Summary: The 6th message in the Leviticus series compares the commandments on tithing in Leviticus 27 with giving under the grace system of the New Testament
The Grace of Giving
Sermon #6 in Leviticus series
CHCC: June 6, 2010
I read an interesting Biblical statistic the other day concerning the frequency of certain words used in the Bible. It seems that…
Believing is mentioned 272 times in the Bible
Prayer is mentioned 371 times in the Bible
Love is mentioned 714 times in the Bible
But Giving is mentioned 2,162 times! (3 times more than love, 7 times more than prayer, 8 times more than believing)
Evidently, God wants us to be givers! Rather than apologize for bringing up stewardship, I should probably apologize for preaching on it so seldom!
The last time I preached about giving we were in our “Finish the Task” campaign. The good news is we finished the task together and our worship center is completely paid off. Not only that, but with no emphasis on it at all, we have already collected $17,000 towards our next building program, and we have contributed almost $13,000 towards a kitchen remodeling project. I believe many of our people understand what the grace of giving is all about.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” II Corinthians 8:7
You may be aware of the fact that a “grace” in the Greek language is “charis” from which we get the word “charisma” or “charismatic.” Grace can be defined in several ways such as: pleasure, favor, beauty, kindly action, thankfulness, and spontaneous generosity. Paul was urging these Corinthian Christians to give to the poor in Jerusalem out of the sheer joy and delight in being able to participate in this multi-church gift.
This was completely voluntary giving … and that is the New Testament paradigm for giving.
Next week we’re going to begin a series on Leviticus, where we’ll contrast the Old Testament LAW with the New Testament system of GRACE. Considering what we will be looking at for the next 5 Sundays, I realized that I could easily do that same kind of comparison regarding giving. Today we’re going to compare tithing under the law to what giving under grace is all about.
Tithing is a Biblical standard for giving. It was part of the Law, but it actually came before the Law. There’s a mysterious event in Genesis where Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, the priest of Salem. The account doesn’t give much explanation, but it does show us that Tithing … which means giving back to God a 10th of what He has given us … Tithing was the standard before the Mosaic Law.
Tithing was a strict part of the Law when it was spelled out in Leviticus. Leviticus 27:30 says: "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.” Then in vs. 32: “The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod—will be holy to the LORD.”
Under the law, the person who failed to tithe from everything he produced, whether crops, flocks --- or even garden herbs --- was violating the terms of the LAW. In fact, he was under a curse if he failed to tithe.
Malachi 3:8 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.”
In other words – if you don’t give, you’re GUILTY of robbing from God!
1. Motivation: Guilt vs. Grace
The book of Malachi was written about 400 years before the birth of Christ. This last book of the Old Testament was written to people who had broken the LAW in just about every way --- tithing was just one of the ways they had drifted away from God.
For 1,500 years under the Law System, Jewish history was a repetitive cycle of disobedience. The people would promise to obey, then they would disobey. This was always followed by oppression, then repentance, and the people would again promise to obey … and the cycle would start all over again … and again … and again.
So Malachi was written to people who had to be "GUILTED" into GIVING. Contrast that with a letter Paul wrote to some First Century Christians in Corinth. These people did NOT need to be GUILTED. They were living under GRACE --- they were filled with God’s Holy Spirit – they were already giving generously and they were eager to give more and more.
Paul wrote, “I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.” II Corinthians 9:1-2