When it comes to giving back to the Lord, a lot of people have hard and fast rules they follow on tithing. I know there’s a lot of debate on whether to tithe on the gross or the net income and the response back is that He will bless such accordingly. When I hear these types of debates I’m struck by how we’re essentially trying to create hard and fast rules that have nothing to do with what His Word says are the rules, like we’re following in the footsteps of the Pharisees trying to build a checklist to holiness while missing the plain and clear commands God provides. And as would be expected, that personal holiness checklist approach doesn’t work. One reason is typically when we build a checklist like this, it represents the minimum we expect to have to do. And as a result, folks will start doing the minimum. Or they will get arrogant when they do more than the checklist. That’s not honoring to God. God doesn’t want our minimums, He wants our best. And He certainly doesn’t want our “look at me” attitudes. That’s why I love passages like the following out of the book of Leviticus:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the LORD for a burnt offering– for you to be accepted–it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you. When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the LORD. In respect to an ox or a lamb which has an overgrown or stunted member, you may present it for a freewill offering, but for a vow it will not be accepted. Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the LORD, or sacrifice in your land, nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.'” – Leviticus 22:17-25, NASB
God doesn’t leave anything open to interpretation with respect to the offering the Israelites were to bring. It didn’t matter what type of animal, whether cattle, sheep, or goats. What did matter was that the offering had to be perfect. If it had a known defect, it wasn’t acceptable. And it didn’t matter who it came from. If the offering was imperfect, God wouldn’t accept it. He wanted the best. After all, the fact that someone had cattle, sheep, or a goat to sacrifice was because of God’s provision in the first place. So giving back to God some lame, sick, or injured animal wasn’t going to cut it. God was having no part in that type of offering.
Now apply this to the Church today. We’ve been caught up in how much to give; we tend not to consider our attitude and quality of giving. Are we giving our best? And this doesn’t just apply to what goes in the offering plate. Let’s take prayer, for instance. Are we praying when we have set aside a quiet time for him? Or are we praying amidst a bunch of distractions? I know sometimes that can’t be helped. And sometimes we can spend extra time in prayer while we do the other things in life, especially for times like when we’re commuting back and forth to work. But that aside, are we giving Him time where we are alone with Him, and Him alone? And if we are, what kind of quality are we providing? Are we meeting Him half-asleep because we don’t fully wake up before we fumble into our prayer time? Or are we meeting Him at the end of the day with our bodies physically worn out and our minds screaming for sleep? Is this our best?
I think if our attitude changes with respect to giving back to the Lord, whether we’re talking about monetary tithes or we’re talking about our time with Him or our service to Him, we will see Him move more powerfully in our lives. If we give Him our best, we’ll see the results of that. Certainly we will draw closer to Him. If our hearts and our every intent is all about Jesus, our Savior, Master, and Lord, how can we not grow closer? And the closer we grow to God, the more we will know Him and understand Him. The more we will realize the greatness of the promises He has laid out for us. And the more lovely He becomes in our sight. I know that’s what I want. I know that’s what I need. And it starts with me making a conscious choice to give Him my absolute best from the depths of my heart. Our God is great and greatly to be praised. There is none like Him. Therefore, He deserves from me the very best I can offer Him. Nothing else is satisfactory.