Works

Tithing: Joyful Giving

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The Christian character amounts to nothing without love, and tithing amounts to nothing without joy. It’s not difficult to understand why or how tithing and joy are rarely seen in each other’s company today. As we discussed, giving what we believe belongs to us is an act that our sinful nature automatically opposes. Giving what we have means that what was once ours is now gone; we have less while someone else has more. We often find joy in receiving and possessing an abundance of one thing, and giving destroys that passion of ours, “to get.” But God is absolutely clear that giving in His name must never be done without joy. To give under a shadow of obligation, resentment or bitterness is a gift that he warns us not to give in the first place.

 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.      

 Isaiah 1:11-15

“The multitude of your sacrifices—
   what are they to me?” says the LORD.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
   of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
   in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
When you come to appear before me,
   who has asked this of you,
   this trampling of my courts?
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
   Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
   I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
   I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
   I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
   I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
   I am not listening.  

 

Isaiah 43:22-24

“Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,
   you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.
You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,
  nor honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with grain offerings
   nor wearied you with demands for incense.
You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me,
   or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins
   and wearied me with your offenses. 

Jeremiah 7:21-26

“‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’

 

Malachi 3:6-12

“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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 there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

Joy is among the fruits of the Spirit Paul identifies in Galatians, a characteristic of the Christian spirit. This joy is not a joy that one talks themselves into or practices. Likewise, it is not a joy void of the reality that suffering continues to persist in the broken world we live in. The joy of a Christian goes much deeper than that. The joy of a Christian stems from its foundation, which is forever and always Jesus Christ. To know Jesus Christ is to have been saved by him. To be saved by him is to know that without his saving grace we were destined to die. Joy in tithing stems from that very same foundation. The joy of tithing contradicts our typical impulses or desires. Born out of the spirit of God, this giving defies the logic and rationale of the sinful human mind. The Christian character thrives when worshipping God, and to tithe is to lift others up by giving of ourselves. Ultimately, to sacrifice out of love for another is the most powerful emulation of the Father and his son Jesus Christ and thus, the truest form of worship.

Thursday Reflection: 2 Timothy 2

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As we get into a regular posting schedule around here, look for twice-weekly updates, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today we’re reflecting on a passage from 2 Timothy chapter 2. Be blessed as you read!

God does not need man, God desires man.

In order to accomplish his objectives in this world, man is unnecessary.  God desires man to be involved because in that involvement man can witness the Father at work.  However, our involvement is not assistance, but rather participation.  We often possess a distorted perspective of our role in the works of God in this world.

We bear witness to the works of God in our immediate surroundings and  inflate our role in the process.  We reason ourselves into believing that without our openness, without our obedience or without our righteousness, the outcome that we witnessed would not have been possible.

These are lies.  The truth is that the healing or change that we were made privy to was prepared and put into effect far before God called us into the picture.  The truth is that God did not need us, so much as he included us.  Thus, the healing or change that we witnessed was as much for our own benefit as it was the benefit of the one being healed or transformed.

God’s desire to include sometimes has very little to do with the person we witness experiencing the healing or change.  God’s desire to include us has everything to do with our being included in a power-presentation of the Father and his majesty.  This is a moment we are meant to see not so that we could stake any claim in what we saw.  We were brought in as witnesses, so that we could set out and tell the world about it.  Our involvement in the works of God in this world is for us, but never by us.  We are involved in God’s work so that we can build upon our faith with the truth that God is for us and nothing can stand against us.

God desires for us to be involved in his work and be about his business.  He does not desire to work in private or keep us at a distance.  His desire is to provide us every opportunity to see him work.  While it would be easy for him to work alone and accomplish his goals in private, this is a position he has never adopted and never intends to.  His desire from the beginning was to walk with us, to have us work alongside him.  This desire comes out of his love for us, and his love for our company, a love that can only be made complete when we know him to the point of knowing what he is capable of. Knowing him so well that we are completely overwhelmed by how efficiently and powerfully he works while still making time for his children throughout.  He calls us into his work daily, not for us to help him finish his work, but merely for us to be with him while he works.