Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Tithing, 10%? 20%? How about yourself?
Malachi 1:6-7 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
I was going to write about this in a completely different way, when it struck me that we as Christians often do the exact same thing. We attempt to live a good life, pretending that if we are good enough, that life can be a sacrifice to God. We live each day "sacrificing" the things we want to do, and believe that will get us to Heaven. It cannot. We cannot be an unblemished sacrifice before the throne of God. We have sin in our lives!
How dare we as Christians attempt to offer ourselves up to sacrifice, while living in Sin? Can any of us truly look inside ourselves and see a pure, unblemished sacrifice? This is why Christ died on the cross! HE is that sacrifice that you and I cannot make! Why then do we try to justify ourselves through works! We are not able to do so, nor should we try! Instead we do good things because our faith produces them! When you love God, and love each other, you will do good things!
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
We are a lame goat! We are a blemished sacrifice. If we attempt to offer ourselves on the mercy seat, God will see our blemishes and our failure. That is why he offers up Christ in our stead. Think of that beautiful truth. That Christ is the unblemished sacrifice that you and I cannot be. This is the beauty of the communion, reminding us that God already sacrificed for us. That he gave his body and his blood, that you and I could be reconciled to the father. Works will never perfect us, only God can do this. We can grow closer to God by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and this is my prayer. That you and I will always want to grow closer, and emulate God even more than we do now. That no matter how much self control the spirit teaches us that we will always remain humble, knowing that we are given a gift of grace that we have not, and cannot earn. That we will always realize the beauty of Christ's gift of grace, and never lord it over others. That we will always feel the love of God welling up in our souls, driving us to share the gospel that others might experience this same gift of Grace.
Hebrews 13:15-16 says, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Though I do believe in giving a portion of our money to God, after all it is His to begin with, I believe we also must apply the necessity of tithing to our spiritual lives in Christ. The tithe was a percentage of sacrifice to the religious authorities, and as such there were rules about giving a perfect sacrifice, without blemish, and cheerfully doing so. If we begrudged God in what we were giving, God didn't want it anyway. (After all it is His anyway, tithing was not you giving away something of yours, but dedicating something of Gods to Him in recognition of his blessings. )
We need to be aware that we are instructed in our new covenant to give ourselves as a tithe, a sacrifice, perfect and wholly acceptable to God (because God sees Christ and not us!). We must do this without begrudging God what is already His, us and by extension our lives. We must cheerfully live our lives only for the Glory of God, and have no secret emotions that say we aren't happy to do it and only are doing it because we have to. Instead we are to be filled with the Joy and Peace of the Lord our God!