Sun, May 05, 2019

The Gift of Tithing

The Gift of Tithing
Duration:41 mins 54 secs

Why Me?

-        I asked to…

-        #notapastor

-        Tithing is exciting!

My Journey

-        Grudging Tithing

  • Raised with the tithe
  • OT passages like Malachi 3:10
  • Led me to contractualism with God

-        “Cheerful” Giving

  • Went to seminary and began to improve as a theologian and interpreter of scripture
    • Two primary ways to read the Bible
      • Assume that every verse was written to me
        • Replace the audience with me
        • In the OT, this means I (or the Church) take the place of Israel
        • We don’t read any other text this way…and good interpretation rejects this, as does our fellowship and all your pastors here
        • Assume that every verse was written for my edification
          • Keep the original audience intact and determine what principle is given to them that required a specific action in their time and what that principle requires of me now.
          • In the OT, this means we have to read commands and blessings given to Israel in the context of their covenant as a people with Yahweh.
            • A command given under the Mosaic Law may not apply to me in the same way it did to Israel. For example:
              • Forbidden to eat pork
              • Forbidden to wear a garment of mixed fabrics
                • These set them apart as a people and helped them understand the singular nature of Yahweh, and their relationship to him.
              • A blessing that is tied to obedience of the Mosaic law cannot be “claimed” by someone that is not under the Mosaic Law.
  • As I understood these principles better, I realized that the verses that had been used to tell me I had to give a tithe, and to tell me that I would be blessed if only I obeyed, were not written to me in that way. There was certainly a principle behind it (and we’ll come to that later), but since I was not an ancient Israelite living under the Mosaic Law, that requirement and the subsequent blessing were not incumbent upon me or “claimable” by me.
  • When I understood that I was truly free from the Mosaic Law (thanks to the work of Jesus), I abandoned the tithe and decided that all God expected was that I be a cheerful giver (verse on screen).
    • Except I wasn’t cheerful about it.
    • And this “freedom” didn’t enlarge my generosity, it reduced it.
    • We were living on an extremely small amount during that time
      • I felt sorry for myself
      • I counted my sacrificial paycheck from the church as my giving
      • I preached “generosity” without any conviction
      • It always felt like I was trying to get people to give to me, so I just didn’t teach on it much.

-        Joyful Tithing

  • Yes, I now believe in tithing…so how’d I land there?
  • I started performing weddings.
    • For a while I didn’t notice anything special about marriage and weddings in scripture.
    • Sure, I focused on the end of Ephesians 5, how marriage is about Christ and the Church. Who doesn’t love Song of Solomon? What I didn’t notice for several years was that marriage didn’t belong to the Church, or to Israel…marriage was before either of these, some 3000 years before Israel, in the Garden of Eden, God made marriage and gave it as a gift and a responsibility to humanity. (verse on screen)
    • It was a couple years before I realized that marriage wasn’t the only thing like that. The Sabbath was instituted at creation…a gift and an expectation. Also, sanctity of life. Well before the Law, life was proclaimed by Yahweh to be precious. It was a gift from him that came with responsibilities to each other. And then, one day, I noticed that the tithe seemed to be the same way…existing and practiced before the Law.
    • So far, I’ve identified these four basic tenants of humanity, basic creaturehood: Marriage, Sabbath, Sanctity of Life, and Tithing. Notice what they all have in common: dependence on Yahweh.
      • Marriage: every other guy was marrying lots of wives to make his families large and powerful
      • Sabbath: every other family was pursuing their financial well-being every day
      • Sanctity of Life: Every other guy knocked off those that got in his way
      • Tithing: Everyone consumed whatever they had on their own pleasure or power
        • These essentials of humanity get at the nature of the relationship between God and man. He requires faith and trust. He tells us to rely on him for our good…and what more powerful way to demonstrate that trust than to give up opportunities for power, advancement or pleasure.
      • There are only two instances of the tithe before the Law was given.
        • Jacob, who promises to give his tithe if God takes care of him.
          • Cart before the horse (characteristic of Jacob)
          • Not a good example, but demonstrates that the tithe was known
        • Abraham, who gave a tithe from a great battle to Melchizedek
          • Demonstrated his trust in Yahweh
      • When the Law finally comes, it doesn’t have to explain what a tithe is, it talks about it like they all know what it is, but now Yahweh is telling them specifically what to do with it.
        • Take it to the priests and Levites
  • For me, I went from having a wrong basis (misreading the Law and Malachi) and a wrong heart (contractualism and self-centered pity and fear) to seeing what I believe to be the correct basis (inherent expectation on me by Yahweh, simply because I exist as a creature and he wants me to trust him), and a better (not perfect) heart. I stopped looking at myself as an owner of the money I have to being the steward of that money.
    • Pile of money illustration
      • The 10%
      • The 90%

These aren’t the reasons you’re looking for

-        Because the law says to

-        Anecdotes of blessing when people start to tithe

  • God does love to bless trust in him

-        “expansion” of the law theory in Jesus’ teaching

  • He doesn’t expand it, he clarifies the heart mandate by God

Tithe Details

-        The tithe is a gift from God to humanity

  • In the same way marriage and rest and life is…
  • It is a chance for all people everywhere to experience trust in their creator
    • 10% is a lot of money
    • I believe it is not just for “believers” but for humanity

-        He simplified the amount

  • 10% is required
  • 90% is where we have great freedom in stewardship
    • Have fun figuring out how to honor God with all of it
      • Most of it will go to family needs
        • Food, clothes, housing, medicine, education, business
        • These things honor God, if done circumspectly
        • Most people in America will still have quite a bit of the 90% left after meeting familial needs
        • Don’t just always elevate your standard of living when you get a raise, a bonus, or generate more profit…think about how to feed, clothe, house and give dignity and good news to everyone around you in need
          • We have so many fantastic non-profits in this community and around the world…our church is involved in several of them
  • He simplifies the direction
    • In scripture, it’s always given to an authoritative representative of God (priests)
    • My take is that it’s given to your spiritual authority, those who watch over our souls as those who must give an account.
      • For me, that means the pastors and overseers of WLGBC

Barriers to Joyful Tithing

-        Not enough

  • Develop a budget, meet with a financial advisor
  • I would encourage you to talk with our pastors, or discipleship counseling
  • Ask God for more (he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and he can make as many hills as he wants)
  • Depend on him (Mark 12 widow)

-        Marital disagreement

  • Pray together about it
  • Study scripture together
  • Explore your motives together

-        Distrust Church

  • Maybe you’ve been burned
  • Maybe you make 10M a year and you think the church couldn’t handle an extra million a year
  • Talk with an overseer or our pastors

-        Not exciting to give to the church

  • Have you heard of Moa?
  • The body of Jesus in Warsaw and Winona Lake?
  • Imagine if we all tithed!
    • Our budget 3-5M
    • The needs we could meet, the communities we could reach into
    • The projects we could execute
    • The unity we would enjoy

Now what?

-        Study it for yourself

-        Ask God to assess your heart and your relationship to money

-        If you land where I do, make the tithe a priority…take it off the top

  • Build your budget off of the 90%
    • And remember that you’re a steward, not the owner of that pile