Week 20 – O.T. Generosity for Today
Good morning. I usually open the message with prayer but before I do I want to briefly explain with an illustration why I begin the message with prayer. I have here an empty glass and water pitcher. Now you and I could be in the right place (being with God’s people) and we could have the right thing being poured into us (God’s Truth) but it won’t do a thing just like this water is not going into the glass. Why? The glass is not ready to receive the water. This is why I pray for you before we walk through the Bible. I pray and you participate. How? By your agreement and I don’t know if you have noticed but in all my prayers I include a brief statement like: God, open our ears and lives to what You want to do and be. If that is not our heart’s desire then we will not receive the very thing we need to live the life God intends for us, individually and as a faith family. So praying removes the plastic wrap so we can be in a position to receive.
So let’s pray – OurFather, we love You. We love Your Inspired Word. We confess that at times we let the world, even ourselves, get in the way of receiving Truth so we embrace Your forgiveness that is in Christ alone. Thank You that You pour out Your generosity to us irregardless of our faithfulness. You just keep on pouring. We thank You for Your ongoing invitation to participate in the grand story of redemption for us, our families, and for our local and global communities. So God open our hearts to receive the thing we need today to continue to live out Your Story with humility and awe. Lord, protect us from the temptation to remain the same. You want to do something in us as a response to Your Word. In Jesus Name. Amen.
If you have your Bibles open to 1 Chronicles 29
. I encourage you to follow along. If you forgot your Bibles make a note to bring it with you next week until then it is pg. 377 in these Bibles. 1 Chronicles 29
is about the people of God giving with joy so today’s message will cover. (show slide 2) 1) a picture of giving in 1 Chronicles 29 2
) how giving fits into God’s grand story and 3) how our giving in 2013 fits into God’s redemptive story. So let’s read vv. 1-20 of 1 Chronicles 29
. Okay, we just read 2 significant, potentially life changing truths. Perhaps these truths have already become a part of your core convictions on who you are and how you view money. I don’t know but the first truth from this passage is: (show slide 3) God owns it all so we are His caretakers.
Let’s says that together. One more time. V.11, 12, and 14 all affirm this Truth. So God owns your house, car, TV, clothes, computer, phone, your bank account and for that matter, God owns you. And so anything we give is simply giving to him what he already owns. For example, if you let me borrow your car to drive around for a few days and I brought it back to you and said: “out of the depth of my heart I want to give you this car.” That probably would be strange for you. You may think “what is Travis talking about? I was the one who let him borrow my car.” Here is a quick indicator to know if you have embraced this Truth: you don’t feel guilty about what God has given you but you do feel a responsibility to use it according to God’s goals and vision. People who feel guilty for having too much or who wonder why they don’t have more than others have not embraced the truth that God owns it all and we are just His caretakers.
Second Truth we see from 1 Chronicles 29
is: (show slide 4) God’s people gave out of celebration rather than obligation. Verse 9 tells us the Israelites freely gave and they experienced joy. We see it again in v. 17. This is not well, I guess I have to give because I want to be a good follower of God. The giving pictured here is God-driven and God-centered. Several weeks ago in our Bible reading plan we read Psalm 23
. I love that Psalm for many reasons. When I read it again the phrase, ‘I shall not want’ and ‘my cup overflows’ stood out. The same person that God inspired to write that psalm also spoke the words in 1 Chronicles 29
. David operated from a belief of overflow instead of want which is why in v.1 of Psalm 23
he writes I do not lack anything because I have God. God alone is my enough. So as I was mediating on the phrase ‘my cup overflows’ I sensed God asking me a question that I am also going to ask you: (show slide 5) Do you give more out of a mentality of ‘I have enough, even more than enough’ or ‘I do not have enough so God I need . . .’. How you and I answer that question will affect our giving. The people of God in 1 Chronicles 29
gave out of an overflow mentality to see the temple in Jerusalem be built. In fact, v. 7 gives the specific measurements which converted to modern measurement would be about 190 tons of gold, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, 3,750 tons of iron. And what I love about this passage is David responds to such generous giving by essentially saying in his prayer in vv. 10-13 “look how great our God is” rather than “look at how generous we are.”
Now you probably already know that people give for all kinds of reasons, Christians included. Up on the screen is a short video to describe some of the different types of givers. Let’s watch it – 4 mins Now besides that clip giving us a few laughs the video did bring up the ‘t’ word: tithing. Tithing means a tenth and where we get the popular belief among Christians that what God is asking His people to give back to Him in the O.T. and even today is 10 percent. However, in the O.T. God did not ask His people to give just 10 percent because He commanded them to give 3 tithes. One tithe was for the spiritual leaders as Numbers 18:21-24
records. Another tithe was for celebrations at the temple as Deuteronomy 14:22-23
instructs. These were to be given annually. So that is 20, not 10 percent. And then the third tithe was to be given every 3 years to help the poor as Deuteronomy 14:28-29
tells us. Now what many Jews did was plan for the 3rd tithe so their annual tithe was 23 percent. This was God’s expectations no matter the income. But there is more because (show slide 6) Tithing was the starting point of one’s giving, not the ceiling because there were 2 other types of giving God required of His people.
One, was called the first fruits giving from Leviticus 19:23-25
. Whatever your land produced the first harvest went to God. This was separate from their tithe and secondly there were freewill offerings. During the year when you saw someone in need, Jew or non-Jew, according to Deuteronomy 15
and other passages you needed to be open-handed with them. Or when special projects came about like the building of the temple in 1 Chronicles 29
all this would be considered freewill offerings. So Jews gave more than 23 percent back to God. And not only that but Jews, like us, had to pay taxes. According to 1 Samuel 8
it began at 10 percent but increased under Solomon to an unknown amount. The Bible only says the people thought it was burdensome. We also know that once Israel was captured by foreign governments they demanded taxes as well. Most of which did not go to help their own community. It was a burden but God’s requirements of the 3 tithes, first fruits and freewill offerings were still expected.
At this point, some of you may be thinking, ‘I am glad I am not living in O.T. times” or “I’m thankful that was the old covenant because as a Christian today I am under a new covenant.” That’s true that we are under the authority of a new covenant but does that mean tithing gets thrown out the window? Some say yes as tithing is never directly commanded in the N.T. They would say the only thing God does expect is that you give joyfully and sacrificially. It is up to you and the Lord to figure that amount. Some say the emphasis on being a grace giver and not like a law giver in the O.T. Yet before you dismiss tithing you probably should know that during the first few centuries when Christianity grew and spread in amazing ways tithing was a normal practice for the early church. In fact, early Christian leaders said if you were not tithing then you were defrauding God. Did they understand something that we in the 21st century need to learn or relearn? The people of God in the O.T. and in the early church understood how giving fit into God’s grand story. God is not in need of money but He wants His glory to spread to every corner of the world and one of key ways that happens is through His people giving.
Now earlier I mentioned 3 goals for today’s message: (show slide 7) 1) a picture of giving in 1 Chronicles 29 2
) how giving fits into God’s grand story of redemption and 3) how our giving in 2013 fits into God’s redemptive story. So far we have covered the first two. Now we come to the third and if you profess to follow Jesus then let me ask you a question: (show slide 8) What should your giving look like since you have experienced the grace, freedom, and forgiveness of Jesus? You and I are not bound to the old covenant because we are partakers of a better, new covenant as Hebrew 7:22 and 8:13 declares! But the reality for the average Christian gives somewhere around 2.5 to 4 percent to any charitable organizations, including the church and various ministries. At the very least the question must be raised does that the type of giving exclaim, “look at how great my God is!” Is that grace giving? Is that giving that comes from an overflow mentality? Despite the probable reality that we in America do pay more taxes than the Jews did back then it sure seems they still gave more than the average Christian today does and yet we are under a better covenant. A covenant that is centered in the person and sufficient work of Jesus Christ. A covenant that gives people a taste of God’s grace in a much deeper way than the O.T. followers of God could have experienced. This being the case should not our giving be greater to reflect the grace we have experienced and which we are under?
(show slide 9) So it would appear tithing should be embraced, as it was in the early church, not as a legalistic mandate, but a helpful guide to participate in God’s glorious story. Helpful because supporting spiritual leaders and caring for the poor, 2 of the 3 O.T. tithes, are both taught in the N.T. Helpful because tithing does reinforce the 2 timeless truth we saw from today’s passage - we are His caretakers and to give in a celebratory way. Helpful because tithing was given by God as a gift to help His people to see that their paycheck, no matter how big or small, and was really the Lord’s and that they were just temporarily taking care of His resources. You and I still need that reminder. Now this message covered a lot so if you want to study this further let me recommend Money, Eternity, and Possessions by Randy Alcorn. A few copies are on the back.
Now to close this message let me share 3 practical scenarios. The first one is about a couple who desire to give more but their giving fluctuates based on the amount of bills they have for the month. So while this couple does not have a farm, God would have them understand the principle of first fruits. You honor God by giving to Him first when you receive your paycheck and not at the end to see if and how much is left to give back to Him. The second situation is a working college student. He or she receives a little help from their parents but to give more than the 2.5 percent they currently give they can only see 2 options: ask their parents for more money or drop out of school. Neither will work. However, what God would have this college student understand is they are robbing themselves of 1) the opportunity to grow in the grace of giving and 2) they need to increase the size of how they view God.
The last example is the person who believes the days of tithing are over. They would say one should give according to what the Lord leads. They speak about grace and how it needs to affect one’s giving. However, the problem is last year their giving was 4 percent. So while they promote grace and caution people to stay away from falling into an O.T. mindset their actions suggest that living under a covenant of grace is not as generous. God would have them understand that establishing a new and better covenant in Christ did not lower His standards. God’s plan never changed on how He expects to use our giving to fit into His grand story of His glory. So people of Sandy Ridge let us joyfully and sacrificially spread God’s greatness in SLC and around the world through our grace giving. At this time I invite ? to come up and pray for us.