20. Giving of Your Whole Life
In this conversation we are going to talk about giving and the concept of tithing. God wants the whole of our lives, every single little corner of it, including our finances. But if give all our money to how do we live? God doesn't actually need our money - but is looking for a sign from us that our hearts are in the right place. And tithing is an excellent litmus test to find out if that is the case.
To follow Jesus - to really follow him - means that you are going to give your whole life to him.... every single part. Emotionally, we can cry out YES! Jesus! Have all of me! But do we really mean it?
The Rich Young Ruler
"As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.'”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!"
Questions: Do you REALLY think God expects us to give up all our money to follow Him? Why or Why not?
The answer is of course yes!
But how can one realistically do that?!? We still have to live and pay bills and eat?
"Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine."
How do we honour God with our wealth?
What do you think is meant by the "best part"
In the bible we are introduced to the concept of tithing through Abraham.
Abraham's nephew Lot has been captured during a war, so Abraham (who is still called Abram at this point) raises his own army and goes and rescues Lot...
"After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And blessed be God Most High,
who has defeated your enemies for you.”
Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.
Abram goes on to give back to the King of Salem all that belonged to that King that he had recovered. But to Melchizedek, he gives a tenth of everything he captured. The tenth or "tithe" was a sign - a representation - of the whole.
Abram freely gave this representation out of gratitude to God.
Later, God instructs the nation of Israel to follow this pattern.
“One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. If you want to buy back the Lord’s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks and set them apart for the Lord as holy. You may not pick and choose between good and bad animals, and you may not substitute one for another. But if you do exchange one animal for another, then both the original animal and its substitute will be considered holy and cannot be bought back.”
God's instruction was intended to bring blessing to the nation, but because of the rebellious heart towards God that Israel had, they would not do what is right. And instead brought a curse on themselves.
“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me."
But in the very next verse, he promises a blessing for their obedience.
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!"
If you did not obey God's law you were cursed.
‘Cursed is anyone who does not affirm and obey the terms of these instructions.’
And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’
But Jesus broke the curse
"But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
Leaving only the blessing in tact.
"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
So under the Old Covenant, you were forced to tithe to escape the curse. But under the New Covenant, you are free to tithe to receive the blesssing.
But do I have to give 10%?
No you don't have to. But 10% was always a sign - a representation - of the whole. And as a new believer, giving 10% of your income is a good litmus test to really check your motives and find out if Jesus really is the Lord of your money as much as you claim he is lord of your whole life!
What is important is that whatever you give your do so with the right heart motivation.
2 Corinthians 9:7
"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Where should I give?
If you have a right attitude towards your money and giving, there should be a heart of generosity toward anyone you find who has need. But if you plan to tithe, the purpose of the tithe was to ensure the storehouse had resources to distribute to those in need. Your storehouse today, is the place that is spiritually feeding you and causing you to grow. If that is The Way, then that is where your tithe should go.
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