A JOYFUL GIVER
2 Cor. 9:7
“Everyone should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
My grandson Caleb has just gotten to the age where he grabs something - it could be almost anything - and declares, "Mine!" That's human nature. And it isn't always a bad thing. The right of an individual to own property is basic to our concept of freedom and liberty. But when it comes to our relationship with God things take on a little different character. The Bible makes it very clear that "The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it . . ." -- Ps. 24:1. So ultimately, everything we have is really "on loan from God." That's where the idea of stewardship comes in. Because everything really belongs to Him, God holds us accountable for what we do with it.
James wrote: "Every good and perfect gift comes from God . . ." -- James 1:17. The plain fact is that God gives us way more than we need to live and to serve Him. Did you ever wonder why? I would suggest that it is because He loves us; it is His desire that we have life in abundance and that the work of our hands prospers. According to Deut. 8:18, it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth. But we are to use that wealth - the good gifts we receive from His hand - to bring Him glory. Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to: "Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce." --NLT. But how do we do that? How do we use material things to honor God?
Well the first and most obvious way is to return the first 10th (i.e., a tithe) of your income to Him. A lot of people think that tithing is something preachers came up with as a means of increasing the offerings. Actually, no. Tithing is a biblical principle that goes back to the beginning. Abraham gave a tithe to a man named Melchizedek because he recognized that Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High. You can read about that in Gen. 14. Or, if you want to go back even further, consider that Abel and Cain brought offerings - though not necessarily a tenth - of what they had produced and gave them to the Lord. In any case, when you are faithful to the Lord in this way, you acknowledge that whatever you have has come from Him and that you trust Him to supply what you need for tomorrow as well.
I believe that tithing is the lesser issue, however. The bigger issue is how can you honor God with the 90% you have left? I would say, manage it wisely. Recognize that it too belongs to God, so spend it thoughtfully and prayerfully, save responsibly and never let it become the focus of your life. Seek God's lordship and righteousness first and let Him order the rest.
--- Pastor Keith Andrews