To start off with, “Tithing” is a funny word. In practice, tithing looks like giving money to the church. In the Old Testament of the Bible, before Christ came, tithing was the practice of giving the first and best ten percent of your livelihood, to God. If you had a hundred sheep, you would give the ten best to God as a way of tangibly demonstrating your trust in and reliance upon God. You can likely guess the part that changed over time and the part that didn’t.
When Christ came, the New Testament church, which formed after his death and resurrection, continued to give of their resources, but it looked a lot different than the Old Testament practice of tithing. For starters, they no longer gave the money or resources to the Jewish temple. Instead, this new church was more likely to gather in a home than a temple. Instead of sacrificing sheep on an altar, the Bible says the believers came “together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This ended up being far more dramatic than 10 percent of their income. They gave in a way that reflected Christ’s lordship over their whole lives, and all of their finances, not just 10 percent.
Today, we are still New Testament believers, Christ is offering us a radically new life as well. With the surrender of this one area of our lives, some important and life-giving things began to happen: 1.Our possessions no longer owned our lives; God does. 2.Christ changed our hearts. We desired to care for the well being of others, even at great cost to ourselves. 3.We no longer looked to money or possessions as a refuge from hard times. God sustains us, He is our refuge. We are all in.
Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Giving is an invitation to take refuge in God; to taste and see that He is good. God is not asking for a tenth of your life. He wants to be the Lord of your whole life. Just like it was for these early believers, how we give today is a practical reflection of Christ’s rule and reign over our whole lives. If we would prayerfully ask, “Lord, how much of what you have given to me are you willing to let me keep, and how much would you like me to give back to you?”, I am confident that our obedience in these areas will be met with God’s goodness which is indeed a place of refuge, and a treasure, beyond compare.
There is a huge list of good works that could be done that would impact this town in significant ways if only we had the resources. There are hungry bellies, hurting moms and families, addictions and dependencies that need addressing. The needs are specific and real. Let me challenge you with this; WE HAVE ENOUGH. Christ has given his church the resources we need. Giving like this requires that we trust in, and act upon God’s goodness and faithfulness that we might understand them in a whole new way.