SERIES RECAP. This is week 3 of our series on giving and just by way of recap it is good to remember where we have been so we will know where we are and anticipate where we are going with this series.
• Wealth can…KEEP SOME OUT OF HEAVEN, STEAL OUR AFFECTIONS, STEAL OUR WORSHIP, and CAN CREATE IN US A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. We love what/who we worship and we worship what/who we love and God alone is worthy of our worship.
• We learned that the Lord does not want us to worship Him with our wealth in a ritualistic, legalistic or empty way but with a THANKFUL, HONEST AND TRUSTING HEART, purposed to GLORIFY HIM through it all.
THE “WHAT” The Lord is so good to us in that He gives us instructions in this area knowing that we would never honor Him as we should with our wealth, or in any other area of our lives for that matter, on our own due to our fallen nature. Therefore, having heard what the Lord has had to say to us about how to worship Him with our wealth, we are going to see today WHAT the Lord has instructed us to bring to Him as we worship Him with our wealth.
THE TITHE LEVITICUS 27:30-32
THE BIBLICAL TITHE The Scriptures teach that the “what” we are to worship the Lord with in the area of our wealth is the tithe. The word, as it is used in and outside of the Bible, literally means “a tenth.” The prescription for the tithe was laid forth in the Law that God gave to His people to live by. LEVITICUS 27:30-32 gives us explicit details regarding the discipline of worshipping God with the tithe and as you can see it is 10% of the whole whether it be, in the case of God’s people of old, currency such as grain, vegetables, fruit, etc… or currency such as animals. We live in a time in history where the currency of the day is money so the instruction God gives in worshipping Him with our wealth is 10% of our income. When we study the Scriptures we find that the Lord seeks that we would be a people who worship Him with the FIRST AND BEST PORTIONS of our time, talents and WEALTH. Some push back at this idea but they cannot deny the teachings of the Scriptures. Furthermore, for those who would object here, I would rather tithe off the top because I desire the whole to be blessed.
IS IT FAIR FOR GOD TO REQUIRE A TITHE? Many push back in this area with objections to the idea that God wants His people to worship Him with their wealth in tithing and one of the most common objections I have heard to biblical teaching on tithing is that “it just doesn’t seem to be fair that God would expect me to give Him 10% of my income.” That type of complaint is fundamentally flawed and reveals a lack of understanding what they have to begin with. IT IS ALL GOD’S (PSALM 50:10-12). HE GIVES AND ASKS FOR 10% TO BE RETURNED ILLUSTRATION. Is there anything unfair about being given so much and only being asked for 10% in return? NO!
WE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW ANYMORE SO THE TITHE DOESN’T APPLY. This objection comes from religious people. They understand that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and therefore the Law has no applicable value any longer for the believer. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross did put an end to the Law as it pertained to sacrifices/offerings for sin and guilt, religious ceremonies, etc… In the same way, Jesus’ announcement of all food being clean to eat put an end to the “kosher” dietary restrictions among God’s people. However, in the Law as we know it, there are prescriptions for GODLY LIVING and WORSHIPPFUL LIVING that still stand. And to the one that would argue that the tithe is no longer applicable for the Christian because we do not live under the Law I would ask if murder was now acceptable as well? What about idolatry? Using the Lord’s name in vain. Honoring parents. Lying? Coveting? Adultery?
• GENESIS 14:18-20—Abraham giving a tithe of all he had to Melchizedek.
• GENESIS 28:20-22—Jacob giving a tithe.
• MALACHI 3:8-10—God calls His people to obedience.
• MATTHEW 23:23-24—Jesus did not deny the tithe but affirmed it as proper worship.
• LUKE 21:1-4—Jesus taught about the faith of the widow in her giving.
• 1 CORINTHIANS 9:13-14—Paul applies the law that taught that the levitical priests were to be provided for out of the tithe that was given to defend how he and his ministry partners (pastors) were provided for by the church out of the tithes that had been given. Paul’s connection and application of the Law to the Church shows that tithing and the use of the tithe as it was in under the Law is contextualized in the Church.
We do not find anything prescriptive about the tithe prior to the Law being given but the tithe was observed. It appears that men like Abraham and Jacob were so moved by God’s goodness and grace in their lives that they responded with generosity towards Him and His purpose. This gets us to the heart of the matter—GENEROSITY.
GROWING IN GRACE GIVING. The danger of the tithe is that we can view it in a legalistic sense. We want to know what the MINIMUM is that we have to “give to God” in order to appease Him. The irony about this mentality is that WE WANT TO KNOW THE MINIMUM THAT WE SHOULD GIVE TO GOD BUT WHEN WE ARE MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT “OUR KINGDOMS” WE TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT IS WE CAN SPEND on things like cars, houses, clothes, etc… While God prescribed the tithe for our good I believe that it is a starting point for the redeemed. The Bible teaches us that we should strive to GROW IN THE GRACE OF GENEROUS GIVING—2 CORINTHIANS 8:7. As our hearts are changed we will find our “grip” on the world and things of it lessen as our “grip” on the Lord and His Kingdom tightens. As this happens you will find that growth in the area of generosity towards the Lord will grow. Therefore, the tithe is not intended to be a “legalistic rule” but the starting point where, by the grace of God, we go farther than the Law could ever take us.
WHAT ABOUT THE VERSE THAT SAYS LET EACH PERSON DETERMINE IN THEIR HEARTS WHAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO GIVE? This question/objection leads to the next area of giving…
SPECIAL/LOVE OFFERINGS 2 CORINTHIANS 9:1-7
SPECIAL/LOVE OFFERINGS. The “theme” verse for this series is 2 CORINTHIANS 9:7. As you have heard me teach you many times before, we cannot simply pluck a verse out of the Bible and interpret/apply it without understanding the CONTEXT less we make a verse mean something that it does not. This is one of those verses that has often been taken out of context. In order to keep it in context let us consider it within the flow of the letter—READ 2 CORINTHIANS 9:1-7. Paul had written to the Corinthian Christians about the great need that existed among the Jerusalem Christians and they committed to taking up a special collection from among them to help. This was not to replace the normal giving of tithes among the Christians but was above and beyond the tithe. He had been telling others, in order to encourage others, of their commitment to a special offering that they were going to take up in order to help out their brothers and sisters in need. These special offerings are often called “love” offering because they are made out of love for others. Therefore, when Paul says that each one should decide in his/her heart what they would give this is within the context of a special offering for a particular purpose and/or need.
FBC SPECIAL OFFERINGS. There are times throughout the life of this faith family that we take up special offerings. For instance, every year we collect two major ones called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Both of these offerings are outward focused and are used to advance the Gospel here at home (United States) and to the nations of the world. A couple years ago, when the earthquake hit Haiti, we took one Sunday and gave away an entire Sunday’s of giving’s away to help the relief efforts there and you gave $7000+.
WHY? GOD IS GENEROUS AND WORTHY
REMEMBER THE WARNINGS! Obedience in this area can be reflective of a heart that realizes the dangers and is devoted to not falling prey to the dangers of wealth. God knows our hearts and, by His grace and mercy, leads and guides us away from the dangers of wealth through the prescription of worshipping Him with our wealth and calling us to be a generous people. The Lord knows our hearts even better than we do and should He not have outlined what it looks like to worship Him with our wealth we would in no way come to the conclusion that 10% or more was appropriate.
HE IS GENEROUS. This is more than about giving…this is about generosity. God calls us to be generous people who reflect Him in this world. Think about the generosity of God—THE GOSPEL! God gave His all to rescue us from our sinful plight so that we might be His and those who are His reflect who He is and just one of those ways is in being a generous person.
HE IS WORTHY. Finally, and most notably, as good and loving and merciful and gracious as the Lord is, has been, and will be to His people, is He not worthy of our everything as we worship and adore Him?