Have you ever actually read the laws surrounding tithes? They are found in Deuteronomy 14:22–29. For the most part, they are exactly what you would expect: bring a tenth of all you produce to the place God has set aside (i.e., your church). That’s what you expect, right? Everyone knows this.
But then, the Scripture goes rogue:
But if that place is too distant, and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.
— Deuteronomy 14:24–26
That’s right, the Scripture says that if you can not get your tithe to the place he has designated, you should use the money to buy food and drinks and celebrate with your friends and family!
I think that, for most of us, we believe that giving is a discipline designed to teach us to sacrifice and to be spiritual. But it’s really not. Giving is about celebrating the goodness of God, taking time to recognize the good he has done and rejoicing with your community in his presence. Seriously, who doesn’t want more of that in their lives?
As I have spent the past few weeks meditating on this idea of more, I have recognized that I hold on too tightly to what I have.
It’s easy to lie to myself and say that I have things because I work hard for them, and that my giving is an example of a generous nature God that has produced in me. When I do that, I make tithing about me and not about God. Lord, help me repent of that!
Yes, I work hard, but without the Lord’s blessing and favor, it comes up fruitless. If I want to give more to God, I should not pray for a generous nature. I should pray for a nature of gratitude, joy and celebration.
And what is the result of all this rejoicing? The end of verse 29 tells us:
…so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
— Deuteronomy 14:29