Deuteronomy 14:23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.
This is a very different picture of tithing than what we usually think of. The people giving the tithe were to consume it! A little later, in verses 28 and 29, it specifies that every third year the tithes were to be set aside for the Levites and for charity, but this is still a far cry from the obligation to give to the church that most people think of in terms of tithing. We say it, but we still often fail to grasp the reality that God doesn’t need our tithe, or for that matter, anything else from us. The whole purpose of the tithe was and is to teach us that God is our supply. That’s what Moses is saying here where it says “learn to revere/fear the Lord your God.” When we think of God in legalistic terms we quickly descend into humanistic religion, instead of walking in a living relationship with our Creator. The flip side of that is the whole matter of the love of money, that Jesus and Paul talked about a good deal. Failure to give takes our eyes off of our Supply, to begin with, and it quickly leads to selfishness, which is antithetical to genuine happiness. God isn’t “out to get our money,” the way some people feel. Actually, some preachers certainly give that impression! However, those in a right relationship with Him will always be generous with whatever He puts in their hands, both to the church and to individuals in need.
I was aware that this passage was in the Bible, but I don’t think I had thought about it that much before. I was raised with having to tithe my 100 yen allowance each week, back when the exchange rate was fixed at 360 yen to the dollar. I honestly don’t remember when I got away from that, but I certainly remember when I got back to it, and it was a real revelation of God’s provision. As a pastor I desire that each believer discover God’s faithfulness, but I hesitate to speak on tithing out of a fear of legalism. I certainly don’t want anyone to think I’m money-grubbing! Thinking about it, I realize that the couple that donated air conditioning to the church sanctuary several years ago were really following the principle in this passage. They were giving for the sake of their own comfort, and they were doing so in the House of the Lord. The whole matter of money can get very complicated, which is why Jesus talked about it more than He did about heaven and hell combined. Our relationship to money speaks volumes about our relationship to our Creator. I need to help the believers understand that, so that they may indeed seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I’ve got another message, and it’s still not from the Pastors’ Conference! Help me say what You want me to say, when, how, and to whom You want me to say it, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!