Thursday, June 12, 2008

What does God expect from us with giving and tithing? Does God want us to give sacrificially, even if we are behind on our debts?

This topic is covered in High Pointe 101 where you are free to ask questions.
That being said, I think this piece that I wrote for a study of the Minor Prophets will be helpful in understanding OT tithing versus NT giving.

One of the most used scriptures regarding tithing is Malachi 3:10 which says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

This is a good time to talk about hermeneutics, or the rules by which we engage and understand the text. One of the very first things you must ask yourself is “how are we different from the people we are reading about?” and “how are we the same?” The biggest difference between these people in Malachi and us is that they are under the Mosaic Law and we are not.

What was the Mosaic Law? The Law accomplished several different purposes. It was primarily the constitution of the nation of Israel and so it contained civil, ceremonial, and moral laws. God gave them the Law and told them He’d bless them as they obeyed it and curse them if they did not. The Law was in force until Jesus Christ died on the cross and we are told He fulfilled the Law completely and so now we operate under grace.

You could say the difference between the two could be described as “the letter of the law” and “the spirit of the law”. The Law was just a foreshadow of what was to come. The Law is transactional in nature. This means that when you do something God responds in a certain way. Grace is relational in nature—as His children we act out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us on the cross.

So how does this apply to “tithing”? Since the whole concept of tithing is an Old Testament command that follows the Law, it follows then that we can not transfer that over to the New Testament church. I can already hear the roar of disapproval so let me explain. What was the transactional nature of tithing?—Blessings if you obey and curses if you disobey. What did this reveal about God’s character?—That our financial giving is important to God because it furthers His work and it reveals our trust in Him as our ultimate provider. Do you remember the great commandment we talked about earlier? It says to love God and to love others. Relationally, our giving shows that we are grateful and thankful to God and we are generous to others—love God and love others. The 10% in the Old Testament was a rule and it gave us a guideline of what God expected. If we are truly thankful for what Jesus Christ did for us, do you think it’s possible to argue that the percentage we give today should be any lower in the New Testament? Our giving is a tangible expression of our love for God and others…it reveals our heart.

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