2 Kings 4: 42-44
In a few short verses, we see the principle of trusting God with our resources and our needs from a few different angles. First, a man came and “brought the man of God [Elisha] bread of the firstfruits”. Basically, this man brought a tithe or offering to a man that he saw serving the Lord. Giving the firstfruits – the first of your crop to ripen or the first born of your flocks or cattle – demonstrated a trust in God’s continued provision for the giver and also was a method of God’s provision for those devoted to full time ministry. God had laid out a plan for these offerings to be given to the Levite priests who served at the temple, but with the kingdom split, this prescription was not being followed. So, this unnamed man chose to give a portion of the first of his crops to a man he saw actively serving the Lord.
The second thing we see is Elisha telling his servant to give the food to the people. Wait. What? You mean the man of God didn’t keep the offering for himself because he was the “minister”? No, he didn’t. In fact, Elisha had already proven that he knew “to minister” meant “to serve.” In 2 Kings 4:1-7, he used the gift the Lord had given him to provide for a widow woman and expected nothing in return. In 2 Kings 4:8-37, when a family provided for his needs, he found a way to bless them and to heal them. A true man of God is a good servant and he will seek to bless and serve others with whatever God has given him.
The next thing that happened will look very familiar if you’ve read about Jesus feeding the multitudes. Elisha’s servant, thinking very practically, recognized that the bread and grain wasn’t enough to feed one hundred men. Elisha told him to give it out anyway because God had told him it would be more than enough. And it was. God can supply all our needs and often does so with much less than what we think is necessary to live on. Elisha, the recipient of the tithe, did the same as the man giving the tithe – he blessed others with what God had given him and trusted God to provide what was needed. Sadly, tithing today, has been twisted to mean giving money to an institution or a man with a title. But the principle of tithing is to trust God with your resources, to use what He has given you to bless and serve others. Whether you are giving or receiving the tithe, what you do with it is in service to the Lord.