me now in this…
if I will not open for you the windows of heaven
and pour out for you such blessing
that there will not be room enough to receive it.’
“‘And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field…
and all nations will call you blessed,
for you will be a delightful land…’”
Why do we fail to tithe?
As a nation we are more apt to give offerings, those little donations made as we watch an ad featuring some poor child in Africa crying, emaciated, and needing our help… our donations based on pulled heartstrings.
Those acts of charity, those “benefactions,” are easy when we find our hearts crying out for the poor and needy. We gladly listen if all they require is $5… after all, it is easy to feel good about ourselves when we give then.
Yet, what about our tithes, and non-emotionally based offerings?
Those are not so easily justified in our minds. After all… say you go to a beautiful church with hundreds of filled seats, having—at least to the naked eye—no needs. Why should you give to them? They don’t need your tithes, right?
If we believe the Church does not require our money then we can be part of the 95% or more who fail to tithe, right? Possibly thinking…
- It doesn’t matter that if we all gave our tithes… the Word of God could be still spread all around the world.
- It doesn’t matter that if we all gave our tithes… we could still change our nation.
- It doesn’t matter that if we all gave our tithes… we could still prepare for the second coming of our Messiah.
Of course, it does matter. Yet, it is not just about what our churches could do with the money. It is about obedience. It is about changing our hearts!
Jesus said it best, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 & Luke 12:34 (emphasis added)). If we give of ourselves, of our time and money, this is one step closer in wholeheartedly placing our trust in God.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Matthew 6:19-21
Still, giving tithes is not only about changing our hearts. And it is not even merely about obedience—though that is an important part. No… When we choose not to give our tithes and offerings, we are failing to place our trust in God.
When we fail to put our trust in God, we are not allowing Him to help us—to bless us! Yes, He will still look after us, but we are, by not trusting Him, literally building walls around ourselves! Walls to keep Him out, for God does not trespass the free-will He gave us; He wants an invitation… our love.
When we fail to trust Him we are saying to God, “I’ve got this. I made this money. It’s mine. I don’t need anyone’s help… I am self-made!” We are pushing Him away when He wants to bless us beyond our wildest imaginations. We are refusing the gifts of our Father that the prophet Malachi prophesied…
“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be food in My house,
and try 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 such blessing
that there will not be room enough to receive it.’”
How can we change the way we approach giving?
“Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites… So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’”—Mark 12:41-44
The widow in Jesus’ story gave of all she had, yet, she did not have to. Those who had much were giving much, so her pennies did not matter, right? Yet, they meant more to God than all of the thousands of coins given by those who had much. They made a difference to Him, to others, and likely, even to the widow herself.
It was a heart thing. She—like we must—had her heart in the right place. She had her heart firmly embedded in God’s love!
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and (riches) mammon.”—Matthew 6:24
What we, each as individuals, must do, is assess our hearts. This might sound easy, but without asking GOD to be the one to assess it, the enemy can easily fool us. The enemy can fool us into regretting giving. The enemy can fool us into thinking that our contributions have no value. The enemy can even fool us into thinking that if we tithe to God, we will not have enough left… that in some way God lied and will fail to provide for His children, even if they obey Him.
It is important to learn to put God first! Yes, giving our tithes can be difficult. There are times when we can barely find the money to eat, to pay our rent, to clothe our children. Yet, sometimes that small act of faith, listening to God and giving what He asks—which will never be beyond what we have—is the catalyst which propels us into our next season, our next job, our next raise, our next God-thing!
It takes faith, but with each time we obey God and give our tithes and offerings, we not only find ourselves being further blessed… we find that the giving, the obeying, is easier, and far more rewarding.
At My Olive Tree, we are working toward that goal, while also making sure that every offering keeps on giving. Through the various tree sponsorship programs that My Olive Tree offers, not only will your tree bring jobs and much needed income to the people of Israel, but you can be assured that a portion of the proceeds will continue go toward programs that assist Holocaust survivors, help abused children, and many other humanitarian needs.
Let us join together and learn the beauty of giving!