Tithing is an important principle that many Christians misunderstand. Tithing was established in Genesis 14:18-20 when Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had. Melchizedek was the King of Salem and a priest of God Almighty. Hebrews chapters 5 and 6 explain that Jesus is our high priest in the order of Melchizedek. And tithing is the key to blessings, as explained in Malachi 3:10, which says:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Many Christians don’t realize (or just don’t like the fact) that tithing is not optional. Giving ten percent of our income is our part of the covenant with God. And many fail to understand the importance of doing the tithe correctly. Ten percent is the minimum, and it must be the first fruits (Exodus 23:19). In other words, as soon as you’re paid, before you write a check for the rent or mortgage, car payment, groceries, or other bills, first you give a tenth of your income to God.
And some say that tithing was only for those people who lived before grace. Wrong! Tithing is part of the covenant with God. God made a covenant with Israel and still honors the covenant. He also honors the tithe covenant when we do our part.
A lot of people think of tithing as giving to the church (a frequently flawed human institution). In reality, they are giving back to God from what He has given them. And it’s funny, but a ten percent grocery store coupon seems hardly worth the trouble, but ten percent of your income seems enormous. They give what they can or they give whatever’s left after all the bills are paid. Then they wonder why they are still struggling financially. It’s because they are giving God their leftovers. The rich people in Luke 21:1-4 were giving God their leftovers, but the widow gave sacrificially. Ten percent off the top is so hard to do that many Christians just don’t do it. Have you ever noticed the number of coins and one-dollar bills that go by in the offering basket? Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” (Luke 6:38).
This past year my income was cut in half, but I never felt the pinch. When I learned that my income would be significantly less, I gave the problem to God and continued to do everything I needed to do in our ministry: travel, meet with missionaries over coffee or a meal, etc. In fact, I didn’t waste any time wondering if God would provide. You see, His Word says that He is my Provider, and crazy as that sounds, I believe it. I’m a faithful tither, and I believed that He would open the windows of Heaven for me. When I returned to the US with Christmas and all my big bills coming due (property taxes, registration and inspection on the car, etc.), my brother informed me that our Grandfather’s second wife had died. That dear lady remembered us in her will, and left enough to make up for the shortfall, but not enough to be taxable. I could never have predicted where the money would come from, and never dreamed that she would leave something for us in her will.
I had other expenses at that time, too, because I needed to do a lot of traveling in the US in order to attend missions conferences and speak at churches about missions in Europe. Where would the money for travel and conferences come from? I didn’t know, but I knew that God would provide. Since I would be out of the country for several months, I had some valuable Indian pottery that I wrapped up and left at my brother’s house before returning to Europe. Just before returning home, my brother’s house burned down. My pottery miraculously survived the collapse of the house, but the black-on-black glaze that had made these three pieces valuable and unique was burned off. I didn’t want to make a claim on his insurance because my brother literally lost everything, so my claim was on my own homeowner’s insurance. The insurance company carefully investigated, photographed, ordered an appraisal, and discovered the value of the pottery, which was far more than I had ever imagined. The insurance claim more than paid the expense of travel.
But that’s not all: my brother and sister-in-law, now without their house, had moved into my house. They knew that I intended to sell my house, so they helped me clean it out, repair it, and get it ready to sell. We came across a collection of wheat pennies that my father had left me. I had taken the collection to a coin dealer several years before, so I didn’t think my chances of selling the collection was very good because wheat pennies are not very valuable or rare. Still, I took it to a coin dealer with a reputation for being honest and fair. His reaction was more or less what I expected. He said a wheat penny is worth 1½ cents—not really worth his time. Then I remembered that at the bottom of the sack there was one penny in a plastic holder. I pulled it out and his eyes popped. He grabbed his coin book and looked it up. He showed me what the book said and offered me $650 for the whole collection.
Sometime later, I had attended all but the last conference, which was scheduled for the week before my return to Europe. I had the feeling that this conference was important, but two things bothered me: I hadn’t had any communication from them, even after numerous e-mail inquiries—possibly it had been cancelled! The conference was in Halifax, Canada, and the cost to fly there was about $600. Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was important for me to go, so I prayed about it again, asking God if He really wanted me to go, and pointing out the cost. Immediately He responded, “The cost for you is only a penny.” I laughed, and it still makes me laugh. I love that God has a sense of humor!
A speaker at that conference said this: “Some of you are laboring to have Ishmael, when God wants you to sit quietly and wait for Isaac.” I got Isaac (financial provision), through no effort of my own. I didn’t even wear God’s ears out with praying for provision. He did it for me—He will do it for you, too!