Archive for July, 2011
When I wrote my last blog about tithing I purely conceived it as a little example simply of my own experiences of tithing and the outcome of my own heavenly guidance from the Lord regarding tithing. I did not expect it to be so controversial a topic as I view it as a personal decision for each Christian, based on their understanding of the Word and their own conviction on the subject.
I was grateful to receive lots of very interesting feedback from the blog and was very happy to leave it there. Then the Holy Spirit began convicting me to write a follow up to make a few more points, two to be exact. Of all the feedback I had there was one issue that I thought was important and it was this from a comment on my last blog:
“Jesus did not tell us to tithe. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees they ought to tithe because they were under the Old Covenant law. Jesus was born, lived, and died under the Old Covenant. The New Covenant didn’t begin until after Jesus died on the cross.”
This was an interesting point but then a couple of things started to niggle at me.
Firstly, you could say the same thing about virtually everything Jesus is quoted as saying in the Gospels, ie. that it was said before the New Covenant began and so doesn’t apply to us under grace today.
But, Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfil it, so I view his statement about tithing as His taking an opportunity to confirm the principle.
Secondly, many times in the Gospels Jesus takes the opportunity to correct religious legalism, for example:
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. (Matthew 15:11)
So we see Jesus challenges aspects of the law at some times, but on this issue it is confirmed (my emphasis):
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)
What I find so striking is that while many, many times Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for legalism, however in this verse (given to me in response to specific prayer asking for guidance on tithing), He takes the opportunity to reinforce a practice.
When I first became a sweet and innocent new Christian I watched the Christian TV shows, and I learned about tithing (giving a tenth of your income to the Lord) and flush with newborn enthusiasm I started tithing faithfully.
After a good start it started to get very difficult. I was newly a single Mom, Christmas was looming and I wanted my children to have a lovely Christmas after a tumultuous year. The Lord spoke to my heart and said Who are tithes for? The fatherless. Your children are fatherless in the world so I want you to put half your tithes directly to improving their life for 3 months.
Wow. Okay Lord, I thought, and so I did and we had a lovely holiday season.
In the new year I went back to tithing and all was well again for a couple of months. Then I started jiggling my tithes around to help my cashflow. Nearly immediately I had hold ups with my income coming in. It was exactly as if the Lord was saying, if you mess with the timing of My finances, I can easily mess with yours! I immediately repented, and went back to tithing in a timely manner!
After a few months I again found myself stretching to make ends meet. By now you would have thought I would recognise the test. Would I have faith to push through a slightly trying time? At this very moment I happened across a teaching that clearly explained that tithing was an old testament concept, that it was part of the law, that we gentiles aren’t under the law but under grace and anything the Lord does for us is by grace and nothing we do, or don’t do, will affect our abundance which is a gift of God by grace. All of this teaching appeared firmly supported by scripture. Further the teaching said that, by tithing, we put ourselves under the law and therefore under the possibility of the curse. After reading this very convincing, scripture quoting, teaching I was actually feeling AFRAID to tithe. Now by this time hundreds of hours of bible study and my own experience should have shown me this was a false teaching, but I checked out the quoted scriptures and they all appeared to support the argument. The very fact that this teaching used FEAR should immediately have been a red flag. Who is fear of? the Lord? No. The enemy Yes.
What happened? Well I stopped tithing for two months, because of this false teaching, and both months I ended up having to borrow money just to get my bills paid. there were days when my family actually struggled for groceries. I was out of faith. I felt distanced from God.
I prayed about it and immediately the Lord gave me this simple scripture.. in Jesus’ own words, as clear as clear can be (my emphasis):
Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practised the latter without leaving the former undone. Luke 11:42
So I determined to go back to tithing. I thanked God for the guidance. The very next day I had a letter telling me I was owed some considerable money, and a very useful amount monthly from that month onwards. Oh yeah!
My view now? Yes tithe. But not out of fear. Yes it’s new testament, yes it’s new covenant. Jesus says so.
Last week my little boy, who’s 5, sauntered past me as I did some correspondence, as usual draped on the sofa, balancing my laptop on a cushion.
He was carrying his big brother’s external drive, wires dragging behind him.
“Where are you off to with that Son” I enquired.
“To my room” he said somewhat matter of factly given the circumstances I thought.
“And why are you taking that?” I enquired.
“I want it” he said plainly.
“Why?” I felt this was a reasonable question seeing as a) He’s 5 b) He doesn’t have a laptop and c) It wasn’t his
I will spare you the rest of the conversation. It was was difficult to explain that it wasn’t a dvd player, although it played dvd’s and he knew it. He has a DVD player – I explained this of course but he countered this one was smaller and cooler. I finally trumped with “Its not yours, its your brother’s”. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy, but he gave up. Or so I thought.
Hours later, on our our way to do some shopping, he suddenly burst into tears…
“I want the DVD player!” accompanied by sniffles and tears.
Again I will spare you the details of all my explaining that it wasnt a DVD player, and that He Already Has a DVD player…
Eventually, frustrated trying to explain yet again, I appealed to the Lord “Give me the patience not to lose my patience please Lord!”
and this is the reponse I had from the Lord in my heart…
How do you think it is for me? This is what you all seem to do! You see something you think you want, and even thought you don’t know why the other person has it, what purpose it serves in their life, you want it too! Even though if you just opened your minds and hearts you would see you already have what you need, and in fact what you want, right now!