Tithing as worship? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves. I mean really why should we care?
If it makes common Biblical sense to do: we should do it. If not: then we shouldn’t. Right? So in this post I wanted to really break down the merits of tithing and its role in the worship of God.
Disclaimer: it’s my hope that as we talk about tithing we’re talking about money. There are some interesting things people put in the collection box. For more info on that check out Tor Constantino’s post on Stuff Christians like: 6 Things Not to Tithe. Things like Tootsie Rolls, coupons from the Sunday circulars, and Monopoly properties may not sit well with the person trying to count it.
But back to business…(Mike cracks knuckles, stretches fingers, and sits up in chair.) alrighty then…let’s get started!
Does Tithing REALLY Honor God
The Bible says,
“Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10 KJV)
Two things we want to look at in those 2 verses:
- The word “honor”
- The concept of firstfruits
That word “honour” is the Hebrew word “kävad” and it means “to be heavy, be weighty.” In this context it means to ascribe to God weight or weightiness. For example, He’s “awesome” “impressive” “noteworthy” and “highly esteemed.”
In the New Testament the word strongly correlates with the Greek word “dóxa” or “glory.” This glory radiates from God’s presence and is associated with His acts of power. It also means assigning highest status to God. This “glory” has many places in the New Testament.
It showed itself in Christ:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory (dóxa), the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 KJV)
In Christ it showed God to the world:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory (dóxa) of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 KJV)
It belongs to God alone:
“Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory (dóxa) to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:23 NKJV)
Eventually the whole world will acknowledge it:
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory (dóxa) of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11 KJV)
It will light the new Jerusalem:
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory (dóxa) of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Revelations 21:23 KJV)
So when we honor God with our substance we have the privilege of
- Assigning the highest status to Him.
- Showing how highly esteemed He is.
- Declaring how awesome He is.
- And ascribing to Him weight or weightiness.
One of the greatest examples of God’s glory and the offering that resulted was with the birth of Jesus. The three wise kings gave their gifts joyfully:
“Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the Child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the Child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11 MSG)
Were they under the Law? Were they under compulsion?
Of course not!
Their giving flowed out of their worship.
It wasn’t mandatory or forced.
These three kings bowed under the glorious weight of the newborn King and ascribed greatness to Him with their gifts. Doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me?
Tithing as worship is similar to that: not feigned, prodded, or forced.
Let’s get down to the First fruit
“First fruit” is a Hebraic concept where a part is representative of the whole. In the Greek the word for first fruit is “Aparche.” The word is derived from two Greek words: “apo” (from) and “arche” (beginning). The early church writers, who were Jewish, were quite comfortable in using the illustration to explain spiritual truths. They so understood the power of first fruits that they used its illustration again and again.
It was used to show the Holy Spirit as a foretaste of future glory:
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits (aparche) of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:22-23 NKJV)
Paul used it to showcase Epaenetus, the first convert in Asia:
“Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits (aparche) of Achaia to Christ.” (Romans 16:5 NKJV)
It was used to show that Christ is first among all believers:
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits (aparche) of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die , even so in Christ shall all be made alive . But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits (aparche); afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:19-23 KJV)
Paul also used it showcase Stephanas, the first convert in Greece:
“I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits (aparche) of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 16:15 NKJV)
James used it to illustrate us as being the first new creations of God:
“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits (aparche) of His creatures.” (James 1:18 NKJV)
And John used it to illustrate those redeemed to and for God:
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits (aparche) to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:4 NKJV)
Hmmm….so it’s obvious that God places a high value on this “First fruit” thing. Wouldn’t you agree?
God ALWAYS Wants To Be First
God demands to be first. And He makes it a practice of honoring those people who keep Him first. Cain learned this the hard way.
When Cain and Abel brought their gifts to God the reason God accepted Abel was because Abel gave God his first (and best) whereas Cain didn’t:
“One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the Lord, and Abel also gave an offering to the Lord. He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the Lord the best parts of it. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but not with Cain and his offering.” (Genesis 4:3-5 CEV)
They both gave sacrifices because the Bible says that Abel gave “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” (Hebrews 11:4 KJV) It’s not that Abel’s lamb was better than Cain’s produce; what was better was Abel’s heart in that He found God “weighty” enough to be given the best.
When Israel forgot this they lost an easy battle. When Joshua was about to take the city he warned the people:
“And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron,are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” (Joshua 6:18-19 NKJV)
All the substance of the city was to be dedicated to the Lord. God wanted Israel to know that everything first belongs to Him. But when Achan made the mistake of taking what belonged to God the camp paid and ultimately He paid.
It wasn’t that God wanted them to have nothing, He wanted them to make Him first. The plan was for Him to have Jericho and they have everything else. We see this when they took Ai:
“For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua.” (Joshua 8:26-27 NKJV)
It boils down to this: God is great King and as a result He must be honored first. That’s why tithing is seen as worship with God.
THIS is what Really Honors God
So does Tithing honor God? Yes.
Is it the money that honors Him? In a sense. The real thing that honors Him is what the money represents: the heart. Jesus said:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34 NIV)
It’s never been about the money, God has always been after the heart of humans. He knows the value our hearts place on money and substance. He’s been around here a while you know
He’s always wanted His people to have a heart for giving. Even in the Law, He commanded the Levites who received tithes to pay tithes. Or give a tithe of the tithes. Why? He wanted EVERYONE to be involved in the process of giving. He didn’t want anybody to be so “privileged” that all they did was receive.
And because He’s so generous there’s always a special place in His Heart for generous people–for Tithehackers:
“Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].” (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMP)
So what do you think does tithing honor God? Can we see tithing as an act of worship?
Would love to hear your thoughts…