Give God of the first fruits, which as Ken Wetzell told me, means to do God's work with 2.4 hours of every day, as well as actually giving of your other resources. That doesn't mean go spend that time having a bake sale necessarily, but most of us easily spend that time serving others and our families, which is doing God's work. And, we do so because it comes naturally to care for and love those God has placed in our lives.
An interesting point our friend made was the origin of two words, which sheds a lot of light. First is the word "tithe" which liteally translates as a tax. Secondly is the word "church" which translates as a gathering of 10-15 people. What we all seem to know as a church i.e. a much larger body of people that meet in a specific place every weekend and do God's work throughout the week, etc., is really an organization of churches.
So, when God's people lived under a theocracy during parts of the Old Testament, they were indeed tithing (paying tax) to their government, which essentially relates to modern times as funding the staff and programs of the Church Organization, since we live in a democracy, not a theocracy. But, we're no longer commanded to pay. So, don't let guilt be a motivating factor in your generosity, but instead, replace that negative motivator with love.
We should all give and give generously, for by clinging to our money, we're engaging in a form of idol worship. If we're truly worshiping God, we should do so with every fiber of our being, every iota of our lives. God gives us all we need, whether we realize it or not, but if we fret and worry, we're essentially telling God we lack faith that He will meet our needs and when we turn from Him in faith, often He'll pull away from us and let us find our own way... till we find out our way is the wrong way and we make a u-turn back to Him, which is to repent.
To round this out, here's the next devotional from Pastor Conley.
Malachi 3:8-9 gives us a sober warning,
"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation."
Now if you think about this statement, you have to ask, "How do you rob God? I mean, really, what does that mean?"
There are two ways we rob God when we refuse to tithe:
1. We rob God of honor that is due Him. In Proverbs 3:9 it says to, Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase. By giving God the first part of our income, we are honoring Him as being first in our lives. We demonstrate faith in His promise to supply our needs as well—and God is honored by our faith.
2. We rob God of the opportunity to bless us. In Malachi 3:10, God promises to bless us if we bring Him the first tenth of our income (the tithe).
The promise in Proverbs is that our barns will be filled with plenty if we will honor the Lord with our firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9-10).
He can bless us. He desires to bless us. Let us not rob Him of the opportunity to do so, nor of the honor that is due Him.
Thanks to Gary for his comments that catalyzed a lot of thought provoking discussion, prayer and consideration on this topic.