According to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord.
–2 Corinthians 8:3
In Nehemiah 10, the Israelites committed to obeying God in their family life and their work life. The third area they made a commitment to God was obedience in giving. Verse 39 says, “Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.” They recommitted themselves to giving four offerings that they had neglected to give to the temple. First of all, there was a yearly tax to support the ministry of the temple. Second, they recommitted to the wood offering, which was used to keep the fire on the brazen altar burning. Third, they recommitted to giving the first fruits. Every year at harvest time, they were commanded to take a sample of that harvest and bring it to the temple. Too many of us try to offer God the leftovers instead of the first fruits. We say, “After I pay the mortgage, after I pay the cable bill, after I pay the doctor, if there is anything left over, God, it is Yours.” There is rarely anything left over if we follow that kind of principle.
Finally, the Israelites recommitted themselves to the tithes. Look at verse 38: “The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God.” The word “tithe” means “tenth.” The Israelites actually gave three tithes to the Lord. Every year, they gave a tithe of their income to support the temple. Then there was a second tithe that was commanded in order to have celebrations. Then every third year, they took up another tithe to support those who were in poverty. You know what that adds up to? The Jews were giving more than 23 percent of their income to the work of God. Remember, there was a drought in the land. They were paying high taxes. Their fellow Jews were ripping them off with high interest rates. But when they recommitted themselves to God, they said, “God, this revival includes our giving as well.” People will sometimes tell me, “Pastor, nowhere in the New Testament are Christians commanded to tithe.” They are absolutely right. Instead, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16 that we are to give as God has prospered us. If these Jews who were living in abject poverty gave 23 percent of their income in addition to all the other offerings, how much more should those of us who have received the grace of Jesus Christ, who live in the most prosperous country in the history of the world, be doing?
Sam Houston, the leader of the Republic of Texas, became a believer later in life and was baptized by Reverend Rufus C. Burleson. After he was baptized, Houston agreed to pay half of the minister’s salary. Now, that was generous. But Houston explained, “My pocketbook was baptized, too.” When God begins to do a work in your life, it is going to affect every area of your life, including your pocketbook.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Declaration Of Dependence” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Marquis James, “The Raven: A Biography Of Sam Houston” (1929; repr., Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004), 385.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org