Giving to the Lord and the Lord’s Work (Z.T. Fomum)
Giving unto the Lord was carried out in the Old Testament almost close to the very origin of man. Cain and Abel knew instinctively that they should give to the Lord. They both did. Later on, Abraham met Melchizedek.
The Word of God says, “And Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And Abraham gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20). Melchizedek first brought out bread and wine and then he blessed Abram. He took the initiative. He gave and gave. Abraham responded and gave. Melchizedek is a type of Christ. God is always the first Giver. He has given us Christ and every good thing. Our giving is only a response to His giving. It is a token of gratitude from those who have received their all from Him.
Abraham did not only give a tithe. He went ahead and offered his beloved and only son Isaac to God. Isaac symbolized all that he was and all that he had, and he gave him away to God holding nothing back. Yes, he gave a tithe, but that tithe was followed by his all. The tithe was good but his all satisfied the heart of God, and in response to that offer the Lord said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:16-17). The whole story is wonderful. God gave to Abraham freely. Abraham responded by giving a tithe. God blessed him even more by giving him a son, and he responded by giving God his all. To this God responded by giving to him in a totally limitless way. Glory be to the Lord Most High! We too are called into this type of blessed relationship.
At the beginning of Jacob’s walk with God, he said, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee” (Genesis 28:20-22). He was at this point of his pilgrimage just a carnal believer. He was a beginner, full of conditions, if, if, if. He was carnal and calculative - he would give 10%. Mathematical tithing is the business of carnal believers - of spiritual babes. The spiritual believer gives and gives his all. Jacob did not remain the mathematical giver. He grew. He sacrificed unto the Lord without bargain.
The Bible says, “And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it” (Genesis 35:14). When God desired that the tabernacle should be built, he asked that an offering should be taken for Him from every man whose heart made him willing. The offering was to be used for the tabernacle, but God considered it an offering for Him and He demanded that it be from people whose hearts made them willing. God is too self-sufficient to compel anyone. He is too rich to beg.
In the Old Testament the children of Israel gave tithes and offerings. They began with the tithe - the place of the law and mathematical giving, and then they went into all types of offering which were dependent on their love for God and their spiritual progress. As God continued to deal with His people, we find in the early church not one insistence on tithes but on offering of love. It is no more law but grace. Grace finds the demands of the law superficial - inadequate. No one can live in grace and be satisfied to tithe. The children of grace give and give.