I suppose, that until we see Jesus men will debate the issue of the tithe, and it’s relationship to New Testament Christianity. However, when it comes to the Christian practice of giving, there are deeper issues that need be considered, that really renders the “amount” irrelevant.
There are large numbers of people who regularly give more than 10% of their income to the Lord through the church, however they do so without a willing mind, generous spirit, or properly prioritized heart.
On the other hand, the opposite scenario is true. There are those who have the right priorities, a generous spirit, and a willing mind that do not quite rise to the level of what would be a “tithe” of their income.
The fact is that when it comes to giving, before we answer the question of “percentage” we have to address the issue of priority. The question to answer is “will my offering come from the top, or will it come from the bottom?” Or asked another way, “Will my offering determine my budget for everything else” or “Will what’s left over after everthing else, determine my offering.” Do we get the first and God get the worst? Do I live from the best, and give God the rest?
For far too many people, the reason that their giving to the Lord is too low, is because living for themselves is too high. Not everyone, but a lot. The fundamental problem for most rests in the fact that their offering has to fit into everything else they have planned in life, rather than the other way around. There are some hard questions that growing, maturing Christians must answer; Does my mortgage fit under my offering, or does my offering have to fit under my mortgage? Will the purchase of this car affect my giving, or does my giving set the amount of car I can buy? Is my giving set opposite to saving, or is it part of expected planned budget? Is giving to the Lord the corner stone of my finances, by which everything else must fit and measure with?
Proverbs 3:9-10 says much when it comes to this issue. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” This statement is not “covenant related.” Interestingly enough, the word for “all thine increase” in the Hebrew language is “tebu a”, and it literally means, “income, revenue or gain.” It is a phrase that transcends all mediums. Our substance and increase is money, our barns are now banks, our presses and new wine is the prosperity of our occupations.
The author of the proverb is Solomon, the audience of the proverb is “the simple man” “the wise man” and the “son.” It is for any man of any age of any time of any place. There is no covenant theology in this book, nor is there any expiration date for it. It is a book of Practical Spiritual wisdom that carries the weight of truth as much in our day as it did the moments it was penned.
That being said, the Biblical Wisdom that is given to us is plain black ink on bright white paper. Give the Lord what’s first. Now if you with all your heart and mind want to give him 5% give him the first 5%. If you want to give him 3% give Him the first 3%. Until the priority is set the percentage is irrelevant.
The Apostle Paul says something about this in 1st Corinthians 16:2 – “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. ” Paul told the church at Corinth to “lay by in store” or “set aside” the amount that you are going to give. It is to be “planned” it is to be “prepared.” It is never to be what’s left, or however much I feel when the plate comes by. It was to be something that was premeditated, preset, and preserved, until the taking up of the funds for the work of the Lord.
Now if we want to back up even farther and get a bigger picture, we need look no further than the simple truth that the Lord is to have first place in all of my life. “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Speaking of personal resources and needs, Matthew 6:33. Jesus made it plain that when the Kingdom comes first, that the needs and resources will take care of themselves. We also look to the greatest of all commands, to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Some will say, “that has nothing to do with giving.” I will say that has “everything to do with everything; and giving is in the category of an everything.”
The Lord is to be first in our lives, in all things. He will not be compartmentalized. He is just to be “first.” First on your mind, first in your thoughts, first in your energies, first with your resources, first in your schedule, first in your entertainment, first in categorically, everything. Not first “chronologically” but first and foremost “substantially.” He and His work, determine and set, all other aspects of our lives.
So while others want to fight over the tithe. (I can’t resist – Of which I believe it is in fact a Biblical principle that Christians would be wise to practice.) The deeper issues when it comes to giving really begins with the heart of our will, and the priorities of our mind. When the Lord comes first in all things, everything else will take care of themselves. There is no doubt or debate in my mind, that putting Jesus first in our budget, first in our expenditures, first in our finances, first in every aspect of our life is a glorious change worth making.