Summary: This is a sermon on giving, tithing, and stewardship. Although tithing is not commanded in the New Testament, Jesus does acknowledge the validity of tithing.
BRINGING OUR TIHTES TO THE LORD
I believe in tithing and have been practicing it since my very first job. My parents set the example and taught me to tithe when I had my first job, which, as I recall, was while I was still in junior high. I began mowing lawns in our neighborhood, and my first customer was a good friend of my folks who cared for her elderly mother. If my memory still serves me correctly, my beginning wages for mowing Mary Forster’s lawn was $2.00 per week. Tithe literally means ten percent so my offering amounted to only twenty cents, but that was dedicated to the Lord for the ministry of His Church.
Tithing is an Old Testament principle, and there is never a New Testament Commandment that reaffirms it for the Church, yet Jesus acknowledges the validity of tithing from the words of our text in Luke 11:42, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.” Here Jesus shows us that the Pharisees had become pridefully hypocritical in their attitude and spirit of giving. They had misconstrued their priorities. Here Jesus reminds them and us that the important priorities and motivating spirit of a true disciple are those we find in Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
We must always do justice, love kindness, and humbly love our God while at the
same time not neglecting our practice of tithing. When we neglect justice and the
love of God, our tithing becomes meaningless for it is not given in the right spirit.
Paul shares guidelines with us for our giving to support the ministries of
Christ’s Church in multiple places in the New Testament. One such passage is our
text from II Corinthians 8. Corinth is in Southern Greece. Macedonia is in Northern Greece, and today the former State of Yugoslavia which is also called Macedonia borders Grecian Macedonia. Paul shows the Church at Corinth and us that the
Macedonian Christians were motivated by the right spirit in their giving. In the midst of suffering severe affliction and extreme poverty their offerings for ministry overflowed in wealth of generosity and abundant joy.
What made that possible? It was the all sufficient grace of God at work in their hearts and lives, for Paul says in II Corinthians 8:1-2, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” God granted grace to His poverty stricken and severely afflicted Churches in Macedonia, and with abundant joy they gave generously towards the ministry of His Church and the advancement of His kingdom and are our model for today.
The Offertory time in worship should never be a time of drudgery, but one of extreme joy. Remember the Macedonian Christians. They did not give out of their abundance but out of their extreme poverty, but they gave in the spirit of abundant joy. Paul continues his sermon on giving and stewardship throughout chapter into chapter nine of II Corinthians. When we turn over one more chapter to II Corinthians 9:7 we hear him say, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Perhaps the way The New King James renders this verse is more familiar to many of us: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are never to give grudgingly or of necessity, but as we “have made up our minds” or “as we purpose in our hearts.”
That calls for prayer and seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit as to the amount He directs us to give. We don’t make up our minds without discerning His will and guidance in the amount we are to give. Once we have the assurance of His peace in our hearts that this is indeed His will, we will give cheerfully did the Macedonian Christians despite their severe affliction and extreme poverty. May our offertory times always be filled with gladness and joy.
As we give joyfully, may the tithe always be our minimum rule of thumb in guiding us in thing God we are not to neglect our tithe.” Tithing can be another “Means of Grace” to bring us into a closer relationship with God and experience His blessings. In Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, we have this commandment along with this promise to claim in chapter three, verse ten: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”