The topic of tithing in a church seems to get more people riled up than lots of other issues, tune in today to hear what Jesus had to say on the topic and ways people can slide off into the deep end. Jump in with us in Sections 138 (compare to 198) of the Gospel Harmonies @ https://www.harmonychurch.cc/tracking-jesus-timeline/. IT’S EASY TO GIVE at Harmony, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give ).
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One time, early in our relationship. Jenni and I went up to Colorado to Pikes Peak. It was beautiful. We had hiked through the woods and were up on the side of this cliff, it wasn’t particularly treacherous, but it was steep. Jenni and I had climbed out on this fallen dead tree to get a picture and we were balancing there. I did what any dumb young buck trying to impress his woman would do in that situation. I thought, “I’ll just pick her up and put her on the other side of me to show her how strong I am…” Lol. I don’t know what I expected her to do, swoon? So, I put my arm around Jenni and tried to swing her around to the other side of me. But instead of swinging her around, I ended up loosing my balance and throwing her down the mountain. I fell off the tree too and jabbed my chest with a stick. Lol, needless to say, Jenni wasn’t impressed.
I’ve been in several situations in my life where it felt like it was so easy to slip off one side to another.
-Some of you feel that in your relationship with your spouse right now, you have had a rough go of it and you are walking on a tight wire trying not to make him mad.
-Your parents seem to get set off at the slightest thing and you’ve been walking on pins and needles every time you’re in your house, you try not to be there as much as possible because of it.
This past few weeks we’ve been talking about money, possessions, and eternity.
I’ve been thinking about the two edges people slip off into when it comes to tithing.
Tithing is the biblical principle where someone who loves God gives 10% of their income back to God.
I know, some of you are like, “oh man, here we go again….” If you’re worried that all churches care about and talk about is money I would encourage you to stick around and hear me out. I get having a preconceived idea about something…
Our executive pastor David did this weightless transformation for like the past year or more. He’s lost over 135 pounds. I watched him, but honestly, I’m a skeptic at heart. I’ve lost lots of weight before and I kept thinking, we’ll see when you gain it all back. and I don’t want another diet. I finally put aside my skepticism and tried what he was doing and found out it’s transformational.
What if your skepticism was turned to transformation today?
It doesn’t hurt (or cost) you to listen…
Listen, there are a million things we can slip off into one side or another and tithing is no different.
There are two sides that Christians typically slip off into.
Today, I want to share those two sides and then show you a different way to think about tithing
1. The first way Christians slide off the end with tithing is to neglect its importance.
This view says tithing is an old testament thing, it’s not important, and it views tithing as optional (at least treats it that way)
The problem with this way of thinking about tithing is that it ignores that the tithe is the way God has set up funding His kingdom.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Typically, this passage is preached about testing God and you finding your blessing, which is a perfect ok way to preach it.
But I want you to notice what neglecting the tithe does.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,” Why? “that there may be food in my house.”
God wants his people to bring the tithe because they are starving ministry when they don’t.
I normally don’t like to use illustrations that feel like brow-beating, so I want to be careful here. My goal is not to make you feel guilty, but did you know Harmony has about 55 givers per week? I don’t have access to names or amounts, and I like it that way. But what I do know that you guys don’t know is that our staff are masters at taking a little bit of money and making it go a long way. I don’t like talking about money, but one of my dreams for our church is for us to get to a point where we can do ministry to neighborhoods in our community or help with putting Christmas presents out for people who don’t have them without having to question whether we have the resource to do it or not. We don’t talk about it a lot because it’s not who we are, but it also doesn’t help you to know that literally, there are times when our ministries are starving because we just simply don’t have the resource.
Listen, this isn’t to guilt you, there are lots of reasons a person may not tithe. Maybe you’re new to the church. Maybe you didn’t even know it was God’s desire. Maybe you had never thought of it.
When we neglect the tithe it steals from God (His words not mine)
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.
2. The second way Christians slide off the end with tithing is to over-inflate its importance and become legalistic about it.
This was the view during Jesus’ day for the Pharisees.
These people have good intentions, but they inflate the tithe to be overly important.
they browbeat people with how little they give and are so concerned about getting it right that if they are off by pennies, they try and figure out what’s wrong.
This too misses it…
This is actually what Jesus was coming against one day when He was at a Pharisee’s house. It’s interesting because he says the exact same thing he’s about to say, but He’ll say it towards the end of his life, I’ve put a comparison of these two sections in the harmonies online.
Jesus is at this Pharisee’s house and the guy is an absolute legalist.
The Pharisees get painted as “bad guys” a lot of times when people preach, but they were just trying to honor God with their lives by obeying the law of Moses.
This guy is mad at Jesus because He hadn’t performed the ritual hand washing the Pharisees did before eating and Jesus lays into him.
The crux of everything Jesus says in this conversation is this, “you try to honor God with legalistic fervor, but you are missing the heart of God”
Listen to this passage from Luke
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
Matthew Jesus had time to work on delivery of this line and He adds:
24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Most people slide off into making Tithing nothing, or they (mostly pastors) slide off into making it everything.
I want you to notice what Jesus makes it, Jesus makes tithing a LITTLE thing.
Notice He says: You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
What He’s concerned with is that they’ve taken the time to strain out a gnat (tithing their dill & basil) but are swallowing a camel (neglecting the greater things of God, Justice, and Love).
For Jesus tithing is the easy stuff, it’s the no-brainer, and it’s the learner’s permit.
Tithing shouldn’t even be taking up brain space because it’s just what people who love God do!
Jenni and I were talking about this the other day, because for us, neither of us grew up in a family where tithing and giving was really an important thing. But when I cam to know Jesus, and her too. It was just like the obvious things to do. Not because we are spiritual giants but because it so much reflected the heart of Jesus. The whole message of Christianity is giving yourself away for others. It’s why Jesus is SO mad at the Pharisees for not loving and having biblical justice – like caring for those who are getting treated unfairly. Because they are neglecting the very character of God.
For me, tithing was just reflecting the character of God.
Jesus did talk about tithing, when He did, He talked about it as the no-brainer of faith. Because anyone who actually realizes what they have received in Jesus would never be so tied to their wealth that held onto it in spite of trusting God with their whole life.
Listen, you may think this is about padding my pocket, I get it. I promise you it’s not. This is about you getting the little things straight in your life so you can focus on the big things, like love and Justice, seeking first the Kingdom of God. So much so that if you don’t trust me, start tithing to a church like Regeneration Church here in town that’s doing great things. See if as you turn your heart to God, He doesn’t start to work in yours.