Discipleship Guide - Tithing & Stewardship

What we believe:

Honoring God in our finances is extremely important.  God is the owner of everything, we are simply temporary stewards of his money and possessions.  The Bible teaches that if we are not able to honor God in money, we will have a difficult time honoring Him with the rest of our lives.

Tithing is an important aspect of belonging to the Body of Christ. Once we submit to God in our finances, it frees us up to see Him work and provide for us in ways we never thought were possible.  Blessing and freedom in our finances is one of the greatest areas of joy in our lives – even though it can be a difficult area to submit in at first.

Does God Need or Want your money?

No! He owns it all.  We are going to discover today that tithing is for our benefit, not His. (Psalm 50:7) So we can see from this verse that God does not need our money but he still commands us to tithe.

 

Tithing:  The Hebrew and Greek words for “tithe” both simply mean “a tenth.” 

When we talk about tithing today, we are not talking about a “love offering” or giving to missions – which are all good things.  We are talking about bringing 10% of our income back to God.

Where are we supposed to bring our tithe to?

Our local church!  Wherever you are being fed is where you should be tithing. We can in the Old Testament with Israel who gave of their income to support the Levites who served in the temple and made sacrifices on behalf of the people.  Our pastors and ministers are not supposed to have jobs outside of the church to support their families – God has set apart people to serve in the church and that is one of the reasons that we are tithe to our local church.

10 reasons why God wants/commands us to give our money as a tithe to the local church: Malachi 3: 6

1.       Tithing settles the Lordship issue in my life: Salvation is a free-gift. Grace is un-earned. Our response is to surrender total control to Jesus. He deserves our absolute and constant obedience. Why do you think it is such a struggle so early in our Christian walks to accept the idea of tithing? Martin Luther wrote about the 3 conversions: Head/mind, Heart, and Wallet.  He said that the conversion of the wallet was the most difficult. If God is truly Lord of my life and He commands me to tithe, then I am obligated to follow what He has commanded.  He knows that it is for my good that I learn to be a giver like Him. The sad truth is that most studies on the topic say that only 3-4% of evangelical Christians tithe. What would happen if the people of God learned to handle money God’s way?  We could radically change the world.  We are the wealthiest nation on earth, yet we still have many Christians who are drowning in debt and not tithing.  If we could change this, the Kingdom of God would explode.

2.       Tithing reminds me of who owns what: We think a lot of the time that we are owners of our money – that it belongs to us.  Once we figure out that we do not own anything – it changes everything. Let’s say you went down and put a deposit in the bank and then a few months later you came back to make a withdrawal and the manager sat down and said: “well… my wife and I were eyeing a new furniture set and just really had to have it, so we used your money and bought ourselves one.” What would you do?  What would you call someone who did that? A thief! It is the same with us and God.  If we use His money to do things that He has not given us permission to do, then we are robbing God and we are thieves. We need to realize that God is not taking 10% of our money when we tithe, He is generously letting you hang on to 90% of His money and still expects you to follow his instructions with the remainder.  Do you see the difference? That is why weekly tithing –or- tithing out of every single paycheck is so important.  It reminds me weekly that I own nothing and God owns it all. 

3.       Tithing builds faith: Proverbs 3:9. God’s people were commanded to bring their tithe out of the first harvest of the crops.  How much faith would it have taken to bring God an offering out of what was left over at the end of the winter?  If we tell God that we’ll take care of all our bills, fill up the car with gas, and fill up the fridge with groceries and then bring God and offering if there is something left over – how much faith does that take? Malachi shows us another cause and effect principle: if we tithe out of our first fruits, God says that our barns will be filled overflowing and our vats will brim over with new wine. God even asks us to test Him in this! (Malachi 3:10). The reason that most Christians don’t tithe is because they read that verse and don’t really believe that God will do what He says He will do.  They are too afraid of giving up control of their finances to God.  My faith is built up inside my spirit every time I see God do what He promised He would do – isn’t yours!?

4.       Tithing eliminates worry & anxiety: Luke 12:32-34. We all go through tough times in life financially where we are not sure how we are going to pay bills or how we are going to provide the things that our family needs.  When we remember that it all belongs to God, we can place that burden onto Him and stop worrying about how to provide for ourselves.  If your car is broken – you can pray to God and say: God you haven’t given me enough money to fix your car. Have you ever met someone whose treasure is in their possessions or the size of their bank account?  How stressful and worrisome is that?  If our treasure is in how big our house is, or what car we drive, or how big our bank account is, we will always be enslaved by chasing the newest, or the biggest, or shiniest thing. When my treasure is in heaven – I am relaxed and confident because my Father is the King of the universe & is in control so that burden is lifted off of me. That is why Jesus was always talking about the Kingdom – because if our treasure is in the Kingdom, we can focus on loving people instead of always worrying about ourselves.  

5.       Tithing forces financial discipline: Most people want to save more money, invest more for retirement, live on a budget, quit impulse spending, get out of debt, etc. I believe that tithing brings a deeper level of financial discipline into our lives.  We automatically take a 10% pay cut when we tithe.  It forces us to pay attention to money more closely which makes us more disciplined in all the other areas of our finances. Pastor Booker says “I’d rather live on 90% of my income that is blessed by God than 100% and be living under a curse.” Tithing takes discipline – even when you’ve been doing it for many years. Hebrews 11:12 says “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” As you get the discipline of tithing down, it will make all the other financial disciplines of life easier: I have the discipline to live on less then I make, to save and invest money even when I’d rather spend it, and stay out of debt.  I don’t think as Christians, that we can ever get our financial house in order unless we start with tithing. 

6.       Tithing prepares me for spiritual growth: There is a spiritual fundamental principle – God usually works on our character one layer at a time. I believe that tithing is such a basic part of our Christian walk, that sometimes we can’t go on to bigger, better things in the Lord until we get GIVING down. Luke 16:10-13. If you are not managing a small amount of God’s wealth well, then He is not going to give you more of His money to manage. It goes even deeper than just being trusted with money though.  Verse 11 makes a very clear distinction between worldly wealth and true riches.  How can we be trusted to be stewards of real spiritual riches such as spiritual power, anointing, gifts, etc. if we cannot be trusted with something as simple as money? That is why it is so important to start teaching these things to our children at an early age so they grow up understanding the importance of generosity & tithing.

7.       Tithing is Spiritual Warfare: John 10:10. Malachi 3:11. God is saying that if we tithe, then He will prevent pests from devouring our crops and our vineyards will produce good fruit.  Satan is always on the prowl – looking for ways he can mess with us and take our eyes off of the Lord.  We thwart the work of the enemy in our lives when we tithe because it is one more area that he doesn’t have influence in.  Sin and disobedience leave doors open in our lives for Satan to come in and mess with us, but obedience shuts the doors keeps him out. I believe that the 3 major weapons of spiritual warfare we have at our disposal are:

a.       Praise – when we worship the Lord and offer praise to our King, the enemy is routed and must flee.

b.       Prayer – intercession and prayer is major spiritual weapon

c.       Tithing – our faithfulness in tithing (as we see in Malachi 3) combats the work of the enemy in our lives.

It all comes down to submission. Submitted Christians walking in surrendered positions in every area of their lives are walking spiritual weapons.  Satan has no power in our lives if we are submitted in every area of our lives – including tithing. 

8.       Tithing positions me for God’s blessing: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. The principle is this: when you give – God gives back even more.  We cannot out-give God! We can be generous on every occasion, and through your generosity – God gets glorified and His name is lifted up. The world needs to see us, the church, taking care of the poor, the widows, and the orphans. This is what brings honor to the Lord and reflects His character of abundant generosity and love. There is an idea that has crept into the western church – that we should look down on people who have prospered. Money is amoral – meaning money does not have morals. It is neither good nor evil.  What we do with money is either good or evil. Proverbs says that in the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil and that the diligent will prosper. The definition of diligence is excellence over a long period of time over and over again. Managing wealth for God is a biblical mandate, but we must always be careful to worship the provider, not the method. You cannot expect to be blessed financially without tithing.

9.       Tithing proves my love to God: 2 Corinthians 8:7-8. 1 John 5:3. Why is Paul saying to the church in Corinth “you’ve got all this other stuff down, now make sure you also excel in the grace of giving?” If we love God, then we will keep his commands.  God commands us to tithe.  So if we don’t tithe, then how can we say that we truly love Him? You can tell what someone loves by how the spend their time and how they spend their money.  If we love God, we must make tithing a priority.

10.   Tithing & Giving makes me happy. Acts 20:35. The truth is that God is more concerned about you being Holy than He is about you being Happy.  Have you ever seen a pond that has inlets running into it, but does not have any outlets flowing out of it?  What happens?  It gets a layer of SCUM on the top.  That is like people who constantly have money flow into their lives, but are not givers and do not ever have any outflow.  They get stopped up and stagnant. This is not how it was designed to be, we enjoy the flow of blessing from God & bless others with it, therefore becoming imitators of our Father.

Prayer/ Reflection Questions

·       Are there any areas regarding finances in your life that you have not fully surrendered to the Lord?

·       Is there anything about tithing or giving that God is telling you or that He wants to reveal to you.

Are there any lies regarding tithing or giving you have been believing that God wants to break down and show you the truth?

Acts Church