Above all, God desires humans to live in a love with him and other people. Trust is a central component of a loving relationship. Without trust, there can be no genuine love.
God commanded the nation he founded to show their trust in him through the tithe, which is the giving of ten percent of what they produced.
Deuteronomy 14 outlines God’s provisions for the tithing of crops.
Tithing and Loving God
Some people view tithing with the same displeasure as paying taxes. They derive no more pleasure from tithing than they do when giving the government a portion of their income.
God gave tithing to humans to increase trust and love.
— Deuteronomy 14.22 and 26 – Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field.
And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together.
When we reserve ten percent of our labor for God, we declare to him and ourselves that God’s provisions are enough. We can live freely in relation to possessions because we trust the ability of God to care for us.
Malachi understood the relationship between trust and the tithe.
He spoke for God and said, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (Malachi 3.10).
The tithe tests our faith. Will we trust God’s provision and follow his command?
Our love of God will increase as we learn that we can trust his guidance and love for us.
The second aspect of the tithe of grain and animals was the opportunity to eat it in “the presence of the Lord.” God wants us to appreciate the experience of eating in his presence.
My wife and I frequently focus our dating life around dinners that we enjoy with each other. On a regular basis, God invited his people to enjoy a “date” with him surrounded by food reserved by a tithe of the fruit of their labors.
Every time we offer a blessing before a meal, we invite God to join us in the meal. When we ask God to be a part of a worship service, we open the doors of our lives to his presence.
God planned these events for people to deepen their love relationship with him. We develop more trust in his faithfulness and enjoy his presence at the same time.
The Tithe and Love of the Other
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.39).
The tithe increases our trust and love with respect to God, but it also shows our love to people in our sphere of influence.
— Deuteronomy 14.28-29 – Every third year you shall bring out the full tithe of your produce for that year, and store it within your towns;
The Levites, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you, as well as the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work that you undertake.
A consistent message of the Bible is the care of the vulnerable – the widow, immigrant, and orphan. The tithe is one of the ways that we show love to the “neighbor,” the people we meet who need us.
The Levites were the priestly class of Hebrews. They had no inheritance in the land and were dependent on the other eleven tribes for their provisions.
In the ancient world, women were unable to work. If people did not care for them, they were exposed to the harsh realities of lack of food, clothing, and shelter.
Orphans were unable to care for themselves and depended on the loving support of the community.
Resident aliens or immigrants were displaced persons, who threw themselves on the mercy of God’s people. God frequently reminded his people of their former slave status, when he commanded them to care for the immigrant.
When God’s people set aside one-tenth of their goods to care for the vulnerable, they opened their hearts to those in need.
The care of the vulnerable is not a task that must be completed with grim determination. Instead, it is something to be approached with the joy of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul understood this and wrote, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9.7).
I appreciate Peter Craigie’s insights into this passage in his commentary on Deuteronomy. He presented new thoughts to me about love and trust that are further developed through the tithe.
I hope you will experiment with what tithing does to your inside condition. Malachi is right that we should try God and trust him with the tithe.
Rudy Ross has some thoughts about the tithe that comes from his Jewish heritage and study of God’s word. You can hear Rudy’s thoughts on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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