A tithe is typically regarded as the first 10% of your income. The first tithe occurred in Genesis 14 when Abram responded to God’s blessing by giving Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a tenth of his possessions.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
– Genesis 14:18-20
I did not grow up fully embracing, or understanding, the concept of tithing. I would occasionally put a few dollars in the collection plate if I had it on me, and I always felt good about myself afterward for being “so generous” with my money. I did feel joy in giving, but it was a self-righteous joy.
When my husband and I got married, my idea of tithing didn’t quite match up to his. He was a firm believer in tithing 10% and it knocked me for a loop. 10% felt massive compared to the few dollars a week I had previously given. All I could think about was the fact that we were giving more in tithing than I had previously paid in rent.
I became an anxious giver, a frustrated giver, and a reluctant giver. I searched for loopholes and it was hard not to think of that tithe as “money down the drain”.
For the first few years, I saw it as an inconvenience. But then, when our daughter was born, we found ourselves knee-deep in bills and overdraft statements. I had started a savings account when I was 15 and had always relied on that safety net, so I found it incredibly distressing to start pulling out of it for tithe. On top of the general stress of having a newborn, I could hardly stand to watch as our savings dropped to nothing. I was frustrated with my husband and scared for our daughter. I vividly remember the day that I looked into our bank account and saw that we had $2 left. No savings account. No cushion. $2 and a week until payday.
Every day I am thankful for a God that meets us at our faith level. I cried that night over those $2, thinking about how we should have skipped the tithe. There hadn’t been enough money in our account. But God reminded me that faith is about trusting in something you can’t see with your eyes. The very next day, we received a check in the mail—a refund for a bill we hadn’t finished paying.
Isn’t that the perfect picture of salvation? Not only did Jesus take the debt we hadn’t finished paying, but He also gave us His refund. We ended up with so much more than we started with. God gave me this revelation and then gently asked me, “Why do you trust Me with your salvation, but not your paycheck?”
How can we go from a self-righteous giver, or a reluctant giver, to the cheerful giver we are called to be in 2 Corinthians 9:7? We have to take our eyes off of the natural—off of the bank account and off of the bills—and see our tithe through the same faith by which we received our salvation. When Abram tithed to Melchizedek, he didn’t do it to petition for God’s blessing, but in response to God’s blessing. Tithing isn’t for God’s benefit, but for ours. Every time we give, we honor what God has already given us and, in return, God honors our faith.
Look at His promise in Malachi 3:
“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