Tithing: It's About Heart

Introduction.  In First Corinthians, Paul writes (in part) to the church in Corinth about a collection that is being taken up (16:1-4).  The money will support and care for the believers in Jerusalem who were likely in hiding during a time of persecution.  Malachi 3:10a says “Bring the full tithe to the storehouse.”  Twice Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4, that “you shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading the grain” (ESV), and in his first letter to Timothy he says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (ESV), making an argument that ministers of the gospel should be paid.  While all of these passages are used in support of giving or tithing to God through the Church, the means of ministry funds is not what God is after.  God, as the Bible teaches, is after the believer’s affection.   Giving the first fruits, be it money or otherwise, is more a work happening within the believer than anything else.

God does not NEED your money It is a mistake to think the work of God’s desire will not happen if we, the Church, do not raise the money for his will.  While reflecting on God and his own life, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21, ESV).  Job understood that he came into the world with nothing.  All that he had and all that he lost was a blessing from God, but he did not have a greater claim than God to any of it because it was all God’s to give and take.  Leviticus 27:30 teaches that every tithe, whether it is willfully given to God or not belongs to God, and the rest of Malachi 3:10 says that withholding this tithe is actually stealing from God.  Psalm 50:8-12 reads, "I have not complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.  But I do not the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.  For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it" (NLT).
When the King Ahasuerus’ edict demanded to have all the Jews killed, Mordecai asked Esther to appeal to her husband, the king, in order to save the Jews from genocide.  In verses 4:13-14, Mordecai says to Ester, "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  And who knows whether your have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:13-14, ESV, emphasis added)  Mordecai understood that God will have it his way whether it works through Esther or through some other avenue or person, but Esther had the opportunity in that moment to be faithful and obedient to God.  Giving to the Church is much the same way—we can be obedient to the Bible and give or not, but our disobedience will not keep our Sovereign from accomplishing his will.  However, this is not a reason not to give our tithes and offering to God as he as instructed. 
It is about the heart.  In the 18th chapter of Luke (also Matthew 19 and Mark 10), a rich man asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life.  Jesus asked him if was he had kept the last five Commandments.  The man had since his youth.  But then Jesus went after the real issue—the man's idol, that is, the love of his great wealth.  The rich man had placed his love of money above his love of God, thus violating the First Commandment.  Every sin we commit can generally be tied back to placing something above God, worshiping an idol rather than the living God.  One of the most prevalent idols in the West today is money. 
Money itself is not bad; but both Hebrews 13:5 and First Timothy 6:10 say that the love of it is.  Like the rich man, the believer must strip away the idolatry and the love of money if he is going to follow Christ.  This, at times, comes with resistance.  Criswell writes, “The true gospel preacher is confronted today by a new-time antinomian. . . . Where stewardship of money is concerned they are antinomians; elsewhere they are satisfied to preach the moral code of Jehovah” (Criswell 1980, 148-149).  However, the gospel preacher must continue to call men and woman to give cheerfully, not because God needs the money, because God wants the heart. 

Criswell, W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1980.

*Photo is licensed under a creative commons license.  This post was, in its entirety or in part, originally written in seminary in partial fulfillment of a M.Div. It may have been redacted or modified for this website.