I got paid today. My first thought was let me tithe. That led me to thinking on First Fruits so I took time to read on the principle. As I began to read, the Holy Spirit led me to Acts 5:1-11 (AMP).
"5 Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? 4 As long as it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own [to do with as you pleased]? And after it was sold, was the money not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this act [of hypocrisy and deceit] in your heart? You have not [simply] lied to people, but to God.” 5 And hearing these words, Ananias fell down suddenly and died; and great fear and awe gripped those who heard of it. 6 And the young men [in the congregation] got up and wrapped up the body, and carried it out and buried it. 7 Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold your land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 And at once she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear and awe gripped the whole church, and all who heard about these things."
I had to really look here on what the scriptures were saying. Here was a man and his wife whom gave to the church. It wasn't about the money though. It was the lying that did them in. I truly believe that if they had honestly given with their whole heart, God wouldn't have condemned them. Why? The answer for me is in verse 3 and 4. The Holy Spirit through Peter condemns what Ananias did in his heart. The exact amount that the land was sold for and how much he and Sapphira were giving wasn't discussed. This has led me to conclude that the amount you give isn't as important as why you give.
"41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44 NKJV)
Do you remember this story? Do you see that Jesus watched as people gave but what He saw was in their heart. "6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6 -7 ESV)
Listen. I'm not telling you not to give your ten percent. I believe that's the least we can give. But what I am telling you is watch how you give. Give your best First Fruit to God cheerfully. Don't give Him what you have leftover after you've paid all your bills or went out and enjoyed yourself. When we get down to our last, we tend to hoard it. And do so knowing that you aren't giving to the church.
If I could tell people another thing about biblical giving it's this: You aren't giving to man. (Note: watch out for churches and people that are using tithes for their own personal gain. While it isn't up to us to judge, be a good steward over your finances and give to those that are biblically based and truly upbuilding the kingdom of The Most High.) This is an obedience lesson between you and God. If He asks that you give of yourself. Do so with a cheerful heart. There will be times when He asks and you doubt your abilities but try Jesus anyway. Push forward and do as He says. There was a time when I didn't have much in the way of finances. I had to rub two nickels together and pray they made a dollar. But, I learned to trust God with those nickels. Pretty soon they began to add up and the financial blessings flowed. (And, bless God they still are!!)
I can hear the doubt from some all the way over here. So, let's do this. I challenge you for the months of May and June to tithe first. Every paycheck, donation, or gift money that is given to you, give God 10% before you do anything else. Then wait and see what God does. It'll be hard mentally if you are not use to doing this, but the reward will be GREAT!! For those that are already doing this, your challenge is to increase your offering. Find one ministry that could use a little more love and add money to it each month. If you're already doing this, then let's go outside the church walls. Your challenge is to give to as many random people as the spirit of God leads you to. Maybe you're in a store and see someone ready to put back an item because they lack the funds for it. Buy it for them. Maybe you're walking down the street and God tells you to give them $10. Do it. However the spirit leads, follow. Side note: don't brag or announce what you've done. Pride is a sin so let's not let that destroy the good intentions of your heart.
Obedience is better than sacrifice. Learn what Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, didn't.
Be A Blessing and Not Just Blessed
- - Nakya