Adventures with Yahweh
Spending a lot of money on liquor and throwing a party for your family and friends might seem a bit carnal, but it is an accurate description of what God expected from His people when He called them to tithe. Each year, the Jewish people were to take a tenth of what they had received from God and rejoice before Him at a place of His choosing. If there was too much increase to carry, they were to sell it and spend the income on whatsoever their soul lusted after, even strong drink — rejoicing in the favor God had given them.
What are we to make of such foolishness? Is God really interested in frivolity and self-centered partying? Apparently, Yahweh loves to bless His people. They are, after all, the love of His life. His heart soars when He sees His children jumping for joy over Him and He rejoices over them with singing.
Every third year, however, the Jewish people were to give that increase to the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger.
When Malachai exposed the theft of God’s tithe, it was the third year tithe he was referring to. Imagine, God called His people to “love the stranger as yourself,” and yet His people refused to bless their less fortunate neighbors even once every three years!
The heart of giving is joy. It is loving God’s favor and the experience of going with Him to bless others. In giving, we see His intentions in action and observe the way He weaves human lives flawlessly together.
One Christmas, I was in the inner-city on a giving spree. I set up watch at the door of a thrift store just as an old man, riding a bicycle in the cold winter wind, approached. Perched on the back of the bike was a child, about seven years old. I approached and gave the young boy a hundred dollars. As His grandfather realized what had happened, he leapt off the bike, his eyes alive with delight.
“I told you!” He cried out. “I TOLD YOU THE LORD WAS GOING TO GIVE US THE MONEY!”
The boy’s face became an immense smile.
I don’t know what they were hoping for, but the joy of seeing God fill that man’s heart and watching a young child be given a revelation of God’s miraculous love, was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
Tithing can seem a chore, an obligation to the LORD and the church that must be paid, as if it was a mortgage payment to God. Or it can be the greatest adventure of your life. Giving is when the Spirit of God whispers in your heart and you open your surprise from Yahweh.
This is not to say all giving is spontaneous. I have special moments with my children, but I love them all the time. The mundane expresses love as fully as the exceptional. The ordinary becomes drudgery, however, when I forget why I am doing ordinary things. The Spirit of his world demeans the ordinary but if we stop, look and listen we can see the miraculous and awe-inspiring hiding in the smallest, least conspicuous moments of our lives.
Like a young child wearing her mother’s wedding dress, or a small boy helping his Dad work on a car, we mimic Yahweh when we give to others. The result, each time, is to become more like Him and bless the heart of God. The root of giving, like everything in our life with Yahweh, is to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, mix it with faith, and act upon it.
Faith operates by love and love has been spread abroad into the crevasses of our heart by the Holy Ghost. Giving is not like filling out a tax return or paying for your car. It is not investing for a return. It is simply God’s love moving through you to others because you care for them.
What is this “storehouse” everyone talks about? There is no biblical foundation for believing it is the local church. Of course, we support our congregation and the ministries that flow through it. However, we cannot simply take the operations necessary in the first century and apply them to today. Transportation and communication technologies have revolutionized everything except the human heart. The real question is, have we set apart a portion of our blessings for the LORD, to express our joy over His goodness towards us? If so, we are free to do what is loving, just and right. All else is sin.