The ‘tithe’ has a lot of significance to me these days.
When I first gave my life to Jesus the first major challenge I had was the concept of the tithe because my worldly teachers had always taught me to ‘save and invest in my own empire’. Wikipedia defines the tithe as 10% contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to the government. So, in a sense, you are all doing *way* more than a tithe to your local roads and hospitals. The Biblical tithe, at its root, is recognizing the Lord God as the Great Provider of everything we have, and giving back the first fruits of our labour to Him as a sacrifice. It’s truly a sign of faith. In fact, it was the most challenging thing I had to face. It was very easy for me to freely accept the love of God and the blood of Jesus, but it was quite a bit more difficult to reach into my pockets and give some of his provisions back to Him. The old proverb ‘put your money where your mouth is’ speaks of this challenge. The other expression that comes to mind is when one ‘puts skin in the game’. No one will treat you seriously until you can do both of these – including God.
What I have come to learn about the tithe is that it is the most beautiful foundation for a successful life. As I type this blog post, I am wildly successful in some ways (ie. I still have a wife who hasn’t left me, and two beautiful girls, and a job that provides for our needs, my health, etc) but financially I’m am probably in the worst shape of anyone I know in my circle. Why? I found out there is also the ‘evil tithe’ also known as the ‘Franchise Advertising and Royalty fee’. I was under the domination of this corrupt system for nearly six years. During this time, the Franchisor took, took, and took their 10% but, unlike God who promises in Malachi that he will open the floodgates of heaven if we give 10%, the Franchisor gave nearly nothing back (unless you consider a logo and a product line enough on its own). We expected a top notch team of marketing professionals who would, as good stewards of our ‘tithe’, spend the money and drive business back to our stores, constantly reinventing the brand, etc, but this is not what we saw. What we saw was store owners (franchisees) going bankrupt and stores churning and churning. It was not a ‘voluntary tithe’ but a mandatory one.
This whole awful experience of watching my financial life bleed to death by exactly 10% (yes, the exact amount that I am in debt is the amount the Franchisor took) made me get back to the concept of tithing. In a sense, I was treating God much like the way the Franchisor was treating me. God had given me so indescribably much and yet what was I giving back to God? Nearly nothing. I can say ‘zilch’. I was not much more than a ‘Sunday Christian’.
But something has changed recently. God has given me new revelation on the tithe and everything is being restructured in my life. Here is what the Lord showed me:
- I should tithe my life since I don’t have money in the bank (this month)
- I am awake about 16 hours which is 960 minutes every day
- 10% of 960 minutes is 96 minutes or, about 1.5 hours.
- This ‘tithe time’ can include: time in the Bible, time in prayer, time in worship, time watching inspiring sermons, time doing the hard learning of a student (Greek, Hebrew, theology, etc)
I started immediately aiming for this goal and I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt the Lord is stepping closer to me and things are changing in my life. My marriage is getting better. My kids are getting closer. My job is becoming more prosperous. The Lord is coming closer. That is really important, people. All the other challenges in our life (and I need not explain that this life is not a bed of roses) will grow pale and faint when measured against the majesty and glory of a holy God. The more time we spend with Him the bigger He appears and the smaller our temporary problems appear. It’s amazing.
And so I set forth this challenge to anyone else who has been frustrated by their life spinning in an endless hamster wheel. Let’s tithe our life to God.
But let’s not end there. Let’s start there. Once we hit 10% of our day, let’s increase that to 15%! And once the paycheque comes in, let’s dump 10% right into God’s kingdom. Then, when God builds and prospers our financial world, let’s increase that to 15%.
My true goal is to have the ‘inverse tithe’ in my life where I am giving God 90% of my life and ‘dealing with’ 10%. I haven’t been able to quantify what this will look like but it’s nice to dream and plan.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
Update: Thanks to a friend of mine who found this quick interview with Rick Warren about giving. It’s truly quite amazing the similarities with what he says!