Blessed are the Givers

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

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       Act 20:35  I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  When we give, it shall be given unto us: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over (Lk 6:38).  I encourage you to read Heb. 7:1-8.  Here, the Apostle Paul is discussing this mysterious king-priest in the Old Testament known as Melchizedek; and shows He is a type of the great High Priest and King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He points out that Abraham gave Him a tenth of the spoils, and Melchizedek blessed him. We find in the first eight verses some interesting facts.

       1. We see that a tenth is a tithe. If one is not giving a tenth, then one is not tithing (2,4,6). 2. We see that when we tithe, we are blessed by God. (1, 6-7).  3. We see that Jesus receives, present tense, our tithes, because “He lives” (8).  Here are some other facts about the tithe:

1. Tithing is a Biblical principle – not a Law of Moses principle. 2. Abraham and Jacob willingly gave the Tithe BEFORE the Law of Moses commanded it approx. 500 years later.  3. Abraham gave the Tithe by faith, not compulsion. Abraham is our “Father in the Faith” (see Rom 4 & Gal 3).  4. Tithing didn’t start with the Law of Moses, therefore it did not end with the Law of Moses. 5. Tithing was started by our Father in the Faith, and continues with those who are in faith in Christ, who is Abraham’s Seed. 6. As Melchizedek received Tithes of Abraham, so Jesus receives Tithes of those blessed in faithful Abraham – Christians (Heb 7:6-8, Gal 3:9).

            The most recent Barna polls I’ve looked at say that only 5% of Americans tithe, and only 4% of those classified as Evangelical Christians tithe.  Yet, Barna polls, as well as others, show that roughly 78% of Americans define themselves as Christian.  Why do the majority of Christians not tithe?  1. Ignorance.  They simply do not know, or have not been taught about tithing.  2. They love their money, which God’s Word says is evil (1Tim 6:10). 3. They actually think that it is their money, which The Bible says it is not (Hag 2:8, Ps 24:1, Mal 3:8, Jam 1:17).

4. They don’t really believe God’s promises to provide for all their needs when they are obedient in giving into His work (Ps 37:3, Mt 6:33, 2Cor 9:8, Phi 4:19).   5. They care more about temporary material blessings for themselves, than they do about God’s work (Mt 6:19-21, Mk 4:18-19).

       6. Many Christians think tithing is a “Law” principle, when actually it is a Biblical principle. Abel gave the firstlings of his flock (Gen 4); Abraham tithed (Gen 14:18-20), and so did Jacob (Gen 28:22). They were before the Law. What changed with the Law of Moses, was that there was now a curse for not doing it (Dt 28, Mal 3:9).  We have been redeemed from the curse of the Law by Jesus (Gal 3:13),  so praise God we’re not cursed for not tithing (although, when you keep more than you should, it leads to poverty {Prov 11:24}).

       Does this mean we shouldn’t tithe any more? Well, adultery, stealing, lying, & murder were offenses under the Law; but obviously these haven’t become “OK” to do because we’ve been redeemed from the curse (though not the consequences) of committing such things. The principles are still Godly, moral, and Biblical.  We draw the wrong conclusion, when we think we shouldn’t tithe any longer because we don’t “have” to.  Our attitude should be, we “get” to.

       So What do the other 95% of Christians do with their money?  30% of the U.S. makes no charitable contributions. 50% of the U.S. give more than 0% but less than 2% of their income to charity; and 15% give more than 2% but less than 10% of their income to charity (2013). So this means the other 95%  either don’t give at all, and expect their brothers and sisters in Christ to do everything; or they’ll tip God with whatever they have left over at the end of the week. God doesn’t want our leftovers, He wants our best. The tithe is not just ten percent – it’s the top ten percent (Mal 1:8).  Prov. 3:9 tells us to honor God with our substance, and with the first fruits of our increase.  It is an act of worship, which results in blessing (3:10).

        As God’s children, we are to put Him first. How many Christians have their needs met, while the church they attend can barely pay the light bill; much less support missionaries; spread the Gospel through media (radio, T.V., books, internet, CD’s, etc.); support orphanages, the persecuted church, etc.  These things ought not to be (Hag 1:4-9). God’s Kingdom is the only investment with an eternal return – gold that never perishes.

       Truly, tithing is just a place to start. It isn’t the end all.  But how many Christians have even started?  Apparently 95% haven’t.  In the New Testament, we  see people giving way more than a tithe (Mk 12:41-44, Acts 4:32-37, 2Cor 8);  and not by compulsion, but because they loved God and loved their neighbor. That should be our motivation as well. I know a pastor who gives 90% of his income into The Lord’s work, and lives on ten. Even if you can’t do that right now, that should be a Christian’ heart. However, if this pastor had never been faithful in the least (giving ten percent); do you think he could have ever been able to give ninety? (Lk 16:10-13).

       Is there anything the Church could not do, or any need it could not meet, if every Christian would put God first and start giving a tenth of their income to God? Not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful (Gk. hilarious) giver (2Cor 9:7). When you favor God’s righteous cause, it pleases Him to prosper you (Ps 35:27). If He can get money through you, He can get it to you – and see that you have an abundance for every good work (2Cor 9:8).  In fact, though we are not to test God (Mt 4:7), He gives us the green light in this one area (Mal 3:10).

            Read 1Kings 17:8-16 carefully.  This paints a beautiful picture of the principle of putting God first, and the blessings reaped because of it.  Also read Gen. 14:18-20.  The King-Priest Melchizedek (type of Jesus) meets Abraham and brings forth bread and wine (type of communion), and blesses him. Then Abraham (the “righteous by faith” who is a “friend of God” – a type of the Christian) in return gives Melchizedek a Tithe (tenth) of all he has.

            I pray this has challenged you to put faith in God as your provider, and to put Him first in every area of your life. Honor Him and trust Him with your finances.  Don’t put faith in our “house of cards” economy or in your own wisdom – but in God’s eternal principles of giving. God wants to get to you, not from you.  He wants your heart, not your treasure – but where your treasure is, your heart is.  Where your treasure is not, your heart is not (Mt 6:21). Therefore, if God has your heart, He has your treasure.  Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!