Genesis 14:18-20 In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
This was one of readings at church yesterday. It struck me because Abram had just returned from Sodom. He had saved Lot from the destruction of Sodom. Sodom was an out of control place. I guess in my mind it kind of looks like Vegas. I never really cared for Vegas. I know some people just love it, but to me it is just a big city where people drink, gamble and do things that really disgust me. Don’t get me wrong – I have lots of friends who enjoy what Vegas has to offer. I am just not one of those people.
So when I think of Sodom the image in my mind is one of chaos, evil, bad choices and individuals turning their backs on God seeking their own pleasure over His. Abram, I am sure was quite pleased that Lot turned away from that repulsive world and came back with him. This happened after many, many lives were destroyed and Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. It was a fierce and devastating battle.
When Abram returns, he immediately goes to the high priest of God. The priest blesses Abram for what he has done, but most importantly the priest gives all the credit to God. Abram never would have been able to conquer this city if God had not been at his side. So what does Abram do to thank God? He gives Him a tenth of everything. Just like each Sunday, I give God a tenth of everything – to thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family.
I think a lot of people have a hard time giving money back to God – especially when we are actually giving the money through human beings. The money isn’t absorbed up to heaven immediately, it has to go through the church’s hands first. Just like Abram’s went to the high priest. Regardless of how the money passes hands – Abram knows that it is his duty to give God a tenth of what he owns. What other people do with that money is up to them.
A lot of times I like to think that I know best what to do with God’s money. I choose to give to my church, to charities, to those less fortunate. I even go so far to choose not to give to building funds that I don’t approve of. I choose not to give to people who might misuse the funds. I like to make myself think that I am being a good steward of God’s money. But that fact is, when I relinquish the funds (in my heart) and outwardly to God, the money is His. I don’t get to choose. He does.
Maybe when I hand that peddler on the street a few dollars, just maybe he will use it to buy alcohol or drugs. Yep it is entirely possible. Here is the trick, maybe God’s plan involves that person buying those drugs to change the peddlers life. If I choose not to give him the money because I know he will misuse it – how will God’s plan work? You see my own choices to control the money may block the very plan that God had for this peddler.
The key to giving your tenth back to God is to know in your heart you have given it to God with no strings attached. You know that God has blessed your life and you want to thank Him. He will find a way to use the money – no matter what charity you choose.
When we try to control the tenth we give back to God – aren’t we basically just taking away the reason we are giving it to Him in the first place? Aren’t we saying, “God, here is your tenth, but please don’t spend it on that silly church project that I really don’t think we need” or “please don’t give it to that person who suffers from addiction, he will just waste it on drugs.”
Abram gave his tenth with no strings, and that should inspire us all. After all, he just saw vast destruction of human kind. He knew what sin and evil could do to a city. Most importantly, Abram knew that God had destroyed that evil. He knew what God was capable of because he witnessed it first-hand.
Don’t be so silly to think that you can control money better than God, because you can’t. When we hold strings on the money that we know God deserves, then we are just allowing money to become an idol. (And that in itself is a sin). Trust that God will use it for good. Trust that God has a plan for that money. Remember that all of what you have is because of God – he is just asking for a tenth. The other ninety percent is yours to use.