“For seven days you must celebrate this festival to honor the Lord your God at the place he chooses, for it is he who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work. This festival will be a time of great joy for all.
“Each year every man in Israel must celebrate these three festivals: the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters. On each of these occasions, all men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he chooses, but they must not appear before the Lord without a gift for him. All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the Lord your God.”
Three times a year every male was to make a journey to the sanctuary in God’s appointed city—Israel’s religious capital. During these three festivals, each participant was encouraged to give what he could in proportion to what God had given him. “For it is he who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work.”
God does not ask us to regularly give more than we can afford. God is not demanding that we give the majority to him and live in poverty. Paul thinks about it this way. “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. . . . And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).
Unfortunately, by the end of the Old Testament, God rebuked the Israelites for failing to give back to him. “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me” (Malachi 3:8-9). But then God challenges them once again to renew their offerings, and to see if God would not pour blessings out on them. “Try it!” the Lord told them. “Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10).
Have you been cheating the Lord? Have you considered testing God and seeing how he’ll respond to your faithfulness? Look at what you have and then give as you are able. For some this may mean giving much. For some it may be a small amount. Celebrate what the Lord has given you by giving a portion back to him and sharing it with others.