I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
I heard someone ask this Christmas season, why we give gifts to each other when it is Jesus’ birth we are celebrating and not our own. Good question. I think the answer comes from Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Really, if you think about it, it is no different than when we give tithes and offerings. Our money does not float up to heaven. It stays right here on earth where the tithe helps support the pastor, and the offerings help support everyone else, including the poor who represent God to us just as the pastor does. So they way we express our love to the church and the poor, ultimately shows God how much we love Him.
Soviet Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ, suffered terribly for the Lord. Yet he said that even while in prison, he saw fellow Soviet believers practice generous giving. “When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soap every day, we decided we would faithfully ‘tithe’ even that. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to the weaker brethren as our ‘tithe’ to the Master.”
I am sure God did not demand that these prisoners tithe their bread and soap. Yet they felt compelled to, in order to express their love for God. After understanding the awesome sacrifice Christ had made in expressing His love for them on the cross, they wanted a way to express their love for Christ. They wanted to give all of themselves to Christ since He had given all of Himself for them.
It is the same case with the woman in John 12, who broke open a bottle of ointment costing a year’s wages, so she could anoint the feet of Jesus. She was simply giving all she had because Jesus was giving all He had for her. Like the Soviet prisoners she needed a way to express her love.
God did not give us the tithe and offering system because he needed our money, but because He knew we too would need a way to express our love. God nor the church needs our money. Both were getting along just fine before we came along and both will do just fine after we are gone.
So why did God give us the tithe and offering system? I have a plaque with a picture of the cross and written are the words, “ I asked Jesus how much do you love me?” “This much” He said, ’Then He spread out His arms and died.” God will finish the work with or without our money. Yet He has given us the tithe and offering system so that when He asks us, “How much do you love me?” We will have a way to answer.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.