In addition, Israel’s sacrificial system recognized that not everyone could make the same kind of offering. If someone could not afford the cost of a young bull, a male goat or lamb, they were able instead to offer two doves or young pigeons. It they could not even afford that, Leviticus 5:11 allowed them to bring some fine flour as an offering. It is not the amount that is given which is important; it is the spirit in which we make our offering. We should give in proportion to how we’ve been blessed. The New Testament echoes this principle in 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8-9.
5. It was sacrificial. They were to bring to God’s house the “first fruits” of their crops “and of every fruit tree.” (35) To offer the first of their crops was to declare that God was the giver of all things, that everything belongs to Him, and that He is worthy of the best we can offer Him. Here’s a helpful principle to remember: while not everyone can give the same amount, everyone can make the same sacrifice. Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice. It was Mother Teresa who said, “If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving.” And, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “I don’t believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
6. It was comprehensive. They were to not only bring their crops and their money; they were to also bring their first-born sons and their animals to the Lord in verse 36. God is not just interested in our money, He wants our hearts. Actually, He wants everything.
7. It was prescribed. They were not only to bring their “first,” but also a “tithe” of their crops to the Lord in verse 37. Giving a tenth of their produce or income to the Lord has a long and dignified history among believers and is an appropriate guide for Christian giving. As someone has said, “the tithe is a great place to start.” I’m convinced that the tithe is the minimum we should be giving to further the Lord’s work.
Tithing can be a great blessing, and I practice it and recommend it highly, but there are at least three dangers:
It’s easy to give with the wrong motives. We can give out of a sense of duty or fear, or even greed (“If I tithe, God must prosper me!”)
Thinking that we can do whatever we want with the 90% that remains.
Giving only the tithe and failing to give love offerings to the Lord.
Someone has said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Let’s determine to be like the believers in Nehemiah 10:39: “We will not neglect the house of our God.”
When it comes to giving, we can do it for at least three reasons:
Because we have to that’s law
Because we ought to that’s obligation
Because we want to that’s grace
I don’t know about you, but I want to give to the Lord. I came across a list of 10 reasons to give 10% or more to the Lord’s work. A guy from the great state of Wisconsin (not me) put these together (Brian Kluth, Dimensions, Vol. 20, Fall 1997, pp. 1-2).
1. It is a tried and true pattern of giving (Malachi 3:7-15).
2. It will help you revere God more in your life (Deuteronomy 14:23).
3. It will help you harness the dragon of materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
4. It will serve as a practical reminder that God is the Owner of everything (Haggai 2:8).
5. It will allow you to experience God’s provisions in incredible ways (Luke 6:38).
6. It will encourage you to trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).
7. It will ensure you of treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
8. It will strengthen the ministry and outreach of your local church (2 Corinthians 9:12).
9. It will support church staff and missionaries (Galatians 6:6).
10. It will help accomplish needed building projects (1 Chronicles 29:2-10).
Are You On the Wrong Runway?
I’m sure you heard the tragic news this week about the Singapore Airlines jumbo jet that crashed on take-off, killing at least 81 people. Investigators have now determined that the jet was on the wrong runway when it tried to leave for Los Angeles. The pilot realized at the last moment that he was on a strip closed for repairs and plowed into some heavy construction equipment.
Seconds before the jetliner crashed, caught fire and broke into three sections, the pilot swore and screamed out, “Something there.” Apparently the pilot knew what runway he was supposed to be on and was not misdirected by the control tower. However, the officials have admitted that there was no barrier set up to block planes from going onto the closed runway. In addition, the lights on this runway were turned on because of the bad weather.
I’m wondering this morning if any one here is on the wrong runway. It might look like everything is going ok in your life, but you actually might be headed for a crash. The Bible is clear if you do things your way, you’re going to have a collision. God wants you and me to make investments that last by:
• Submitting to God that answers the question, “Who’s the pilot of your life?”
• Separating from the world that covers who we spend time with
• Practicing a Sabbath rest that deals with how we spend our time
• Supporting God’s work which involves how we spend our money
If you’re submitted to God, and He has “all of you,” then you’re cleared for take-off in your relationships, with your time, and with your finances.
Here’s another way to look at it. If you could look at a person’s friendships, their calendar, and their checkbook, you could determine whether or not they are fully submitted to God and completely committed to His cause.