Summary: How does accepting Jesus as our Lord affect our checkbook? Perhaps there is something more to a relationship with God than tossing out 10% of a paycheck.
Money: How you use it
August 3rd, 2008
Tribute, Taxes, Tithing
Tithing. There are few subjects more exciting, few topics more interesting, few concepts so captivating that draw people from all over simply to learn more about than tithing. If we had promoted the fact that we were going to talk about tithing there would not be enough seats in this building to hold all the people who would come by just in the off chance that they might hear something about money. God knows we love to talk about money. Especially when we can go to church and hear another preach give another long offering appeal dressed up as a sermon to plead, beg, berate, and guilt trip you into giving even more of your money than you already do. How fun! You know when you come to church and the topic of the sermon is about money that this is one of those sermons you are going to go tell your friends about. You are going to try and get a copy on cd so that you can listen to it time and time again because other people talking about how you spend your money never gets old. That’s how it works right?
I know how it feels. Everybody wants your money. You work hard for it 40-60 hours per week and no one helps you with that. Talk about Chicken Little. No one helps you make it, but once you have it everyone wants a slice. There is so much demand and so little money to go around. It can be frustrating. Now we could spend this morning talking about how you need to give all your money to the church and how you need to quit robbing God of what is His, or we could look at this from a little different perspective. Anyone have a preference?
Let me start off with a question: Why do we tithe? Why do we pass around those plates every week and try to force you to put your money in it? That is actually two questions but, well Ozark math. Before we go to far today I want to show you some things about tithing that you may not be aware of. Don’t worry you have my solemn vow that I will not try to sell you on tithing like an infomercial with stories how tithing worked for others. I am not so interested in trying to tell you what to do with your money as I am in showing you what this principle can do. In fact I want to encourage you to stop tithing. Good news for you: I probably hate talking about money more than you hate hearing someone talk about money, so hopefully this will work out for all of us.
Now for those of you who have been in the church for awhile you know that tithing comes from Leviticus 27. So tithing is a part of God’s law that He gave to His people. What is interesting is that tithing was around long before the law. Abraham who lived 500 years before the law gave a tithe to a man by the name of Melchizedek who was a priest/king in Genesis 14. Jacob also in Genesis 28 gave a tithe to the Lord. We are instructed as the people of God to give Him a tenth of all of our income. Tithing is just that, it is the practice of giving one tenth of a person’s income or property as an offering to God. Within the church this is considered common knowledge.
What is not so well known is that this is not an exclusively Christian practice. Nor was it exclusively Jewish. Many cultures in the ancient world gave tithe offerings to their gods as a form of worship. The pagan cultures did this as a way of appeasing the gods so that they did not become angry and cause troubles in their lives in many senses their tithes were a form of tribute. This offering or payment made in pagan cultures was not exclusive to religion. It also works well in politics. Rome in fact when they conquered an enemy would require them to pay tribute. In many senses this was a tax. The benefit to paying this tax was that if you paid it Rome probably would not come and destroy your people. So in Jesus day there were many demands for money as well; government, religion, bills. With so many demands on their money it would be easy to confuse one time of giving with another. You pay taxes out of obligation because you have no choice. You pay tributes out of the fear of reprisal if you don’t. In Matthew 22: 15 the Jewish leaders try to trap Jesus with this misconception about tithing. There trap is actually quiet clever, the just seem to keep forgetting that Jesus is way smarter than they are. For this particular trap two groups work together to tag team Jesus. The Herodians and Pharisees work together here. This is an unlikely pairing. Pharisees were conservative right wingers they do not like the Roman authority and fight and promote the Independence of Israel. The Herodians on the other hand believe that alignment with Rome is the best road to peace and prosperity they advocate supporting Rome. Do you see the problem here? Let’s look at the text: