FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

By Rev Colin Wong

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2005-09-11

Text: Malachi 3:10

A young man was about to be baptised in a river. All of a sudden, he hurried himself out of the water explaining that he had forgotten to give his wallet back to his wife. The pastor called, "Come on back with the wallet. I've got too many unbaptised pocketbooks in my congregation now." The pastor later told the congregation that one of the most sensitive nerves in the human body is the one that leads to the POSB ATM Card. 

One member of a church laments, "Our people 45 years old and younger have grown up mesmerized by materialism. There's tremendous pressure on families to spend, spend, and spend." Then he adds, "I've heard that the generation that believed in the tradition of tithing is in three places: retirement homes, nursing homes, or cemeteries." In other words, he is saying that most baby boomers and baby busters haven't embraced tithing.

Is Tithing Biblical?

Tithing is taught in the Bible. Tithing seems to have been a custom from very early times for the people of God to give a tenth of their income or possessions to Him as an act of worship and thanks. In this way they acknowledged God as the supreme controller of life's events and the sole giver of life's blessings (Genesis 14:20; 28:22). The custom existed as a voluntary act of devotion long before it became compulsory practice under the Law of Moses. 

According to Leviticus 27:30, the LORD says, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD" (1 Samuel 8:15, 17; Malachi 3:8, 9; Matthew 23:23). What He meant is that when we give one-tenth of our gross income (which is the minimum standard set for us), we have not begun to give, for that one-tenth rightfully belongs to the Lord. But when we have given a tenth of our gross income, do we actually begin making an offering to Him. 

A great evangelist, in his sermon "Partners with God," rightly said, "One of the greatest sins in America today is the fact that we are robbing God of that which rightfully belongs to Him. When we don't tithe, we shirk a just debt. Actually we are not giving when we give God one-tenth, for it belongs to Him already (Leviticus 27:30). This is a debt we owe. Not until we have given a tenth do we actually begin making an offering to the Lord!"

The tithe given to the Lord is a beginning point for giving. If that is the case, then you and I need to ask ourselves: "Have we begun to tithe to the Lord?" If we have not started to tithe, then we have not begun to give to the Lord. 

Why Tithe?

Why should Christians tithe to the Lord? Tithing is God's way of supporting His servants and His Gospel work. The tribe of Levi was called to be ministers in the Tabernacle and Temple. Instead of giving them a portion of the land, God said that these vocational ministers of the tabernacle should live off the tithes of the other eleven tribes (Numbers 18:20, 21; Hebrews 7:5, 6).

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was ministered by a group of women (Luke 8:1-3). Paul's ministry was self-supporting initially (Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), but later he also received support from the churches he ministered to (1 Corinthians 9:9:11-15; Philippians 4:15-18). 

Some of God's people are called to the Christian ministry in the Lord's vineyard. God's Word teaches us to lend support to them and their ministries (1 Corinthians 9:14; Galatians 6:6). By the way, God's servants are not spared from tithing to the Lord. Like any other members of the church, they are to give one-tenth of their gross income to the Lord also, and beyond. 

John Wesley was an excellent example. In his lifetime, as a preacher, he had given 30,000 pounds for the cause of Christ. He wrote in his journal, "I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors. In other words, I will put a control on my spending myself, and I will go beyond the tithe for the sake of Christ and his kingdom" (Quotes from Mission Frontiers, September/October 1994, No 9-10, pp 23, 24). 

Tithing Surprises

Tithing is not a legalistic requirement. Tithing is a command to obey, and this command comes with manifold blessings � physical and spiritual. The Christian who faithfully tithes to the Lord will be surprised:

1. At the amount of money he has for the Lord's work.

2. At the deepening of his spiritual life in paying the tithe.

3. At the ease in meeting his own obligation with the nine-tenths.

4. At the ease in going from one-tenth to a larger percentage.

5. At the preparation this gives to be a faithful and wise steward over the nine-tenths remaining.

6. At himself for not adopting the plan sooner!

Someone says that tithing is only for the wealthy. But we have hardly heard of a rich man or woman commencing tithing, but can name scores who began to tithe when they were poor and who became rich later on. One such person was Mr William Colgate, founder of Colgate Soaps, who had given millions to the Lord's ministry. The story goes something like this:

A lad of 16 years named William left home to seek his fortune, all his possession tied in a bundle carried in his hand. He met an old canal-boat captain. William told him his father was too poor to keep him and the only trade he knew was soap and candle making. The old man then kneeled and prayed earnestly for the boy and advised: "Someone will soon be the leading soap-maker in New York. It can be you as well as someone else. Be a good man, give your heart to Christ, pay the Lord all that belongs to Him, make an honest soap; give a full pound, and I'm certain you'll be a prosperous and rich man."

Into the city, he remembered the captain's words, and though poor and lonesome, he united with a church. The first dollar earned, he gave 1/10 to God. Ten cents of every dollar were sacred to the Lord. Having regular employment, he soon became a partner and later sole owner of the business. He made an honest soap, gave a full pound and instructed his bookkeeper to open an account with the Lord of 1/10 of all income. The business grew, so he gave 2/10, 3/10, 4/10, 5/10 and finally he gave all his income. This is the story of William Colgate who has given millions to the Lord's cause.

The Paradox of Giving

Giving is paradoxical. Proverbs says, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (11:24, 25). These sacred verses encourage generosity. By giving freely a person has plenty, a seeming paradox (2 Corinthians 9:6). Conversely, a person who is miserly, failing to help others in obvious need, will himself always be in need (Proverbs 28:22). By being generous a person prospers and is in turn helped (Proverbs 11:25, 17).

Jesus teaches the same thing. He said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). Giving begets giving. Giving will lead to more giving. This is a fundamental principle of giving. 

So, are we tithing the money we earn? Are we handling the money in a God-exalting way? For us parents, have we taught our children to give a tenth of their monthly allowance to the Lord and His work? 

Here is a challenge from the Lord to you on this Lord's Day "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10). Believest thou this?

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25