Money features as a prominent theme in the Bible. Many "religious" people do not discuss money, but what if the way you looked at and spent your money reflected your relationship with God? What if you could bring honour or dishonour to God based on the way that you managed your finances? Would you then be interested to see what the Bible says about money?
Before there were coins, paper money or credit cards; people used silver or gold as currency. The period of mere barter had passed before Abraham walked the earth (Genesis 23:15-16). Although they did not have coins, the precious metals were cast in bars or rings to facilitate easy movement.
On to today's topic:
Tithing / First fruits / Neglecting God's houseThis is a difficult topic for a lot of people. Some say, "look at how they waste their offerings." There are churches who are accused of mismanagement of the offerings that they receive. We need to give wisely, but in the end it is still our responsibility to tithe to the church where we receive spiritual input and am a member of.
Malachi 3:10 "Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things." GNB
This verse is often quoted, and then some will add that this was Old Testament and that it does not apply to us today. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that the time of tithing has passed.
Haggai 1:5-11 “Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors." ESV
2 Corinthians 9:7 "Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" NKJV
God never forces us to do anything. It is very important to God how we do things. We cannot purchase forgiveness by giving money to a church or ministry. Neither can we make God love us more because of our donations.
Saul tried to make an offering to God and thought that it would impress God (1 Samuel 15), and it did not work out that way that he thought it would.
In Luke 21 we find Jesus looking at the people while they are giving their offerings. The rich do not impress Him because they are giving only a small portion of what they have. When an old widow gives the last few coins she has, Jesus is amazed and calls his disciples closer to talk to them. The widow gave everything that she had. She was willing to trust God with everything, knowing that she did not have money left to buy food for supper. That is real faith, you cannot fake it with God because He sees the motives of our hearts.
Am I saying that all of us need to give away everything that we own? No, I am saying that we need to evaluate the reasons why we give and work on our hearts motives so that when God calls us to give that we can give cheerfully. If God asked you tomorrow to give your car away, and you do it to try to impress God or you do it grudgingly then you have no reward for what you have done - and that would be tragic. "But God, I gave my car away! Surely I have proven my love for you and that I am a Christian." This kind of reasoning is evil and does not please God.