Most Christians struggle with giving to the Lord.
The subject of tithes and offerings is always received as a bitter pill. Though some Christians fully understand this subject and usually give back to the Lord with a cheerful heart, they are the minority. On the other hand, amidst the struggle, many are still motivated to give because of what they can get out of it. They do not see it as giving back to God what belongs to Him. In a sense, a tithe or an offering is commonly and unconsciously perceived as an investment, a loan to God that will mature in due time and they will reap bountifully. That is wrong! We do not give merely for our benefit. Rather, we give because God has instructed us to do so. We do it for His glory. We do it because it is more blessed to give than to receive, and because God has promised to bless a heart that gives cheerfully. Therefore, if receiving is not our primary intention of giving to the Lord, how should we go on with our responsibility to give? In fact, if receiving more was the primary reason for giving, we all would be giving selfishly so that we may have more to gratify ourselves. However, though our receiving was never the primary purpose why God established a tithe and all other offerings, God who is full of mercy and grace has still gone ahead to promise that we will receive even more when we give.
In this article, I have answered two major questions that Christians struggle with on the subject of giving back to the Lord with the hope that the reader will eventually become passionate about giving. I have deliberately and completely avoided the argument about whether tithing is for New Testament believers or not. The spirit of this article has everything to do with the principle of giving back to God from all our earnings as a way of worship and a reflection of God’s attribute of giving. Therefore, call it grace-giving or tithing; the principles taught in this article are for every Christian who sees it as his God-given responsibility to give back to God as the Lord prospers him.
Why should I give back to the Lord from all my prosperity?
If God owns all things, including all that I have and would ever have, why does He insist on me still giving back to him?
If God owns all things, including all that I have and would ever have, why does He insist on me still giving back to him? Shouldn’t God share with us His creatures and allow us to enjoy all that He has given us? It does not make sense. Who has ever known a mother who insists that every time she gives her children porridge, they should give back to her a certain number of scoops of the porridge? Some years back a mother who had been struggling with why and how she should tithe told me that she distributes her tithe among the poor and the needy in her family and on the streets. She saw no need of taking her tithes to the church. Her reason was simply that the church had proven to be very poor at managing God’s finances. She would rather be more responsible by doing it herself. She further went on to express her aching heart on misuse of tithes and offerings by some selfish church leaders and pastors. Nonetheless, I did advise her to look for a church that was more responsible financially and also take time to critically study the Bible concerning which way forward for a believer’s responsibility to give to the Lord through the local church. Believers should give to the Lord through the local church for many reasons. Though the Bible gives many reasons, I have limited this article to the following five:
1) It is a command of the Lord (Prov. 3:9; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor.9:7).
2) It is an act of worship to God (1 Cor. 16:1–3).
3) God would love to see His attribute of giving reflected in every believer’s life (John 3:16; Rom 5:12).
4) To withhold giving is a recipe for severe chastening (Mal. 3:8–9; Luke 16:10–11).
5) Because God’s pleasure and blessings rest upon those who give (Mal. 3:10; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:6–8; Heb. 13:16).
How should I give to the Lord as He prospers me?
Understanding that giving back to the Lord is every believer’s God-given responsibility, here are four practical nuggets of advice. When these are practiced the believer will be able to give willingly and cheerfully.
Renew your mind (Romans 12:2).
Somebody has said that the greatest fight of all times happens in the mind. If you can win it there you can win a fight anywhere. Even a person with a heart that seeks to be great at giving back to the Lord must first win the battle in the mind. Therefore, begin today to transform your mind with the truth of Scripture on tithes and offerings. Did you know that all your earnings belong to the Lord’s portion? Acknowledge it, and plan to give back to the Lord before you have your earning in hand. Let the issue be dealt with first in the mind. As you plan to give do the following: 1) Decide to give from all your earnings. 2) Decide whether you will give in material form, cash, or cheque depending on your earnings. 3) Decide on being accountable to God through your local church. If you so wish, ask the church to make a record available to you at the end of the year for your tax claim. 4) Decide when is the best time of the month for you to give (in case you have multiple sources of income).
Discipline yourself with your giving obligation (Matthew 22:21).
Institutions like NAPSA (National Pension Scheme Authority) and ZRA (Zambia Revenue Authority) are very serious about your contributions. In fact, the law behind these institutions has seen many jailed for evasion. Similarly, as individuals, we are so serious with our private businesses. We work hard to avoid losses. Employees too, are dead serious with the affairs and finances of the companies they work for. Therefore, in like manner also:
1) Be serious with your giving.
2) Discipline yourself so as to be consistent.
Find a small box in which to lay aside your collections (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Though the box may not be mandatory, the principle is worth employing. This will be very helpful on the occasion that your income varies from day to day or from week to week. Decide every time on how much you will give every time monies come in and put it in the box or an account. Then at month-end or weekend open the box and take your money to your local church.
Incorporate tithing or giving in your budgets.
Though I may have already mentioned this earlier, I would like to add a little more emphasis. The most common mistake that people make during their budgeting is putting giving or tithe aside after expenditure. However, the right thing to do is, whenever you draw up your budget remember to do the following: Subtract your giving first not as an expenditure but as your first fruit unto the Lord. Then followed by your debts. Then your savings/investments. And lastly your expenditures.
Giving to the Lord, from the time it was first demonstrated by Abraham to the King of Salem, has never been a burden. Abraham found joy and pleasure in giving a tenth of his spoils to the King. Moses had to stop the people from giving because there was no room for storage. The nation of Israel practiced it as one way to worship Jehovah. David gave with all his heart and vowed never to give to the Lord that which will cost him nothing. Paul admonished the church at Corinth to persevere in grace giving as much as they did in other graces. And you and I can also join the list of men and women who worship God through the giving.