The intent of this article is to provide a practical exposition of what true tithing means to the extended community of Messianic musicians. It is intended to be a “position paper” (i.e. a “White Paper”), but also has serious doctrinal points for all who read it to consider!
We are all familiar with the biblical commandment to tithe… Abraham tithed a tenth of all he had to Melchizidek (Gen. 14:20), and God later used Abraham’s act of faithfulness as a model for the nation of Israel and the Cohanim (Levities). The book of Malachi has perhaps one of the strongest references (and challenges) to this act of obedience when God himself calls his people to “Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. “See if I won’t open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs.” (Mal. 3:10, CJB)
Yeshua Himself commented on this subject several times throughout the Gospels (see the Sermon on the Mount and Matt. 23:23 for the proper balance of heartfelt giving and action), and there are countless other references to this important act of faith throughout the scriptures. We see through these references that it is evident God is issuing a challenge to us first for obedience, and then to receive with faith what He will do for us and through us. Rather than proposing a formula, He commands us to stretch our faith and to open our expectations of his reply to our obedience, and to expect a blessing not only for ourselves, but one that cannot be contained. I believe that this blessing, brought about by our faithfulness in little things, will spill over into the lives of others and transform the world.
Since this is a forum for musicians, the following question must be asked: How can the aspiring or established musician fulfill their biblical mandate to employ this vehicle of blessing beyond giving back a tenth of musical earnings? This question is important because many musicians don’t make earnings from their creations; indeed many don’t even have the resources to record their creations! In answer to this, I would direct you to the central tenant of our faith, the Shema, as translated in the Complete Jewish Bible: “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.” (Deut. 6:4-6). Notice that unlike many other translations that use the word “strength”, the CJB here uses the word “resources”. The word “strength”, although certainly appropriate, does not necessarily illustrate what I believe is truly being said here; God is literally calling us to honor Him with everything we have and produce.
The Merriam-Webster definition of the word resources is as follows:
a: a source of supply or support : an available means —usually used in plural
b: a natural source of wealth or revenue —often used in plural
c: a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life
d: computable wealth —usually used in plural
e: a source of information or expertise
2: something to which one has recourse in difficulty : expedient
3: a possibility of relief or recovery
4: a means of spending one’s leisure time
5: an ability to meet and handle a situation : resourcefulness
-Strong’s references the original word (#3965) as “מְאֹד “meod”, meaning muchness, force, (or) abundance.” (see http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/3966.htm)
If we as a community of musicians were to take these definitions into the whole scope of our creative processes, how would it alter what we are doing? Certainly, one thing would be clear: some of what we are creating is being made expressly (from God’s point of view) to be given away! Furthermore, if we were to follow the examples of Avraham (who certainly would have sacrificed his own son had there not been divine intervention), the nation of Israel via the Levitical, and faithfulness of the Messianic Community in following through on the mitzvot of “returning the tenth to the storehouse” we would come to the conclusion that not only are we commanded to give, but to give away our best, out of a willing heart!
Perhaps this is why God challenged us here at Echad Records to start the label in the first place. We saw this project initially as a great way for musicians to get exposure in a format that has been successful in many worldly endeavors (there are a stunning number of free artist downloads, free music streaming, etc. available at only the cost of an internet connection), but it has grown into much more. More than just a “cool idea,” perhaps God has ordained this netlabel to be one of those storehouses where all of those who are willing can come and freely partake of the gifts He has commanded us to share. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us in attempting to bring the message of Messiah to the world by doing what He commanded you to do; tithing on all of your resources both materially and musically!
— by Aybars Han Uckun, A&R, Echad Records
Are you a Messianic musician? Or do you know someone who is? We are now accepting submissions for Echad Records Volume 2. Get your music in front of a wider audience! Check out our Submit Demos page for details on how you can get your song on our next compilation.