In the religion of the Old Testament, pious Jews were expected to give away one tenth of all their income. That was called ‘the tithe’. Over and above that was the ‘free will offering’, when no limits were set.This was a free choice. I have heard it said that if all those in the western world who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ gave their tithe (that is what is expected of believers in the Bible) and not a penny more to God’s good causes, including his church, there would so much money available that it would take a genius to figure out how to spend and distribute it. It’s never money that’s scarce: only generosity.
American, Dr. R. T. Kendall, says in his book on tithing “My first paying job (at the age of 10) was selling a newspaper door to door at 10 cents a copy”. He made 3 cents out of each sale, and in the first week he earned 50 cents, and he was happily counting his money. His father put a finger on a 5 cents piece and said “That’s the Lord’s”. The boy was outraged. He had earned it – it was his … but Dad stuck to his guns “and that”, said Kendall “was my introduction to tithing, and I’ve never been sorry”. In short, he was brought up with the example of a father who kept a full 90% of his earnings to live on: for him to use the other 10% would be stealing from God!
There will now be a pause while we work out what this means in real terms to us. I’ll tell you tomorrow about the crunch time in R.T. Kendall’s grown up years.
I know it sounds like centuries ago, but my first weekly wage was 10 shillings! Out of this there was 4 pence for ‘the insurance stamp’ so I took home 9 shillings and 8 pence (that’s well under 50 new pence). My mother said: “Put it in the offering on Sunday!” “All of it?” I stammered.
“Yes, its your first earnings”, and I wasn’t even going to church, but I went and I did, and I’ve never been sorry. The lesson was priceless.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.Psalm 96: 8-9
Lord help us to sing a new song to you -a song of gratitude and giving this day in a world of greed and need.
Now read Psalm 96.