February 27 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.” ~God, Numbers 18:21

Once again God adds to His teaching about the tithe, the portion of Israel’s resources used to sustain worship. Numbers 18 describes how the priests and Levites will be supported through the tithes so that they may devote themselves to leading the people in faithful daily worship. (Note that these men were to tithe from the tithes!) As we learned last week, the tithe was used in four ways: 1) the support of those who led in worship, 2) the care of the place of worship, 3) the care of the poor and needy, and 4) the promotion of the gospel, which is emphasized in the New Testament.

I am often asked if tithing is a requirement for Christians today. My answer is rooted in history, the biblical record, and church tradition: While a tithe is not clearly commanded for the modern worshipping community, it serves as a useful rule of thumb. Tithing was practiced from the earliest days of recorded history, even before the law was established. (In fact, pagans practiced tithing.) And, as the Bible clearly reveals, the practice was expected throughout Israel’s history.[1] Finally, tithing has occurred throughout the history of the Christian church, although it has recently fallen on hard times in the Western church.[2] A tithe acknowledges God as the giver of all things and supports the work of the church, which makes it a good goal to strive for. Consider starting at 5-percent and moving your giving up a little each year. Everyone should return some portion of their income to the God they worship!

God commands us to give, but what He wants more than anything is our heart! In Mark 7, Jesus condemns the religious leaders for going through the motions of religious practice. When you give, you are not only carrying out a duty, you are celebrating God and acknowledging Him as the Giver. He has filled your barns with plenty and made your vats to brim over with new wine (Prov. 3:9-10). When you give, you are saying, “God, EVERYTHING I have comes from You. Thank You for my salvation and my daily bread, as well as the promise of forever with You. I honor You today. May the fame of Your name spread throughout the world through this offering! God, continue to bless me, and I will continue to honor You.”

[1] Israel was supposed to tithe, but they did not always obey. Malachi 3 records God’s condemnation of their failure to do so.

[2] Since the 1950s, the standard of living for people living in the Western world has increased significantly in almost every category while the percentage of income given to the church has steadily declined.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.