In the Old Testament, Moses taught the children of Israel to acknowledge that everything they had come from God by giving at least a tenth of it back to Him. Tithing was an act of worship as well as obedience.
In Malachi chapter 3, the prophet compares withholding the tithe to stealing from God. He urges people to give generously in order to experience God’s fullest blessings. God promises that if we honor him with our finances – no matter how difficult – He will honor us by providing for us in ways we can’t begin to imagine.
In the New Testament, we’re reminded that those who sow sparingly will also reap sparingly, but those who sow bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6). The apostle Paul adds, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
There are many ways to gives besides money and things. Consider any special skills you have that might be used to bless others. During these years of having the time and flexibility, tithe that time to serve your church, family, and others. Open up your home or make dinner for a visiting missionary or family in need. Volunteer a couple hours at the church doing the little things that need to get done. As 2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if there by first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”
In the well-known story of the widow’s mite, Jesus reminds us that it’s not the amount of the gift that matters to God – it’s the attitude of the heart (Luke 21:1-4). That being said, be careful not to give for recognition or to be liked by your recipients – much like buying friends or favor. Our hearts can decieve us into thinking that just by being super generous with our money, time, and resources that we gain some kind of favor with God. Jesus said “verily, you have our reward” when we do such things with a selfish motive.
Giving should not be done to increase your chances of getting something of equal or greater value in return. Having this child-like motive will often leave you disappointed and feeling rejected. The Lord wants our giving – whether in tithes and offerings or for the needs of others – to be done freely (willingly), liberally (bountifully), and selflessly (for God and others).