Empty your wallets
Man, I don’t know about you… but I have heard message after message about how I need to be giving sacrificially to the Church. Listen: this is not a shake-down. Jesse James is dead. Restart Church doesn’t need your money. Restart Church is not interested in your money. The only thing I am interested in is that you leave this message with a clear view from Bible Ground about the subject of giving – or “gifting” as I prefer to call it. How that works out is your business. The following verse is the overall theme here, God is not about stealing your peace… He is about giving you His peace.
- Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
No difference between Old Testament and New Testament Gifting
On the topic of gifting, it’s popular to say the OT way was the way of the Tithe and the NT way is the way of “as God prospers”. But as we climb up to Bible Ground we learn the tithe is an active instruction for NT gifting; “as God prospers” is an active instruction for OT gifting. And let’s be clear. Many of us have been dominated by misplaced religious training to believe that gifting means money. Money is only a part. God has gifted us – and looks for us to gift others – with our time, our talents, our Biblical learning and our Godly aspirations. All of these are on the table.
Let’s talk about the Tithe
Now we begin with the Tithe. Remember, don’t blow off the OT instruction here – we will soon see how it applies to the NT believer. But that instruction will come shortly and in its place in this message. There are three different, but symetrcial tithes spoken of in the Word:
- The Levitical, or sacred tithe
- The tithe of the feasts
- The tithe for the poor
The Levitical, or sacred tithe
The first is the Levitical, or sacred tithe. This is given to the Levites and priests for their service to the temple and the congregation. It is the tithe “the tenth” consecrated to God and the furtherance of His kingdom.
- And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation – Numbers 18:21
So what does this have to do with those living today in NT times? This is the tithe we continue to give under the priesthood of Melchizedek. Remember that Name? Melchizedek was the King of Salem (that is, the King of Peace). He was also the Priest of the Most High God. Our forefather Abram (soon to be renamed by God as Abraham) had just returned victorious from fighting a massive and exhausting war. He was met by Melchizedek.
- And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said “Blessed be Abram of God Most High Possessor of heaven and earth.” – Genesis 14:18-19
Now we have to pay attention here. Did Abram live before or after the Law of tithing was given by Moses? The answer is before – long before. Galatians 3:17 tells us the Promises made to Abraham came 430 years before the Lord gave the Commandments on Sinai. And let’s not forget, Abraham is a type, a blueprint, a foreshadowing of you and I. That his relationship to God (as ours) is based upon belief – not upon conformance to the behavioral requirements Law (And Abraham believed and God reckoned it to him as righteousness – Genesis 15:16). Now how did Abram behave when he came into the Presence of Melchizedek; after Melchizedek blessed him?
- “And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. – Genesis 14:20
And why this giving of a tenth of everything is a practice for us in NT times is that Jesus is a Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
- Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek – Hebrews 6:21
And we, as Abram, not under the law of the tithe, but have the precedent set before us to give Christ “a tenth of everything.” But that’s not all. Jacob too, great-grandson to Abraham – and still, long before the OT Law was levied – made the following freewill promise to God as an example to you and I.
- And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee – Genesis 28:22
The Levitical tithe is alive and active for all who believe by faith. It is given so that God might establish His Body of Believers
- For the continuation of the Work
- To Offer others a place of shelter and safety
- To Create opportunities for Believers to apply their giftedness
- and to Demonstrate Trust and Obedience
The tithe of the feasts
The second tithe is surprising. It is the tithe of the feasts. This tithe is not for others – but is a tithe to ourselves – that we might be intentional to set aside our resources to routinely and intentionally create space for us to rejoice and improve our relationship with God. Let’s check out how this works:
- You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name – Deuteronomy 14:22-23a
To the place He chooses. Jerusalem had not been identified as of the time that Moses penned those words. But this tithe was to be set aside and brought to Jerusalem for what purpose?:
- You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. – Deuteronomy 14:26
The instruction here is to set aside a tithe for yourself and your family and friends. To be intentional about using this tithe for advancing your joy in the Lord. Perhaps today it might mean saving up for a trip to a Bible conference – or to expand (or start) your personal library with books to advance your studies and understanding of the Word – or perhaps to underwrite the spiritual opportunities for others. All done in the Presence of the Lord.
And here is where we encounter an interesting thing. A few chapters later, Moses tells them that they are to make themselves available three times a year:
- Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths – Deuteronomy 16:16
But see here. Look what the Lord tells them to do when they attend these feasts.
- And they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you – Deuteronomy 16:17
Every man shall give as he is able – according to the blessing of the Lord. Here then is the exact principle we find in the NT
- On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come – 1 Corinthians 16:2
As he may prosper. The tithe is for the NT as it was in the OT. The principle of giving as God prospers was for the OT as it is for the NT. There is no difference between the Testaments in our instruction for gifting. You pray about that. The tithe of feasts is:
- A set-aside for special occasions
- Routinely budgeted
- Time to spend resources to strengthen your walk with God
- A set-aside for personal rejoicing in the Presence of the Lord
The tithe for the poor
- At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied – Deuteronomy 14:28-29
We are supposed to have money set aside for the poor – accumulated slowly – three years. As an aside I would recommend you set aside 3% a year and on the third year give. But giving to the poor isn’t just an OT practice…
- But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you – Matthew 6:3-4
Christ said WHEN you give. For whom and why this tithe? The Levite is the person who serves in the church; the place of meeting. The sojourner is the transient person, the homeless. Orphans and widows are among us. Our OT guidance is to gather our whole 10% over three years and to gift it to these groups.
- Where no thief can steal
- We are to work in the background, the left not knowing what the right is doing
- Restart Benevolence Fund is an example – though I am not pushing Restart on anyone
I wrote earlier that these three feasts are symmetrical. Check this out:
- The Levitical, or sacred tithe
- The Body of Christ as the Church
- The tithe of the feasts
- The tithe for the poor
Pretty cool huh? Let me offer a final thought. The Bible makes clear a set of frameworks to help us better understand the nature of gifting. I offer them without comment – with attending verses for you to study on your own
- The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it – Psalm 21:1
- Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all – 1 Chronicles 29:11
- And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:19
- Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you – Luke 6:38
- For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord – 2 Corinthians 8:3
- The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. – 2 Corinthians 9:6
- Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine – Proverbs 3:9-10
- Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered – Proverbs 11:25
- Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver – 2 Corinthians 9:7
- We must be confident in the place where we invest our time, gifts and resources.
It is my sincere prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead you in this area of gifting. That you will tithe your time and resources to meet the needs of those around you – those living in your neighborhood. Again, it is not my aim to make you a fan of Restart Church. My aim is to instruct you along the Jesus Path. It remains up to you to test the fruit of the place you choose to serve Christ in your daily walk. Lord Bless You as You Go. Thank you so much for taking time to read this text. I trust the video (though amateurish) will go farther in helping your understanding.
You can mash the Gifting link at the top right of this page to read the Restart position on gifting.