Tithing is Relational
01 Feb 2023
We’ve been praying for a home for our family. This week, there was potential for us to move into a rental home immediately. We chatted with the owners on the phone and one of the spouses came to our place to meet us in person. They were moving towards renting it to us, asking for references and the date we could move in. Then, within a matter of minutes, they changed course and decided they were going to sell the house as we were providing them the information they requested.
Earlier this month, with New Year's money that my parents gave to our son, he has been keeping track of his money, tithing out of what he receives. Today, after finding out that the house is no longer for rent and we won’t be moving in as we had hoped and believed, he gave us what he felt God told him to give to us to buy the house. Oh, my mama prayer for this boy’s generous heart is to be protected, for God to answer his heart, and for his generosity to grow!
Then, Holy Spirit showed me… Tithing is relational. Our monetary tithe, contribution, offering, and first fruits to God is nothing in comparison to what He already has—everything. It doesn’t make a marked difference in His “bank account” but He receives it, multiplies it back, and gives to us freely because tithing is about a relationship with Him. It’s not just giving to “a god” what’s due him or because he requires it.
What’s brought to mind is the heart of the widow in the following chapters and verses.
The book of Mark in the New Testament Chapter 12 Verses 41 – 44 in the New American Standard Version 1995:
And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.
And the same story in the book of Luke in the New Testament Chapter 21 Verses 1 – 4 (NASB95):
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
Jesus commented on her heart of giving: giving all she had to live on rather than surplus. He commented that her giving, even though it amounted to a cent, was more than the entire treasury because she gave out of her need. It cost her something—what she had to live on. We also read of another woman’s heart of giving through Mary, who anoints Jesus at Bethany in the book of John Chapter 12 Verses 1 – 8 (NASB95):
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
And also the book of Luke in the New Testament Chapter 7 Verses 36 – 50 (NASB95):
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In both passages, you see Mary’s heart of love towards Jesus, her sacrifice (the pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard) because of how she was forgiven much. In her giving, he saw her faith in Him and because of her faith in Him, she was forgiven of her sins. She honored Him and He honored her. Oh! What a beautiful exchange and relationship. In exchange for her sins, He gives her Shalom (physical and spiritual wholeness, completeness, perfection, blessing, manifestation of divine grace, prosperity, harmony, peace).
The heart has always mattered to God and we see that in Second Corinthians Chapter 9 verses 6 – 12 in The Passion Translation:
Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity! Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. Just as the Scriptures say about the one who trusts in him: Because he has sown extravagantly and given to the poor, his kindness and generous deeds will never be forgotten. This generous God who supplies abundant seed for the farmer, which becomes bread for our meals, is even more extravagant toward you. First he supplies every need, plus more. Then he multiplies the seed as you sow it, so that the harvest of your generosity will grow. You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.
We see how God is more than ready to overwhelm with every form of grace through the widow of Zarephath’s story in First Kings Chapter 17 Verses 7 – 16 in the New International Version below. Elijah, a prophet of the Old Testament, had been provided food by God through ravens a few verse prior to this. Here, we read that God directs Elijah to the widow in Zarephath:
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.
She, out of obedience, gives the prophet bread. Because of her obedience, she received not just food for her and her son, but her FAMILY. The word here in the original language, bayit, means family of descendants and those belonging to the same household. It was not just for two people—God provided for multiple people: her entire household. That’s multiplication!
The story of the little boy who had five loaves and two fish. He gave what he had and Jesus multiplied it to feed five thousand. That's another story of obedience and multiplication.
Through the passages about giving with a heart of generosity (sowing our need), willingness to give, love (for Him and others), gratitude, fun (cheerful, hilarious giver), and obedience (when and how God tells you to give), we can see God multiply and bless in various forms. It’s not just monetary but in forgiveness, in sustenance, in seed, and most of all, in relationship.
He is an incredible, loving Father to provide an amazing way to keep us from the love of money and not allow anything to interfere in our connection with Him by integrating this as part of our relationship with Him. (We read that “the love of money is the root of evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” in a letter in the New Testament, First Timothy Chapter 6 Verse 10. We also read how “[no] one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” in the New Testament in Matthew Chapter 6 Verse 24).
Seeing my son give generously out of what he has in obedience to God, without hesitation, because of a loving relationship with us, was so beautiful.
How have you been viewing giving to God?
Does it change when we think of it as relational and a divine exchange?