Thursday, June 18, 2009

Giving 40%

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (Malachi 3:10 NIV)

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! (Malachi 3:10 NLT)

Growing up, my mother often quoted Malachi 3: 10 to tell us the importance of tithing. She told us it's the only time and place that God tells us to "TEST" Him. In addition to the monthly tithe, we were taught to bring an offering whenever we went to church. When I got my first formal, full-time job, I gave my first month's income away as the "first fruit", which, I was taught, belongs to God.

During our very first finance workshop at Willow Creek's Good Sense, C.J. and I agreed to increase our giving by certain % whenever our household income reaches certain milestones. For example, let's say our current household income is $40,000. When our income reaches $50,000, we will increase giving from 10% to 11%. When our household income reaches $70,000, we will increase giving to 12%...and so on.

However, last Sunday, when our new teaching Pastor Justin Nalls preached on Malachi 2:17-3:12, and quoted a commentary from Allen Ross, a Bible scholar, it gave me a whole new perspective of looking at the way we give.

According to Dr. Allen Ross, during the Old Testament period, the Israelites gave about 40% of their income to God. Here is a brief summary of their giving.

Basic Tithing
= Priest's due + Basic Tithe + 2nd Tithe (for Jerusalem and its needs) + 3rd Tithe (every other year for the poor)

Other offerings
= Animals for the 3 festivals + Sin offerings + Leaving corners of their fields for the poor to glean + Animals/gifts as free will thank offerings + Giving to charity, widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor

What an eye-opening and humbling revelation!