Circa 2015 – 2019
The Holy Spirit led me to focus on the following verses about tithing in the bible and I studied several versions of it. I reference the NIV version here.
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (Emphasis and arrangement mine):
“Tithes: Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.
But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose.
Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
The Delightful Truth!
Reading it over and over, word by word, I tried to break it down, point by point:
Year 1 :
Same as Year 1
It is for People, Not Works
I was completely stumped by this revelation and asked V:
“So, for the first two years of the tithe, we are to bring our family overseas (to somewhere out of the town where we live), to where God wants His name to be established, there, we and our entire family can freely spend it/consume it on anything that pleases us, so that we can rejoice together with the Lord, remembering Him for a year of fruitful work and blessings?”
That sounds like a great annual family vacation! And of course, not forgetting to include the people serving God full time in our town, who need and deserve a family vacation too!
And then in the third year, to store it up to bless full time workers in Church/ministry, the foreigners and the destitute in the town we live in, certainly not to give the full 10% to the local Church.
I tried to take in what I have read. We are taught – to give our tithes to where we are fed i.e., to the Church we worship at – but nothing in here says that!
I began to understand what Beth was trying to intimate to me a year ago. Nowhere in these verses did it say we were to give our tithe to Church to pay for its mortgage or for fixtures and programs, or to leave it completely to the leaders and pastors’ disposal. I kick myself for not studying the bible more carefully before; and am astonished how this truth has been so misinterpreted and abused. One visiting prophet even preached that we should give all of our tithes directly to him, personally!
People Close to His Heart
I felt God’s heart as I read the verses over and over.
Who does He care about?
It is the family! His servants! Destitute women and children/the poor and needy! The lonely foreigner!
My husband was right after all.
This truth has liberated me and many of us. It never fails to bring a smile to the faces of those who get it and it greatly warms their hearts. Everyone is so touched by the love and care God has for us and our loved ones, and we revere and love God even more.
From our tithes, we start to use it for retreats or vacations together with our families or with the community.
I also give a portion every year to my mentor pastor for her vacation and her needs. She says it often comes in really handy. God and His signs and wonders never fail to accompany us on every trip. Everyone, young and old, is filled with great joy and relationships are strengthened. And we returned rested, grateful and satisfied.
Personally, I have always taken annual vacations since the day I started work. It was my motivation and reward for working hard. When I started my family, I made sure we go on trips every year. When the budget was tight, we would just hop over by car to Malaysia or by ferry to Batam for an inexpensive holiday. It has left us with some wonderful memories and they all loved it. To me, life consists of memories; I am glad I have provided some great ones for my kids. So perhaps that is why God wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labour with trips like this. It has been a great and wonderful few years for the members who started taking their families on annual retreats or trips since.
From the tithe, we also gave generously, as the Lord leads, not only to the needy and destitute but also to the lonely foreigners in our country. Once, my China members and I worked with a local church to throw a reunion dinner for Chinese workers to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Touched by the love shared among us, 99 of the 100 guests gave their life to the Lord after simply hearing the testimonies of my Chinese friends. We then hand the baton to the local church whom we know will feed and take care of these lambs. We continued to bless the foreigners in other ways and hundreds came to know the Lord.
The tithes, restored to its original intent and purposes, have been a great blessing and joy, and God blessed the work of our hands and our investments even more.
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