When we live and give with a wise and generous heart, we send money out in a fashion that says to the world, “God is our Passion.” Solomon said, “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for: through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil” (Proverbs 16:6). Love, faithfulness, and the fear of the Lord represent a passion for God. Consequently, we waive, or give, in three directions to: (1) God, (2) the poor, and (3) our children. Let’s look at giving to God.
Solomon commanded, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). The firstfruits referred to the source, or the gross. Unfortunately, most of us want to give from our leftovers. The result is usually giving little to God. We can give to God by supporting our local churches in the form of a tithe or an offering.
Tithe is defined as a tenth. Tithing is a longstanding pattern modeled by wise leaders whose lives are chronicled in the Bible. They gave a tenth of their income to the advancement of God’s kingdom in the hearts and lives of others. Jesus appeared to uphold the concept of tithing in His teaching (Matthew 23:23). However, this was a beginning, not an ending.
Offering is a gift beyond a tenth of our gross income. It flows from our fully surrendered generous hearts that see God as our Passion. God confronted His people with partially surrendered greedy hearts through the prophet Malachi, “”Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — 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 you will not have room enough for it”” (Malachi 3:8-10). Too often, we are reluctant to test God for His blessing because we do not trust Him for replenishment.
God’s original design for the Israelites was for them to be generous, giving in excess of ten percent of their gross income. In addition to the tithe, the Israelites; rested their land every seven years; cancelled debts every seven years (as well as the Year of Jubilee every seventh seven year period); gave during their Three Great Feasts; and gave through gleaning laws. Additionally, they gave an offering for the construction of the Tabernacle, “from each man whose heart prompts him to give” (Exodus 25:2) to such a level of abundance that the Israelites were told to stop because they had given “more than enough” (Exodus 36:3-7). Their total annual giving averaged 20 to 30 percent of their annual income.
When we send our resources out with a wise and generous heart, we communicate that God is our passion.
This week, try giving to a cause that advances Christ’s kingdom. It might be your church, a youth ministry, or a homeless shelter. Give a portion of your time, talent, or treasure and experience the passion of God.