Reading through the Bible together
A Russian friend once asked me how many tithes I give. The question startled me. “Why one tithe, of course,” I replied.
My friend then challenged me to give “three tithes,” a principle practiced by the Israelites—although not required of them. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in its doctrine on stewardship emphasizes one tithe.
In the book, Seventh-day Adventists Believe, a book on the church’s 28 doctrines, it says, “The Israelites probably contributed as much as one fourth to one third of their income to religious and charitable purposes.” A little later, the authors ask, “Should we give as much as the Israelites? … Nowhere does the New Testament repeal or relax this system. As we compare our privileges and blessings with those of the Israelites, we see that in Jesus our share has clearly been greater.”
The tithing principle shared by my Russian friend was simple: 10 percent for tithe, 10 percent of freewill offerings to help the church with its needs, and 10 percent for charity. The idea of giving up a third of my income stunned me initially. But, I reasoned, if the Israelites gave this amount, surely I could do the same. So I committed myself to do this for six months.
God allowed me to participate in this expanded ministry in a new, astounding way. Not only did I feel satisfaction in seeing our church building fund grow steadily, but I also got to rejoice by helping several African students who were able to fly home to spend the summer with family, and by helping a Moldovan father who could acquire a car to better care for his 7-year-old autistic son.
Amazingly, I never was in need of money. In fact, I managed to put more funds into savings than I ever had before.
Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, knew the secret of this tithing principle. That’s why he said, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (vs. 24, 25).
Journalist in Russia
Columnist for the Adventist Review