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Tithing - a commitment to financial giving

H.A.B.I.T.S.  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:32
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As we’ve continued in our journey through H.A.B.I.T.S. for spiritual growth. Last week we spoke about involvement in the greater life of the church. That included the giving of our time and talents - which it is right and good to consider as a reflection of our tithe. We’ve come to the one that people are either curious about, or they’re dreading. I hope its more of the former than the latter.
There are those topics that many don’t talk about even in today’s culture of oversharing. One of the primary ones is money. And I will challenge you that this is one of the reasons why we don’t hear it brought up much in the church. And that’s not right.
Jesus spoke more about money and our giving than almost any other topic.
Charles Ryrie wrote:
The New Testament says more about giving than about any other single aspect of church life. Giving to others serves as clear proof of one’s love for God (James 2:15–17; 1 John 3:17–18), should stem from a life that has first been given to Him (2 Cor. 8:5), and should be done voluntarily (vv. 11–12; 9:7), liberally even in poverty (8:12), cheerfully (9:7), and according to the measure of prosperity God gives to the individual (1 Cor. 16:2). As far as New Testament revelation is concerned, giving was the principal area in which there was a cooperative effort among a number of churches (Acts 11:27–30; 2 Cor. 8–9).
Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (pp. 498–499). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
We’ve all heard it said, “Money is the root of all evil.” But is that really true? I will tell you, it’s not. Money is simply a tool. That is all it is.
Some of you are saying, but the Bible says it! No, again, it’s one of the ways that our culture has slightly changed the truth and made it a lie.
It is said that the greatest lie is closest to the truth. Let’s look at what the Bible really says. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 6
We’re going to read from verse 6-10.
1 Timothy 6:6–10 ESV
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
I want to point us again to that last verse, which is the one the deceiver has twisted so much in our culture:
1 Timothy 6:10 ESV
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
So what is God’s view of money? What are we to do with what God has given us? What is biblical stewardship.
It’s not like the man who gathered his fortunes and threw them up in the air. He figured he would throw it up to God and what God wanted God would take, what came back down was for him to keep.
It’s also not for us to cling to as our salvation. If I put my money in my hands and I hold it like this (making a fist), what does that look like? It looks like I’m up for a fight. But what about if I hold it like this (open handed)? Now it’s there for someone to put more into and to take out of.
Jesus tells us in his sermon on the mount, after talking about how we can spin ourselves into the ground by being anxious about what to eat, or drink, or what to wear. He reminds us that our Heavenly Father knows we have need of them.
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
So, with that as our intro, let’s take sometime to answer some questions:
What is a tithe?
Where does the practice of tithing come from?
What does it mean for us?
First question:

What is a tithe?

One-tenth of a person’s goods, whether agricultural or monetary, dedicated to God.

Now in English it comes form the Old English and literally means one-tenth.

tithe, a tenth part of one’s income set aside for special purposes.

So a tithe is one-tenth of one’s income, personal goods, whatever that we set aside for special purposes. In that church that is generally understood as for God.
But where did this idea of one-tenth come from?

Where does the practice of tithing come from?

The idea of setting aside a portion of one’s income, crops, possessions etc. for religious purposes was a common practice in the Near East. And it was practiced in the Old Testament.
Abram (who we later know as Abraham) after a victory in battle over his enemies was met by Melchizedek, who was priest of God Most High, gave to Melchizedek a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:19–20 ESV
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.
Later in Genesis, Jacob makes a vow:
Genesis 28:20–22 ESV
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.”
Leviticus tells us:
Leviticus 27:30 ESV
“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.
Of course I could go on and to show you more and more
According to the Lexham Bible Dictionary,
The practice of tithing has changed since the Old Testament period, but the concept of setting aside one-tenth of one’s income or goods for religious use has remained the same.
Meeks, C. (2016). Tithe. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
The practice has continued throughout the centuries.

What does it mean for us?

We’ve been talking about HABITS for Spiritual growth. It is absolutely true that your attitude toward your possessions and your money is key evidence of your relationship with God.
I want to go back to two verses that I shared at the beginning of our message this morning:
1 Timothy 6:10 ESV
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
and
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned us
Matthew 6:21 ESV
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I firmly believe our giving is tied to our faith in God. Do I trust God to provide? So, how do I put it into practice?

Practicing Tithing

Practicing the act of tithing is not easy. We are very attached to our possessions, our income, and such. And if you listened carefully you heard the wrong possessive there. None of it is truly ours. As the Scriptures proclaim over and over again, God is the one who created all things. We know this but we don’t feel this.
The way in which we behave towards our possessions and our monies tells us a great deal about where our heart is, and where we put our trust. It is a faith issue.
Personal testimony: If I may share from personal experience on giving in general. I’ve always wanted to be a generous giver, but I haven’t exactly chosen career paths that would lead to unending wealth (at least here on earth - (wink)). I have challenged myself over the years to give a portion of my income to the church and God’s Work. For years I failed. I believe it was because I was putting my trust in the income rather than in God. I would pay all my bills, and do all the things I had planned during the month and then at the end of the month would give God what was left over. There was never the amount I had set as a goal. It wasn’t until someone challenged me to give to God first and trust there would be enough at the end of the month for me. Do you hear that shift in where my faith was?
It really comes down to a faith issue. As we give generously of our time and talents, it is out of the entirety of what God has given us that we are called to give.
Matthew 6:21 ESV
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Final comment - I’m not one who will say that you need to give all of your tithe to the local church. There are ministries around the world that we can support and I know many of you do. And let us not forget God has put us right here for ministry in our community as well.
God calls us to trust in Him.
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Let’s pray.
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