October 23, 2018
Read Deuteronomy 14
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Scripture- Deuteronomy 14:22-23a- “You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for His name to be honored.”
Observations- Tithing, setting aside 10% off the top of one’s income and giving it to one’s place of worship and joyful service, has been a time honored tradition in both the Old and New Testaments. This is a longstanding, biblical standard of minimum, expected giving commanded by God to help God’s people feel invested and committed to what God is up to in their faith community. Jesus urged His followers to focus not so much on the 10% as on giving in a way that was truly sacrificial. In His day tithing was presupposed, but not necessarily honored. Rather than giving an offering that sought new levels of extravagant generosity and deep joy, some people would calculate their tithe as a way to limit how much they would give God. Jesus, for example, said in Matthew 23:23-24: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!”
Application- Tithing is an excellent starting place to help us learn how to be generous, but let’s be very clear: 10% to Jesus' church is not the goal. The goal is for God to get all of you and me, and one of the key tools God has for growing our investment in Him is through our commitment to give back in ways that honor Him with gratitude and joy. Many of us haven’t stepped up to plate and said, “Count me in!” on this longstanding biblical tradition reaffirmed by Jesus of giving 10% of our income to fund ministry and mission where we worship and serve, and we are missing out on the ways this helps develop our faith in Christ. Tithing isn't then a "have to;" rather it's a "get to" as an expression of my gratitude to God. John Wesley “reverse tithed,” which means he gave 90% of his income to what God was up to in the world and lived off 10%. Pastor Rick Warren, after making a lot of money via “The Purpose Driven Life,” followed Wesley’s example, too. While this isn't expected, Jesus said “to whom much is given much will be expected.” (Luke 12:48) What is God calling you to do about “tithing” to grow in your relationship with Him?
Prayer- Dear God, a tithe is not “too much” to ask of me given how generous You’ve been to me. I am so glad that 24 years ago we were challenged by a lay person to trust You in this area of our lives. We have never regretted it! Help me remember that the biblical, standard, minimum gift is a starting place, not an off ramp. Help me truly be generous in ways that help reveal things being done here on earth the way You do them in heaven. I am grateful for so many generous Christ followers at New Hope who honor this commitment and some who do even more. I pray that we will be good stewards of all the gifts we receive as we seek to make more and better followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.
"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19),
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