Does God care about every area of our life? How about the way we spend our money? Even when difficult financial times occur, like during pandemics or rising inflation, we can be sure God continues to care for us. There may be times when placing our trust in God can be a real struggle. However, it can become a real blessing as well.
We know from Matthew 6:31-33 that God is aware of our every need and that He cares to provide for us, even more than He does for the birds of the air or grass of the field. God reassures us, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This promise applies even to our returning of God’s money through tithe.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, tithe is “one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy”. Biblically speaking, it is a “tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to theLord; it is holy to the Lord. Every tithe…every tenth animal …will be holy to the Lord…” (Lev. 27: 30-33 abr).
You see, the entire earth was created by God and belongs to Him, but like a good Father, He has shared this with us and He continues providing us with the ability to make a living. Through these blessings, He has also given us the privilege to support His work of spreading the gospel. One way is specifically with our finances, for God instructs us to return His tithe and invites us to give our offerings.
It's clear in God’s words that tithing is not based on human benevolence but God’s ownership of it, and therefore it is God who determines how it should be used.
The Bible says in Malachi 3:8-10, “People should not steal things from God, but you stole things from me. You say, ‘What did we steal from you?’ You should have given me one-tenth of your things. You should have given me special gifts.”
We acknowledge that the returning of tithe is a command, and that to disobey is theft. God’s intention for instituting the tithe presupposes and strengthens a special relationship between Him and humans. God intends the return of a faithful tithe to become blessings: first to the giver as it is collected, and second to those that receive its distribution.
In the early Bible times, tithe was collected from the production of food and livestock. While this has been done in limited circumstances within our own organization of Guam-Micronesia Mission, it is not widely practiced as a way of returning tithes and offerings.
Tithe today is given in the form of money.This is done through cash or checks in tithe envelopes or by transferring of funds through Adventist Giving.
You might be asking, “Where does my money go?” The tithes are collected by the local churches, then sent to the mission, which in turn sends a specified portion to the North American Division and General Conference to be redistributed to the needs of the world church. The Adventist Church system is not a congregational church system, but a system that allows each member to help spread the gospel to the entire world, from their local church to an evangelistic campaign in Africa for example. This may lead you to wonder, “How is my tithe being used locally and internationally?”
The Adventist church uses tithe to support the preaching, pastoral, and evangelistic work of ministers. As our schools are to be soul-winning in nature and minister to the students, select salaries and a percentage of teachers salaries are funded through tithe funds. Tithe also provides for the operating expenses of the local conference/mission, union, division and General Conference which support pastors and ministers around the world.
On the other hand, tithe is not used to purchase property, build churches or fund the general operations of churches or schools, since churches and schools have other sources of funds.
Some have asked why tithe cannot stay in the local church. Since tithe is set aside by God for a special purpose, offerings are used to provide funding for many functions and expenses at each level of our Church organization. Tithe is used to support the local church through the salary of the pastor, while other local church expenses are to be funded through offerings. The sharing of tithe between local conferences, unions, divisions and the General Conference has allowed our church to expand the work globally.
While this provides an understanding of the importance of tithe to the Church’s work, it is not the basis of conviction for tithe. Like all of God’s instructions, our response to God should be based on our relationship of trust in and love for our Heavenly Father.
We all know the Lord’s Prayer, but do you know what follows it in Matthew 6:19-21? Treasures in Heaven. The Contemporary English Version reads, “Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.”
Where is your heart? Do you see the blessings in your life? We give God offerings in proportion to the amount of blessings that we have received, and we give with a joyful heart. Giving of tithes and offerings is an expression of gratitude. God permits us to show our appreciation of His mercies by self-sacrificing efforts to extend the same to others. This is the only way in which it is possible for us to manifest our gratitude and love to God. He has provided no other. (R&H, Dec 6, 1887)
Yes — Giving offerings is a personal choice, and it’s a response of the heart to give God our best in gratitude and worship for all that He has done for us in Christ (2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:7)
A blessing becomes evident in the refinement of our characters. God knows our weaknesses and wants to mold our characters for heaven. In light of our human nature, the practice of giving works to replace selfishness, greed, idols, and self-reliance with obedience, trust, gratitude, worship, compassion, teamwork, and focusing on eternal goals.
Our growing relationship with Jesus will reassure us that we can trust Him as we obey His commands, including with our spending. Trust the Lord to provide your needs. In the Old Testament, God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, each morning with the manna they would need to eat for that one day. In the New Testament, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. He wanted us to rely on Him daily for our needs.
The new year is often a time when people make resolutions. This year, consider taking the financial challenge from scripture:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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 will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10, NIV)
Consider it more than a test of finances, but a test of faith in God. God is offering to reward us for our trust and obedience. It is His desire to give us more than we can imagine. Let us thank the Lord for the opportunity to deeper our trust inHim as He moves the work forward, bringing us closer to the day that we will be in His presence forever.