The Bible is full of references to money and stewardship. The idea that we are God’s agents on earth and charged with the sound management of his resources goes back to Genesis 1:28:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” —Genesis 1:28
How we utilize what we have—the natural world, our personal possessions, our relationships and, yes, our money—is of vital interest to the God who gave us all we have.
Tithing, i.e. giving one-tenth of household income back to God’s work, has three purposes in the Old Testament. One was to support the priests of the Temple and the religious infrastructure of Israel (Numbers 18:21, 24). The second tithe involved investment in the cost of periodic visits to Jerusalem for feasts and sacrifices (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). Finally, a tithe was set aside to provide for the poor and needy (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). Unlike many pagan cultures, the early Jews gave as acts of faith rather than a means of appeasement.
What does this mean for those under the new covenant? In Matthew 23:23, Jesus acknowledges the meticulous tithing of the Pharisees yet castigates them for injustice, callousness and faithlessness. He tells them that the tithe and the spirit in which it is given are equally important. No amount of money or percentage of income can buy the favor of God. His favor is shed upon us because of the atoning, sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. Our giving is no longer adherence to a rule, but a joyful act of gratitude to our Lord and Savior. The greater our thankfulness, the more significant our gifts, all done cheerfully from hearts redeemed from spiritual slavery.
First-time visitors to Grace Redeemer Church are asked to refrain from giving because we believe the offering should be a heartfelt act made after prayerful meditation. For some, that may result in gifts that fall short of ten percent. For others, their giving may exceed this threshold. Most importantly, the gift should reflect the depth of appreciation of each giver to God for his gracious provision of his Son.