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The Heart Of Generosity – Part 4
January 22, 2023

The Heart Of Generosity – Part 4

January 22, 2023

Review

  • Discussions about money trigger emotions.
  • Resistance to giving is not financial, but psychological.
  • Giving must be a practice and not just something you do when you are inspired.
  • Giving is a spiritual discipline.
  • There is no explicit New Testament command for Gentile believers to tithe, but you shouldn’t need one.
  • Tithers and other generous givers are presented to us as examples of what honoring God with our money looks like.
  • Compared to the giving patterns of devoted believers in Scripture, a tithe is not an unreasonable commitment.
  • Tithing does not sabotage your finances. You sabotage your finances when you mismanage what remains.
  • The most important reason to give is to honor God.
  • Some people more readily honor people with their money than they do God.
  • The amount you give should require you to count the costs.
  • Tithing is a fantastic starting point for generosity.

Why Tithing is a Good Practice

  • Tithing is conventional.
  • Tithing is devotional.
  • Tithing is practical.
  • Tithing is beneficial.

Background Summary of the

First Biblical Record of Tithing

Genesis 14:17–18 (ESV) – 17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

Genesis 14:19–20 (ESV) – 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

    • Tithing does not return what belongs to God, but gives recognition that everything belongs to Him.
    • Tithing is a recognition that God is the source of your success and prosperity.
    • Tithing is about honor, not money.
      • Genesis 14:21–24 (ESV) – 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.

Tithing is Conventional

Background Info on Tithing in the Ancient World

    • The tithe was an ancient standard for honoring local deities.
      • Tithing was a standard practiced by the major national powers of the ancient world well before it was recorded in the Bible.
      • These national powers included “the early Egyptians, the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Arabians, and certain Semitic peoples of Western Asia, together with the Greeks, Romans and some of the [other] nations of Europe” (Henry Landell, “Tithe-Giving Amongst Ancient Pagan Nations,” December 6th, 1987.)[123] https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/jtvi/tithe_lansdell.pdf
        • Egyptians: “Pharaoh and his officials, with many, if not all, of the people, annually offered the first-fruits of their crops to the temples, which they permanently endowed for the education and support of the priests, as well as for temple repairs and enlargements together with the furniture and accessories of worship. They offered also a portion of their spoils taken in war, and on various other occasions made further offerings of the most varied kinds. If it be further asked as to what proportion these offerings bore to the offerers’ incomes, it seems to have been not less than a tenth, and in some epochs certainly reached a sixth.” (Henry Landell, “Tithe-Giving Amongst Ancient Pagan Nations,” December 6th, 1987.)[125] https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/jtvi/tithe_lansdell.pdf
        • Babylonians: “ ‘The. . .tithe.’ [Professor Sayce] says ‘was a Babylonian institution. The temple and priests were supported by the contributions of the people, partly obligatory and partly voluntary. The most important among them were the tithes paid upon all produce. The tithes were contributed by all classes of people, from the king to the peasant.’” (Henry Landell, “Tithe-Giving Amongst Ancient Pagan Nations,” December 6th, 1987.)[127] https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/jtvi/tithe_lansdell.pdf
    • God invited His people to not only continue the tithe standard practiced by the pagan world, but also to exceed it.
      • e.g. Three (3) Tithes [averaging 23.3%] + First Fruits + free will offerings

Tithing is Devotional

In a religious context, devotion consists of the attitude and actions that reflect your commitment to God.

Three important ways that tithing expressions devotion:

  • Honor
  • Trust
  • Remembrance

Most people who are taught that tithing is required will recall sermons about Malachi:

  • Malachi 3:8–12 (ESV)8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

Honor

    • You can’t rob God of money, but you can rob God of honor.
      • Psalm 50:7-15 (ESV) – 7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. 8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. 9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Trust

      • Jeremiah 17:5-8 (ESV)5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Remembrance

God had to continually remind his people to remember Him because their prosperity would make them forget Him.

  • Deuteronomy 8:11–18 (ESV)11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Tithing is Practical

Tithing is a practical way to support the work of the ministry.

1 Corinthians 9:13–14 (ESV)13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

  • The sophistication of ministry work in the 21st Century, especially after the pandemic requires tremendous financial resources.
  • Question: Have you prioritized your house over God’s house?
    • Haggai 1:2–11 (ESV)2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

Tithing is Beneficial

  • Proverbs 3:9–10 (ESV)9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; 10 Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV)6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

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© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2022

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