You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)
The Purpose Of Tithing
There is always a reason and a purpose for the law of God. What may seem trivial laws to man are very important to show the willingness of men to obey the word of the Lord or follow their own precepts. The struggle with sin is deciding whom to fear. From the beginning of time, the Lord has placed before humanity the ability to choose whom they will serve and more often than not man has looked to his own wisdom and rejected the will of God. Under the Law of Moses, the Lord demanded one-tenth of everything the child of God possessed. While tithing is highlighted in the Law of Moses it was custom as ancient as the days when Abraham gave Melchizedek king of Salem a tithe of all he had. The Mosaic law required the people to tithe in three places: the seed of the land (crops), the fruit of the trees (oil and wine) and the herd or the flock. In separating the herds and flocks, the Lord required every tenth animal without the man regarding the animal in any way. He could not choose which animal to give to the Lord. If he tried to give the Lord a different animal than the one counted under the number as the tenth, both animals would be consecrated to the Lord. The law of tithing was not a trivial law instituted by God to obligate the people to a bureaucratic system of commandment keeping. Requiring the people to give a tenth of their crops, fruits, and animals to the Lord was purposed to teach the people to fear the Lord their God and understand all their blessings came from Him and Him alone. The Lord taught the nation of Israel that He owned everything in the world and He had need of nothing, yet this same Lord demanded the people offer to Him one-tenth of their possessions to instill in their hearts love and devotion to His benevolent care for them.
Man is a fickle creature that can easily fall prey to the covetousness inclinations of hoarding worthless things for his own pleasure. Wars have been fought as men take from others possessions of bounty, loot, and treasures. One of the major reasons for crime stems from the desire to take things from others so that a man can live in splendor, opulence and possess all the gold in the world. Greed will fill the heart of the ungodly who worship the power of money. The Scrooge mentality of hoarding an inheritance of things drives men to waste their lives in the self-indulgence of earthly possessions. Under the Law of Moses, the Israelites were required without recourse to deliver one-tenth of their possessions to the Lord God or suffer the consequences. It would be hard for a man to give unto a God he could not see possessions he knew his God did not need. The lesson was not in the tenth animal or the tenth produce; what God intended to show the people was not to trust in the fleeting treasures of this world but to trust in the power of His will to care and provide for them. Asking a man to give a tenth of what he owns is the litmus test of fidelity. The law exacted a heavy toll on the produce of the people but the greater lesson was to teach the people to fear the Lord their God always. There is special emphasis on the last part of the admonition: this lesson was to be before them always.
Tithing was a regulatory part of the Law of Moses and when Christ abolished the Law of Moses the requirement of tithing was also abolished. God does not require a man to tithe today. Under the covenant of Christ, returning to the Lord a portion of man’s goods is still required and commanded through the law of free will giving as one lays by in store on the first day of the week. What has not changed is the purpose of the law. Under the Law of Moses, the portion of giving was specified as one-tenth. In the New Testament church giving is based upon the heart of the individual. The one thing that has not changed is the purpose: men learn to fear the Lord when they give on the first day of the week. It would be easy for the Lord to declare that all men give a tenth because then the compulsion would be laid out and no questions of loyalty would be given. However, a greater test now lies before the heart of the child of God because the Lord leaves it up to the individual to determine the amount he gives. The amount one gives is based upon how much a man fears the Lord God always. Often the question is given how much should a person give in the age of the church. The answer is not a numerical figure but a condition of the heart. It is evident by contribution numbers in many churches today that few saints give even one-tenth of their possessions. This comes from too many of God’s people squandering their lives in perpetual debt and offering to the Lord pennies on the dollar when it comes time to give. What many fail to see is their giving is in proportion to their heart. The Lord’s work is hindered because the hearts of the brethren are fearful of not having enough stuff to fill their barns than the fear of the Lord. Tithing was not given to Israel so God could fill His coffers with grain, oil, and sheep. He tested the hearts of the people and their giving one-tenth taught them to fear him. Now the Lord allows the heart of His church to show how much they fear him. Ask yourself this question: how much do you fear the Lord always?