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Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism© is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tithes and Offerings

In this post, we began a discussion on the financial slice of the whole-person pie© and talked about God's way of eliminating debt. Today, I'd like to linger on that slice and delve more into the subject of money. How does God want us to handle it? Does it matter to Him? Should the financial slice of the whole-person pie© be off-limits to God? Should we endeavor to bring all of the other seven slices into alignment with His Word, but reserve our money to ourselves?

The definition of Biblical Minimalism© and the premise of this blog is, "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life."

In order to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we must hold nothing back. It will require us to relinquish control over every "slice" of what makes up our whole person. This includes the money He allows to fall into our hands, and I believe we should strive to follow His Word and example in the allocation of it—beginning with the first ten percent.

I've heard a lot of controversy and discussion over the matter of tithing ~ some argue against it, saying it was strictly an Old Testament requirement but no longer necessary under grace. Others say we should give to God's cause, but the amount is not important, and a sporadic way of giving is acceptable. There are plenty of other ideas and opinions. I don't know about you, but I really don't care about opinions and ideas. I want to know the truth. Only the truth will set us free, and the whole, absolute truth can only be found in the Word of God. It is His Word that will be the rule of law when we stand before Him and give an account of what we have done in this life.

God's Word is actually very clear on the subject of money and the kind of financial stewards we are to be. Here are some Biblical precepts that I hope will be an encouragement and help as you seek to bring this slice of the pie into alignment with God's will. (All Scriptural emphasis is added.)

Give to God first

Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

“Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9,10

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Mark 12:17

Just as the government requires a mandatory deduction of taxes from a paycheck before it is ever released to an employee, God’s part should be returned to Him as soon as money is within our possession. It is rightfully His, and to Him, it should be rendered ~ first, before all else.

The word "tithe" literally means "tenth"

It doesn't mean "whatever you can afford this week" or "however much you have left over after paying the bills" or "dropping the loose change in your pocket into the offering plate" or anything other than 10% of the money you are given.
  • Abraham set the precedent and his is the first biblical account of what it means to tithe. 
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything." Genesis 14:18-20
  • Jacob followed the pattern by vowing to give God ten percent. 
"Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” Genesis 28:20-22 
  • God cemented the definition of tithing very specifically when He gave the law to Moses and laid the ground rules. 
"Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord." Leviticus 27:30,32

"You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. At the end of every three years, you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do." Deuteronomy 14:22,28-29

Giving is a New Testament command

"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Matthew 23:23

The ESV words it this way, "“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others."

In other words, Jesus was saying that they should include and demonstrate judgment, mercy, and faith, but they should also continue to tithe. In this solitary statement, Jesus confirmed that tithing is absolutely a New Testament command that continues to be God's will.

Disobedience steals from God and those in need

Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, "Wherein have we robbed Thee?" In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My 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.”

This passage mentions both tithes and offerings. Since a tithe is equal to one/tenth, any giving above that amount is considered an offering unto the Lord. Both are mentioned, individually, so it is evident that God wants us to do both, to give as much as we can, and He will reward us accordingly. NOT that we should ever give from the motivation of hoping to receive, but blessing is the reward for obedience.

Refusing to put God first in our finances is robbing Him of what is rightfully His. When we fail to give to His cause, we not only rob Him, but the ultimate effect is that we take from those who are in need. God is all-sufficient. He has no need, but His children do. Someone else suffers from our failure to tithe.

There are so many who are hurting and in such dire need. How can we withhold help from them, when the proof of our love for God is demonstrated and measured by the degree with which we love our fellow man?

I John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

When the love of God is in the heart, it cannot be contained. It automatically bursts forth when we see and recognize that someone else has a need. Just as when Jesus was on earth, many times, He was “moved with compassion”, we will not be able to turn away from those whose plight of poverty and need we could alleviate and remedy by our giving.

What could be more satisfying than to know God has used you to bless and provide for another person? The blessing is even multiplied when you give to those who cannot give back.

“Then said He also to him that bade Him, "When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

“I have shewed 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.” Acts 20:35

Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

The power over the money God blesses us with is in our own hand. We can decide whether to give or to withhold…to reach out or to be selfish… to follow the world’s example of “hoard and accumulate all you possibly can” or to imitate Jesus’ example of giving all He had.

Matthew 10:24 says, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

If we would be followers of Christ, should we not give as unselfishly as He gave?

Again, the proof is in the love. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

Jesus also said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:32-34

Truly, we have been so abundantly blessed, and there are so many who need our excess.

"Freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

"There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." Acts 4:34-35

God's economy doesn't work like man's. The more you give, the more He gives back. My grandmother used to say, "You can't outgive God," and it has been proven many times through the years that she was right. I feel sure every person reading this can vouch for the validity of that statement.

As we sacrifice, put God first in our finances, and reach out to meet the needs of others, He will absolutely take care of us and supply our needs.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you so much! It iis good to write and to read about this. Today I readed this citat and I share it with you too: "I want your giving to be between you and God, based on your response to the love He has shown you at the cross."

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    1. Wow! That is a powerful quote, Aritha! Thank you so much for that. If we gave like He gave at the cross, can you imagine the depth of our giving? This really challenged me. I am SO thankful you stopped by and shared. Thank you for your kind words. God bless you!

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  2. This is another powerful post, Cheryl, and much appreciated by your readers. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Hi Cheryl, I can't believe I had no idea that "tithe" meant tenth. I mean I knew that tithing should be 10%, as mentioned in the verses you shared, but I didn't realize that the actual word tithe meant tenth.

    Thank you for sharing this Truth and for sharing all the Scripture verses that speak on tithing and the benefits to others and to ourselves. But most especially, as a way to honor the Lord for everything that we have is His.

    You are so faithful to bring us the Truth will all humility and grace.

    I treasure our friendship dear friend.

    Sending you love and gratitude.

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    1. Oh, I surely treasure our friendship, too, dear friend. Only the Lord knows how much your support, encouragement, and prayers mean to me. Thank you so much for your kind words ~ they meant the world to me today. Sending hugs your way!

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  4. Thank you for this post Cheryl. Dennis is an Elder and the treasurer at our church and you wouldn’t believe the numbers of long time Christians that have never been taught about tithing. They have no idea it’s a Biblical precept. Many think it’s just the church being greedy. You have shown, very lovingly, how God wants us to use the gifts He has given us.
    Blessings always,
    Betsy

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    1. Oh, dear friend! I have found the very same thing. I just don't understand how we can justify giving God "full" control, but then withhold from Him what is rightfully His when it comes to our finances. You are right ~ the ball has been dropped, and God's people are not being taught the Biblical requirement of tithing. Sadly, the ones who have been greedy and misappropriated funds, etc., have been widely publicized and turned people off to supporting God's cause, and oh, how it has suffered because of this! Thank you so much for your dear support and kind words. It truly means SO much to me. And, a big thanks to your dear husband for his dedicated service to God. God bless you both abundantly!

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  5. Hi Cheryl, this is a topic very close to my heart because we have tested God in this (as He has said to do) and He has proven Himself more than faithful!
    God bless
    Tracy

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    1. Amen, sister! He has proven Himself time and time again with us, too. If we do our part, He will absolutely do as He has promised! God bless you. :)

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