I thought a tithe was something I dropped into the offering plate, not ate off my plate. That was until I read Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the "second law." In it Moses recounts God's law to the children of the disobedient generation that died in the wilderness. As these young people stood at the threshold of the land of opportunity God wanted them to remember his words, which included his teaching about tithing.
You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. Deuteronomy 14:22-26 ESV
At first glance it just doesn't make sense. Moses says, "eat the tithe . . . that you may learn to fear the LORD." How can eating my tithe enhance my devotion?
When our children were younger, Shannan and I would occasionally treat them to Dairy Belle, a South Florida ice-cream paradise. After the kind of savory satisfaction that can only come from soft vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, six happy faces would look up and with heartfelt appreciation say, "Thanks Dad!"
Licking cold ice cream on a hot day in the presence of their papa deepened my children's devotion. Fatherly kindness, parental tenderness, and loving faithfulness were experienced, not just "taught." Thanks flowed toward the gift-giver.
I believe the same was true with the nation of Israel. As they "ate the tithe" and savored the last bite of this feast I can see them pushing back from the table in deep satisfaction. In that delicious moment they were experiencing the Father's kindness, tenderness, and loving faithfulness. They must have thought, "Our God is so good!"
The experience deepened their devotion and thanks flowed toward the Gift-Giver.
Today, why not enjoy a meal "in the presence of the Lord." As you eat, remember that He is the Source of this good gift. It is part of his kindness to you. Watch what it does for your devotion to him.