On Mother's Day Sunday we were visiting with my brother's family and enjoyed visiting their church where Kevin DeYoung is the teaching pastor. I'd like to share some of what he preached that morning on financial stewardship and tithing because so few Christians really know that much about the Old Testament tithing and how that carries over into the New Testament church. And he had a good way of putting things, which I'm sure I won't be able to duplicate here, but I'd like to give you the gist of what he said.
He spent quite some time in giving Old Testament examples and laws on tithing, including Abram's tithe to God's priest, Melchizedek, and Jacob's vow after the ladder to heaven dream. He showed that in Numbers and Deuteronomy God required three kinds of taxes/tithes which added up to about 23% annually. Those tithes were used for the Levites' wages or heritage since they received no land for farming, the festival (or party) tithe for celebrating and remembering God's goodness, and the charity tithe which was collected every third year. (Numbers 18: 21, 24; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 14:28-29)
The Pastor DeYoung showed us some of the words on tithing from the New Testament, including Matthew 23:23 where Jesus tells the Pharisees that they ought to continue tithing on things like mint, dill, and cumin, but not neglect the weightier matters of the law. He showed how tithing should be to provide for ministers, not under compulsion, in proportion to our faith, and not just given indiscriminately but should be primarily to and through our local church.
Then he spoke about how Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament, not to abolish it and that, like other parts of the Old Testament law, it is to be internalized (written on our hearts) and intensified. So it should be cheerful and we should be cheerfully giving all we are.
I really appreciated that he asked something like this: Since we have so much more of the revelation and the fulfillment of God's grace through Christ than the Old Testament believers had, shouldn't we want to give even more? Hmmmm.
His application points were excellent also:
1. Start tithing ASAP if you're not.
2. Make 10% a floor, not a ceiling. More freewill offerings.
3. Give the FIRST 10% to your local church.
4. Give out of your first fruits, not leftovers. First & best. PLAN.
5. Make stewardship a key element of your discipleship.
6. Use your wallet to test and to shape your heart. It's about OUR need to give; God is not needy.
7. Excel in the grace of giving, as an expression of God's grace to you.
Let's be God's right hand of generosity.