And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:18-20 ESV
The life of Abraham has always fascinated me. The New Testament points us to his life as an example of faith. Romans chapter 4 even describes believers in Christ as those who “walk in the faith that our father Abraham had…” (v.12). Abraham’s faith was truly remarkable at times but just like us, his walk of faith was a process of growth. Twice, Abraham asked his beautiful wife, Sarah to lie about who she was in order to save his own skin. He was afraid that evil people would see her beauty and want her for themselves, so they would kill Abraham and take her. Sarah was actually his half-sister, and he would rather risk her dignity by asking her to say she was his sister, than risk his own life. All this, even though God had promised to make him a great nation and multiply his offspring. Then, in Genesis 22 Abraham exercised his faith in one of the greatest moments in all the Scriptures when he was willing to sacrifice his son because the Lord told him to.
So, how did this man who was quite the wimp in many ways in his early walk with God become such a mighty man of faith? Well, there were many ups and downs in Abraham’s walk, just like in ours. That’s actually one of the things I appreciate most about Abraham, he’s real! I too am not always full of faith, and sometimes I fail miserably just like Abraham. However, I am convinced that the Lord has given us the story of Abraham to teach us many things about the walk of faith. Faith is a process of growth, and that happens when we take steps of trust in God and see how He provides. Generosity is key to this process. In Genesis 14, Abraham went to battle to rescue his nephew, Lot from 5 kings who had invaded the city where Lot lived, Sodom. As he was returning from the victory, Abraham was met by the king of Sodom and the king of Salem. The king of Sodom offered Abraham all the spoils of the battle and Abraham refused. He did not want to profit from that wicked city. He had saved the people and possessions of Sodom for the purpose of saving his nephew, not for personal gain. However, the king of Salem (Jerusalem), Melchizedek blessed him. Abraham acted in faith by tithing to this priest of the most high God. You see, generosity was a key part of Abraham’s growth in faith. He exercised his faith by refusing dishonorable gain and tithing to God! Some people believe that tithing is just for those under the law, but it is actually for those who walk by faith. Tithing was part of the process that taught Abraham that God was his provider. That really came in handy when his young son asked him a very emotionally charged question many years later. “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?” (Genesis 22:7) Abraham’s answer was the answer of a man who had learned to trust God with all that he had and was about to give God the most precious gift he had ever received, his son Isaac. Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8)
Tithing is not just an Old Testament practice. It’s not legalism. It’s actually a fundamental part of the walk of faith. It was key to Abraham’s spiritual growth, and it is key to ours also. Let’s be like our father Abraham, let’s give back to God what is already His anyway, and we will see the He is truly our Jehovah Jireh!