As Christians, we are no obligation to give a tithe (10 percent) of our income. However, it is certainly a good place to at least start. I have to admit that I sometimes (internally) begrudge God that small fraction. I grumble. Maybe only in the hidden recesses of my mind, but still I grumble.
Over the weekend I was reading in Genesis chapter 47 when I came upon this:
And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s (Gen 47:24-26).
The people were pleased (even grateful!) to be given the opportunity to offer up 20 percent to Pharaoh! That seems ridiculous until you remember that they were all starving to death when that offer was made to them by Joseph:
Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” (Gen 47:19).
These people were more than willing to give Pharaoh 20 percent in exchange for food to keep them alive. Alive for how long? Perhaps a few decades? Maybe 100 years for their youngest children? They all were going to die eventually anyway.
Now compare that to giving God 10 percent in thanks for what he has given me? That is only one-half of what they had to give to Pharaoh. Not only has God given me every nanosecond of my earthly life, he has promised me eternal life with him in paradise! Yet, I grumble about returning 10 percent. I have never gone hungry – never once in my 44 years. Yet, I grumble.
God could, if he chooses, take it all away from me today. He has given it all to me, so he has the right to take it all back at any time. No questions asked. That is the prerogative of the sovereign king of the universe. I have already been blessed beyond measure, yet I grumble. I have the certain promises of infinite blessings to come, yet I grumble.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24).
Paul answers that question for me. And for you if you repent and put your faith in him.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25).
Thankfully, even my grumbling is forgiven and, joy of all joys:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Amen and amen!