THE TITHE - Week of May 22nd

By Judy Nichols

May 22, 2016


We get our concept of the tithe from the fact that Abram gave a tenth of all the spoil from the war of the kings (Gen. 14) and from the commands in Leviticus and Deuteronomy (see Deut. 14:22 for example). But giving our tithe is more than just obedience to the law.

When Abram went to war it was not for the purpose of conquest but to rescue his nephew Lot who had been taken captive in a previous battle. He routed several powerful kings’ armies with a band of just 318 men and brought back all the goods and people that had been taken. Afterward, he met Melchizedek, King of Salem and a priest of God Most High. Melchizedek blessed Abram and attributed his victory to the power of God, the Possessor of heaven and earth.

In response, Abram gave Melchizedek, and by extension God, a tenth of all the spoil. Since the law was not given for several hundred more years, we can assume his gesture was a not a matter of obeying a law but of affirming the truth of Melchizedek’s words. He was affirming that God is, indeed, the Possessor of all things, including the power to overcome enemies. His tithe symbolized his rejection of personal or military power to achieve God’s promised purpose in his life. God had promised to give him the land; he did not need to conquer it himself.

The king of Sodom, whose goods Abram recovered, was also present at this time. He offered to let Abram keep all the spoil and only return the people to him. This Abram also refused. He said, "I have sworn to the Lord God Most high . . . that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich’" (Gen. 14:22-23). His rejection of this offer is a powerful affirmation of his dependence on God, rather than human kings and their gifts, to become great.

We may give our tithe to the church because the Bible says to do so. We may give it because the Bible also promises us rewards for doing so. In Malachi 3 we read that God will not only open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing but also rebuke the devourer for us if we tithe. Those are valid reasons. But we should also recognize that our tithe represents our repudiation of self-effort and our utter dependence upon God.

Do we really believe God is the Possessor and Giver of all? Do we truly believe it is His power, rather than anything we can do, that gains us every victory? Are we convinced that we are totally dependent on God for everything? It is our tithe that declares it.

© Judy Nichols 2016

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