1. What shall I preach? I have felt for some time that we need again to consider the matter of tithing. And yet, as I was doing some reading and meditating, this week, I also felt led to spend a few Sundays with you talking about faith and how we are able to determine if our faith is true, genuine, saving faith. Which of these two should I preach about today? As I prayed about this, it became clear to me. Preach about both. For tithing and faith, genuine faith are closely connected.
2. In fact, I may offend some of you this morning and perhaps I could be wrong, but I wonder, no, I believe, that tithing can be an evidence or a test of whether or not our faith is genuine. I am not saying that if you don’t tithe, you are not a true believer? Nor am I saying that if you do tithe, you area true believer and have true faith? That would be an oversimplification.
3. But when you tithe, and when you tithe with the right spirit, your tithing can be a sign of genuine faith.
4. As we will see in coming Sundays, there are other signs. Signs not to use in judging others, but in evaluating our own faith and hopefully gaining assurance that our faith is genuine, evidence that we are saved. I know many of us do struggle with this and I hope these mesaages will help us see that our faith is genuine.
5. Our focus today is on the tithe, on our giving to the Lord. Not talking about this because we need more money, because we are behind budget or naything like that. But because, as said, tithing is important to us. To show faith is real and also, as we will see later, to enable us to grow in faith.
1. But first what is the tithe and what those God tell us about it? The word tithe means a tenth part - 10% of anything. In our Deut passage the people are told to set aside a tenth of all that their fields produced every year.
Lev 27:30 "'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
It included a tenth of the spoils of war. It could be money or silver.
Deu 14:24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose.
2. A tithe is ten percent of the gain we have received. As I shared once before - that means 10% of gross - before deductions are taken off. Business and farming are quite different today, so I would not think that it would mean gross revenues before expenses but net income before taxes or dividends - that is before paying others who lay claims to the gain we have been given. We are to give the first fruits and the best rather than leftovers
3. Illustration - turkey. Woman finds poiled turkey - might as well give it to the church.
4. The tithe was and is important to our giving to the Lord. But the tithe represents an inner discipline and attittude
Mat 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Mat 23:25 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
5. If it is just an outer act, it is an affront to God. Our tithing is to reflect an inner desire to give.
6. Perhaps we may say if our giving is a matter of the heart, why should we follow the law of the tithe. I found an interesting verse that helps us understand this.
Deu 12:6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings,
There are two gifts mentioned here - tithes (10%) and special gifts. The tithes are what you have vowed to give. And the special gifts are your freewill offerings. We are sinful, and left to our own desires we drift away from our giving to God. And so we need to be disciplined. We do not come to church each Sunday and give what we feel like giving that Sunday. We need to vow to God an amount and the amount God says is 10%. And then on top of that, as a freewill offering or special gifts, we give as God moves us to do so.