A few years ago a friend of mine came to me asking for help.
“Faisal,” he said, “I need some advice.” He wanted to know how to get ahead in life.
This man was highly educated and had a good job. He was a Druze Muslim, born in Lebanon, and was looking to work in the Canadian banking industry.
“I’ve tried everything,” he said to me in frustration.
Maybe you can relate
Right this very second, thousands of stock brokers and financial analysts are giving hundreds of millions of people advice on what to do with their finances.
“This diversified portfolio is recession-proof, trust me.”
“This life insurance policy is guaranteed to take care of you and your dependents.”
“This investment opportunity has huge possibilities of return.”
The advice piles up, and I don’t want to add to the noise. What I want to do is suggest what I suggested to my friend. Before you make any decisions about the above, there is a fundamental first step that you can take to transform your life.
Have you tried tithing?
“Take the first tenth of all your income and drop it off at a local church,” I suggested to my friend.
Well my friend must have been crazy because he took me up on it. He started to tithe 10% of his income and would drive it to church to drop it off and leave.
I must confess at this point that I had no clue what I was doing. I did not have a master plan. I did not know I would one day be writing this article. And I certainly never expected what happened next.
Shortly after he started tithing he told me his sister had some questions about faith. So I visited her and started sharing about my faith. Well there was another brother in the room at this point, and he started threatening to kill me. Literally. He had to be held back by his brother, my tithing friend.
Something amazing happened to that family. As the first brother started tithing, he inadvertently acknowledged and entered into God’s promise of blessing. [Again, I had no clue the significance of this at the time.] God’s promise of blessing through the tithe affected his whole family: he met Jesus, his sister met Jesus, his mother met Jesus… even the death-threatening brother met Jesus!
And you know what else? My friend’s next job was at a national bank, and now, 18 years later, he’s in a top level at the bank.
I recommend tithing to everyone
Tithing is not my idea. I recommend tithing because it’s an ancient practice that has endured for thousands of years and it has resulted in financial success for those who have practiced it.
I believe in tithing so strongly that, in one of my companies in the early days of my career, I made tithing obligatory. I told everyone that, above and beyond their existing contract or salary, I was willing to pay them 10% extra if they were willing to tithe.
Why? Why would I do this?
Or more importantly, why should you—or anyone for that matter—tithe? Allow me to go back in time and explain…
It all started with a strange priest.
There is a priest we read about in the Bible, in Genesis chapter 14:18-20, called Melchizedek. He was a strange figure because there is no record of his ancestors and no recorded beginning or end to his life. In the Jewish tradition, he is an enigma. In fact, it wasn’t until several hundred years later when the writer of the book of Hebrews explained the true significance of Melchizedek.
More about Melchizedek
Melchizedek (which means king of righteousness) is a king from a place called Salem which means “peace”. Melchizedek was also given the title “a priest of God Most High”, which is a strange term since God had not yet established the priestly line through Aaron and the Levites.
Yet here is this priest nonetheless, with no historical basis.
And what happens when Abraham—then Abram—meets Melchizedek? A few things:
- First they have communion together (more on that later),
- then he blesses Abraham,
- and then Abraham gives him “a tenth of everything”. He tithes to Melchizedek.
Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek might mean very little for us, were it not for what we read in the book of Hebrews.
In the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews Chapter 7 tells us that Jesus is our forever priest, in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is like Melchizedek in many ways: existing eternally, an historical enigma, and a mediator of God’s promise to humanity. This is the promise that Christians come into through Jesus. It is the original promise: to bless all the people of the earth.
The promise God made with Abraham, and the blessing Melchizedek gave Abraham, endure today. And so does Abraham’s response. Abraham honoured Melchizedek. He gave the whole tithe. He honoured the Melchizedek priesthood and the new covenant which was initiated and revealed to him through the gospel long before the Mosaic law (Galatians 3:8). No wonder Abraham received communion with Melchizedek. So the tithing skeptics are actually right: we have nothing to do with the Levitical priesthood of the Mosaic Law. But we have everything to do with the gospel-disguised-as-Abrahamic-covenant to be a blessing to the world (Galatians 3:17).
It’s not about money
When Jesus died, I believe he not only paid the price for our sins, but he left us the new covenant as a will.
In many parts of the world, and especially in the ancient world, the guarantee of sonship is the inheritance that comes from the father through a will. So when we tithe, we are saying to our Father in heaven, “Thank you for your last will and inheritance that you left us.”
And not only are we left with an inheritance, but we can be assured—even guaranteed—that no one will steal it from us since Jesus rose from the dead and testifies to our worthiness. No one can contest the will because the Son has risen (Hebrews 7:20-22).
A response of gratitude
It’s important to note, we do not give God a tithe. It is not something he lacks or that we own. We simply return our tithe to God. It always belonged to him. We return to him the first tenth of everything that comes to us and we experience the resulting richness of tithing.
Try it. I will personally guarantee you that your life will transform.
What about legal entities?
Legal corporations are separate entities, and every dollar we steward for God should be tithed. It all belongs to God: science, information, knowledge. Everything that comes out of the Earth belongs to him.
That’s why the church I pastor, Covenant of Life, and any organizations and companies I am responsible for, all tithe 10% of everything that comes our way into God’s House. In addition, we cheerfully give over and above the tithe from every entity we steward.
Is tithing the same as generosity? And do I have to give to a local church?
If you have power over your tithe then it’s not a tithe any more. Giving is good, and generosity is awesome, but they’re not the same as tithing. When we tithe, we let go of control.
The Church—what we call the House of God—is like a gateway to heaven where angels ascend and descend like they did for Jacob (Genesis 28:10-17). Of course churches are imperfect, just as Jacob was, but God has chosen to use the Church to fulfill his mission on Earth. That’s why tithes must go to the Church.
God’s promise to me and you
God will be with you. His promises endure throughout generations. Jacob’s tithe followed the revelation of God’s house. What was this revelation? In God’s House Jacob:
- found rest,
- his dreams came alive,
- he received revelation,
- he discovered his destiny,
- he received an inheritance,
- he experienced an awakening,
- and he was full of the awareness of God’s presence.
We start to see that tithing is part of an incredible, larger story and not just a financial strategy.
We don’t tithe to get blessed
We don’t tithe to get blessed; we tithe because we have already been blessed (Genesis 14:18-20, Ephesians 1:3). God promises that there will be such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:10). This does not mean the blessing will go to waste. It means you will not be able to appropriate the entire blessing in your lifetime alone. It will take generations. Your children’s children’s children will walk in the blessing of your tithe. Now that’s financial planning!
Concluding remarks about tithing
Tithing is not about money; it’s about honour. It’s about a response of gratitude and due consideration of God’s promise to bless all people. And we return our tithe, we do not give it. We return 10% of everything to Jesus, in the order of Melchizedek. Our tithe belongs to the Father, in the House of God, and in the guaranteed promise of God’s blessing.
What are your thoughts about tithing?