“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” . . .
Giving unto the Lord is not only the blessed privilege of the child of God; but it is his duty. Yea, the Christian can honour the Lord with his substance, if he will give unto the Lord his very best, willingly and cheerfully.
“The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God” . . . Exodus 23:19.
“And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of the corn, wine and oil and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God and laid them by heaps” . . . II Chronicles 31:5 and 6.
Thus we see that God’s command to His Old Testament people was to give the first, the best and one-tenth. To His New Testament saints, He says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as Go hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” . . . I Corinthians 16:2.
God not only wants the first and best from His children, but he wants it given willingly, cheerfully, systematically and regularly.
“Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord; whatsoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord, gold and silver and brass” . . . Exodus 35:5.
“And they came every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing” . . . Exodus 35:21.
“For God loveth a cheerful giver” . . . II Corinthians 9:7. “Therefore He says, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudingly, or of necessity.” . . . 9:6 and 7.
With Israel, giving was a part of their worship and was, an expression of gratitude to Jehovah for the many gifts He had bestowed upon them . . . Nehemiah 10:35 and 36. If they gave unto the Lord for what He did for them, what should the Christian do? The gifts that God bestowed upon Israel are not to be compared with His Divine gifts which are ours in this day of His marvelous grace:
“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? . . . Romans 8:32.
“Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ” . . . Ephesians 1:3.
“Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” . . . Romans 8:17.
The Christian’s resources in Christ Jesus are unlimited Some Christians are like a man whose vault is filled to capacity with riches, but the vault-door is locked and he has lost and forgotten the combination. Here is the Christian’s combination to his riches in Christ Jesus: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” . . . John 15:7.
When I was in business down south I went to the home of a very rich man to secure from him the release of a forty thousand dollar mortgage which he held on the property our company had purchased from him. What home it was! It looked to be the home of some poverty stricken owner. There sat the rich man clad in trousers that were cheap and that had seen better days, a well-worn soiled shirt, and a jacket which matched the other garments. He sat at a table and before him was a scanty meal which he had prepared himself. The furnishings were very cheap and ordinary. In an adjoining room an unskilled laborer was hanging some paper which the rich man boasted he had picked up for six cents a roll on the bargain counter. He was quite proud of his purchase. His fortune was well up in six figures and every cent that came in was hoarded up. He had no relatives to whom he could leave his money, and his chief joy was in accumulating his wealth. He knew not how to enjoy the use of it. He had all the marks of a pauper.
How like this man are so many Christians; acting like paupers when they are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to all of God’s great riches.
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” . . . Matthew 7:11.
From the very moment the sinner gives himself to Jesus Christ and in exchange receives from God the gift of eternal life through that Christ, the mutual giving should continue. God is always ready to give and always ready to receive the humblest gift from His child when given in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; even a cup of cold water . . . Matthew 10:42.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” . . . Colossians 3:17.
“That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.” . . . Matthew 6:4.
Because the glories of our Lord Jesus Christ are indescribable, and the value of His offering and sacrifice incomparable, the Christian says, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” . . . II Corinthians 9:15.
Because of this priceless gift, the child is not his own; he is bought with a price. . . . I Corinthians 6:20. Not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ . . . I Peter 1:18 and 19. Therefore the Christian belongs to God, body, soul and spirit. Everything that he has belongs to God.
The old miser that I met down south may be dead by this time. If not, he will be within a few short years, and then God will say, “Then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” . . . Luke 12:20.
The richest land-owner is but a tenant; for every inch of this planet belongs to the Lord. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Man may temporarily possess control and improve it, but when his spirit goes to God which gave it and his body back to the dust, another tenant will hold it till death loosens his grip.
Therefore God says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through not, steal.” . . . Matthew 6:19 and 20.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” . . . Matthew 6:21. Surely the Christian’s treasure and treasurer is the Lord Jesus Christ who is now at God’s right hand in heaven, and that is where his heart should be.
God does not ask a sinner to give, for the sinner has no treasure in heaven. His destiny is eternal separation from heaven. Before he gives anything to God he must first receive a gift from God, the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
“Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” . . . I Corinthians 13:3. Love is the fruit of the Spirit, whom the world cannot receive . . . John 14:17.
Gifts to God must be from God’s redeemed people. Many sinners are far more benevolent and generous than are God’s saints, but quite often these sinners are trying to buy favor and standing with God, which cannot be purchased with gold and silver. Doing humanitarian works is not laying up treasures in heaven unless the doer’s name is first written in heaven. We must first give ourselves to God. . . . II Corinthians 8:5.
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord” . . . Proverbs 19:17.
“But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” . . . I John 3:17.
Israel brought to God the blind for sacrifice, and the lame and sick. They offered polluted bread upon His altar . . . Malachi 1:7 and 8. Therefore God said, “Ye have robbed me: Ye are cursed with a curse” . . . Malachi 3:8 and 10.
Just think of a child of God robbing his Father and yet the Church of God is filled with such robbers, who are robbing God of time, talents and money.
God does not expect any Christian to give above his ability: “For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” . . . II Corinthians 8:12.
Remember the poor widow and her two mites and the commendation of the Lord. Mark 12:42.
God has ordained that those who are set apart by the Holy Spirit for special ministry are to be supported by the liberality of the saints. “The labourer is worthy of his hire” . . . Luke 10:7.
“The firstlings of our herds and our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God.” . . . Nehemiah 10:35 and 36.
“Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” . . . Galatians 6:6. Not only for the support of the ministry of God’s Word, but to the necessity of the saints who are in need, are Christians exhorted to give:
“Distributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality” . . . Romans 12:13. . . . I Timothy 6:18.
It is hard to understand how any saint of God can hoard up his wealth with more than a half billion heathen yet un-evangelized, and scores of missionaries ready to go when the money is forthcoming; and with thousands of poor saints, widows and orphans all about us.
As to how much any New Testament saint should give, no specific amount is laid down, and to say, “tithe,” might tend to make a legalist out of a Christian, which is contrary to the will of God. But surely no consecrated Christian will give any less than Israel was required to give under the law, and moreover Abraham gave one-tenth before the law was added. Hebrews 7:2 and 4.
Most Christians do not take God into consideration in the spending of their money, and very few of them know much about the real joy of sacrificial giving. Every Christian should give to the Lord’s work prayerfully, systematically and cheerfully, and certainly there is no objection to making one-tenth of your income your minimum.