Grace and the T-word

Sidebarbelieve I visited New Life Community Church in Duncan with a friend today.  Many of you might know of their pastor, Mark Buchanan, who has written Holy Wild, Rest of God, Your God is Too safe, etc.  (And he’s a Regent grad- good man!)  I really enjoyed the casual blend of authenticity, fellowship, freedom and reverent worship in this congregation.  If I lived in Duncan, New Life most certainly would become my church home.

Something Mark said this morning captured me deeply.  He was teaching about the dreaded T-word ("tithe") and about generosity in giving to God.  He noted how Christians get caught up in debate about whether a tithe was just an Old Testament concept.  Do New Testament Christians still need to operate under that 10% giving rule?  Or was a tithe just a regulation to follow under the Jewish Law?  Are Christians free from that now?

Mark reflected poignantly on the issue… and struck me with a Jesus-type question.  "Does it make sense for a New Testament Christian who has been saved by God’s grace to be less generous than an Old Testament believer who served God under the Law?"  In other words, should Jesus Followers be stingy in their generosity?!  The answer, of course, is "no."  If anything, Mark offered, Christians should start with 10% of their first fruits and go up from there.  Grace has freed us to live generously.

I was struck to my soul.  In the sometime imminent sale of our house, in the receiving of a new salary, in the blessing of all things provided us, I must offer to God the best portions.  Not just out of obedience to a law or command, but out of the grace-shaped soul he has reborn within me.  How could I not want to open up everything to God when he has poured out his Spirit and salvation and redemption and blood for me?  I love him today… and want him to have my best.

5 Comments

  1. the ten percent thing cannot be unequivocally argued with Scripture. however, that God truly owns everything and our very breath is a gift from God can be. we are supposed to give joyfully and i think each one of us knows the times that our generosity has been most joyful.
    rachel and i have always enjoyed surprising people through joyful “offerings”…and not getting a tax receipt can be a very liberating experience! we could have put some of our offerings towards paying down student loans (etc) but honestly, we would have missed out on so much joy in seeing others’ needs met. give hilariously my friend…

  2. Thanks guys. Great comments. This is a very good time for Kathy and I to be listening to God about how much first fruits to be giving him. It’s an offering of praise, thanksgiving, honor, dependence, reverence, joy and love. It’s not a religious duty or rotary club membership due. It’s an act of devotion. How can we best be a fragrant offering to our God?

  3. Something to think about…
    18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
    “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
    20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
    Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
    I think many people automatically assign tithing to Old Testament and Law yet it clearly predates law. Three years ago I attended an interesting training seminar studying giving in Judaism. The Hebrew Scholar who delivered the lecture reckoned that a careful study of Judaistic giving, ie tithe(s) and offering was more accurately 25% of their income. If you ask me, it’s all his and I need to make sure that I don’t become a Robber of God “”Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
    “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
    “In tithes and offerings.” Mal 3:8

  4. as far as generosity and dependance go, the woman who gave her “penny” as a tithe is both challenging and inspiring.
    on the other hand, what is the difference between a tithe and an offering? Did those in the early church tithe or give offerings, or both? did they continue to tithe at the temple and also give offerings to the Apostles who would distribute as needs arose? Some of the offerings were quite generous (money from land).
    people in the church today usually refer to tithes in the 10% catagory, and offerings in the “support of needs” catagory. is this right? is it biblical or is it cultural.
    i understand Buchanan’s point and passion here, and yet i’m not convinced that our thoughts and convictions about tithing are entirely biblical…and by that i mean it’s not just about debating the old testament stuff but actually asking the questions surrounding the purpose of the tithe. Could the church be stewarding its resources and monetary gifts in more biblical ways?
    love to hear your thoughts on these…

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