TELL THEM WHY YOU PREACH ON TITHES
by Forrest Smith
It was Sunday morning when the Lord spoke those words to me. Startled, I echoed, “Tell them why I preach on tithes?” I was sitting at the kitchen table, my Bible open.
Only the day before one of my young men had said, Someone asked me why you preach on tithes so much.”
I laughed. “Did you tell him?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I told him to ask you.” He paused.
“Why do you preach on tithes so much?”
¨ First, I preach on tithes because I feel that tithing was a vital part of God’s program long before the Bible was written.
Approximately 500 years before the Law was given, Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:20).
Over a hundred years later Jacob made a vow to give tithes when he was enroute to his Uncle Laban’s home: “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis 28:2).
It cannot be mere coincidence that these two men each selected the same percent of income to honor God. Abraham gave “tenths” to Melchizedek, and Jacob committed to God “the tenth.”
The Pulpit Commentary notes of the former: “These, being the customary offering to the Deity, were an acknowledgement of the divine priesthood of Melchizedek. The practice of paying tithes, primarily a tax for the servants of the sanctuary, appears to have obtained its origin from the remotest antiquity.”
I believe that God, who instituted the animal sacrifices for sin when Adam fell, also initiated the tithe of man’s increase. There is certainly the hint of it in the record of Cain’s untimely offering (Genesis 4:2-3).
¨ I preach on tithes because it was so important to God that He incorporated into the Law of Moses. “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed, of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s, it is holy unto the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30).
Significantly, Malachi writing 1,000 years after the Law was given, charged the restored remnant with grand theft: “Ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:9). They had neglected to pay tithes and offerings. From the standpoint of God’s proprietorship, their position was untenable–He had already evicted two tenant nations, and now the remnant was caught with their hands in the till.
Pointing out the obedience-blessing nature of the tithe, Malachi commanded: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of
hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits
of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-11).
¨ I preach on tithes because I do not for one moment believe that this system of financing the work of God ceased at Calvary.
The tithe has a twofold significance, it honors God as the giver of all good things, and it supports His ministry in the world. These two needs still exist, and nowhere in the Word do I find where God initiated
another system to provide for them. God provided a better sin offering, but He never provided another financial arrangement.
There are those who say, “Tithing was part of the Law-under grace everything we possess belongs to God.” Everything has always belonged to God. The God who owned everything told Israel, who owned nothing,
that the tithe of the land belonged to Him.
Argument that a specific commandment to tithe is not given in the New Testament ignores the antiquity of the tithe as an established system. When Paul commanded, “Upon the first day of the week let every man of
you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,” (I Corinthians 16:2), he probably was referring to a specific proportion of income. The Amplified Bible reads, “In proportion to what he is given.” Ten percent was the long-established proportion. Surely love should require no less than law!
¨ I preach on tithes because God will take money away from the non-tither and give it to the tither. Jacob experienced that. He said to Rachel and Leah, “Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me” (Genesis 31:9).
When he had arrived at Uncle Laban’s house, Jacob promptly fell in love with Rachel. Laban took advantage of the lovesick lad in every conceivable way, deceiving him into 14 years of hard labor for Rachel
and changing his wages 10 times.
But Jacob had made a vow to God: “And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” And God began systematically transferring Laban’s wealth to Jacob’s account! The sons of Laban grumbled, “Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s, and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory” (Genesis 31:1). But it was God taking from the non-tither to give to the tither!
I do not preach the doctrine of wealth. Paul declared, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and how to abound” (Philippians 4:11-12). But if we are
willing and obedient, we shall eat the good of the land! And if refuse and rebel, we will suffer the consequences!
¨ I preach on tithes because I want everybody to enjoy the blessing of tithing. There are literally hundreds of testimonies to draw upon to illustrate the benefits of tithing. But I am going to share something personal.
Tithing was easy for my wife. She was reared in a well taught church. But not for me! Where I grew up, it was more fun to receive than to give. I couldn’t see letting the bills go just to tithe. So we got farther and farther behind.
One day I grumbled to my wife, “Well, we’re not going to make it anyway. One more unpaid account won’t make that much difference anyway; we might as well tithe!” Wasn’t that an awful attitude? But God was
merciful, and I got in some rare overtime which more than covered the tithe. It was over 20 years ago that I learned that God, who provided all things also provided the tithes on all things! What he wanted from me was obedience.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal shall it be measured to you
again” (Luke 6:38).
I use to pray a lot about money. I would get uptight and pound the altar and wind up fussing at God. But praying like that is a drag. I finally said, “Lord, I’m never going to pray about money again. I’m going to obey you and let you take care of the finances!” But He showed me how to pray about money. The secret is found in Matthew 17:27 where Peter caught a fish with money in its mouth. Jesus said, “Take, and give unto them for me and thee.”
Why hadn’t I thought to ask God for additional funds for tithes and offerings? I had always asked for money to meet our own personal needs. Then when God supplied this, I paid tithes and offerings and was
immediately short again because tithes and offerings hadn’t been included in the request for funds. When I learned to add God’s portion to the request for money, He began supplying this also.
¨ So I preach on tithes.
¨ I preach on tithes because God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7).
¨ I preach on tithes because no man gets very far with God until his bank account is saved (Matthew 10:22).
¨ I preach on tithes because God wants His people to be fat and happy, and people can’t be that if they’re not liberal with God (Proverbs 11:25).
¨ I preach on tithes because God told me to preach on it!