Knowing that we should give can be easy, but knowing how much to give presents a greater challenge. God has always had his people give the “firstfruits” of his provision back to him. Throughout the Old Testament, this took the form of the tithe. Approximately 400 years before the Law was given, both Abraham and Jacob offered the Lord a tithe of everything that he had given to them. The word “tithe” simply means “a tenth.” In response to the provision and the promise of God, these heroes of the faith offered the Lord not merely a tenth of their income but a tenth of everything God had given to them.
The Law codifies the principle of giving a tithe, but it also makes provision for peace offerings and freewill offerings to the Lord. Even the Law encouraged the people of God to exceed the minimum requirements of the Law!
Christ fulfilled the promise of the Law. This does not give us an excuse for no longer giving a tenth; rather, it should motivate us to give in grateful response to God. He keeps his promise and allows us the joy of being a part of his plan for meeting the needs of his people. In Acts, the church did not allow a legalistic reading of the tithe to limit their generosity. Instead, they saw the immense needs among the body of Christ and gave accordingly.
In short, “firstfruit giving” is a universal biblical principle. The tithe is a good place to start for many believers, but it is not a good place to stay. The principle that guides us as we give is this: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV).
The King of Kings left heaven to give his life. So, how then shall we give?