By Ron Kelley
Faithful stewardship requires us to be good managers of what God has provided, no matter how little or how much. A significant action on our part in fulfilling this call is found in biblical stewardship — giving to God what is rightfully His.
God’s Word Teaches
God’s Word is clear that the first fruits of our labor are to go to Him as the importance and the baseline amount of our giving (the tithe) is clearly established:
“Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD” (Lev. 27:30).
“And Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen. 14:20b).
“Instruct them … to be generous, willing to share, … so that they may take hold of life that is real” (1 Tim. 6:18–19).
The importance of bringing the full tithe is found in Malachi 3:8–10: “‘Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!’ You ask: ‘How do we rob You?’ ‘By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. You are suffering under a curse, yet you — the whole nation — are still robbing Me. Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,’ says the LORD of Hosts. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.’”
Here are the main points we can take from this text:
- God tells His chosen people they are robbing from Him.
- The people dispute this, asking, “How are we robbing from You?”
- God tells His people they are robbing from Him in the area of their “tithes and contributions.”
- God challenges them to bring the full tithe to the storehouse (local church).
Notice that this is the only place in the Bible where God says “test Me” and if we are obedient in this area, He will “pour out a blessing … without measure.” Wow! That is one powerful promise from God.
The Proper Attitude
As it pertains to giving, our attitude should be one of pure joy and excitement that God provides us the opportunity to be faithful givers. A strong argument can be made that our stewardship is a reflection of the condition of the heart and our personal relationship with the Lord; therefore, giving with the proper attitude is critical.
Giving to merely check off an action item, something we have to do, is mere charity. But when we reach a point in our walk where we experience utter joy in giving, it’s an honor, it’s motivated by love, and it resonates that we are giving to the Lord Himself. That is a powerful act of worship that greatly pleases our Creator (2 Cor. 9:7).
Howard Dayton writes in Your Money Counts, “The Lord set the example of giving motivated by love. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son’ (John 3:16, italics added). Note the sequence: Because God loved, He gave.” To take this a step further as followers of Christ, when one considers what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, how can we not want to give Him our very best in all areas of our lives, especially in the area of biblical stewardship? “And if I donate all my goods … but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).
Tithing in the New Testament
For those who might argue that the tithe is an outdated principle, note that Jesus said we should not only be cheerful givers, but we also should be abundant givers (2 Cor. 9:6–7). Jesus challenged His disciples to do more than what was required under the Old Testament with what was called the tithe (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42). This all leads to the belief as New Covenant followers of Christ that we should not be limited by 10 percent in our first fruits giving. We should seek direction from the Lord to determine, in addition to giving to your local church, how much and where you give to other ministries. We should also make sure the ministries we are giving to handle God’s money judiciously and responsibly (2 Cor. 8:16–21).
God has called us to be faithful stewards. His Word clearly teaches that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). No matter what season of life we are in, it’s about being faithful to the Lord’s call on our lives and practicing biblical stewardship, giving to God what is rightfully His.
“Honor the LORD with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10).
Ron Kelley is the director of the Prestonwood Foundation in Dallas, Texas, providing biblical guidance and training in the area of stewardship, personal finances, and Kingdom Significance estate planning. He and his wife, Gwen, have two children.
This article originally appeared in the March, 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe now