Easter - 2018

Monday, November 3, 2014

What is a Tithe for today?

Leviticus 27:30 says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” The Old Testament standard of giving was the tithe, and this principle is found many places throughout the Old Testament. It was among the earliest laws of the Israelites. The idea was that 10% of what they owned belonged to God, therefore it was holy. It was to be set aside for him and not used for common purposes. It was sacred. God was claiming ownership of 10% of everything the Israelites owned. They had worked for their food and money, but it was God who blessed them with crops and herds, and the ability to work. Out of gratefulness to him they were to return a tenth of everything to him. And when they acknowledged God’s ownership of 10% of their belongings God made a promise. Malachi 3:10 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.’”

You may say, “Yes, that is all very well and good, but that is the Old Testament. What about the New Testament?

Tithing is not even mentioned in the New Testament.” You are correct. The New Testament standard for giving is not the tithe. The New Testament has a totally different pattern for stewardship than the Old Testament. To understand the New Testament concept of giving we have to look at the story of the Rich Young Ruler. This young man came to Jesus in search of heaven, and asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response was to explain that he must first follow the basic laws of God — the ten commandments. The young man replied that he had kept all of the commandments from his youth. And then Jesus completely astounded him by saying, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The Bible sadly reports, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

What was Jesus saying to this young man? He was giving the New Testament principle of stewardship, and that principle is this: Whereas the Old Testament taught us that 10% of everything we own belongs to God, the New Testament, and in particular Jesus, is teaching us that all we have belongs to God. The Old Testament was a partial picture of a greater truth. The Old Testament showed us that God had certain claims on our lives, but the New Testament shows us the full extent of those claims. God does not just own a part of me; he owns all of me. To acknowledge this and live this way is an act of worship. The New Testament principle of giving without hesitation is the declaration of how much God is worth in your life. When we come into contact with God we dare not be stingy for we serve a great and awesome God. As an act of worship we acknowledge that he owns all that we have.

Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). The point is not whether you will literally give away all you have, but whether or not you recognize God’s complete and unconditional ownership of all you possess. We are talking about an entirely new attitude toward life. This is true worship.

Is your giving an act of worship in your life? You know I love ya, Don

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