This was an interesting passage for me. I am aware of how we tithe today. That is, setting aside 10% of our income to give it to the Lord. Since we don’t have grain or herds or such, that is how we show our faithfulness. Giving back to God a portion of what is already his is how I understand tithing works.
Why do we tithe? Moses would say, “doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God.” For me, it’s also a way of honoring God and giving thanks for his provision. Having a mindset of gratefulness and showing that by giving back is such a joyful practice. Even when I have had little to give, there was a joy or peace in sharing.
What struck me in this passage, however, was that when you bring your offering to the designated place, you eat it. I suppose that makes sense. What would the house of the Lord do with all the food people bring as their tithe? It sounds like they had a big party and celebration. I wonder if that’s where potlucks originated? With the amount of food being given back to God, the celebration could go on for days!
Moses was thinking of everything when he had the option for those who lived far away. Instead of hauling your first fruits across rugged terrain perhaps, it was lawful to sell it and use the money to buy other food when you reach your destination to bring as your tithe.
Certainly, our tithing practices today look so much different. Churches generally take an offering every week, rather than once a year at the time of harvest. But the important thing to take away from this passage is not the “details” but the “heart.” God is honored and glorified when we give back to him. We are being faithful when we give. God deserves our acknowledgement that everything we have comes from him.
Finally, Moses reminds the people to care for the Levites who don’t have land given by God, as well as the orphans, widows, and foreigners in the land. Being generous to others is also an act of faithfulness. Another way we can honor God is to be his hands and feet in this world and to share with those less fortunate. If you have ever seen the joy on the face of someone who is hungry when you give them food, you know the joy that bubbles up inside you just by giving.
Look around you today. Maybe you’re the one who is struggling, and someone is giving you a helping hand. Maybe you’ve got some extra and have given to the needy. Talk with God and ask him where you can do the most good. All you have belongs to God. How are you going to show your thanks?
Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for all the provisions you have given me in my life. I feel rich in comparison to so many. Help me to be generous in giving. Thank you for the joy you give in return for my faithfulness in tithing. Thank you for trusting me with your wealth. May I be a good steward. Bring the people to me that I can help with the gifts you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.