Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why I Tithe

The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ put an end to the practice of hopeful sinners reticently approaching God from respectable distance while carefully managing their behavior according to script (law). "It is finished!" wasn't just the end of an earthly mission, but the period at the end of the old covenant sentence the faithful had been serving. Jesus wrote a new story in which the cleansed sinner bounds into God's presence and jumps into his lap, invited and accepted, because of the shed blood of the Lamb. Under this new covenant, any and everyone who believes can enter God's presence, and if they need something, they merely ask and they will receive.

Given such a view on the new covenant, some folk are amazed to hear that I've practiced tithing for virtually my entire life as a Christian. In fact, I can't hardly imagine a scenario in which I wouldn't give at least a tenth of my increase in the name of the Lord. Considering Paul's Holy Spirit inspired stance on legalism and my views on the contemporary practice of tithing (see this), some might wonder why. Hopefully, this article will explain my reasoning.

Jesus taught that believers should be giving people. Since we're meant to be like Christ, that certainly makes sense, for who is more giving than he? Jesus did speak about tithing within the framework of OT Jews giving as commanded; however, his three word declaration on the cross announced the fulfillment of that economy. Giving, under the new covenant, is a matter of identification and collaboration with the joyful kindness (grace) of God; therefore, Christians give, not under compulsion, but in exhilaration whatever they purpose in their hearts to give.

Years ago (1979), upon embracing Christ's invitation to follow him, I knew I wanted to experience life as God would have me live it. I saw readily from the Word that becoming a giver was part of that, but in what way? I yearned for some dependable instruction from God that would clarify the nebulous purpose of my heart. In reading the scriptures and hearing some good preaching, I discovered that holy men of old found tithing an expression of faith in this regard, apart from any law, and something clicked for me.

I've been tithing ever since.

In all the years that have followed, I haven't secured anything nor assured myself of any measure of blessing by tithing. God has been faithful sure enough, and he's been real to me, but not because I've locked him into an arm's length contractual agreement by putting forth consideration. He's not a stranger I'm doing business with, after all. He shares what it's like being him with me, and it's my joy to cooperate with him and so experience what it's like to be kind and generous.

So I'm alive and well and free in the Holy Ghost, and I don't tithe because I have to...

I tithe because I want to.

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