Transcript: Episode 0068

This transcript:
  1. Was machine generated.
  2. Has not been checked for errors.
  3. May not be entirely accurate.


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Welcome to the Stone Choir Podcast.

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I am Corey J.

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And I'm still, whoa.

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On today's Stone Choir, we're going to be discussing tithing.

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We thought that this would be an interesting, mild continuation of the last couple episodes where we dealt with jealousy and zealousness, which involved possession.

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And in last week's episode, which dealt with inheritance, passing on things which are owned by one generation to the next, which includes obviously both material things and spiritual things and others.

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This week, as we talk about tithing, we're going to be talking about one of the obligations in the Christian life to give as you live.

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And inheritance is something that is passed forward to a future generation, or in the case of a dowry, momentarily.

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Something like tithing is more or less an ongoing process.

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So today we're going to talk about what is in scripture in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and then what should it look like today, especially as we're dealing with the church in its current state.

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So before we get into the episode proper, just a bit of very brief housekeeping.

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If you go back to listen to episode 63 on Repentance, we introduced that we are going to be shipping some challenge coins very soon.

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Corey just got the physical samples of them.

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They look awesome.

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In the show notes, we will have the actual pictures of both sides of the coin, and we will be linking again where you can find the shop link in the show notes.

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We'll also be posting those on social media.

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We already linked the images on Telegram a couple days ago for folks who are participating in that daily discussion.

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Through next Monday morning, so next Sunday night, we will still have free shipping, and after that shipping is only two bucks, so it's not a big deal.

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The regular price for the challenge coins is now $42, and once Corey gets the shipment in, he'll have to process them all.

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I wish I could share in that burden, but it's kind of a one-man job, and it's going to him, so that's how some of these things go.

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It's probably going to be a month or so before those start going out.

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We'll let you know, obviously, when that happens.

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If you haven't ordered yet, there are going to be a ton of them.

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If you're listening to us a year from now, you should probably still be able to get your hands on one.

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Shipping won't be free anymore, sorry.

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But if you're a listener regularly, you want to get free shipping, you didn't order one yet, you can use a coupon code that will be in the show notes that's shipped for free with a numeral.

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The Challenge Coin, as I mentioned in Episode 63, we described what it is.

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We have now the pictures of it.

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Basically, it's a token of our appreciation and thanks for you for helping to support the show.

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Corey and I, you know, take a lot of time to do this and it's completely free.

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Like we said in one of the very first episodes about paywall and God, this is a podcast.

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Podcasts are free inherently, and this is a completely unmonetizable podcast because no one's ever going to advertise with crazy men like us.

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So it really makes a big difference to folks who have been supporting us for the last year or so.

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Everyone who's donated anything, everyone who's shared the show has also helped.

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But if you would specifically like to contribute to what we're doing here, we really appreciate it.

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The Challenge Coin is a way for you to do that and for you to get a really cool token back.

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The neat thing about Challenge Coins is they're totally worthless.

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It has no monetary value.

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It doesn't do anything.

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It's just really nice to hold and to touch, have in your pocket, have on a desk.

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It could potentially be a great conversation starter if you think there's somebody who might potentially be an interesting person to listen and to introduce to Stone Choir.

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That might be a way you could bring it up casually.

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And I think down the road, it's also probably be a little bit of a necklace for quite a few of us, where you're not necessarily gonna say anything, but if someone happens to see it, they'll think it's cool.

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Or it's an identify friend or foe sort of thing, because there are certainly folks who wanna find out who's listening and not for good reasons.

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But so it goes, that's the world that we're in today, and we're happy warriors.

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We should all be happy warriors.

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We belong to God and He'll take care of us.

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And so we're very appreciative to everyone who is willing to chip in and help us out.

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And we're looking forward to you being able to share the excitement with other folks that you meet, who are also listeners.

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That a ton of people recently saying that folks they've run into in real life also listen to the show, which is wildly improbable, because it's still really small.

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We have a small audience by most standards now.

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So the fact that random people are running into each other in the real world who also listen without having told each other is amazing.

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It's really mind blowing.

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So if you both have challenge coins, you'll be excited and you can compare who has the lower number and the other guy's got to buy you a beer or coffee or whatever.

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On the subject of tithing today, as I mentioned, it's a Christian obligation, but we're going to talk about how the obligation has changed over time.

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So there are kind of three elements to the premise of tithing.

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The first is the Levitical law during the Old Testament, during the Jewish period of the Old Testament, when there was a specific requirement for that specific people to give a specific amount to a specific place.

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And so that was effectively the tithe.

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It was stipulated by God.

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But additionally, when you look throughout the Old Testament, it wasn't simply that you have to give 10% and then you're done.

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There were other elements where it was reiterated, including in Proverbs 3, where God says, honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce, that your barns may be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine.

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Not grape juice, wine.

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Sorry, Baptists.

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This is one of those many promises that God gives where there's a command and a promise tied together, just as in the fourth commandment, where God says, honor thy father and mother, that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest live long on the earth as a command to do something and a promise that God will bless those who do it.

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And we've said before, unfortunately, Protestants are so allergic to works righteousness that when God says, obey me and it will go well, we just plug our ears like, no, no, no, that sounds like works righteousness, that's salvation.

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No, it's not.

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It's not salvation.

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It's like, if I tell you, don't eat something that's gonna hurt your stomach, and then you eat it and it hurts your stomach, is that wrath from God?

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At some points, like just don't do the thing that's bad for you.

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So there are lots of things that are baked into creation, like honoring your father and mother, that are inherently blessed.

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If you have a good family relationship intergenerationally, that's a blessing to everyone.

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It's a blessing to you, to your family, to your community, and God blesses it.

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It's an active thing where God is active in creation.

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That's also the case with tithing, with giving back to God.

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And as we'll go through a number of these verses today, the underlying premise is something we've also talked about many times, which is that everything is from God.

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It's not like God needs our money or our anything, because where did the stuff that we have come from?

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God gave it to us.

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Whatever you have is already from God.

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So if He gives you something and then say, you should do, and He tells us you should do this with it, well, you just do it, because He gave it to you, and He's the Creator.

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He's God Almighty.

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It's not that He needs your money or whatever.

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It's that He says, here you go, do this.

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That should be a very simple thing for any believer to follow through on.

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And, you know, it's not simply money.

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I've said before, the air in your lungs, the fact that there's oxygen that's keeping you alive is a blessing from God.

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And then you work up from there.

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Every night that you go to bed and you have a bed and your stomach is full, you're not hungry and you're not cold, that's a blessing from God.

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All these things are blessings from God.

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And when He withdraws those blessings by degrees, you know, eventually each of us will take our last breath.

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We're still blessed with the promises of what is to come for those who are believers.

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So God is always pouring out His blessings.

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And then when He tells us something specific, we're not saving ourselves, we're not earning our salvation by obeying Him.

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We're just like, okay, these are the rules.

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These are the table stakes for me being alive and being a believer.

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And one of them is the notion of the tithe, not the mechanical specific rules of the Old Testament, but the notion that God has given, we will give some back to Him.

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Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all you produce.

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That's the premise that runs throughout all the passages that we have today.

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The third thing that I want to mention is that this is also a matter of wisdom, because when we're looking at the current state of the church today, we're looking at our congregations, our denominations, maybe our pastors, or the absence of a pastor, whatever situation you have in your local Christian context, the tithe no longer has a specific meaning or a specific rote set of rules.

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So, I'm not going to bury the lead.

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At the very end of this, we're not going to have a checklist of here's exactly how much you give and here's to whom you give it.

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We're not going to say, here are five places where you must give money.

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There's none of that.

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This is all matters of wisdom.

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And I want to specifically highlight that upfront, because when you're looking at the premise of tithing, of giving back to God those things which he has given to us for the benefit of the church and for the benefit of all, it's important to understand that we have our own personal context, we have our family context, we have our church context and those change over time.

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So one of the reasons that it's crucial for us not to get hung up on, I need a Bible verse that says that I give this much to this place.

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If you have that mindset, you're just going to get locked into something that it may not work next year, may not work in five years.

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The thing that's right to do today, may be the wrong thing to do in a couple of years.

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And it's not that God changed, it's that the circumstances changed.

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You know, the specific example we have in mind, obviously, is if you're giving to a church or a church body that you believe is faithful, and then they become unfaithful, do you continue giving them God's things when initially you're giving them for good purposes, and then they're using them for evil purposes?

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Even if it's 98% good and 2% completely wicked, what do you do with that?

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Think of the context of you as a parent giving a child an allowance.

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If you find out one day that your kid is spending their allowance money from you on drugs, would you reduce their allowance money by whatever portion they were spending on drugs?

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Or do you cut them off entirely and deal with that situation, and make sure that they don't get any surplus like that that could be abused to their detriment until you solve the spiritual problem?

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It's the same thing in our churches.

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So when we're doing something, I would have very different comments two years ago than I have today because circumstances have changed in a number of our churches, and our knowledge of them has changed.

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So as a matter of wisdom, not only is there not a specific formula in a specific checklist, but it's necessary for us to think about this stuff and to keep thinking about it over time.

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To just take stock periodically as a Christian who's trying to be a faithful steward of God's gifts and make sure that the thing that was the right thing to do five years ago or last year or last week, is it still the right thing to do today?

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Is it the right thing to do five years from now?

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In some cases, unfortunately, because of the sinful state of the world, those answers may change.

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Now, if everything were working perfectly, they wouldn't change.

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It's not that this is a normal part of the Christian life.

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It's not a part of the Christian life when everything's working well.

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It's a part of the Christian life because we live in a fallen world where things in particular today are going off the rails in some ways that we haven't seen in a long time.

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So we're not going to give any pad answers.

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This isn't even an episode with homework.

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This is an episode with the burden of, you're going to have to think about this later.

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What am I going to do in my life?

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And then you're going to have to remember in a few years to think about it again.

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Is what I'm doing with my tithe still the right thing to do with it?

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You know, maybe you set a schedule, maybe you set a calendar reminder and just take stock once a year, whatever.

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Like it's again, there's no rule for it.

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It's just you as a steward of God's gifts to you have to make sure they're being spent wisely, both on your end and on the end of the recipients.

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So that's going to be the framework for what we discussed today.

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Please keep all that in mind because at different times, there are different right approaches and there's no one-hand approach for everyone.

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But the overarching principle that everything that we have is from God and that we are to be faithful stewards of it guides everything that we're going to talk about here today.

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As is so often the case, one of the first things we need to go over and properly understand for this topic is just the meaning of the word itself.

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That has been the case in many past episodes, including some of the recent ones, where we've had to carefully define terms.

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And so in order that we understand precisely what is meant, in this case, it's actually very straightforward.

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It's just something that most people overlook.

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The word tithe means tenth.

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It is simply an Old English word that morphed into a Middle English word, and then we retained it.

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But over time, we've sort of lost an understanding of what it means.

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And again, it's very simple.

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It means tenth.

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It is both the ordinal form of ten in Middle English, actually, because Old English, it's teotha, and then it became tithe.

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You can spell it with a Y or an I in Middle English.

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In Modern English, we use tenth.

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It's the same word.

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And of course, this comes from the scriptural understanding of what it means to tithe, which was the giving of a tenth.

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Now, as Woe said in his introduction, it isn't necessarily the case that we give a tenth of everything we receive today.

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However, that is the general recommendation in scripture.

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So perhaps that should be, if not aspirational, at least a guideline for what we do.

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There will be those who give less because perhaps they cannot give that much.

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And there will be those who have been blessed significantly who give far more than 10%.

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If God has blessed you with hundreds of millions of dollars, you're making some obscene amount of money every year, you should probably be giving more than 10%.

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God has given you that wealth in order to benefit others.

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He has not given it to you just so that you can amass it.

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You are not some sort of Tolkienous dragon.

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That's not what you do with wealth.

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It is a gift from God.

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It is one of those talents in the parable that you are supposed to use.

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You are supposed to be productive with it, not simply hoard it.

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But to turn to scripture, we actually do not have recorded in scripture the first instance of a tithe.

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And the reason that I feel confident saying that is that we see the first instance in Genesis 4, the first recorded instance, and that of course is Cain and Abel, so I'll go ahead and read that.

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In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the first born of his flock and of their fat portions.

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And the Lord had regard for Abel in his offering, but for Cain in his offering he had no regard.

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So Cain was very angry and his face fell.

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The Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry and why has your face fallen?

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If you do well, will you not be accepted?

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And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.

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Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.

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So this is the first recorded instance of tithing, of an offering to God.

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That's what's being done here.

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However, they were taught this by Adam and Eve.

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And so undoubtedly we have some sort of tithing happening with Adam and Eve that is simply not recorded.

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But let's look at what is happening specifically here in this passage with Cain and Abel.

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Why is Abel accepted?

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Why is his offering accepted and Cain's is not?

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The passage itself, the wording in the passage, actually gives us some of the necessary information, hints at it very strongly.

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With the word choice, Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.

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Abel gave the first and best to the Lord.

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Tithing above and beyond just being ten percent is the first ten percent.

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It is that portion of what God has given you that you give back to God, and you give that to God off the top.

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It's not after all these other things are done, then whatever is left over, I'll give God some little portion of that.

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Now, there are those who do that.

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And really, what they're doing is missing out on God's blessings.

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This isn't prosperity gospel.

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It isn't, you know, you sow a seed and you'll get something great.

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But Scripture does very clearly speak of blessings from God for the cheerful giver.

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And of course, that's part of this.

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And it's part of what plays into this passage with Cain and Abel.

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You have to look at this in light of the disposition of the heart of Cain and Abel.

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Abel is the joyful giver.

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Abel has faith.

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He is a Christian.

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Cain is not a joyful giver.

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Cain is not giving of the first born or the fat portions, which you can do with fruit of the ground as well, which just means produce.

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It's not that God has regard only for animals and not for produce.

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So if you are an apple farmer, that doesn't mean that you have to go out and get sheep or else God's not happy with you.

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The issue is giving that first portion, giving what is best to God, because that is giving thanks for the whole.

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Fundamentally, that is what tithing is.

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You are giving a portion back to God to give thanks for the whole of what He has given you, because you aren't called to give everything you have to God, unless, of course, God gives you that specific command.

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There is the rich young man in Scripture.

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If God tells you specifically, sell everything and follow Me, then you do that.

00:19:41.432 --> 00:19:44.352
But Jesus is not currently walking around telling us to do that.

00:19:44.932 --> 00:19:48.292
So we give a portion in order to give thanks for the whole.

00:19:49.272 --> 00:19:59.632
Because all of the things that we have, whether it is resources or goods or money, whatever it happens to be, all of those things are from God.

00:20:00.012 --> 00:20:01.552
They are all blessings from Him.

00:20:01.852 --> 00:20:05.592
And we return that thanks to God via tithing.

00:20:06.652 --> 00:20:15.012
And we will look more into the passages that deal with what God says about tithing and why we are to tithe.

00:20:16.752 --> 00:20:22.652
But another passage in Genesis that I would like to cover is from Genesis 14.

00:20:22.672 --> 00:20:28.872
This is another one of the explicit instances of tithing, perhaps one of the most explicit in Scripture.

00:20:30.032 --> 00:20:39.092
After his return from the defeat of Kedilamer, and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh, that is, the king's valley.

00:20:39.612 --> 00:20:42.832
And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine.

00:20:43.272 --> 00:20:56.332
He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram, by God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.

00:20:57.172 --> 00:20:59.312
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

00:21:01.872 --> 00:21:04.372
That's Abram tithing to Melchizedek.

00:21:05.612 --> 00:21:11.932
He is giving it to the church, as it were, in this case, and we'll go over that in more detail later in the episode as well.

00:21:13.172 --> 00:21:16.532
But Abram just received a great deal of goods.

00:21:16.732 --> 00:21:26.312
Now, he doesn't keep all the goods, incidentally, but that's a matter for another time, if we're doing an episode perhaps on Genesis, or if I pick up that study again.

00:21:27.132 --> 00:21:34.312
The important focus for the sake of this episode is the simple fact that Abram gives a tenth of everything.

00:21:35.612 --> 00:21:43.152
He tithes all of the goods that he has been given, and he has a great deal of them at this point.

00:21:43.172 --> 00:21:44.492
He has been blessed by God.

00:21:44.492 --> 00:21:48.072
He has gold and silver and slaves and flocks.

00:21:48.552 --> 00:21:49.652
He is a wealthy man.

00:21:50.892 --> 00:21:56.412
He gives a tenth of that to God, because he is giving thanks to God for what God has given him.

00:21:57.092 --> 00:21:58.352
And he is a cheerful giver.

00:21:59.012 --> 00:22:01.212
He is not giving this because he is compelled.

00:22:01.512 --> 00:22:03.792
He is not giving it because there is compulsion here.

00:22:04.232 --> 00:22:16.212
He is giving it because he recognizes this is one, his duty, and two, his privilege, because he is giving back to God joyfully in response to all the things that God has given him.

00:22:17.152 --> 00:22:21.712
This is similar to how we love God and we react to God.

00:22:21.732 --> 00:22:22.732
What does Scripture say?

00:22:22.752 --> 00:22:24.752
We love God because he first loved us.

00:22:25.932 --> 00:22:33.572
This is similar in that God has given all these things to us first and then we give them back to God in thanks for what he has done.

00:22:35.832 --> 00:22:49.952
That is a fundamentally important part of the mindset for this, because if we have this thought that all of these things are ours by right, and we hold them and it's mine, no one else has a claim on it, it is mine alone.

00:22:51.872 --> 00:23:09.052
You have to balance the proper jealousy of which we spoke in the previous episode entitled jealousy and what it means to be, one could say greedy or self-centered, is having the wrong disposition with regard to those things.

00:23:10.212 --> 00:23:21.392
You are jealous and the sole owner of certain things, but other parts of your wealth, other parts of your blessings are yours as a steward.

00:23:21.972 --> 00:23:24.312
They are yours to use toward good ends.

00:23:25.012 --> 00:23:27.412
And so your wife is yours alone, period.

00:23:28.012 --> 00:23:28.892
End of discussion.

00:23:29.432 --> 00:23:31.332
You are jealous of her and that is right.

00:23:32.552 --> 00:23:52.912
Your wealth, you are jealous of it in so far as it is yours because God has given it to you as a blessing, but you are to turn around and use that wealth for the good of the church, for the good of your neighbor, for the good of others, not just to hoard it again, that you are not a dragon, that's not what you are supposed to do.

00:23:53.872 --> 00:23:56.652
And so tithing is part of how you do that.

00:23:57.712 --> 00:24:03.452
It's part because if you have been blessed above and beyond, then you do more than tithing.

00:24:04.332 --> 00:24:06.972
Everyone always thinks of tithing as being money.

00:24:07.612 --> 00:24:08.572
It's not just money.

00:24:09.252 --> 00:24:14.972
You can tithe in other ways, and we used to understand this as a culture, because men used to tithe in other ways.

00:24:16.452 --> 00:24:24.412
If you were a pastor of a rural parish, you didn't get your entire salary in money, in cash, in coins.

00:24:25.252 --> 00:24:36.292
You received part of your salary in goods, because many of your congregants would have been farmers, and so they would have literally given you out of the flock, out of the harvest.

00:24:36.552 --> 00:24:43.992
You would have received a bushel of apples, or a goat, or something like that, because that was how those farmers could tie.

00:24:44.012 --> 00:24:49.872
They didn't have money, they didn't have cash, so they tithed out of what God had given them.

00:24:50.572 --> 00:24:51.932
And the same is true today.

00:24:53.012 --> 00:25:16.052
Now, for some, perhaps quite a few of those listening, you probably don't have livestock, you probably don't have crops, but you do have skills, you do have things that God has given you, and you can tithe of your time, because you can give your time back to the church, to your neighbor, to those who are in need.

00:25:16.472 --> 00:25:29.232
And Scripture frequently speaks not just of the church as the recipient of the tithe, but also the neighbor who is in need, the widow, the fatherless, those who actually are again in need.

00:25:30.252 --> 00:25:35.912
That is part of what the purpose of the tithe is, to fulfill that need, to do good for the kingdom of God.

00:25:36.772 --> 00:25:39.132
And so you can give of the things that God has given you.

00:25:39.152 --> 00:25:43.352
They don't have to be actual physical money.

00:25:43.372 --> 00:25:45.112
It's not just a matter of writing a check.

00:25:45.272 --> 00:25:49.672
There are many ways in which you can give this tithe back to God.

00:25:50.512 --> 00:25:55.672
And notably, giving the tithe back to God is similar to good works.

00:25:56.272 --> 00:25:58.752
Because good works, God doesn't need them.

00:26:01.012 --> 00:26:03.672
God has no use for you building a shed.

00:26:03.972 --> 00:26:05.092
God doesn't need a shed.

00:26:05.372 --> 00:26:06.532
Your neighbor may need one.

00:26:07.512 --> 00:26:09.712
Good works are rendered to your neighbor.

00:26:10.492 --> 00:26:13.072
And in so doing, you are praising God.

00:26:13.092 --> 00:26:14.332
That is worship of God.

00:26:14.432 --> 00:26:16.092
The same thing is true of your tithe.

00:26:17.292 --> 00:26:20.032
One, you can't actually give money to God.

00:26:21.352 --> 00:26:22.292
There's no way to do that.

00:26:23.052 --> 00:26:24.172
Two, God doesn't need it.

00:26:24.752 --> 00:26:27.032
God has no use for gold or silver.

00:26:27.052 --> 00:26:28.012
He created all of it.

00:26:28.452 --> 00:26:30.772
If he wanted some of it, he would make more.

00:26:32.232 --> 00:26:35.792
So you don't give the money to God because there's no way to do it.

00:26:36.412 --> 00:26:37.992
And second, because he doesn't need it.

00:26:38.772 --> 00:26:43.572
The tithe, the things that you are giving back, go to your neighbor.

00:26:44.832 --> 00:26:49.692
And the way that we used to do this, of course, was by and large through the church.

00:26:50.572 --> 00:27:13.872
Now, as Wo mentioned, if you happen to have the great blessing of having a faithful local congregation, first and foremost, you should be tithing to that local congregation, because then the local congregation can organize the aid to members of the congregation who need it, to your neighbors, to your community, all of this largely local, the way things are supposed to be run.

00:27:15.452 --> 00:27:23.772
That doesn't mean that they can't give money to a larger group, because perhaps your church has an overarching authority of some kind.

00:27:25.072 --> 00:27:35.492
If you happen to have a church body where the regional body is faithful, there's nothing wrong with transmitting some of that funding to the regional body to then distribute as it is needed.

00:27:36.632 --> 00:27:50.972
This is how things ran in Christendom for centuries with some more central organization, because you had godly princes who would actually allocate money to the churches so the churches could then turn around and do good works in the community.

00:27:51.392 --> 00:27:55.372
And that was essentially how their version of welfare ran for centuries.

00:27:56.772 --> 00:28:00.852
To date, we don't always have faithful larger church bodies.

00:28:01.452 --> 00:28:08.712
And so it may be that you need to give your tithe, those resources, the money, whatever it is you're returning to god.

00:28:09.512 --> 00:28:12.472
You may need to give that to the local congregation with strings attached.

00:28:13.072 --> 00:28:17.252
You may need to say, I am giving this and it is earmarked for X.

00:28:18.672 --> 00:28:20.932
It is not to be used for Y.

00:28:22.972 --> 00:28:27.992
It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in that situation, but that is the reality on the ground.

00:28:29.832 --> 00:28:42.352
And if you cannot trust your local congregation, then you can go ahead and use those funds directly to benefit your neighbor, the needy, some other ministry.

00:28:42.852 --> 00:28:45.552
And that is also a point that we need to make.

00:28:46.612 --> 00:28:55.792
You can tithe to other Christian ministries, not just your local congregation, because your tithe does not have to go to just a church.

00:28:56.632 --> 00:28:58.832
Your tithe goes to the church.

00:28:59.352 --> 00:29:06.572
And the distinction between those two that I wish to make is that a church is the local congregation.

00:29:07.272 --> 00:29:09.932
The church is all believers.

00:29:11.072 --> 00:29:23.212
And so if you are helping your neighbor, and I want to expand this even a little bit, because if you are helping your neighbor, if he's a Christian, you're tithing to the church by helping that neighbor.

00:29:24.272 --> 00:29:30.292
Maybe you buy him something he needs, or you donate some of your time, you help in some way that you are able.

00:29:31.952 --> 00:29:34.752
That is of course a good work, and that's part of what it means to be a Christian.

00:29:35.792 --> 00:29:44.212
But the church, in this case, I want to expand the church beyond just those who are currently Christians.

00:29:45.272 --> 00:29:56.952
Yes, your neighbor, your actual physical neighbor, your fellow congregants, those who are closest to you, and of course your family first and foremost, are your primary concern for these things.

00:29:58.172 --> 00:30:05.792
However, those who could become part of the church, so your neighbor who is not yet a Christian, you can do good to him.

00:30:05.812 --> 00:30:15.452
You can use some of that money, some of those resources that you would be giving to a local congregation if the local congregation is a little wobbly on some things.

00:30:16.392 --> 00:30:18.592
You can use that to help that man.

00:30:19.192 --> 00:30:27.932
It may be that those good works rendered to that man will be part of how God, part of how the Holy Spirit works in him to bring him into the church.

00:30:29.452 --> 00:30:38.152
You are not required to give the 10% or whatever percentage it happens to be in your case to the local congregation alone.

00:30:39.132 --> 00:30:52.172
You can use that in service of the church capital C, not just the local congregation, which given the reality on the ground, the things that we face today, is very good news.

00:30:53.232 --> 00:31:08.432
Now it does mean that you may need to do a little more work because it is certainly much easier to write a check and be done than it is to actually find those who are in need, to help those who are in need, to do these things that actually require a little more effort on your part.

00:31:09.852 --> 00:31:14.032
And perhaps that's good, because writing the check can be a little too easy.

00:31:15.072 --> 00:31:19.912
Writing the check seems to be almost performative in some cases.

00:31:19.932 --> 00:31:26.232
I won't say it's a bad thing, I'm not going that far, because certainly tithing again is part of your Christian duty.

00:31:27.552 --> 00:31:39.052
But if all we do is write that check and then say, you know, I'm done, rub my hands together, but I'm right next to the mic, so it would be too loud, if we say that we're done, we've done our Christian duty, that's good enough.

00:31:40.272 --> 00:31:43.792
It really disconnects us from our community, from our neighbor.

00:31:44.352 --> 00:31:56.052
Whereas if you actually go over and get your hands dirty helping your neighbor, that's forming a connection that is different from saying, well, I tithe to my congregation and they'll go and help the needy.

00:31:56.512 --> 00:31:57.752
I'm done, I've done my part.

00:32:00.052 --> 00:32:09.712
We need to be more involved as Christians, not just with our congregations, but also with our neighbors, those around us.

00:32:10.092 --> 00:32:12.452
How many of us even know the names of all of our neighbors?

00:32:14.692 --> 00:32:15.912
That's rare these days.

00:32:16.432 --> 00:32:17.672
Go over and introduce yourself.

00:32:18.472 --> 00:32:19.632
Bring them a cake or something.

00:32:21.612 --> 00:32:28.212
Part of what it means to be a Christian is building up this community and living in connection with others.

00:32:29.072 --> 00:32:32.032
And part of how we do that is this tithe.

00:32:32.792 --> 00:32:41.132
Because the tithe is a portion that is set apart explicitly for good works that aid the Church, capital C.

00:32:42.892 --> 00:32:52.432
And that is fundamentally one of the ways that we grow the Church, that we bring others into the Church, because we are showing them what it means to live as a Christian.

00:32:53.272 --> 00:32:56.992
Not just to claim to be a Christian, but to actually live as a Christian.

00:32:59.132 --> 00:33:09.192
Which by and large, giving that sort of testimony is going to be more compelling than simply standing up and saying, I am a Christian.

00:33:10.912 --> 00:33:17.892
This is one of those things that sometimes make certain Protestants uncomfortable, because it sounds like works righteousness.

00:33:17.952 --> 00:33:21.952
But as Wo mentioned, this is not a matter of salvation.

00:33:23.192 --> 00:33:25.052
This is not a matter of justification.

00:33:25.072 --> 00:33:27.172
We are not saying you are justified by your works.

00:33:27.632 --> 00:33:33.052
We are saying that as a Christian, these things should flow from that living faith.

00:33:33.832 --> 00:33:43.232
And one of the things that flows from that living faith is being a cheerful giver, is giving back that portion of what God has given to you.

00:33:44.312 --> 00:33:53.332
Part of being a faithful Christian, part of having a living faith from which certain things flow, is tithing.

00:33:55.192 --> 00:34:05.192
One of the dangers of the mentality of just writing a check is that it's very easy for that to become effectively outsourcing your good works.

00:34:06.372 --> 00:34:10.272
You have worked hard, you've earned, and you're giving freely and generously.

00:34:11.072 --> 00:34:21.532
But as Cory was saying, if your participation is limited to signing a check or some sort of credit card transaction or whatever, that's a blessing.

00:34:21.552 --> 00:34:22.732
It's a wonderful thing.

00:34:23.432 --> 00:34:24.672
But it's also sterile.

00:34:24.832 --> 00:34:26.572
It's inherently a sterile thing.

00:34:26.592 --> 00:34:35.272
As he said, if you're not getting your hands dirty ever, you're missing out on the blessings that come from doing something hard.

00:34:35.552 --> 00:34:47.032
And although it's hard to earn, it's differently hard to work with others, to work with neighbor, to give time and do the things that may be in some ways for you are harder than just writing a check.

00:34:47.752 --> 00:34:51.972
And just to reiterate, when we're talking about 10% in tithe, it is not a rule.

00:34:52.452 --> 00:34:55.992
This is something that's clear in Deuteronomy 16.

00:34:56.852 --> 00:35:07.732
God says, Three times a year, all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, at the feast of the unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of booths.

00:35:08.232 --> 00:35:10.852
They shall not appear before the Lord empty handed.

00:35:11.272 --> 00:35:17.052
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

00:35:18.132 --> 00:35:19.652
So again, there's no percentage there.

00:35:19.792 --> 00:35:20.652
There's no rule.

00:35:20.672 --> 00:35:22.792
It's just, don't show up empty handed.

00:35:23.172 --> 00:35:23.572

00:35:23.972 --> 00:35:26.992
According to the blessing the Lord your God has given you.

00:35:27.352 --> 00:35:35.392
If God has given you blessings, the first fruits should be foremost in your mind of benefiting neighbor.

00:35:36.052 --> 00:35:40.072
As Corey is saying with the example of farm communities, and that still happens to this day.

00:35:40.092 --> 00:35:49.092
You know, it's often the case in a lot of our congregations, especially smaller ones, they can't afford maybe to hire like a professional handyman or whatever.

00:35:49.652 --> 00:35:55.932
There will be a couple guys in the congregation who do that as a living, you know, or they're just, they're handy.

00:35:55.952 --> 00:35:56.872
They're good with their hands.

00:35:57.172 --> 00:35:58.652
They're competent to do those things.

00:35:59.052 --> 00:36:02.912
Those guys will frequently be, you know, the property managers or something like that.

00:36:03.992 --> 00:36:06.372
That is not only stewardship, that is tithing.

00:36:06.632 --> 00:36:12.452
That is giving of their time and of their abilities specifically in proportion to what God has given them.

00:36:12.972 --> 00:36:25.412
If you're someone who's really good with, you know, electrical or whatever, and there's an electrical problem at church, and it's, you know, licensing-wise, it's fine, and it's the right thing to do, you have done what God would like for you to do.

00:36:25.432 --> 00:36:30.452
Like, He put you in that place, and then there's a problem, and you're the ideal guy to be able to fix it.

00:36:31.192 --> 00:36:33.172
That is, that's a tithe.

00:36:33.772 --> 00:36:43.392
It's not money, it's not a percentage, it's not necessarily time, but when you give back of the abundance of God's blessing, that fulfills this law.

00:36:43.772 --> 00:36:44.532
And it is a law.

00:36:44.852 --> 00:36:47.652
God expects this of us, and He makes it clear.

00:36:47.672 --> 00:36:55.592
One of the other passages from the New Testament that goes even further in a slightly different direction is from Mark 12.

00:36:57.152 --> 00:37:11.752
Jesus in His teaching said, Beware of the scribes who walk around in long robes and light greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers.

00:37:12.232 --> 00:37:14.672
They will receive the greater condemnation.

00:37:15.412 --> 00:37:27.572
As He sat down opposite the treasury and watched people putting their money into the offering box, many rich people put in large sums, and a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.

00:37:28.172 --> 00:37:39.932
And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who were contributing to the offering box, for they all contributed out of their abundance.

00:37:40.312 --> 00:37:45.432
But she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, all that she had to live on.

00:37:47.052 --> 00:37:48.892
This is important for a couple of reasons.

00:37:48.912 --> 00:37:53.592
One, as Corrie said earlier, you are to give of your abundance.

00:37:53.612 --> 00:37:55.872
You're to give because God has given to you.

00:37:56.372 --> 00:37:58.352
And she certainly didn't violate that here.

00:37:58.372 --> 00:38:03.812
And Jesus praised her specifically because she had given everything that she had to live on.

00:38:04.952 --> 00:38:08.092
What sort of a statement of faith is that from the widow?

00:38:08.452 --> 00:38:09.792
What was the widow's might?

00:38:10.912 --> 00:38:12.752
Was she planning to die the next day?

00:38:12.832 --> 00:38:14.672
Was she planning to starve the next day?

00:38:15.252 --> 00:38:15.572

00:38:16.892 --> 00:38:21.112
Her faith gave her the confidence that God would take care of her tomorrow.

00:38:22.492 --> 00:38:33.452
That's one of the key elements of the tithe, is the confession that God, you have given this to me today, I trust that you will continue to bless me in the future.

00:38:33.812 --> 00:38:37.592
So I don't need to hold back the first fruits for my own benefit.

00:38:38.032 --> 00:38:40.832
I don't need to squirrel this away to protect my future.

00:38:41.212 --> 00:38:43.212
I trust that you will take care of my future.

00:38:43.812 --> 00:38:48.212
Which, to be explicit, is not at all to condemn savings or anything like that.

00:38:48.952 --> 00:38:52.712
Good stewardship often means saving and not spending.

00:38:53.352 --> 00:38:55.232
It's a wise and commendable thing.

00:38:55.252 --> 00:38:58.772
And if someone's in a position to be able to save, they should do that.

00:38:59.632 --> 00:39:04.032
But again, this is all a matter of proportion and of what do you have in mind?

00:39:05.012 --> 00:39:12.152
She was compelled by conscience that day to go to the temple and to put in the last two copper taff pennies that she had.

00:39:12.852 --> 00:39:16.572
And it was commendable because she gave everything she had to live on.

00:39:17.072 --> 00:39:19.032
She trusted that God was going to take care of her.

00:39:19.232 --> 00:39:22.432
She trusted that the next day she wasn't going to starve.

00:39:23.192 --> 00:39:29.552
Many times we've cited Matthew 6 as an example of that being the sort of faith that we should all carry throughout everything.

00:39:29.972 --> 00:39:35.952
We trust in God to take care of our bodily needs because we know how much He loves us.

00:39:36.332 --> 00:39:37.192
He loves everyone.

00:39:37.212 --> 00:39:44.492
He loves even the people who hate and curse Him enough to give them oxygen and food and warm beds every night.

00:39:46.312 --> 00:39:52.832
When God loves us that much that He gives us all these things, we can trust that if He's going to love us tomorrow, He's going to take care of us tomorrow.

00:39:53.572 --> 00:39:58.172
So when we pray every day, give us this day our daily bread, that's also a part of it.

00:39:58.712 --> 00:40:10.892
Trusting in God, the confession that I know where my meal came from, it came because I worked hard, but it also came because God put all the other people in the supply chain to bring that to my table.

00:40:11.212 --> 00:40:16.912
Or maybe you grow your own food, and so you've actually done all of the work to put that on your table.

00:40:16.932 --> 00:40:21.812
You know every amount of sweat and time it took to produce that one meal.

00:40:23.132 --> 00:40:26.312
You still understand that that blessing is coming from God.

00:40:27.712 --> 00:40:40.032
This is one of those cases where it's in the world, we frequently see that those who are poorer, who materially have less, oftentimes will give more of what they do have than those who are wealthier.

00:40:40.572 --> 00:40:46.732
It's very common for the people who are closest to the edge, who can see over the edge, to give more generously.

00:40:47.172 --> 00:40:52.692
Because they know that today, they're the ones who are giving some donation to whatever, to help a neighbor.

00:40:53.092 --> 00:40:57.912
And they know that tomorrow, they may well be the recipient of that sort of charity from someone else.

00:40:58.672 --> 00:41:02.432
And today, charity is kind of almost turned into a dirty word, it's not.

00:41:03.052 --> 00:41:05.912
It's someone having and giving to someone who needs.

00:41:07.932 --> 00:41:12.132
The Deuteronomy 16 passage sounds a little bit like Marxism.

00:41:12.652 --> 00:41:14.812
They shall not appear before the Lord empty handed.

00:41:15.132 --> 00:41:17.172
Every man shall give as he is able.

00:41:17.832 --> 00:41:18.912
That's a means test.

00:41:19.612 --> 00:41:22.792
If you have more, you should make sure that you give more.

00:41:23.832 --> 00:41:29.932
There's no proportion, there's no rule or law, there's no specific percentage, but it's the principle.

00:41:30.292 --> 00:41:32.212
And it's a principle that runs throughout all of us.

00:41:33.092 --> 00:41:36.612
When we have, and we're not giving to others, what is it confessing?

00:41:36.932 --> 00:41:45.672
It's saying, I'm going to keep it all back, I don't trust God to take care of me tomorrow, I don't want to help my neighbor, I don't like those guys anyway, they're jerks, I hope they starve.

00:41:46.152 --> 00:41:49.512
Well, the parable of the Good Samaritan tells us about that.

00:41:49.992 --> 00:41:54.972
If you go by someone, see them suffering, and you cross to the other side, you've committed an act of wickedness.

00:41:55.412 --> 00:42:00.792
It's when someone is in immediate need that is the most urgent Christian duty for us to help them.

00:42:02.012 --> 00:42:14.512
And the concept of tithing and charity, as Corey is saying, it goes hand in hand because the tithe, not only is it not 10%, it's an amount that you are able to give consciously and freely.

00:42:15.012 --> 00:42:20.272
And you know, maybe the property steward of your congregation doesn't have much money or whoever it is.

00:42:20.532 --> 00:42:23.292
Whatever you are, there's something you can do.

00:42:23.552 --> 00:42:26.412
Even if you don't have any money, you can still give some of your time.

00:42:26.432 --> 00:42:27.312
You can do something.

00:42:28.472 --> 00:42:29.792
God is happy with all of that.

00:42:30.052 --> 00:42:36.732
He's not sitting there with a spreadsheet, making sure that we are crossing some minimum threshold.

00:42:37.372 --> 00:42:38.392
It's about our hearts.

00:42:39.232 --> 00:42:51.572
You know, I think it's important to consider this in a similar context to when Jesus was teaching them about the fifth and sixth commandments, about saying, you've heard it said, you shall not kill.

00:42:52.292 --> 00:42:53.632
I say, don't hate.

00:42:54.192 --> 00:42:55.812
You've heard it say, don't commit adultery.

00:42:55.832 --> 00:42:57.092
I say, don't commit lust.

00:42:57.952 --> 00:43:02.812
Jesus was pointing out that the law is a lot harder because it's not a number.

00:43:03.092 --> 00:43:03.992
It's not an act.

00:43:04.372 --> 00:43:05.432
It's not a checklist.

00:43:05.832 --> 00:43:06.872
It begins in the heart.

00:43:07.552 --> 00:43:09.652
And this is something that begins in the heart, too.

00:43:10.152 --> 00:43:16.452
Trusting in God to provide for you tomorrow, thanks to God for having provided for you today, that's in the heart.

00:43:16.792 --> 00:43:17.772
That's not a spreadsheet.

00:43:17.792 --> 00:43:18.552
It's not a number.

00:43:18.972 --> 00:43:29.772
It's something that we either completely ignore because we have so much material blessing, which is typical for a lot of people, or we do recognize it, hopefully, in obedience to God.

00:43:29.772 --> 00:43:38.352
And that's the reason for doing this episode, is that we all periodically need a reminder, hey, don't forget, everything that you have is from God.

00:43:38.592 --> 00:43:39.332
It's obvious.

00:43:39.392 --> 00:43:41.052
It's a stupid thing to say, even.

00:43:41.432 --> 00:44:03.372
But we still need to hear it because in some ways, the harder you work for what you have, the more blood, sweat and tears it takes to do the thing and to earn the money or the whatever, the harder it is to acknowledge that not only did God give you the ability to do all those things, but He gave you the opportunity, He gave you the energy to follow through.

00:44:04.052 --> 00:44:07.972
Even all the things where we work really hard on, God is still pouring out His blessings.

00:44:08.392 --> 00:44:12.052
And then He pours out the blessings of whatever remuneration we receive.

00:44:12.292 --> 00:44:13.392
It's always from God.

00:44:13.912 --> 00:44:19.372
It's paramount in all of our thinking about everything, about tithing, about whatever in your life.

00:44:19.652 --> 00:44:21.172
It's always first from God.

00:44:21.932 --> 00:44:26.672
Our lives, particularly as Christians, need to be lives of response.

00:44:27.132 --> 00:44:30.712
Which is why there's a lot of discussion on Stone Choir about doing.

00:44:31.132 --> 00:44:32.552
Not because you can save yourself.

00:44:32.572 --> 00:44:34.272
That's done.

00:44:34.292 --> 00:44:35.512
That's in the rear-view mirror.

00:44:35.812 --> 00:44:42.872
And we give thanks every day that God loved us so much, that even when we didn't know any of this stuff, even when we were doing the wrong things, He still loved us.

00:44:43.332 --> 00:44:44.492
And He gave us salvation.

00:44:44.512 --> 00:44:47.032
He gave us faith to receive that salvation.

00:44:47.392 --> 00:44:48.532
And He gave us scripture.

00:44:48.552 --> 00:44:52.972
And He gave us teaching to understand what He wants for us.

00:44:53.372 --> 00:44:57.712
And then when we're in accord with His will, He pours out His blessings even more.

00:44:58.272 --> 00:45:01.692
It's the best deal you could possibly get, but you have to be aware.

00:45:02.532 --> 00:45:08.772
If you never think about these things, you're just going to casually do whatever, not realizing that you're missing out.

00:45:09.152 --> 00:45:11.392
You're missing out on the good works you could do for your neighbor.

00:45:11.952 --> 00:45:14.152
Like we've said, you're not doing your good works for God.

00:45:14.432 --> 00:45:15.232
God doesn't need them.

00:45:15.552 --> 00:45:17.172
God gave you the good works.

00:45:17.192 --> 00:45:23.372
He prepared the good works in advance for you to do them, to benefit your neighbor, and He's going to give you credit for them.

00:45:24.292 --> 00:45:25.772
We talked about fairness last week.

00:45:25.792 --> 00:45:26.692
None of this is fair.

00:45:27.112 --> 00:45:30.032
It's all God pouring out His blessings, but it happens in real time.

00:45:30.332 --> 00:45:31.532
It happens in creation.

00:45:31.832 --> 00:45:33.612
And it happens often with material.

00:45:34.012 --> 00:45:35.912
These aren't just spiritual matters.

00:45:36.252 --> 00:45:37.652
These are actual material things.

00:45:38.072 --> 00:45:39.372
You need food in your belly.

00:45:39.732 --> 00:45:40.512
You need a bed.

00:45:40.752 --> 00:45:42.212
You need some place to sleep.

00:45:42.852 --> 00:45:46.752
And you never feel that more than when you are lacking it for whatever reason.

00:45:47.472 --> 00:45:56.052
Folks who have actually been on the other side of that chasm where they were lacking those things have a sort of appreciation of those for us who have never experienced that, including me.

00:45:56.392 --> 00:45:58.192
I have no first-hand understanding.

00:45:58.212 --> 00:46:00.612
You know, it's like I can read all of her twist.

00:46:00.632 --> 00:46:02.672
It doesn't tell me what it's like to be an orphan.

00:46:02.992 --> 00:46:05.412
I have no concept of that kind of suffering.

00:46:06.232 --> 00:46:10.012
Those who have experienced it have a special appreciation for God's gifts.

00:46:10.512 --> 00:46:26.032
And frequently they are the ones who are the most active in giving out of gratitude, out of knowing how easy it is, no matter how, you know, all your obedience in the world may not actually turn into you having a bed, because that's not necessarily how it works.

00:46:26.332 --> 00:46:33.152
You know, these blessings and promises are tied, but we're also promised that, you know, bad things will happen.

00:46:33.932 --> 00:46:39.232
And not to everyone, you know, some people leave charmed lives, some people live really rough lives.

00:46:40.272 --> 00:46:41.532
God is blessing everyone.

00:46:41.932 --> 00:47:02.872
And for someone who's lived a rough life, to know how lucky they are when God gives them anything because a neighbor reaches out in charity, you know, when a church is able to provide something for them because someone gave freely and abundantly, they have the sort of appreciation for God's bounty that I think is deprived of most of us because we have so much.

00:47:03.872 --> 00:47:08.872
The mental activity here is really one of the important parts in the heart.

00:47:08.892 --> 00:47:09.932
Like, it's not just a mental thing.

00:47:10.072 --> 00:47:17.192
It's the awareness that we have opportunities to do these good things, and it's a blessing when we can.

00:47:18.332 --> 00:47:22.152
And so don't take this as you must do this to get good things.

00:47:22.472 --> 00:47:24.152
Don't take this as here's the number.

00:47:24.552 --> 00:47:29.932
Take this as a reminder, just as the Lord's Prayer right in the middle says, give us this day our daily bread.

00:47:30.512 --> 00:47:38.992
That's a reminder that every day, just like the manna came down from heaven, we don't have manna raining down today, but most of us are blessed with jobs.

00:47:39.392 --> 00:47:42.812
You have some way of receiving the things that you need.

00:47:43.512 --> 00:47:46.972
And if you don't have that, you're praying for that to return to you.

00:47:47.592 --> 00:47:50.352
And you're thankful for whatever you have in the meantime.

00:47:50.832 --> 00:47:56.372
This thanksgiving for everything that we receive is really a crucial part of the Christian life.

00:47:56.652 --> 00:47:57.752
It's much more fundamental.

00:47:57.772 --> 00:48:00.992
It's even down below the concept of tithing or anything else.

00:48:01.432 --> 00:48:07.032
It's the immediate awareness that what I have was given to me for a purpose.

00:48:07.492 --> 00:48:13.612
Not because I deserved it, not because I earned it all by myself, because God has given me these things.

00:48:14.072 --> 00:48:18.532
And being thankful for them and sharing them with others is truly the least we can do.

00:48:19.132 --> 00:48:22.372
But we're blessed when we do it, because it becomes a joy.

00:48:23.392 --> 00:48:29.992
When the men went to those feasts, and they gave as they were able, according to the blessing of God, they were blessed by it.

00:48:30.672 --> 00:48:32.412
To be reminded is a good thing.

00:48:32.992 --> 00:48:36.632
It's when we do episodes like this, it's to remind people, because it's a good thing.

00:48:36.712 --> 00:48:39.192
This episode is not intended to be any sort of a burden.

00:48:39.212 --> 00:48:42.372
It's like, tsk, tsk, everyone's doing this wrong.

00:48:42.872 --> 00:48:46.052
It's remember all the good things that God has given you.

00:48:46.672 --> 00:48:52.812
And if you've been forgetting, be thankful that you were reminded, and then do something with it.

00:48:53.472 --> 00:48:54.152
Be thankful.

00:48:55.012 --> 00:48:56.712
The Christian life is a joyful one.

00:48:56.732 --> 00:49:01.812
It's not walking around under a cloud, feeling like, man, I can't keep up with all this.

00:49:01.832 --> 00:49:02.592
There's so much to do.

00:49:02.972 --> 00:49:03.232

00:49:04.012 --> 00:49:07.052
What we can't keep up with is the blessings that God has given us.

00:49:07.272 --> 00:49:12.872
And recognizing that in your heart and your mind can make all the difference in your own life.

00:49:13.232 --> 00:49:18.552
It can make you have the sort of confidence that the widow had when she gave her two mites.

00:49:19.272 --> 00:49:22.412
She gave everything that she had because she knew God was going to take care of her.

00:49:22.972 --> 00:49:24.692
She wasn't sad when she did that.

00:49:25.112 --> 00:49:26.112
You can be certain of that.

00:49:26.392 --> 00:49:27.292
She was joyous.

00:49:27.612 --> 00:49:30.972
She knew that she belonged to God and God was going to take care of her.

00:49:31.512 --> 00:49:34.772
Everything about that Jesus commended because he knew her heart.

00:49:35.452 --> 00:49:39.812
And it's plainly obvious, I think, from just the events themselves.

00:49:40.612 --> 00:49:43.532
She gave the last that she had knowing that God would continue to provide.

00:49:43.992 --> 00:49:46.632
She was the wealthiest person in that temple that day.

00:49:48.352 --> 00:49:58.512
We can, of course, contrast the giving of those two half pennies by the widow with the sort of tithing that the Pharisees did.

00:49:59.092 --> 00:50:11.552
Now, before I go over the passages themselves, I do want to point out, even if you are not a particularly cheerful giver, and you should be a cheerful giver, Scripture speaks very clearly on that.

00:50:11.572 --> 00:50:13.392
We'll get to that passage in a little bit.

00:50:14.272 --> 00:50:23.472
But even if you are not a cheerful giver, it is better to tithe with a little bit of reservation, as it may be, than not to tithe.

00:50:25.192 --> 00:50:35.172
To do the good work, even if you cannot muster all of the proper intent, the proper disposition, is still better than not to do the good work.

00:50:36.152 --> 00:50:46.152
So the fact that the Pharisees, and I will read the passage in just a few seconds here, the fact that the Pharisees tithe is a good thing, and they are commended for that.

00:50:47.392 --> 00:50:50.112
But note for what Christ critiques them.

00:50:52.252 --> 00:50:59.852
But woe to you Pharisees, for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God.

00:51:00.592 --> 00:51:03.732
These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.

00:51:04.352 --> 00:51:09.792
Woe to you Pharisees, for you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the market places.

00:51:10.492 --> 00:51:15.752
Woe to you, for you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.

00:51:18.392 --> 00:51:22.072
The Pharisees are commended for tithing.

00:51:23.852 --> 00:51:27.032
These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.

00:51:27.692 --> 00:51:31.392
So the fact that they do not neglect to tithe is a good thing.

00:51:32.172 --> 00:51:33.872
They tithe, they're praised for that.

00:51:35.232 --> 00:51:42.732
Christ critiques them because they neglect the other things that are important in the law, the other things that are more important in the law.

00:51:43.652 --> 00:51:51.592
Justice and the love of God, and incidentally also love for neighbor being the second of the two greatest commandments.

00:51:52.932 --> 00:52:04.552
And so when you tithe, that is a good work, that is a good thing, that is responding properly, it is exercising proper stewardship over what God has given you.

00:52:05.392 --> 00:52:12.252
But you are also to do that cheerfully, and you are to do it in a way that shows that love for neighbor and love for God.

00:52:13.212 --> 00:52:21.672
And that's why, as we've mentioned a couple of times already, just writing the check is good, and you should do that.

00:52:21.692 --> 00:52:37.272
Most certainly, if God has blessed you with material abundance that can be rendered into a check, as it were, or a credit card transaction as is more likely these days, if God has blessed you in that way, then you return thanks for that in an appropriate way.

00:52:38.652 --> 00:52:52.112
But just because it is, let's say, more efficient for you to go out and earn an hour's worth of money than it is for you to go and perform an hour's worth of labor doesn't mean that you neglect the latter.

00:52:53.052 --> 00:52:55.792
These are fundamentally different things, and they are both important.

00:52:57.252 --> 00:53:01.792
To give of the material wealth that God has provided for you is important.

00:53:02.052 --> 00:53:02.912
You are to do that.

00:53:02.932 --> 00:53:03.852
That's part of tithing.

00:53:05.112 --> 00:53:08.052
But you do not form the sort of connection with your neighbor.

00:53:08.432 --> 00:53:09.812
You do not form community.

00:53:09.832 --> 00:53:20.552
You aren't really living a human life, let alone a Christian life, if you don't physically actually interact with your neighbor, with your congregation, with your community.

00:53:22.532 --> 00:53:26.412
And so it may be something like helping him mow the lawn.

00:53:26.992 --> 00:53:35.852
If you happen to have a great lawnmower, and you have an elderly neighbor who is no longer really able to get around to those chores, go mow the lawn for him.

00:53:36.932 --> 00:53:42.332
It won't take that much of your time, most likely, and it is one of those ways that you can actually serve your neighbor.

00:53:43.712 --> 00:53:50.252
It may even be that it would be cheaper, so to speak, for you to pay someone else to do it, but go do it yourself.

00:53:51.372 --> 00:53:57.112
That builds a different connection with your neighbor than if you just paid for a service to go do it for him.

00:53:57.932 --> 00:54:10.792
Even if, again, even if, it would be more economically efficient for you to earn an hour's worth of income and then pay someone else to do it, because they are different things.

00:54:11.812 --> 00:54:19.272
There is that distance and coldness to the relationship if you are simply doing the good works through intermediaries.

00:54:21.272 --> 00:54:26.752
It does not mean that you neglect the one in pursuit of the other, but it does mean that both are important.

00:54:27.272 --> 00:54:33.352
Just like Christ speaks here of the Pharisees tithing as being good, that's proper.

00:54:33.652 --> 00:54:40.612
They are not neglecting that part of the law, but they are neglecting the other parts of the law that are actually more important.

00:54:42.752 --> 00:54:49.272
And so, for instance, we see the self-righteousness of the Pharisee later on in Luke, this time chapter 18.

00:54:49.872 --> 00:54:59.892
The Pharisee standing by himself prayed thus, God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

00:55:00.132 --> 00:55:01.392
I fast twice a week.

00:55:01.812 --> 00:55:03.552
I give tithes of all that I get.

00:55:05.192 --> 00:55:06.272
Is the tithing good?

00:55:06.832 --> 00:55:07.532
Still yes.

00:55:08.432 --> 00:55:10.052
Is his disposition good?

00:55:11.052 --> 00:55:12.092
Very clearly no.

00:55:13.052 --> 00:55:14.392
He is being self-righteous.

00:55:14.412 --> 00:55:15.532
He is praising himself.

00:55:15.552 --> 00:55:18.952
He thinks that he is holier than others because he is doing this thing.

00:55:21.172 --> 00:55:23.072
Is doing a good work a good thing?

00:55:23.292 --> 00:55:24.432
Well, obviously yes.

00:55:25.932 --> 00:55:29.612
Is doing the good work with the right disposition important?

00:55:30.352 --> 00:55:31.172

00:55:31.832 --> 00:55:35.592
Again, it's better to do the good work with an imperfect disposition than not to do it.

00:55:36.532 --> 00:55:38.172
But God requires both of us.

00:55:39.172 --> 00:55:51.772
That is why we see in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere where Christ is explaining the law, and it's not just a matter of doing or not doing the thing, whether the thing is required or prohibited.

00:55:52.432 --> 00:55:59.112
It is also a matter of having the right intent, the right disposition, the right mindset with regard to the thing.

00:56:00.292 --> 00:56:03.012
And so it is one thing to murder another man.

00:56:03.932 --> 00:56:04.892
That would be a sin.

00:56:05.012 --> 00:56:06.632
You are not permitted to do that.

00:56:07.272 --> 00:56:09.832
But it is also a sin to desire to kill him.

00:56:10.652 --> 00:56:11.972
You should not want that either.

00:56:13.212 --> 00:56:14.912
In the case that it is murder, of course.

00:56:15.332 --> 00:56:18.072
We are not speaking of a Genesis 9.6 issue.

00:56:19.792 --> 00:56:23.772
And so with tithing, God loves a cheerful giver.

00:56:24.792 --> 00:56:34.532
Part of this entire matter is having the right disposition, the right mindset with regard to the things that God has given you.

00:56:35.652 --> 00:56:43.832
Because if you have that mindset, then you will be a cheerful giver because you will recognize that God is the one who has provided these things for you.

00:56:44.312 --> 00:57:00.972
He is the one that is giving you everything you have, whatever wealth you have, whatever property you possess, whether it is real property or personal property, the people in your life, your attributes, your skills, your capacities, everything is from God.

00:57:01.752 --> 00:57:10.612
And so when you give, you are cheerfully giving because you are recognizing, you are giving back a portion to God of what he is giving you as thanks.

00:57:12.212 --> 00:57:17.232
And the way that you do that, of course, is by giving to your neighbor because, again, God doesn't need your money.

00:57:18.052 --> 00:57:23.972
And so I'll read from 2 Corinthians 9, which goes over the issue of the cheerful giver.

00:57:25.592 --> 00:57:26.592
The point is this.

00:57:26.932 --> 00:57:32.952
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

00:57:34.052 --> 00:57:41.512
Each one must give as he is decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

00:57:42.252 --> 00:57:50.472
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

00:57:51.112 --> 00:57:57.712
As it is written, He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.

00:57:59.512 --> 00:58:08.012
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

00:58:08.752 --> 00:58:14.692
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

00:58:15.152 --> 00:58:22.572
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

00:58:23.312 --> 00:58:40.312
By their approval of this service, they will glorify God, because of your submission that comes from your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

00:58:40.772 --> 00:58:43.412
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.

00:58:46.392 --> 00:59:02.992
In a handful of passages in Scripture, you will notice there's almost a sort of blurring of the line between what we would consider tithing proper, as it were, because in the modern mindset it really does boil down to money.

00:59:03.092 --> 00:59:06.252
It shouldn't, as we've gone over already, but it sort of does.

00:59:07.912 --> 00:59:22.592
And this issue of good works and faith working out in one's life and seeing a return that isn't a monetary or a physical return, a physical return, as it were, but a return, a harvest of your righteousness.

00:59:24.492 --> 00:59:34.212
Because these things are so intimately and intricately linked that they are not necessarily one and the same, but they are inextricable.

00:59:35.272 --> 00:59:37.852
They are connected in a way where they cannot be disconnected.

00:59:39.512 --> 00:59:45.952
Because the good works that you do, tithing included, is linked to how you share the faith.

00:59:46.692 --> 00:59:54.572
Because living your life as a Christian is of paramount importance when it comes to sharing the faith.

00:59:55.372 --> 01:00:04.712
If you live as someone who, for all the world, does not appear to be a Christian in any way, shape or form, when you stand up and profess Christ, no one will listen to you.

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And quite frankly, they shouldn't listen to you.

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Worse than that, you will probably be doing damage to the kingdom because they will think, well, all Christians are just hypocrites.

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Look at this man who does all of these wicked deeds according to his religion and then says that he's a Christian.

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If you live as a Christian, that is a more powerful testimony of Christ and of the fact that Christ is dwelling in you than if you simply stand up and profess Christ.

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You must live as a Christian and also give the confession.

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And part of living as a Christian is tithing, is returning this portion to God, is serving your neighbor.

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And I know that we've said the word tithing a lot, and we've already mentioned this, but just to make sure we're absolutely clear, tithing does not mean just the giving of 10%.

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It is something greater than that.

01:01:00.692 --> 01:01:02.132
It is something larger than that.

01:01:02.972 --> 01:01:08.012
The tithing in Old Testament Israel in a sense is typological.

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It is the lesser version of what we are to do in the Christian life, because the Christian life is to be a life of service to neighbor, is to be a life of good works, filled with good works, because God prepared them beforehand that we should walk in them.

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And so the Christian life by and large is a life of constant tithing.

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It doesn't mean giving 10% out of your paycheck every week or every two weeks or month, however you happen to be paid, or giving every tenth of your sheep when you count them, as would have been the case in Old Testament Israel and other places.

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That's not what it is.

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Living the Christian life is fundamentally a life of living good works, of performing good works, because God will place them in front of you.

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You will have ample opportunity to engage in them.

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And so that's the anti-type of the typology of the Old Testament tithe.

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Just as the tithe itself is symbolic, because again it is meant to represent thanks for the whole by giving back part.

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Yes, it has the practical aspects of helping to maintain the church, and to aid the poor, the widow, the fatherless, whatever group it happens to be, the needy among you.

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In Old Testament Israel, it supported the temple, the priests, the sacrifices, all of the ritual worship that God had commanded for the Israelites.

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That was what the tithe by and large supported.

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It was still thanks given to God, but it was given specifically to this group in this way at this time, as Will mentioned.

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Today we do not have that.

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And so the Christian life is actually a greater fullness of that than was the life of the Old Testament Israelite, because God has given us abundant opportunities in order to perform good works.

01:03:16.652 --> 01:03:22.192
Giving back to neighbor, to congregation, to community is the Christian life.

01:03:22.472 --> 01:03:25.852
That is how you live in this world as a Christian.

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And so it's not just that 10%, it's not just the tithe.

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Think of the Christian version, the fully Christian version of the tithe as being something greater.

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I am very tempted to say that the tithe is the minimum, and in a way it is, but the reason that I don't want to necessarily say that is I don't want to give the wrong impression, because then there will be those who think, well, I can't give 10% and so I can't possibly be Christian because I can't tithe.

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That's not the issue.

01:04:02.572 --> 01:04:16.372
The 10% is a minimum in the sense of you have to give something back as a Christian, whether it is your time or your money, resources, whatever it happens to be.

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And the 10% is meant to be that symbol of I am giving back this first fruit, this portion, this fat portion of what God has given me in order to represent both the thanks for the whole and my recognition that all of it comes from God and it comes with the duty to help others.

01:04:41.012 --> 01:05:06.092
To help explain that further and to make sure that I'm abundantly clear on the issue of the poor not being required to give 10% and thus reduce themselves into worse or abject poverty, God speaks frequently of His concern for the poor, for the vulnerable, for those in society who are at risk of falling into abject suffering.

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And yes, society has duties with regard to that.

01:05:10.712 --> 01:05:16.172
We've spoken of that before and we'll speak of that undoubtedly in greater detail in other episodes.

01:05:17.932 --> 01:05:31.052
But God actually makes specific provisions for the poor in Scripture and speaks of the fact that we as Christians are supposed to care for the poor and that the poor are not to be burdened with these things.

01:05:31.452 --> 01:05:33.172
The tithe is not meant to be a burden.

01:05:34.532 --> 01:05:38.652
The passage I just recently read, God loves a cheerful giver.

01:05:39.172 --> 01:05:41.072
You are meant to give cheerfully.

01:05:42.232 --> 01:05:43.692
And so I'll read from Leviticus.

01:05:45.052 --> 01:05:54.032
But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as an offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an afav fine flour for a sin offering.

01:05:55.172 --> 01:05:57.532
And then it goes on from there to give more specifics.

01:05:58.312 --> 01:06:05.592
But God provides even with the case of the sin offering for a less expensive version for those who cannot afford it.

01:06:06.032 --> 01:06:08.532
God has concern for the poor.

01:06:09.112 --> 01:06:14.672
None of this is meant to lay a burden on the poor that they cannot uphold.

01:06:16.492 --> 01:06:22.172
We see that, of course, when Christ is rebuking the religious teachers of Old Testament Israel.

01:06:23.272 --> 01:06:27.232
He speaks of laying burdens that they themselves do not even bother to bear.

01:06:27.932 --> 01:06:29.252
That is not what we are doing.

01:06:29.332 --> 01:06:32.132
That is not what any truly Christian teacher will do.

01:06:32.152 --> 01:06:33.312
It is not what Scripture does.

01:06:33.332 --> 01:06:34.592
It is not what God wants.

01:06:36.032 --> 01:06:48.772
And so also in the New Testament from 2 Corinthians, this time from chapter 8 instead of previously chapter 9, we want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia.

01:06:49.012 --> 01:06:57.432
For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

01:06:58.012 --> 01:07:08.532
For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.

01:07:09.112 --> 01:07:16.012
And this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.

01:07:16.752 --> 01:07:22.812
Accordingly, we urge Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.

01:07:23.452 --> 01:07:32.852
But as you excel in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you, see that you excel in this act of grace also.

01:07:34.772 --> 01:07:40.712
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.

01:07:41.152 --> 01:07:50.372
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

01:07:51.012 --> 01:07:53.152
And in this matter I give my judgment.

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This benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work, but also to desire to do it, so now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.

01:08:07.432 --> 01:08:13.672
For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

01:08:14.252 --> 01:08:26.652
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness, your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need and there may be fairness.

01:08:27.472 --> 01:08:33.732
As it is written, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.

01:08:35.772 --> 01:08:42.552
And so here we see, as many other places in Scripture as well, God has a concern for the poor.

01:08:43.432 --> 01:08:48.732
And part of the tithe, part of the purpose of the tithe, is to aid the poor, as Woe mentioned.

01:08:49.252 --> 01:08:51.472
When you have abundance, you aid others.

01:08:52.172 --> 01:08:55.412
When you have poverty, others are supposed to aid you.

01:08:56.892 --> 01:09:01.212
Now, we don't just aid others because, well, we may need it in the future.

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We, of course, cannot escape thinking that, and it's not entirely wrong, but it's not the reason we do it.

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We aid others in thanks for what God has given us, because he has given us the ability to do that.

01:09:15.372 --> 01:09:23.112
Yes, in turn, we hope that if we should fall into poverty or some sort of need, we hope that others will help us.

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The old saying comes to mind, there but for the grace of God go I.

01:09:29.192 --> 01:09:38.432
And of course, flowing from that recognition is supposed to be the desire to help others, to cheerfully give to others, to relieve their need and their suffering as we are able.

01:09:41.572 --> 01:09:45.392
But again, this is not meant to be a burden.

01:09:45.412 --> 01:10:03.492
It is not meant as something where you destroy your financial stability in order to help others, as it is very clear here in Scripture, so that their abundance may supply your need just as your abundance at the present time should supply their need.

01:10:04.632 --> 01:10:07.452
Those who have abundance aid those who have need.

01:10:08.092 --> 01:10:09.712
That is how this is supposed to work.

01:10:10.832 --> 01:10:12.692
That's how everything is supposed to work.

01:10:13.972 --> 01:10:20.552
If you had a truly and fully Christian society, many of these issues would not need to be discussed.

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You would not have the abjectly poor because you would have a godly prince who would provide for them, who would raise them up out of poverty, give them gainful employment, housing, shelter, food, all of these things.

01:10:36.252 --> 01:10:43.292
In a truly Christian society, these are not issues we would even have to discuss because they would be addressed.

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They would simply be a part of the way that we live.

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At present, we do not live in such a society.

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And so what we need to do is to care for those God has placed into our lives with what God has given us.

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And fundamentally, that means understanding those concentric circles of duty.

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Your prime duty is to your family, then your extended family, then your tribe, including your neighbors, your nation, expanding outward.

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Again, you are not supposed to give in such a way that you and yours become burdened.

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For instance, if you were to give away all of your possessions, sell everything, and donate it, that would not be wise stewardship, because you would be reducing your family to poverty, and then you would be reliant on the very charity you were supposedly just exercising.

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You haven't necessarily even made matters better.

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You've just made another person who needs to be supported.

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Part of this, and an inescapable part of this, as Woe mentioned in his introduction, is wisdom.

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You cannot escape having to think through these matters.

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We cannot just hand you a set of, here are five rules, follow these, and you will always be doing what is right.

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It's not that simple.

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Because you know what God has given you.

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You should know what your neighbor needs, what your congregation needs, what your community needs, what you are able to do.

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All of these things are considerations that play into a wise decision as to how you spend the resources that God has given you.

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And part of being a Christian, and particularly a Christian man, is thinking through these matters so that you come to a Christian conclusion.

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There are matters, many of them, and we've gone over them in previous episodes, where you cannot avoid having to think about it.

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There are things left to human wisdom, and this is most certainly one of them.

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Cory read two different portions of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 there.

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And I'd like to encourage everyone at some point after you listen to this episode, open up to 2 Corinthians 8 and read all the way through the end of the book, because there's a lot more that's said about this general subject.

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And there's also some things that are said in 1 Corinthians as well that are related to it.

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And that goes to what is your local congregation doing with your tithe?

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Because as we've alluded to early in the episode and in other episodes, that's an important part of this.

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You are not simply throwing money over the transom and just assuming that God is going to catch it.

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God doesn't have a mailing address.

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There's no where, as Corey said, you can't mail God a check.

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So it's always going to be men doing things in the world with our material possessions.

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That's how it works.

01:13:48.032 --> 01:13:55.532
As a result, part of good stewardship is not simply giving, but in making sure that those things are being spent wisely.

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Now, this isn't intended to be a source of paranoia or zealously guarding in a negative sense what is being done with every last penny, because there's a right way and a wrong way to do that sort of thing.

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We've all seen this.

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There's sometimes where somebody, frankly, they will give something just so they can attach strings, and they show up and you almost wish that they would just not participate because they're going to make it harder.

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And whatever they've given is less of an upside than the downside of them then insisting how it has to be done.

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So when we talk about this next part, I don't want that to be the mentality or the spirit behind it.

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As I said at the beginning in my intro, one of the aspects of the wisdom of understanding how and when we are giving these sorts of things is that the current state of things isn't the way it was, certainly 300, 500 years ago.

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That's obvious.

01:14:57.192 --> 01:15:00.752
What's less obvious is how much things change in 5 years or 10 years.

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How much things change maybe in some congregations or in some denominations, even in a year or two.

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And so, again, if you were giving in good conscience before, it may have been exactly the right thing to do.

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It's possible.

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I'm not saying it's happened, but in some cases it has happened, absolutely.

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We know of some of them.

01:15:21.232 --> 01:15:22.132
It is possible.

01:15:22.332 --> 01:15:34.252
The thing that was a good thing for you to do with the money that you have, the blessings you were given to steward, it may well be that you have to change how you interact with them, that you have to give differently.

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Perhaps you have to suspend giving to one place for a while and look for somewhere else to give it.

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Because, again, in the example of your kid's allowance, if your kid is messing around with something that's harming them and they're using your money to do it, you shut off the spigot.

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That's happening in many of our churches today, too.

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There's not a single denomination that does not have severe spiritual problems.

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I'm not speaking about individual congregations.

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Every congregation has some sort of issues because we're all sinners.

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When sinners show up, you have sinners' problems.

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That's not the same as what we're talking about when we talk about some of the problems at the congregational level.

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We did an episode in the end of last year about the church and the three different levels of the church.

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There's the capital C church, which is all believers.

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That's part of what we've been talking about here today.

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And then the third level is the local congregation.

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And then the intermediate level, the second level of the church is these meta-organizations, these corporations that gather together for the sake of scale.

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And historically, there have been a lot of benefits to that sort of gathering.

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They're called denominations before the Reformation.

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You basically had Rome in the east and then the various patriarchates in the west.

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And that was kind of it.

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So there were no divisions inside nations like we have now.

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We have multiple competing denominations, really.

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In the situation that we have today, those denominations, that second level, they're all in dire straits.

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They're all doing things with our money that in many cases is actively evil.

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And we've talked about some of those things in the context of the LCMS last year in a couple of episodes.

01:17:21.612 --> 01:17:26.912
That evil has gotten worse in the LCMS, and it's also gotten worse in some of the other denominations.

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So as Corey mentioned earlier, I don't want to say explicitly one of the things that you can do in your local context, either as an individual parishioner, as someone who's a leader in your congregation.

01:17:39.952 --> 01:18:02.892
If you are aware that there are issues upstream, and your congregation is giving money upstream to a district or whatever the equivalent is in your denomination, if they're doing bad things, I think that in most cases, we need to get to the point that we stop just concerning ourselves with politics.

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What I mean by that is that there's always a degree of church governance upstream from us.

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You should be engaged in your local congregation and then upstream at the higher level, the denominational level, there's also stuff going on.

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And most of the time, most of it's not actually trickling down to the local congregation, which is why it's entirely possible for a very good, very Christian congregation to be in a denomination that's kind of a dumpster fire.

01:18:29.572 --> 01:18:30.452
It does happen.

01:18:31.052 --> 01:18:37.292
What is not sustainable is that that will only be the case as long as that pastor is there with those people.

01:18:37.612 --> 01:18:46.532
When the pastor moves on or he retires or he dies, somebody new is going to come from the denomination, from elsewhere, from outside of the congregation in most cases.

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And he's going to bring all the baggage with him that has been going on behind the scenes.

01:18:52.192 --> 01:19:10.532
So if you become aware that there are problems upstream and you look at your local church budget and you are financing those problems, don't wait a few years for the next convention to try to get other people together to have a sternly worded resolution to condemn the blah, blah, blah.

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You don't have to do the political thing.

01:19:14.172 --> 01:19:15.492
Maybe that's the appropriate thing.

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Maybe as a matter of Christian wisdom, that is the right approach.

01:19:19.972 --> 01:19:32.932
It is also in the cards for us as Christians as good stewards of the money we are given to say, I will no longer transmit my money, my tithe to people who are doing things outside of this congregation that are harmful.

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And as we've said before, the LCMS is one of the denominations that's in that shape.

01:19:39.192 --> 01:19:43.412
At this point, congregations need to be cutting off the funding to the synod.

01:19:43.772 --> 01:19:50.212
And that means don't send a dime to district because the things that they are doing are causing real harm.

01:19:51.152 --> 01:19:52.672
And they're also doing good work.

01:19:53.012 --> 01:19:58.192
That's the problem because you have different programs and some of them are good and some of them are actively evil.

01:19:58.412 --> 01:20:00.612
Some of the things they're doing are actually evil.

01:20:00.832 --> 01:20:02.812
And they're celebrating some of that wickedness.

01:20:03.092 --> 01:20:11.012
And we're not going to get into that today, but the point is if you become aware of that, you don't need to petition for redress of grievances.

01:20:11.812 --> 01:20:13.632
You can just cut off the funding.

01:20:14.332 --> 01:20:15.332
Stop writing the check.

01:20:15.692 --> 01:20:21.452
And as an individual, as Corey said, you can earmark and say, I want my funds to be for local use only.

01:20:21.852 --> 01:20:23.212
I don't want it going upstream.

01:20:24.252 --> 01:20:29.092
If as a congregation you come to an agreement that that's the best thing spiritually, cut them off.

01:20:30.412 --> 01:20:33.812
Don't spend your tithe on wickedness.

01:20:34.352 --> 01:20:35.372
That's a key part of this.

01:20:35.432 --> 01:20:43.292
See, when we look at the biblical examples, there's always a presumption that the tithe is going to be spent in a godly fashion.

01:20:43.672 --> 01:20:45.232
That's no longer the case today.

01:20:45.632 --> 01:20:48.032
Whether or not it was in the past, it doesn't matter.

01:20:48.272 --> 01:20:49.392
It's not the case today.

01:20:49.632 --> 01:21:00.232
There are many cases where when you give freely of an unbounded Christian spirit, it's then taken by men to other places where they do actively evil things with it.

01:21:00.952 --> 01:21:06.752
You have an obligation to cut them off, just as you would cut off your kid who was buying drugs with money you were giving them.

01:21:07.232 --> 01:21:14.192
To knowingly participate in that is to do something evil, even if it started as a tithe, even if it started as doing a good thing.

01:21:14.552 --> 01:21:21.892
When you send money elsewhere and it's used for evil, in whatever your context, that is something you have to be concerned about.

01:21:22.512 --> 01:21:25.032
As I said at the beginning, people shouldn't be paranoid about this.

01:21:25.052 --> 01:21:30.672
Every day you don't have to be checking whatever newsletter to try to find some reason to cut them off.

01:21:31.052 --> 01:21:32.932
That's not the spirit that we're talking about.

01:21:33.532 --> 01:21:39.112
When you become aware of things and it violates your conscience, cease to participate.

01:21:40.392 --> 01:21:55.372
One of the other things that we're dealing with in current year, as Christians, is that there are many places where churches are slowly dying through attrition, mostly because no one was having kids, and the few kids they did have moved away.

01:21:55.892 --> 01:22:03.532
And so it's a sea of gray hair, and there are two or three people left on a Sunday, and then obviously when the pastor goes, there's never going to be another pastor.

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They're just going to shudder.

01:22:05.552 --> 01:22:25.572
There are discussions for other days about how to prevent things from getting to that state, but it's also important for us to understand that just because the specific circumstances change, where a full-time pastor is no longer possible, it's still necessary for us to figure out something that we can do.

01:22:25.972 --> 01:22:39.632
And while we're not going to get into the specifics today, I want to again highlight the general guidance we're trying to provide today is that the wisdom of thinking about these matters is regularly reevaluating what we're still doing.

01:22:40.372 --> 01:23:01.572
And the particular context of the local congregation and giving to a pastor for his rightful salary is that although that is what we've been doing for a long time because that is what the Western Church has been able to sustain, if that sort of paradigm ceases to work, that doesn't mean the Church ends.

01:23:01.952 --> 01:23:04.212
It doesn't mean the believers gathering together ends.

01:23:05.052 --> 01:23:11.472
And so it's not necessarily the most important thing for us to cling to the particular form.

01:23:11.952 --> 01:23:22.972
What is important is we continue to participate as active givers and as cheerful participants in whatever is going on in the local gathering of believers.

01:23:24.132 --> 01:23:31.972
In 1 Corinthians 9, I want a specific example where it's clearly laid out that it is important for Church workers to be supported financially.

01:23:34.192 --> 01:23:35.992
Paul writes, Am I not free?

01:23:36.132 --> 01:23:37.232
Am I not an apostle?

01:23:37.412 --> 01:23:39.492
Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?

01:23:39.952 --> 01:23:41.952
Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?

01:23:42.312 --> 01:23:47.652
If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

01:23:48.432 --> 01:23:50.532
This is my defense to those who would examine me.

01:23:50.832 --> 01:23:52.732
Do we not have the right to eat and drink?

01:23:52.912 --> 01:23:59.032
Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of our Lord and Cephas?

01:23:59.612 --> 01:24:03.992
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

01:24:04.552 --> 01:24:06.532
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?

01:24:06.812 --> 01:24:09.032
Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit?

01:24:09.392 --> 01:24:11.572
Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

01:24:12.272 --> 01:24:14.792
Do I say these things on human authority?

01:24:15.132 --> 01:24:16.552
Does not the law say the same?

01:24:17.012 --> 01:24:21.492
For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.

01:24:21.972 --> 01:24:23.772
Is it for oxen that God is concerned?

01:24:24.172 --> 01:24:26.312
Does he not certainly speak for our sake?

01:24:26.812 --> 01:24:33.152
It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope, and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

01:24:34.072 --> 01:24:39.392
If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

01:24:39.812 --> 01:24:43.332
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

01:24:45.252 --> 01:24:58.152
So what Paul is talking about here is that while many of the other apostles and missionaries who were sent out at the very beginning of the church were full-time workers, he and Barnabas were actually still, they still had side hustles.

01:24:58.572 --> 01:25:02.232
They were in some cases funding their own way, at least in part.

01:25:02.832 --> 01:25:13.732
And so one of the disputes in Corinth was that there were people saying that he wasn't an apostle because he wasn't getting paid and he hadn't personally talked to Jesus, apart from the road to Damascus.

01:25:14.132 --> 01:25:26.952
So part of this passage in 1 Corinthians 9 was him refuting that, but part of it is also laying a claim to the right of someone who is a full-time church worker being able to sustain himself.

01:25:28.332 --> 01:25:34.772
And this has been the historical norm in the church, but it's never been universal continuously.

01:25:35.092 --> 01:25:41.872
There are many places in the early church where it wasn't possible for believers even to get together without being killed.

01:25:42.172 --> 01:25:45.792
And so they didn't have full-time shepherds who were being paid.

01:25:46.572 --> 01:25:48.912
They were gathering in catacombs in some cases.

01:25:49.252 --> 01:25:50.052
They were hunted.

01:25:50.072 --> 01:25:51.412
They were being murdered.

01:25:51.852 --> 01:25:53.472
They didn't necessarily have employees.

01:25:53.912 --> 01:25:57.212
They weren't 1099-ing anybody on an annual basis.

01:25:58.392 --> 01:26:24.552
I highlight this because as we're looking at what the tithe looks like for us in current year, not in the history of the Old Testament or the New Testament or the Church Age, as we look at things today, if we get back into a position where it becomes more and more difficult for us to have the normal things, to have a building, to have a full-time employee, it's still necessary for us to tithe somehow.

01:26:24.872 --> 01:26:26.092
Again, it's not a number.

01:26:26.572 --> 01:26:31.192
It's giving freely as is needed for whatever the immediate purpose is.

01:26:31.952 --> 01:26:36.192
If you're blessed to have a pastor, make sure that you're taking care of him.

01:26:36.732 --> 01:26:37.812
I was a pastor's kid.

01:26:38.792 --> 01:26:42.492
My dad's salary in 92 when he got his first call was $22,000 a year.

01:26:42.672 --> 01:26:43.452
It was nothing.

01:26:43.992 --> 01:26:46.432
And it was nothing because the Church was trying to destroy him.

01:26:46.692 --> 01:26:50.872
The congregation he had been sent to had already destroyed like the last three pastors.

01:26:51.252 --> 01:26:52.412
And they were going to destroy him.

01:26:52.852 --> 01:26:55.932
And then, you know, that was basically why they existed.

01:26:56.452 --> 01:27:00.632
Sometimes there are really bad situations that occur in the so-called in the Church.

01:27:00.652 --> 01:27:02.692
You know, that was certainly at the corporate level.

01:27:02.712 --> 01:27:06.132
But while there were Christians there, there were some evil men too.

01:27:07.692 --> 01:27:13.412
It was not just for a man with a family of four to be paid $22,000.

01:27:15.372 --> 01:27:16.412
That's what he signed up for.

01:27:16.432 --> 01:27:18.432
I mean, he signed up to be a church worker.

01:27:18.672 --> 01:27:20.912
He didn't sign up to live in that kind of poverty.

01:27:21.732 --> 01:27:31.272
So I certainly as a first party to having seen the sacrifices that pastors make in their lives, I'm not going to be one to say, cut these guys off.

01:27:32.112 --> 01:27:35.172
If you have a faithful pastor, do whatever you can to take care of them.

01:27:35.692 --> 01:27:42.472
If your congregation is no longer in a position where it can even afford a faithful pastor, you're not off the hook.

01:27:42.992 --> 01:27:44.892
Even if the church closes, you're not off the hook.

01:27:45.272 --> 01:27:46.952
We continue to be Christians.

01:27:46.972 --> 01:27:52.952
We continue to be a part of the capital C church, the first level church, even if the other things fall apart.

01:27:53.452 --> 01:28:00.612
And so there may be a time in the future where the idea of tithing is no longer even possible to write a check to anybody.

01:28:01.272 --> 01:28:13.332
If they bring along the replacement for the dollar with digital currency, which I think is pretty likely, it may well be that they say it's no longer permissible for you to transmit money to Christians or to a Christian institution.

01:28:13.612 --> 01:28:15.052
That's entirely possible.

01:28:15.652 --> 01:28:32.232
So these are potentially questions in our lifetime where the idea of tithing and giving and being participants in a local congregation ends up looking like and meaning something completely different than it does today or did 10 years ago, let alone 100 or 500 years ago.

01:28:32.712 --> 01:28:44.132
That's why I want everyone to keep your head on a swivel and to think about these things as we go on, because even when the current forms, if they pass away, it doesn't change the church.

01:28:44.652 --> 01:28:46.812
It may change the form for a while.

01:28:47.392 --> 01:29:00.012
It may mean that we end up in a situation where we have less material than we have in the past, which is why I said in Cori Red from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, that congregation was in dire straits financially.

01:29:00.532 --> 01:29:09.972
We don't know exactly what the details were, but the men he was talking to were in real trouble materially, and yet they were still giving abundantly and joyfully.

01:29:11.292 --> 01:29:15.652
Have that Christian attitude, and whatever happens in the future, you're going to be blessed.

01:29:16.512 --> 01:29:18.392
Who knows what it's going to look like in 10 years?

01:29:18.612 --> 01:29:19.472
I think it's personal.

01:29:19.492 --> 01:29:21.492
I think it's going to look very different than it does today.

01:29:21.892 --> 01:29:29.292
I think that a lot of things that are taking form right now are going to be culminated by then.

01:29:30.392 --> 01:29:39.612
I think a lot of the ways that we're used to gathering and conducting our Christian lives and our church lives will be very different in some serious ways.

01:29:40.152 --> 01:29:41.052
You can make guesses.

01:29:41.072 --> 01:29:42.092
You can make predictions.

01:29:42.612 --> 01:29:51.552
The point is that when we get to those places, if it happens in our lifetime or someone else's, when we're confronted with those things, we still have to have the principle.

01:29:51.952 --> 01:30:03.692
You have to have the principle of tithing, of giving cheerfully, of continuing to sustain not only the proclamation of the Gospel among you, but of the care for the poor, of the needy, of the sick.

01:30:04.332 --> 01:30:11.072
Making sure that whatever material blessings you have, you're thankful for them and you're sharing them as best you can with others.

01:30:11.512 --> 01:30:14.472
Because that duty isn't tied to a denomination.

01:30:14.492 --> 01:30:16.472
It's not tied to your salvation.

01:30:16.712 --> 01:30:17.932
It's tied to the Christian life.

01:30:18.332 --> 01:30:22.332
You're a Christian 168 hours a day, so act like it.

01:30:23.072 --> 01:30:23.932
That's not a burden.

01:30:23.952 --> 01:30:24.732
That's a blessing.

01:30:25.252 --> 01:30:27.872
There's so many things in life where I don't know what to do.

01:30:28.252 --> 01:30:28.972
What's next?

01:30:29.452 --> 01:30:31.112
Do I do this or do I do that?

01:30:32.172 --> 01:30:39.152
Being a Christian and knowing God's general principles for these things and where God gives us wisdom is such a tremendous blessing.

01:30:39.552 --> 01:30:41.492
Because in a lot of cases, it takes out the guesswork.

01:30:42.032 --> 01:30:48.512
Even if there's no clear-cut answer, even if it's just, okay, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, but I'm going to pay attention.

01:30:48.972 --> 01:30:54.772
And by paying attention, I know that if things change, I'm still going to be able to act with clean conscience because I'm paying attention.

01:30:55.152 --> 01:30:55.992
Like sometimes that's it.

01:30:56.272 --> 01:30:57.392
You have to change anything.

01:30:57.692 --> 01:31:04.552
Just be attentive, be awake, be watchful, be a steward who is managing what you've been given faithfully.

01:31:05.132 --> 01:31:15.332
And whatever situations arise in the future, if our churches crumble and fall, if we all get rounded up and we have to have these conversations in prison or whatever, doesn't change anything.

01:31:15.632 --> 01:31:16.492
Not as a Christian.

01:31:17.352 --> 01:31:21.452
Our lives might change entirely, but it doesn't change the Christian life.

01:31:21.912 --> 01:31:28.512
Because the Christian life has the same guidelines, the same principles, because we always have the same God.

01:31:28.712 --> 01:31:30.112
And His will doesn't change.

01:31:30.812 --> 01:31:37.152
Help, be thankful, be generous, and know that everything is from God.

01:31:37.372 --> 01:31:40.432
And whatever we do is God blessing others through us.

01:31:41.032 --> 01:31:41.492
That's it.

01:31:42.052 --> 01:31:45.532
That general principle will work no matter where you are.

01:31:45.552 --> 01:31:48.112
You can be the richest man in the world, the poorest man in the world.

01:31:48.432 --> 01:31:52.432
It's still going to work the same way, because that's how God has made everything.

01:31:54.152 --> 01:32:06.492
I mentioned something earlier in the episode that I want to expand a little bit, because there are various considerations in play, and I want to be very clear about what we are and are not saying.

01:32:07.412 --> 01:32:15.032
I mentioned that you can tithe to those who are not necessarily the congregation, your local congregation itself.

01:32:15.872 --> 01:32:19.232
And that does include teachers and other ministries.

01:32:20.412 --> 01:32:28.612
So for those who have been giving to whatever it may be, and that includes, quite frankly, I would say this podcast.

01:32:30.512 --> 01:32:44.412
I would say that does count as part of your tithe, because we are teaching the faith, and so the words of Scripture about those who teach the faith, living from that proclamation of the Gospel, is in play here.

01:32:44.872 --> 01:32:47.532
I'm not burdening your conscience.

01:32:47.892 --> 01:32:51.592
I am clarifying, and how I want to clarify that is explicitly this.

01:32:52.352 --> 01:32:56.312
If you have given to this podcast, thank you very much for your support.

01:32:57.232 --> 01:33:07.692
However, if there are those in your family, in your neighborhood, in your congregation, your local community who are in need, give to them first.

01:33:09.392 --> 01:33:12.492
We want to be essentially last on your list.

01:33:14.112 --> 01:33:16.392
If you give to us again, we are very thankful for that.

01:33:16.412 --> 01:33:24.512
If you buy a challenge coin that supports us, but give to those in your life for whom you have a particular duty first.

01:33:25.552 --> 01:33:28.832
You do not have a particular duty to us.

01:33:30.232 --> 01:33:31.332
Yes, we're a ministry.

01:33:32.012 --> 01:33:34.632
Yes, we are proclaiming the gospel and teaching the faith.

01:33:35.872 --> 01:33:44.792
But your duty as a Christian flows to those nearest to you first, as we have emphasized so many times in so many episodes.

01:33:45.392 --> 01:33:54.712
Your duty is to your family, to your neighbors, to your clan, to your tribe, to your nation, concentric circles expanding outward.

01:33:55.752 --> 01:34:02.152
For some few of you, we may very well be in your local community, relatively speaking.

01:34:02.692 --> 01:34:09.392
For most of you, we're part of your nation, but that's a fairly large circle among those concentric circles.

01:34:11.112 --> 01:34:13.972
Give to those who are closer first and foremost.

01:34:14.972 --> 01:34:16.412
That is your duty as a Christian.

01:34:17.312 --> 01:34:38.792
The reason that we highlighted the fact that you can tie to teachers and other ministries is one, because it is true, and two, it is one of the ways under the current set of circumstances in which you can still fulfill that Christian duty to give back, even if you don't have a faithful local congregation.

01:34:40.272 --> 01:34:44.972
And unfortunately, there are many men in that situation, and we hear from them all the time.

01:34:46.152 --> 01:34:52.792
We wish there were more faithful congregations, so that you could tie to the congregation, so things could function as they are supposed to function.

01:34:53.992 --> 01:35:11.252
But if you do not have that opportunity, then at least you still have the Christian opportunity to fulfill that Christian obligation to give back, because there are faithful ministries, there are still faithful teachers, even if they are not necessarily part of your local congregation.

01:35:14.872 --> 01:35:21.112
Before we close out this episode with a reading from the Psalter, I would like to read one more passage from Scripture.

01:35:22.392 --> 01:35:30.952
And I would hope that some of you have had this passage come to mind already while we have been discussing the issue of tithing in this episode.

01:35:32.132 --> 01:35:34.472
And so one more reading from the Book of Malachi.

01:35:35.492 --> 01:35:41.072
For I the Lord do not change, therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

01:35:41.552 --> 01:35:46.832
From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them.

01:35:47.452 --> 01:35:51.752
Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

01:35:52.392 --> 01:35:54.752
But you say, how shall we return?

01:35:55.012 --> 01:35:56.312
Will man rob God?

01:35:56.772 --> 01:35:58.192
Yet you are robbing me.

01:35:58.592 --> 01:36:00.952
But you say, how have we robbed you?

01:36:01.392 --> 01:36:08.212
In your tithes and contributions, you are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.

01:36:08.752 --> 01:36:17.372
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts.

01:36:18.092 --> 01:36:29.612
If I will not open the windows of heaven for you, and pour down for you a blessing, until there is no more need, I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil.

01:36:30.112 --> 01:36:34.252
And your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.

01:36:34.992 --> 01:36:40.892
Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

01:36:44.732 --> 01:36:50.752
God explicitly tells us to put him to the test, with regard to the tithe.

01:36:53.512 --> 01:36:56.732
I won't even comment on this passage extensively.

01:36:57.192 --> 01:37:08.032
I just want you to think about what it means for God to explicitly invite us to test him on something, and how seriously we should take that.

01:37:08.952 --> 01:37:10.552
He does that here with the tithe.

01:37:11.192 --> 01:37:14.792
That's not something that Scripture does frequently, to say the least.

01:37:18.312 --> 01:37:24.672
And so, to close out this episode, I would like to read Psalm 116.

01:37:27.932 --> 01:37:34.752
I love the Lord, because he is heard, my voice and my pleas for mercy, because he inclined his ear to me.

01:37:35.372 --> 01:37:37.992
Therefore I will call on him, as long as I live.

01:37:38.872 --> 01:37:43.132
The snares of death encompassed me, the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me.

01:37:43.692 --> 01:37:45.552
I suffered distress and anguish.

01:37:46.212 --> 01:37:47.992
Then I called on the name of the Lord.

01:37:48.372 --> 01:37:50.672
O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul.

01:37:51.552 --> 01:37:53.732
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous.

01:37:54.312 --> 01:37:55.692
Our God is merciful.

01:37:56.212 --> 01:37:57.852
The Lord preserves the simple.

01:37:58.192 --> 01:38:00.192
When I was brought low, he saved me.

01:38:00.972 --> 01:38:05.412
Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

01:38:06.312 --> 01:38:12.152
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

01:38:12.992 --> 01:38:15.912
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

01:38:16.692 --> 01:38:18.832
I believed, even when I spoke.

01:38:19.192 --> 01:38:20.492
I am greatly afflicted.

01:38:21.132 --> 01:38:24.272
I set in my alarm all mankind are liars.

01:38:25.312 --> 01:38:28.932
What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?

01:38:28.952 --> 01:38:33.472
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

01:38:34.132 --> 01:38:37.972
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

01:38:39.012 --> 01:38:42.192
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

01:38:42.892 --> 01:38:44.312
O Lord, I am your servant.

01:38:44.712 --> 01:38:47.372
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.

01:38:47.752 --> 01:38:49.232
You have loosed my bonds.

01:38:50.012 --> 01:38:54.792
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.

01:38:55.332 --> 01:39:04.032
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

01:39:04.652 --> 01:39:05.632
Praise the Lord.

01:39:07.612 --> 01:39:08.012