By Benjamin C. Maxson
Summary: Only when we experience salvation can we worship God. Only when we surrender to His lordship can we truly tithe. Understanding tithe in this way leads us to realize that tithe is holy, unique, different. It belongs to the Holy One; it is His to administer.
Jesus clearly portrays money as a direct competition to God (Matt 6:24), and speaks of the impossibility of serving both money and God. Tithe is one of the primary tools God uses to establish Himself as lord in our lives. How we deal with money, and more specifically how we deal with tithe, is a reflection of where God is in our lives.
In the days of Abraham and Jacob, there was no physical church or membership to support. Yet Abraham and Jacob brought their first fruits, offering tithe to God in an act of worship. Later, when God established a corporate people with a corporate ministry, He gave what He received in tithes and offerings to the priests and Levites. For His people, the tithe continued to be an act of worship; for God it was a means to support His corporate body. The same is true today.
When our hearts are right, we worship God each time we return our tithe and offerings to Him. Tithing is a worship experience that accepts our relationship with God. It is a worship experience where we acknowledge God as creator, and accept His ownership of who we are and what we have. Claiming ownership of our own usurps God’s right and His position. Tithing reminds us that redemption restores God’s ownership in our lives. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own (Lev 20:26).
When we tithe, we consciously profess our trust in God to care and provide for us. When we tithe, we confess who He is in our lives and recognize His guidance and love. When we tithe, we deliberately choose to rely on Him. Thus we follow His guidance to not worry, and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33). Only when we experience salvation can we worship God. Only when we surrender to His lordship can we truly tithe.
Understanding tithe in this way leads us to realize that tithe is holy, unique, different. It belongs to the Holy One; it is His to administer. Part of our worship with tithe is turning it over to Him to manage. What happens to the tithe is not our responsibility; our only responsibility is to worship God. However, when as a part of church leadership, we manage tithe funds for God’s church, we must always remember that what we manage belongs to God, not to us.
A worship lifestyle includes accepting the responsibility to administer all God’s gifts in partnership with Him. Tithe is not a way of paying God off with a 10% blackmail so we can do what we want to with the remaining 90%. Tithe is a sign of our willingness to manage what belongs to God--all of life, in an intimate walk with Him.
For tithe to be truly worship, we need to ask ourselves some questions on a regular basis: Who owns the home we live in? Who owns all the property we manage? Who has given us talent and strength to earn a living? Who has priority in our choices for everyday life? Who do we rely on each day? Do we really allow God to be God in every area of life?
So, how do we make our tithe truly worship? The answer lies in our attitude and action. Tithe as worship starts with a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior and lord. Next is a decision to consciously recognize God as the owner of all that we have and are. Then comes an attitude of management rather than ownership.
Now, turn that attitude into acts of conscious worship, and make tithing an intentional act, not just a habit: Fill out your tithe envelope with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise; place the envelope in the offering plate with the assurance of divine partnership; live every moment acknowledging Jesus as lord of your life; do every deed conscious of the divine partnership you have with God.
So, what about you? Is your tithe worship? Only you and God know the answer. And only you can choose to make it so!