22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you. 28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. Deuteronomy 14:22-29
With a few conversations and internet searches you will know that the critique of tithing and the church abounds. Yet throughout the Scripture, tithing, (regularly returning 10% of your income to the Lord) is connected to celebration, care and mercy, and blessings.
This is amazing! God says, “Eat the tithe.” God gracefully commanded the tithe so we can be free and generous as a community. His vision for people is one in which their response to Him and to His deliverance into the abundance of His provision is to honour Him regularly. As we honour Him we invite our family to celebrate God and His grace towards us. Gather with your family, I would suggest your larger church family, and eat the tithe!
Care and Mercy
Every three years the tithe was also to be gathered in the local community for the care of those engaged in leading the work of God’s people and for those who are especially vulnerable in the community: the “foreigner,” the orphan, and the widow. Jesus critiqued people who tithed and neglected the weighty matters that tithing was meant to support: justice, mercy, and faithfulness toward people. He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” Matthew 23:23-24 Tithing supports our community’s gracious generosity for the benefit of vulnerable people, people under pressure.
Blessings in Our Work
The tithe and the gracious generosity its connected with comes with the promise of God’s blessing in our work. I’m going to make “the interpretive leap here” and connect the promise to our life together in the church. God says he will do an amazing thing when we give for the work of our church: He will “bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” In the age of “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:17-19), God promises that our regular giving response to His grace towards us will yield more. As Bill Hybles has observed, God can get us not only from “A” to “B” (the basic vision of enough in our society) but also to “C,” doing and accomplishing far more good that we can imagine!