… put some of the first produce from each harvest into a basket and bring it to the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, “With this gift I acknowledge that the LORD your God has brought me into the land he swore to give our ancestors.” The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the LORD your God. You must then say in the presence of the LORD your God, “My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live in Egypt. His family was few in number, but in Egypt they became a mighty and numerous nation. When the Egyptians mistreated and humiliated us by making us their slaves, we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He heard us and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with amazing power, overwhelming terror, and miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! And now, O LORD, I have brought you a token of the first crops you have given me from the ground.” Then place the produce before the LORD your God and worship him. Afterward go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration. (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)
Tithing is a “whole heart” activity. If we think it is enough to just calculate 10 percent of our paycheck and plunk it in the bucket at next Sunday’s church service, we’re missing out on the fullness of this act of worship. The power of tithing isn’t just from obedience to God’s word concerning the action of tithing. It also comes from the attitude with which we give. Having a testimony about what God has done is one of the most empowering attitudes we can have regarding tithing.
In this scripture, God is instructing the Israelites how to give a tithe when they arrive in the Promised Land. He starts by reminding them of the specific action of the tithe—“put some of the first produce from each harvest into a basket and bring it to…the Lord” (v. 2). But he doesn’t stop there. Next God tells the Israelites what their attitude should be as they give. They are to remember what God has done for their people in the past and to where he has brought them. And he wants them to verbalize these things as they give.
When we give a tithe to the Lord, our testimony starts as we write out the check. We begin to thank God simply because we have something to give. The Bible says we should give out of what we have and not out of what we don’t have (2 Corinthians 8:12), so when we give it must mean we have something to keep, too! We remember everything the Lord has done for us and for those around us—our community. Did he get you out of debt? Did he provide you or a friend with a place to live and a loving community to do life with? Did he save you from that disastrous business deal? Meditate on these things! This stirs up gratitude in our hearts and empowers us to give with a cheerful attitude.
Just before the tithe is received in a church service, there is generally a time of prayer to dedicate the gift to God and to pray for his people. Take advantage of this moment! Agree with the person who is praying over the tithe. There is power in agreement. Begin to pray to God specifically for your tithe. Let him know you are thankful for what he’s done for you. Do what God instructed the Israelites to do: remind God of everything he’s done and specific ways in which he has delivered and prospered you.
God told the Israelites to place their gift before the Lord and to worship him. It is only natural that as we remember what God has done for us, we will respond with worship and celebration. In our church, the band generally plays another song after the tithe is received, giving us a chance for remembrance and worship. The scripture then says we should go and celebrate with our community. Celebration of what God has done builds faith that God can do something similar for us in the future. It not only builds our faith, but also the faith of those around us. Our celebration should include sharing our testimony with our community, building an atmosphere of gratitude to the Lord and belief for his power and provision in our lives going forward.
It’s time to shake up your giving routine! For those of you who haven’t been in the habit of tithing, this may mean stepping into the “action” of giving for the first time. For those who have let the practice slip into a habit, perhaps now is the time to focus on the attitude with which you give. And everyone can benefit from focusing just a bit on building expectation around what will happen when you give cheerfully and willingly. So take a few minutes today to think about what aspects of giving you want to shake up a bit. Write down a giving action plan. How much will your tithe amount to each week or month? Are there any offering amounts you feel led to give on a regular basis – i.e. a church building program, a special ministry, etc.? Journal a bit about what sort of an attitude you want to bring along with your tithe when you give. What is your testimony as you give? Lastly, write some clear points about what you are believing God will do when you give in these ways. What has your faith told you will be the outpouring of your giving in the manner that you’ll be giving it. Write it down, and make it plain!
Spend a few minutes today discussing the items you wrote down about giving earlier in the day with your spouse or a trusted friend. If you are part of a couple, discuss how each of your “giving plans” will fit together. Are there concepts to be discussed or issues to be resolved in order to come to an agreement about the action, attitude and outcome of giving? If so, do that now! Continue your discussion until you’ve come up with a finalized giving plan that includes the action (i.e. type of giving and amount(s)), the attitude (i.e. your testimony and the attitude with which you endeavor to give each time) and the outcome (i.e. what promises of God you are standing on and what you have faith will happen as a result of your faithfulness in this area). Be sure to document the plan and keep it in a place where you can refer to it each time you prepare yourself to give.
During your prayer time today, practice your giving testimony! Begin by telling God about the things you are grateful for and by remembering the things he’s done for you in the past – especially the ways he’s provided for you financially. Tell him how you wish to give going forward. Commit your giving to the Lord!