A joyful expression of fellowship of God!

You see, even in the Old Testament, tithing was meant as a joyful expression of fellowship with God.  It assumed the basic truth that everything the people had actually belonged to God, of which a portion was thankfully returned.  It was a specific opportunity to honor God with their “substance” (Prov. 3:9) and express their fellowship and care for each other.

Under the cross of Christ, giving for the Lord’s work is still a joyous privilege flowing from the Gospel.  It expresses the depth of our thankfulness to God for our totally undeserved fellowship with Him in Christ.  It expresses our love for our fellow Christians and our concern for those who do not yet know Christ.  It also assumes the basic truth that everything we have actually belongs to God.

With hearts moved by the Gospel, we can give cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7) and sacrificially (2 Cor. 8:1-3) as God prospers us (1 Cor. 16:2).Some people in true faith, as full-fledged recipients of God’s grace, will give less than the tithe.  Others in true faith, as full-fledged recipients of God’s grace, may be moved by the Gospel to give a tenth of their income.  Still others in true faith, as full-fledged recipients of God’s grace, may give much more than the tithe, like the widow who gave 100% (Luke 21:4) or Zacchaeus who gave far more than what was expected (Luke 19:8).  You never know what is going to happen when the Gospel is at work and when joyful Gospel-giving is not constrained or choked out by sinful comparison with others. 

As you plan the portion of God’s gifts to you that you will return to Him in the coming year, God remove from you all guilt in regard to the Old Testament tithe.  And if you have repentant regret for not returning to God a greater portion of His financial blessings to you through the years, or if you have repentant regret for not always being a cheerful giver, please know that the blood of Christ cleanses you from all sin – these sins too.  With a clean heart and with Christ’s perfect record of giving, with love for one another and for the lost, God bless you with prayerful commitment and joyful purpose in determining your gift in 2009.Seed thoughts for this article were drawn from a presentation by Dr. James Bolhagen.

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