Have you ever wondered why God required the Jews to give 10% of their wealth as an offering or "tithe" in the Old Testament (Leviticus 27:30-32)?
First of all the number "10" in Jewish numerology indicated wholeness or maturity but as far as proportion was concerned, 10% of your wealth represented sacrifice. This was true then as it is today. For example:
- 3,000 years ago if you gave 10% of your flock, harvest or goods to the Lord, it hurt, it was sacrificial.
- Today, if your gross household income is $60,000 and you offer the Lord the first 10% which is $6,000 - you are truly sacrificing!
The idea is that 10% giving in any age or culture requires sacrifice. Of course in the Old Testament this was a command because God was using the tithe as a teaching tool in order to instruct the people in His ways and will (Galatians 4:1-7). Since Christ's sacrifice, however, we should know & understand that God forms us spiritually in many ways including sacrificial giving.
Ten percent is no longer a command, it's a goal! A goal in personal giving to the Lord that demonstrates strong faith; spiritual maturity; confidence in the future; concern for the lost; and devotion to the church, just to name a few. When it comes to reaching this level of giving the question is not, "What will I be missing in material goods if I give sacrificially?", no, the real question is, "What will I be missing out on spiritually if I don't give sacrificially?".
Perhaps one of the reasons why our faith is so weak at times and our spiritual lives so dry may be because we haven't yet experienced the special joys that come with sacrificial giving. Remember that not everyone can give equally, but we all can give sacrificially.
- Explain the relationship between disbelief and lack of gratitude that Paul describes in Romans 1:20-21.
- Why do you think God requires us to offer material things to Him?
- Aside from Jesus, which Bible character do you find most generous? Why?
- In your own giving, what would you consider the "next step" towards sacrificial giving? What are the obstacles that prevent that from taking place?
- In your opinion, what could the church do in order to encourage sacrificial giving?