© 2021 Jason Willock / Harvest City Church
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38, NLT)
Putting God first in your finances
The struggles of the ongoing global pandemic have had a physical, mental, emotional and financial impact on us all. The financial aspect has hit particularly hard, with many people losing their jobs or suffering pay cuts. All of this has impacted our finances like never before. During this time, our natural inclination would be to stop paying our tithes and first fruits, or even to consider skipping making a first fruit pledge altogether. What you choose to do with your finances is one of the most important decisions that you can make. During difficult times, choosing to give your tithes and first fruits is more important than ever.
The stewardship of our finances plays an important role in the success of our lives and, in particular, our Christian walk. We must remember that this current situation is temporary. What is happening in our world today will turn around eventually. On the other hand, God is unchanging and so are His promises (2 Corinthians 4:18). As believers, we should tithe by faith and not by our own flawed human reasoning.
What is tithing?
One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. (Leviticus 27:30, NLT)
Tithing means to give 10% of your income to God via the local church. It is a biblical principle practised in both the Old and New Testaments. Tithing is a test of our heart before God; an indication of where we have placed our treasure. Giving to God is a sign of obedience to Him. Tithing provides us with a chance to give back a little of what He has given us stewardship over.
Tithing is us doing our part after God has already provided for us. He has made the first move to bless us and now it’s our turn to show our commitment to Him.
Why is tithing important?
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my temple. If you do, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take in it. Try it! Put me to the test! (Malachi 3:10, NLT)
Paying God first means putting God first. We should give God the first and best of what we have and not what is left over – the truth is, very little is normally left over!
Tithing reminds us that everything we have comes from God. It’s hard to put a value on the blessings that God pours out into our lives. How do we put a value on His continuous protection, provision, and healing touch, or His favour and ability to make a way in impossible situations? Tithing is important because it pours out God’s best in our lives and protects what we currently have.
What does tithing teach us?
Tithing may come naturally for some while for others it can be a real struggle. It requires us to make some sacrifices in the things we chose to spend our money on. Nonetheless, our obedience to God means that we should be ready and willing to make any sacrifice necessary for Him.
Tithing becomes easier when we remember the constant and continuous blessings God has poured out in our life. Sometimes we get caught up in short-term thinking; focusing only on the problem in front of us and never stopping for a minute and taking a helicopter view of the situation as a whole. If we did, we would realise what God has done for us in the past and understand that He can do it again if we only stay faithful to Him. It’s easy to remain faithful in giving when money won’t fix the problem. As soon as money can fix the problem, we become self-reliant and neglect tithes and first fruits for a period, thinking God will understand. God’s Word says to put Him to the test. Be faithful to Him and He will be faithful to us.
We need to remember the countless testimonies we have heard from believers who have been faithful in their giving in the most difficult circumstances and how God came through miraculously for them. Our God is a miracle working God: if only we can get out of His way. The hard truth is that sometimes, through our own actions and flawed human reasoning, we delay or stop God’s blessing in our lives. That is why consistent tithing is important. It keeps us reliant on God and not self. Some of the benefits of tithing include:
- We are being obedient to God.
- It helps us to be better stewards of our finances and helps to keep our priorities in line.
- It deepens our faith in God to meet all our needs.
- It helps to remove selfishness from our lives and helps us to bless others.
- It helps to support the local church to build the Kingdom of God.
- God will bless you and put a hedge of protection around you and your family.
What is first fruits?
First fruits is an offering given in faith that God will bless and prosper you over the next twelve months. It is given believing for the increase that God will provide for you in the future. What we do with the first will determine what will happen to the rest. It relates to what God wants to do in your life. As your faith grows, so should your giving. Here are some steps to consider when making your first fruits pledge:
- Pray: Go to God in prayer and ask Him how much you should give and listen to what He says.
- Prepare: Have a generous heart and believe God will make a way to help you accomplish your pledge.
- Prioritise: Prioritise God in your finances by paying Him first.
- Give: Make a contribution every month, chip away at it.
What does letting God be the master builder of your finances mean?
It means putting God first in your life. God wants our first and best. Commit your finances totally to God, put Him first and watch Him do the same for you.
In this modern world of self-reliance, instant gratification, and the ‘me’ syndrome, the concepts of tithing and first fruits might seem outdated and no longer relevant. However, we know that the Word of God never changes. What was true in the time of Abraham is still true today. We need to be ready to sacrifice everything, like Abraham did, because God blesses us at the place of sacrifice.
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20, NLT)
Tithing and first fruits are more important than ever, since walking in God’s best, having Him guide your every step is the only way to true success in life. Neglecting tithes and first fruits is simply withholding God’s best from your life.