Giving As Worship 2/6/18
Posted Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 at 3:35 PM by Andy Tucker
To "taste and see the goodness of the Lord" and not respond in kind means we are robbing from God. To respond generously to God's free gift of grace serves to reflect His image to others, prove that wealth is not an idol, and that we are trustworthy of even greater blessings…
Malachi 3:8-10 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' in tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," Says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it."
To know even a fraction of God's grace toward us in Christ is the only way we will be able to give "willingly with [our] heart[s]".
We find here that God Himself does what later the Apostle Paul would do all throughout his letters—preemptively pose and answer a question from would-be skeptics. He makes a statement—"you have robbed Me!"; and we, in our flesh, retort—"In what way have we robbed You?" The answer—"in tithes and offerings".
There is a lot of debate in Christian circles today about the tithe. It was mandated by God in the Mosaic Law for the nation of Israel and Christians have argued, since who knows how far back in church history, as to whether that part of the old covenant law is still applicable to new covenant Christians. SPOILER ALERT: I will not be seeking to end the tithing debate once and for all in this context. However, lets look at how God put forth the law regarding tithing…
Deuteronomy 14:22-23 "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always."
Tithe means literally one tenth (10%), so the law states that Israel was to give 10% of everything that they produced or earned yearly. They were to give it to the house of worship—to the priests and Levites working in the tabernacle/temple. They were to give it to "learn to fear the Lord your God always". God had a purpose in commanding His people to be a giving people. There's something about God's people living on 90% (or less, more on that in a bit) that puts our heart in a right inclination toward Him.
But wait, in Malachi God said we have robbed from Him "in tithes AND OFFERINGS". You mean there's more? The old covenant law had many, many mandates for God's people to offer a myriad of sacrifices for many purposes. Most of them were animal sacrifices described in minute detail and to be carried out by the priests, but here's one instance where God describes a different offering specifically for the house of worship…
Exodus 25:1-2 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering."
This constituted an offering above and beyond the tithe. And so, how is it that they could rob God of and offering that He asked to be given by and taken from the willing? All of them should have been willing. Among all the families of the earth, they were the chosen family of God—chosen not because of anything special about them or that they did or didn't do, but because God chose to be gracious to them far above and beyond anyone else.
That is exactly the way we become God's people today. Paul says in Romans 9 that salvation, from the beginning of human history to eternity, "is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy". There are no intrinsic human distinctives or no level of self-righteous exertion that causes God to choose one person for salvation over another. That truth is pride shattering, boast stopping, and ought to have implications regarding our approach to giving.
The Mosaic law had something to say about giving, both in tithes and offerings. How much more does the Gospel of Christ have to say about giving? Infinitely more! To know even a fraction of God's grace toward us in Christ is the only way we will be able to give "willingly with [our] heart[s]". We've said previously, and it still stands true, that the amount is truly of little consequence, but shouldn't 10% seem a pretty measly offering from someone enjoying the benefit of union with Christ, a Savior who gave it all? I'll leave that up to you.
Father, save me and all Your people from a heart condition that would say that what I have is mine. Everything we have is Yours, You give so freely, Jesus gave so completely, and You ask for so little in return—only for us to do everything as worship to You. So, would you give us a desire to give back to You in a way that shows You to be indescribably glorious, both in our hearts and before our community. In Jesus name, amen.
To the praise of His glorious grace,