Yes, this is finally one of those promised posts! Thanks for you patience!
It was one of those books where you don’t stop saying ‘yes, yes, oh yes.’ To be completely honest, "Money, Possessions and Eternity" by Randy Alcorn was one of the most challenging books I've ever read. Where, as every chapter ends, you feel a convicting pinch in your heart and know you have an application to put into practice. Where every page has a new amazing point or an old concept phrased perfectly. Put simply, I loved it, and DEFINITELY recommend it to every Christian, especially us teens who are just venturing into the big wide world of money and possessions.
One of the things in the book that most struck me was Randy's teaching on tithing. I've always heard of tithing and believed it’s important - my parents taught me to tithe ever since I was old enough to know what 'money' meant. But Randy didn’t just remind me of the ‘what’ of tithing, but also the ‘why.' Where before it had been just a practice I knew had some sort of good reason for it, now the motivations behind it came very much alive to me.
Perhaps I should clarify the ‘what’ first though. Tithing is giving 10% of all income back to God. It’s an Old Testament precept (first commanded in Leviticus 27:30) that carries through to New Testament believers, firstly because it is not specifically fulfilled or negated by the coming of Christ (unlike things such as sacrifices, not eating pork, etc), and secondly because Jesus endorsed it (Matthew 23:23).
That’s the ‘what.’ What did I learn about the ‘why?’ Well, quite a few things.
- The Biblical backing for the ‘why tithe?’ question is answered by what I mentioned above about Christ affirming it and it not being overridden by the NT. That is definitely something I learnt – where it came from Biblically, and why it’s still important now.
- Probably the biggest ‘why’ I discovered is that it teaches us that 'our' money is not ours but God's. And that's a HUGELY important lesson nowadays, with an increasingly materialistic world surrounding us. Randy consistently reminded me that our money is God's - we are just His temporary managers! We will answer to God for every decision we make. Giving back a tenth of our money to God is one of the best things we can do to remind us of this wonderful and solemn privilege. It just... does something. It reminds us, even subconsciously, that money is not permanently ours. Pushing some money constantly out of our hands it reminds us reminds us that we never had a hold on any of it in the first place and never will.
- Promised rewards in this life is another reason to tithe. No, no, tithing does not mean that God will make us rich. It does not mean that suddenly everything will be smooth. Randy was very clear that he was not preaching prosperity gospel. But Malachi 3:10 and 12 does say this: ' "Bring the whole tithe... Test Me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there is not be room enough to store it. Then all nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the Lord Almighty.' God blesses those who tithe! And blessings come in many forms, not just money, and not just material.
- For the joy of it! As I can attest to, it is an utter joy to tithe, not a burden! There is such freedom that comes when tithing teaches us that our money is not ours! And I love musing over the wonder that God is using our tithe to bless others more than we can know, and more than we can imagine! Plus just think of the blessing tithing brings upon the remainder of ‘our’ (God’s) money! Tithing is a joy! It can only be a burden if we forget the promises of God and the fact that it’s all His money.
- Why not? To be honest, I cannot think of a single reason not to tithe (and yes, I’ve tried to think of one!). Most arguments can be refuted by two facts: (1) our money is God's not ours, and (2) He promises to provide for those who honour Him with everything they have, and to bless everything sacrificed to Him.
So that’s what I’ve learnt about tithing. While my practice has remained the same, the heart and head behind it is all the better for knowing why I’m doing it.
What are your thoughts on tithing? Is it important?