Numbers 18:25-26 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.'”
This is a very important Scripture for anyone in ministry. It is sadly common for people to assume that because ministers are paid with offerings, they don’t have to give any offerings. Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole point of offerings, and specifically the tithe, is for us to recognize our dependence on God. It’s certainly not that God lacks anything! A particular danger for ministers is that since they frequently speak for God, they start to think they are God. Tithes and offerings are one hedge against that. If a pastor isn’t faithful with his own tithing, how can he expect his flock to tithe? Actually, the whole matter of tithing is a major weak spot in the Church today, especially in wealthy countries. Back when I was in seminary in the late ’70s I saw a statistical report of how much money would be available if every member of Southern Baptist churches tithed (since I attended a Southern Baptist seminary). The figure was staggering, exceeding the national budget of more than a few countries! The point of the study was to show how few actually did tithe, even in a denomination that has traditionally stressed tithing. Today society tends to depend on government for such things as social welfare, but if all the Christians tithed, the Church would have plenty of funds to take care of the job, undoubtedly with far greater efficiency. Samaritan’s Purse is an excellent example of what can be done in that area by people who are motivated by the love of God rather than the desire for a paycheck. It is no coincidence that Jesus talked more about money than He did about heaven. As He said so clearly, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Tithes and offerings are a tool given us by God to help us get our treasure in the right place.
I have had someone express amazement that I tithe what I receive from this church. It’s obvious they didn’t know this passage! I remember clearly when Cathy and I started tithing. We were a struggling young family, and Cathy was pregnant with our second daughter. (We had so little money that our daughter’s birth was paid for almost entirely by Medicaid, for which I am grateful.) We knew that we should tithe, but we never had a tenth left over at the end of the month. Finally, in faith we decided to take the tithe out first, and trust God for the rest of the month. To our amazement, we actually had a little left over at the end of that first month! That was back in 1973, and we have never missed a meal since, even when I was out of a job for 9 months at one point. I could go on and on about what and how God taught us about His provision, but the point here is that I’ve got to remember that He is Yahweh Jireh, my Provider, and tithes and offerings are an important acknowledgment of that.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You know how I hesitate to preach on giving, fearing that people will see me as money-grubbing because their giving affects my bottom line. Give me the right words to dispel that misunderstanding, along with the boldness to proclaim Your truth in love, so that all the believers may operate in Your provision, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!