by Pastor Curtis J. Johnson, Jr. M.Div.
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GODíS STANDARD FOR ABUNDANT SURRENDER-
While the world continues on a downward spiral, of want and discontentment, people relentlessly grope after greater and greater amounts of treasure to hoard up for themselves. Ecclesiastes 2:21 states it well, these are treasures that after a lifetime of labor and accomplishment, will be left to one who has not worked for it. "This is vanity and a great evil."
The point is that mankind will spend themselves on more and more stuff that in the end he will not have the benefit of enjoying. It doesn't take much to see that the world has a very different concept of money and its inherent value! But, the Bible, God's guidebook for Christian living provides us with a standard and instructions that are radically different and even opposing to that of the world.
It has been said that the lack of money is the root of all kinds of evil, is it really? The truth is best stated in scripture, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." The greatest snare to our relationship with money is the affection that we attach to it. Matthew 6:21 put it this way, "For where your treasure is there your heart (affection) will be also." There is a strong association between the heart and money, an association that will ultimately either empower or destroy its possessor.
The subject of giving is vast and has the potential of becoming volatile because of the apparent attachment that we have to our money. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard for many of us to give? We'll give our time and energy to completing particular tasks for God but when it comes to our money, well that's a horse of a different color. A quick look at anyone of our spending habits will reveal where we place our greatest value.
I can hear you now asking, "oh no, is this about Tithing?" But you don't understand, I can't pay all of my bills and tithe too! Isn't this the typical response that we get when we start any conversation on giving, especially when it comes to tithing?
Many people have the opinion that when or if they give to the local church that their hard earned monies are being spent to make the preacher rich while they struggle to make ends meet at home. And after all "God doesn't need our money, does he?" This is the first of many misconceptions that have their root in our selfish desire to keep more than we give. The truth is that giving is first as to God but with the purpose of supplying for the needs of His church; (see Exodus 25:2, 35:5, Numbers 31:50 and Proverb 3:9) for emphasis.
What then is the significance of the tithe? When we pay our tithe we are in essence demonstrating that God is in fact the owner of and therefore entitled to the whole amount and secondly that this tenth is a tribute to Him for his faithfulness. Or better stated a testimony of my dependence on Him and for His faithfulness to me.
This is exemplified in Genesis 14:20 and Hebrews 7:4 where Abram gives the first recorded tithe as a tribute to Melchizedek king of Salem, from the spoils of his victory over Cherdorlaomer. Just think for one minute of the many victories that God by His wisdom enables you to enjoy, and the ability that has been freely poured upon you to gain wealth. (see Deuteronomy 8:18)
This is the kicker; He only requires ten percent of all our increase, not the whole. Leviticus 27:30 has something important to say about the tithe, let's take a look at it. "Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord." God places the tithe in very high regard, shouldn't we? With a standard set this high you would think that there'd be no room for question or excuse, right? Yet another popular question comes to mind. "Isn't tithing an Old Testament concept that was done away with in conjunction with the law?" This is a question that deserves an answer, so lets check it out.
In an effort to substantiate the idea that tithing is an Old Testament concept the New Testament scripture is quoted as saying not to give grudgingly or of necessity, but rather give in accordance to the blessing that you have received. (See 2 Corinthians 9) While this is worthy of our acceptance, with a careful look at both testaments it becomes obvious that there is a correlation of this ongoing theme. "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you." Deut. 16:17; This does not in any way excuse any of us from paying the tithe, it is simply a guide for what we will call systematic giving.
Some of the other scriptural rules that should be observed are as follows, our giving should be done freely- Matthew 10:8 b "Freely you have received, Freely give." We should give on a regular bases- 1Corinthians 16:1-2 " Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of the week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collection be made when I come." We should give cheerfully- 2 Corinthians 9:7 "God loves a cheerful giver" Giving as we can see throughout scripture is according to ability as seen in: Leviticus 14:30; 27:8, Deuteronomy 16:17, Ezra 2:29, Acts 11:29 and 2 Corinthians 8:12.
The tithe on the other hand is required: Matthew 23:23, Luke 18:12 (the proud Pharisee), 2 Chronicles 31:5, Malachi 3:10, etc. We should all take a step back and reevaluate our own attitudes about giving. Are we willing to honor God with all that He has made available to us or will we rob God of His glory by keeping back our offerings and especially His tithe? Malachi 3:7-9
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