Christian Devotionals

"Your Very Great Reward"

Many people have a big problem tithing (the biblical practice of giving 10% of your income back to God). I’m not just talking about people in general, but a large percentage of church going Christians as well. In a nation which has a negative savings rate – that’s right, we spend more than we save – people have a hard enough time putting money in their company’s 401 k retirement plans, let alone giving a tenth of their salary to God’s work. Worse yet, people have been tapping into their home equity to buy large screen televisions, fancy electronics, furniture and other big ticket items. Throughout the housing boom – which is now going bust – people have been using their home equity lines of credit like an A.T.M. Now with rising interest rates, falling home prices and a credit crunch engendered by the sub-prime mortgage mess, the days of easy money are over. Many people’s balance sheets are in bad shape and likely to get worse. Not to sound overly cynical, but this usually results in less giving to God’s work (reluctance to tithe and reductions in donations to churches and other non-profit ministries).

Granted, I run a non-profit Christian ministry and rely heavily on donations, but that’s not my concern here. God is my Provider and He always provides for my family and me. My concern is that Christians will go the easy route and give less to God when things get tight. When they do this, they deprive themselves of God’s blessing. You see God will not bless selfishness and fiscal irresponsibility. In God’s economy, gifts made during times of financial hardship are a fragrant offering to Him. You can see how much Jesus valued this type of giving in Mark 12 when the poor widow gave two mites to the temple treasury. This gift meant more to God than all the bigger donations made by the rich because they gave out of their wealth and she gave out of her poverty. She gave all that she had. God has a funny way of taking care of people who give like that. He blesses those who put Him first. My family has experienced this time and time again. We have a very practical and biblical way of handling our finances. First, no matter how tight money gets, we have remained faithful to the practice of tithing – it’s non-negotiable. Second, we live within our means. This means buying what we need and saving for those things that we want. It’s simple and pure common sense, but it works. God has blessed us for being faithful in our giving and for being prudent in our finances.

Many Christians claim that tithing is Old Testament and insist that the New Covenant in Christ frees them from this obligation. It is true that the old covenant in the Old Testament included a tithing system where people gave ten percent of their increase – crops, livestock, money – to God. These animals were sacrificed to the Lord day after day in order to forgive the people of their sins. Hebrews 7 in the New Testament, however, tells us that this daily sacrifice for our sins is no longer necessary because Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice once and for all. It was a one time deal. While the old covenant obligation may have been obsoleted through Jesus’ death and resurrection, generous and selfless giving will never become obsolete in God’s kingdom. Did you know that the first time a person tithed in the Bible was back in Genesis 14? It was Abram, later to be renamed Abraham. In an act of gratitude to God for allowing him to rout the forces of the four kings and rescue his nephew Lot, Abram gave a tenth of the spoils to God’s High Priest – Melchizedek. Abram’s tithe was given long before the Law of Moses came into being requiring tithes. Abram tithed out of love and gratitude for his Lord, not out of obligation to the law. That’s the kind of giving that pleases and honors God the most. In addition to Abram’s tithe, he turned over the remainder of the spoils to the king of Sodom (it was his to begin with). The king of Sodom offered to give it all to Abram for his defeat of their enemies, but Abram would have none of it. He said: “I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich’ (Genesis 14:23). Abram didn’t need any rewards from the likes of the king of Sodom, God was his reward. In fact God Himself told this to Abram right after this incident: “I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).

Giving means so much more to God when we do it out of love and not out of obligation. We owe God more than we can ever possibly pay Him. He gave us His only Son and with that tremendous sacrifice, eternal life. Hebrews 5 tells us that God designated Jesus to be our high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Let’s get our hearts and priorities straight by offering our High Priest tithes made in love and appreciation, just as Abram offered his tithe to the original Melchizedek. Do it for love and yes, there will be a blessing in it for you as well. Jesus is “your very great reward.”

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