Spiritual Habits of Effective People: Tithing
(by Rick Warren)
“Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deuteronomy 14:23 LB).
We develop spiritual fitness when we honor God by giving him a tithe every week. Tithing is the spiritual habit of giving back to God the first 10 percent of all I make. If I make $100, I give $10 back to God; if I make $1000, I give $100 back to God. I get to keep 90 percent but I give 10 percent to him.
Why would anybody have to do that? Because God says so and that’s reason enough. If you don’t do it, you’re disobeying God. But there’s more reason. The reason I tithe is to draw me closer to God.
Jesus says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:21 NLT). If I put my money in a boat, that’s where my affection goes. Wherever I put my money, that’s what becomes important to me. If I put God first when it comes to my money, it says, “God, you’re first in my life.”
If you show me how you spend your time and how you spend your money, I’ll show you what’s important in your life. No matter what you say is important—show me your schedule and your checkbook stubs and I’ll tell you what’s really important to you.
Deuteronomy 14:23 explains that, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives” (LB). If I say, “God, I want you to be number one in my life,” but he’s last place in my budget, that’s a contradiction.
The Bible teaches that giving is an antidote to materialism. The materialism of the world says, “Get, get, get.” The only antidote is giving; we do just the opposite of what the world says. As I learn to hold things with an open hand and return the first part to God, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. It helps me develop the characteristics of God because “God so loved the world that he gave” (John 3:16). If you want to become like Jesus, you must learn to be a giver.