Why Should Jesus-Followers Tithe?

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Money is one of the most talked about topics in the Bible. If you read through the book of Proverbs you will walk away with at least a Bachelors, if not a Masters in Finance. Jesus makes plenty of references to money as well. In one of the regularly quoted passages on tithing Jesus gives this rebuke to the religious leaders:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” -Matthew 23:23

Jesus affirms that tithing (along with seeking justice, mercy and faithfulness) is something that his followers should be doing. Let’s explore a few reasons why Jesus tells his followers they should tithe.

Can I share something that is shocking with you: God doesn’t need your money. God used his voice to speak and created the entire universe. He breathed into dirt and humanity came to life. He spoke and the raging storm stopped. Jesus called out and a dead man came back to life. If he can do this with his voice, he certainly doesn’t need our money. So why does he tell us that we need to tithe? I believe that he tells us to tithe because we need to develop into disciplined givers. I’m naturally a taker. I think I need more and in order to get more, I must give less. So when I freely and joyously give my tithe, God works in many ways, not the least of which is to change my heart. Through tithing I am transformed more and more into a person who is inclined to give. Personal transformation is one of the main reasons that God tells us to give.

Sometimes when I don’t feel like giving, I have to remember that God expects me to be obedient, even when I don’t feel like it. Being obedient is what creates the discipline of giving in my life and helps me submit to God’s authority. When I know that God has commanded me to do something and I choose to ignore or disobey, I am living in opposition to him. I’m telling him that what I want is more important than obeying him; that I know how to handle my money better than he does. Conversely, when I do obey and give, especially when I don’t want to, I’m learning to be disciplined in submitting to God’s authority over my life. Discipline in one area tends to lead to discipline in others as well.

While obedience in giving my tithe is important, it is certainly not the only reason God wants me to tithe. There is something powerful that happens when I faithfully take 10% of my income and hand it over to the church to be used by God. I think God asks us to give 10% because it is not enough of our income to break the bank but it is certainly enough to make us notice. I think God has designed it this way so that he begins to challenge out view of money. It makes me evaluate the position that money holds in my life and how much value I place on money.

I choose to tithe because I want to show God that I value him more than money. I want to show God that I put my trust in him, my security in him, my hope in him and so I tithe. I tithe to ensure that I don’t fall into the trap of worshiping at the altar of money. Paul gives us a powerful warning when he says:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

-1 Timothy 6:10

I don’t want to wander away from God in search of more money. There is a spiritual law at work that says when I trust God enough with my money to obey him and give my tithe, and perhaps more, he will ensure that my needs are provided for. He will also ensure that I will grow closer to him.

All too often I like to think of myself as the exception, like tithing is for everyone else. I will rationalized that “God knows how much debt I have and he wouldn’t want me to be in debt longer, so it’s not that big of a deal if I don’t tithe for a few months. I’ll be back on track soon.” No matter what my financial state is, I am not the exception! God asks everyone who claims to be a follower of his Son Jesus Christ, to give 10% of their finances to his church for his work. He gives us this command to change us. He gives us this command to test us. He gives us this command to free us from the love of money and the multitude of evils it can lead towards. Ultimately, God has given us the command to tithe because he loves us!

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past. It doesn’t matter how bright or bleak your financial outlook feels. God wants you to be faithful with whatever he has given you. Everything we have is his. He has asked us to give 10% of what he has given us back to his church.

The time to be faithful is now.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21 Treasure

Do you realize that one of the greatest growth industries in modern America is the storage industry? The funny thing is as we gain more and gather more stuff that we don't need, we then have put this 'stuff' in storage. We can't get rid of it or give it to someone who might need it- God forbid! We're going to pay more money to store stuff that we don't have a place for in our new larger homes. How crazy is it to go into more debt paying more money to store more stuff? It's just an insane cycle!

The answer is deep soul searching and honest repentance (turning away from it).

What do I really want in life?

What do I really want to give myself to?

Is it true that he who has the most toys at the end wins?

That's not the narrative of Jesus!

Do you and I really want to give ourselves away for a noble cause? Men, do we really want to take up a fight in life that was worth fighting for in the end?

You see, faith is the currency of the kingdom. Just as our economy works on the gold standard and paper money, in the kingdom of heaven, it's not about knowledge. We don't work on a knowledge currency, it's about faith! Guys, money is never about money, it's about values. Matthew 6:21 says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Eternal life has come and invaded the heart of a believer and now we live out of that expanded heart and vision. We're no longer locked into being self-centered consumers! We are now cross-carrying disciples and we live for a different purpose.

It's not about getting more stuff!

It's about making a difference in the world.

It's about loving the unlovable, and feeding hungry people.

It's about helping people who are addicted to drugs know that there is a purpose for their life, it's about answering brokenness.

It's about Jesus!

God could do anything, but He has chosen to work through the faith of His people. So, what happens in our community is all dependent on our faith and how we choose to give ourselves away. -Dr. Drew Shofner

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