How Tithing Directs Our Hearts to God’s Purposes
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Psalms 19:7 Psalms 19:7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
American King James Version×states, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Is that true when it comes to tithing? At the surface level, tithing can appear to be a mere physical commandment, ensuring that resources are given for God’s Work. However, the verse above indicates that cannot be the whole story! Tithing, as part of God’s law, has a part in “converting the soul”—have we considered how it does so? And how does tithing impart wisdom to a person?
Tithing, like all of God’s commandments, teaches spiritual lessons about our Creator. Paul attests to this, saying, “For we know that the law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14 Romans 7:14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
American King James Version×). Tithing is a spiritual command that has a spiritual impact on us—converting our soul and bringing about meaningful changes in our minds and hearts.
In this article, let’s first briefly review God’s tithing system and then consider the spiritual impact that God desires it to have on us as we obey Him!
The Heart-Treasure Connection
In Matthew 6:21 Matthew 6:21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
American King James Version×, Jesus provides a critical insight on the human condition: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I’ve often been quick to extrapolate these verses into broader terms than just money; however, it’s really worthwhile to reflect on the direct meaning, especially as it relates to tithing!
As part of the foundation of our relationship with God, we understand that everything we have materially, even our whole life, belongs to God. As a result, He has the authority to command us in every regard—since we are His, then there is nothing in our lives over which God does not have authority!
God does not dictate the fate of everything we earn, but rather gives clear instruction that we are to “honor the LORD with [our] possessions” (Proverbs 3:9 Proverbs 3:9Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase:
American King James Version×). There are a number of ways we do so, including offerings at His Holy Days, but the biggest amount per God’s law, by far, comes from tithing.
Jesus is saying that giving those, as is said in the U.S., chunks of change is part of how God causes us to be changed! Following Christ’s admonition that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” we can understand that the three tithes show us where God is commanding us to put our heart.
God’s Holy Tithes Direct Our Heart to His Will
The first tithe has the effect of changing our heart into a heart for God’s work to be done. God is still working here on earth, and we can be a part of that work! When we send our first tithe to the Church, placing it into God’s hands, we become personally invested in preaching the gospel to the world, making disciples and caring for those disciples. We have then contributed our own resources to the effort and put our own skin in the game. When we give first tithe, we can remember how we benefited from the tithes of others, giving thanks for how we first learned God’s truth and asking God to bless our contribution to help others learn His ways and find support through our pastors and congregations.
The second tithe develops in us a heart of obedience. Deuteronomy 12:14 Deuteronomy 12:14But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
American King James Version×, in instructing us to go and keep God’s festivals, says “there you shall do all that I command you.” Laying up the second tithe for our family gives us the resources to go and do what God has commanded. In keeping the Holy Days, we not only humbly reflect on and rejoice in the blessings He has given us, but we also learn more deeply about His plan of salvation and connect with His people in fellowship. In this way, the second tithe cultivates obedience to God’s entire law and sets our heart toward obeying Him in every part of our lives.
The third tithe sets our heart on the outgoing love of God. God cares about all people—He doesn’t want anyone to starve or suffer poverty or live on the street! Sometimes people find themselves in such situations by their own bad choices or problematic behavior and sometimes it’s through no fault of their own. But in every situation these people are hurting and God cares for them. The third tithe is only one of many commandments God gives regarding help for the poor, and the message for all of them is the same: God wants us to develop deep compassion for our fellow man. Whether it’s when we pay our taxes or whether we set aside third tithe beyond that, God wants our heart focused on those in this world who are in need. We ought also to recognize that we were all once spiritually poor, and God has given us exceedingly great riches with the precious knowledge of His truth!
A Personal Financial Review with God
We all need to have an occasional financial review with God. Take time to consider God’s law personally, and ask: Am I faithfully following God’s tithing commands? Have I understood what God wants me to learn by doing so? Am I really engaging my mind and heart? Make it a habit to pray about the purpose of what you are giving whenever you fulfill the commanded tithes.
Tithing is a big deal, and it’s important not to take this act of worship for granted as we go on fulfilling it year after year. We work hard for the money that we earn, and to willingly give it over to God at His command requires ongoing humility and faith!
But tithing goes far beyond an exercise of physical obedience—it is about God directing our heart to where He wants it to go. God wants our heart to be invested in His Work. God wants a heart that will “go and do” all His commands, including keeping His festivals. God wants a heart that is generous and inclined to the needy.
If we obey God in this and worship Him not just in the flesh but with understanding in the Spirit, then His law will have the intended effect, “converting the soul” and “making wise the simple.”