And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you."Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.
- Genesis 14:18-20
Tithing is a very touchy subject for many people within churches. Most feel that if a preacher even mentions money at all then that is all that they are after. I even struggled with this issue for a long time. I made up my own system of tithing and refused to give any money to a church. I had decided that I could better choose where my money went in order to help people than any church could. Of course I have come to realize that this mindset is wrong. There are some very significant things that many people miss about tithing because they don't take the time to study it out in the bible. Hopefully, what I share here in this blog will give you a better understanding of the importance of giving to God what is already His.
In Genesis 14 we read of the very first biblical instance of tithing. Abraham had gone out to war with some invading forces that had taken his nephew Lot and his family captive. They were victorious in rescuing Lot and the rest of his family and they plundered the enemies camp. On their way home to celebrate the victory we read that Abraham met with Melchizedek and paid a tenth of everything he had recovered to him. While this is the first time the bible records a tithe being paid, the act of giving a tenth to those in authority was a common practice at the time.
The Baker Theological Dictionary of The Bible (Walter A. Elwell [editor]) states:
"Giving a portion of one's profits or the spoils of war was known in the ancient world from Greece to China. Gifts were made as religious offerings, or given to a political authority as tribute or tax. Donation of a tenth portion, or tithe, was common apparently because most people counted in tens, based on ten fingers" (Tithe, Tithing, p.779).
I highlighted the word tribute above because that is what Abraham was paying to Melchizedek, a tribute. He wasn't paying a tax, he was giving out of what was restored and recovered from the enemy. There had been a victory and Abraham understood that a tribute should be given to God to acknowledge that it was only by His grace the battle had been won. Let's look at the word tribute for a moment.
Definition of TRIBUTE
1a : a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection; also : the tax levied for such a payment b
2a : something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; especially : a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection b : something (as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question
When you give a tribute to someone, you are acknowledging to them and yourself that you are submitted to their authority. It is also a way of showing respect, gratitude, or affection. More importantly however is the fact that the tribute stands as material evidence of the worth, virtue, and effectiveness of the one receiving the tribute. This is the truth of what tithing means. It is a way for us to acknowledge who our King really is. Every time we pay tithes we should do it with the mindset that we are submitting to the one who is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise.
Even more amazing is the generational blessings that can come from tithing.
For although Levi wasn't born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.
- Hebrews 7:10
When we give to God our seed is giving to God. Generations of our family that we will never see are counted as having tithed when we give.
So the question needs to be asked, how much do we give? Is it a tenth of everything we earn form our jobs? Is it more? Is it less?
Let's look at what was given by people who were being saved in the bible.
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
- Acts 2:44-45
So how much do we give according to the bible? EVERYTHING. I'm not saying that we need to go out and sell all we have. We should however have the mindset that all we have is God's and we need to be open to what He wants us to do with it. When we struggle to give God our money, possessions, and time, we will also struggle to give Him our love, honor, and affection. The bible says that where a man's treasure is, his heart is there also. I find it interesting that the treasure is mentioned before the heart. Where we place our most valued possessions will lead our heart to that same place. We can pave a path for our heart to draw closer to God if we give Him that which we hold most dear.
Starting this week, let's acknowledge our King and bless the future generations of our families. Let's place our treasure where we want our heart to be.
"So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone."
- Ezekiel 37:7
The bones that Ezekiel prophesied to didn't become bones overnight. The process of decay takes time. In fact there are 5 general stages of decay that a body goes through once the heart quits. I will be examining a stage a week to see how this all applies to churches over the next 5 weeks. There is a lot to discuss, so let's dive in to stage 1!
1. The FRESH stage
This stage starts immediately after the heart stops beating. Shortly after death, within three to six hours, the muscular tissues become rigid and incapable of relaxing which is known as rigor mortis. How many churches out there are stuck in their ways? They continue doing things the same way, even if they haven't worked in years, just because that is the way they have always done them. This is the type of church that thinks it's more important to dress modestly than it is to feed the hungry. They become enamored by the rules as if completing a check list will somehow bring life back into this rigid body.
From the moment of death, the body begins losing heat to the surrounding environment, resulting in an overall cooling called algor mortis. How many churches are here in this stage? There was a fire at one time but their passion has cooled. These are the churches that talk a lot about getting out and doing something but they never seem to actually go and get anything done. Every time there is a push to start something new, the enthusiasm is short lived and they very quickly go back to the status quo.
The loss of cell structure brings about the release of cellular enzymes capable of initiating the breakdown of surrounding cells and tissues. This process is known as autolysis. In biology, autolysis, more commonly known as self-digestion, refers to the destruction of a cell through the action of its own enzymes. This is a pretty interesting stage that I think many churches have gone through. This is the stage where we get the infamous "Church Split". People become bitter towards each other and start to fight among themselves. Gossip and backstabbing is common. The people in these churches have reached a stage where they are "eating" each other and destroying the unity of the church.
So, have you ever been involved in a church that was going through the FRESH stage of decay?
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.