Tithing: A Command with a Promise

Via Flickr, by user EF Photography. Used under Creative Commons License.

When was the last time that a politician made you a promise — and kept it?

We give the government hefty sums of our money. And while we trust that our tax money goes to pay for civil necessities such as the military, firefighters and highway work crews, we also know that there’s a lot of waste in government, and a lot of campaign promises that never get met.

Even though the people that handle our government’s money may be suspect, few of us ever try to withhold what we owe in taxes. We may doubt that their promises about our investment will ever come true (do you really expect that Social Security will be around when you retire?), and yet we pay anyway.

But if we give to our leaders, whose promises we don’t trust, why is it so hard to give to God?

Just like the government has a claim to some of your income, God has identified some of the money that you make as His. Ten percent of everything you earn — the tithe — belongs to God. In our modern world, that money is given to support the work of the local church; without tithing, church as we know it can’t happen.

And yet, so many Christians are reluctant to give the full tithe. There is no shortage of excuses that we can make as to why we’re not tithing. But the truth is that it’s a matter of the heart. People don’t tithe because they don’t want to give God their money… even though it’s really His money from the start.

This is a tragedy, not just for the church, but for the stingy believer. Tithing is a command with a promise. And unlike the spurious claims of men in suits running for public office, the promises of God always come to pass.

Let’s examine what God has to say about the tithe in Malachi 3:8-12.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

God consider’s the tithe His own from the beginning, and says in no uncertain terms that those who withhold the tithe are robbing from Him. When the Israelites did not tithe as they were commanded, they fell under a curse. But God did not institute the rule of the tithe to burden us; He did it to bless us.

Check out the great promise that God gives to those who are faithful to tithe — He says that He will open the floodgates of heaven, and “pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Last time God threw open the floodgates, it rained for for 40 days and 40 nights — so when He says that He’s going to bless us, we know that He means business.

It may be hard to see how God is going to bless us for our faithfulness in tithing, but He is waiting for us to take a step of faith, and believe that He makes good on His promises. In fact, this is one time in scripture where God gives us explicit permission to test Him — “Test me in this,” he says, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven.”

The miracle of tithing is that when we give to God, He gives us abundantly more in return. You may not always see the return immediately; and it may not always be a direct financial return. But in all of history, God has never reneged on a promise. The return is coming.

His word isn’t hollow or incomplete. It’s better than any campaign trail catchphrase — when God makes a promise, you can bank on it.