Testing God: He challenges us to test Him through tithing
“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 you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10)
In Tithing Part 2, I explained the mechanics and process of tithing from my perspective. Remember our focus should be on God through faithful stewardship. Tithing is not ‘Tipping God’; it is an act of obedience and worship that reminds us of our place in God’s economy. I can find no other instance in Scripture where God encourages us to test him except in regard to the Tithe.
Listen to me very carefully. I can give you dozens of examples in my life where I tithed on our income, knowing in the back of my mind that I did not have enough money left over to pay our bills. The first time this happened, I nearly came to tears in a state of panic and fear. I thought to myself, “What did I just do? I don’t have enough money left to pay our mortgage, buy groceries, etc.” I felt like an acrobat working without a net. Do you know what I learned at that moment? I had no other choice but to depend on God’s promise of provision (see Luke 12:22-34)
What happened next gave me a glimpse into the mystery and power of God. After tithing, paying what bills I could and staring at a $0.00 balance with more bills to pay, I turned it all over to God and went home for the evening. The next day, I woke up with a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Again, I turned it over to God. I went to my office early that morning. I fired up my computer to verify the financial carnage I had inflicted on my family only to find that an unexpected commission had been deposited in my account. It was more than enough to pay our bills. Amazed, I thought I’d seen a miracle. Looking back, I chuckle because I was so simple-minded and distrusting of God’s provision. God created the universe and everything in it. It’s well within his power to orchestrate an unexpected financial blessing. I’m the one silly enough to question Him.
Like I said, we’ve had several experiences like this. We’ve learned to exercise trust in God and his promises.
Dealing with the Offering Plate
I’m sure some people wished they had a T-shirt they could wear to church that says, “I Tithe Online!” when the offering plate comes their way during the service. Personally, I give online. Passing the offering plate has never been a problem for me. However, some folks feel pressure when that disc comes their way and I totally get that. That is something in which you will need to wrestle. The pressure you feel is not coming from God. You are actually seeking approval from others. Again, the heart of Cain emerges (see Genesis 4). Everyone battles this attitude, myself included. I encourage tithing in a way that is most comfortable for you, where you can focus on God without distraction. Do so with joy, remembering Malachi 3:10!
Over and Above: Unlocking Generosity and Expecting Results
Physical exercise strengthens your body. Exercising trust in God through regular tithing strengthens your faith and brings peace because you are aligning yourself with God’s will. Once you experience this for a while, you begin have a deeper understanding of God’s economy and how he multiplies our resources to benefit others. This experience has given Kathryn and me an opportunity to step further out of our comfort zone and give ‘Over and Above’ the tithe. Today, when Kathryn and I sense a need, we open our hands and hearts.
We cannot lift others out of a pit with closed fists. We must let go of whatever we are holding on to in order grasp the ones in need and lift them up for the glory of God. He uses the broken, imperfect and outcast to do his will in the world.
I encourage you to begin with the tithe and learn ways to cultivate generosity.
1. The Heart: Remember, tithing and giving is NOT about the amount given it is about the heart condition. If you can’t give with joy, wait.
2. Pray: Prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do. He will reveal the path but it will require faith and it will be a bit of a stretch.
3. Sacrifice: Giving sacrificially hurts. When we give to the point of having to set aside our own desires and needs it will hurt. However, we’ll understand that we’re completely dependent upon God.
4. Baby Steps: If you are not a giver, start with one small step. Start with the tithe. See how God shows up and honors your obedience. Remember, He tells us to ‘test Him’ in this (Malachi 3:10). Take Him up on it. See what happens.
“Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely… He (the righteous man/woman) has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.” (Psalm 112: 5a,9)