I have a confession to make: Tithing isn’t always easy for me. I write this article because I suspect that at least some of you may feel the same way. I understand the Bible to say that ten percent of my income belongs to God. Unfortunately, I find no escape clause that allows me to skip tithing or at least reduce the percentage during economic downturns. This means that even if my paycheck fails to increase proportionately to the cost of living, ten percent still belongs to God. Even if my job is unsure, even if my investments are wildly fluctuating, even if my mortgage is in trouble, the first ten percent of my income belongs to God.
Believe me; I know how easy it is to rationalize that God will understand if I use this month’s tithe money to buy gas and groceries. It is even easier to rationalize taking out a super convenient zero percent interest loan from God, promising to pay this month’s tithe next month. The question is: What does God have to say about these theories?
Well, when the Jews tried withholding their tithe back in Malachi’s day, God had plenty to say. “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” (Malachi 3:8-9). No, God doesn’t need our measly ten percent, but we are robbing Him when we don’t return to Him what is His.
Step of Faith
God desires to bless us beyond our wildest imaginations, but He cannot do so while we are robbing Him. He realized that for the Jews (and for us) tithing often requires a step of faith and a trust that God will provide for what we lack. To this, God tells us to test Him (Malachi 3:10a). Now, God doesn’t usually recommend that we test Him on things. Remember Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptations after forty days of fasting in the wilderness? Jesus quoted Scripture against putting God to the test. (Matthew 4:7). Yet, in the case of tithing, God actually challenges us to test Him and prove Him.
What then should we expect in return for faithful tithing? Blessings and lots of them! More blessings than we have room to receive (Malachi 3:10-12). God’s word is our assurance that He will bless us so abundantly that we will then have even greater tithes to give back to Him, creating a beautiful circle of blessings.
Clearly, the wisest financial move we could possibly make is honest and faithful tithing—regardless of the state of the economy or our checkbook. God promises to bless our commitment. Go ahead, test Him.