|Messages By Ovid Need|
Christian Giving - Matt. 6:24
We have been doing a series on SN in the ten commandments. As we see from the Lord's words here, this would fall under the first commandment, thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Beyond all doubt, the most important, as well as the most difficult area of worshiping the Lord and Him alone, is in the area of our wealth. Our Lord's words of Matthew 6:24, Ye cannot serve God and mammon would identify money as another god, if not properly viewed and used.
1 Tim 6:10, Paul clearly tells us that the love of money is the number one reason why Christians depart from the faith and do not do what the word of God instructs them to do.
The word of God tells us that the root of all sin is the love of money. If this is the case, you would think that there would be much more preaching on this subject. The reason there isn't, is because money is the god of American. When this god is attacked, there is much anger invoked in the hearts of those who are serving this god.
I could count on one hand the number of times I have preached on this subject in the nine years this month, which we have been here.
The Christian's use of the wealth which the Lord has enabled him to obtain, will show who his god is; the Lord God as we use our wealth according to His word, or mammon as we use our wealth to suit ourselves.
It goes without saying all wealth must be used within the confine of 1 Corinthians 10:31, (Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.)
Here are three reasons why the Lord has every right to instruct man how to use wealth.
1. Psalms 24:1, The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. It all belongs to Him. This means that the money which is claimed by the Lord is His tax on the earth which He owns. It is the rent paid to the landlord. How would we as a landowner treat someone who refused to pay their rent??
2. Ezekiel 18:4. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. All souls are His. Therefore, He has the right to tell them what to do and how to do it.
3. Deuteronomy 8:18, But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. He is the one who gives the power to gain wealth. He is capable of removing it all in a moment.
I'll never forget several years ago: I was talking to a man in his front yard. He brought up the subject of giving to the Lord, and he said, "That money belongs to me. I worked hard for it, not the Lord. I'll do with it what I please." The fallacy of that thinking is that the Lord is the one who provided the work for him, and provided the health for him to work.
There are three required tithes mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22-29. First is the tenth of all the increase, v. 22, second is the rejoicing tithe, vs. 23-27, and third, the poor tithe, vs. 28, 29.
We will only look at the first one in this study; the tithe on the increase, Deuteronomy 14:22. There are four things about this tithe which I would like to point out. I know we will not cover all four properly, so we will only go until we run out of time.
I. God's portion is off the top, before anything else. Again, it is a tax to the King of the whole earth. It is rent or payments to the One who owns all the land.
II. Obviously then, this payment of the tax or rent is not a gift to the Lord. It is payment of a tax or rent on what belongs to Him. Because He is the Landlord and tax collector, He gives no human agency the authority to forcefully collect His tax.
III. Unlike the payments to human authorities, it is only on the increase on an initial investment.
IV. The PURPOSE of this tax, or the tithe. Where did it go, what was it used for?
I. Because it is off the top it means that we remember the Lord with all the rest of our substance. It signifies that we realize that it all belongs to Him.
Deuteronomy 6:10-14, warns God's people that their prosperity will turn their hearts from the Lord God Who gave it to them, to other gods. We see this very thing all around us here in America. The ones who have been around a while, who went through the depression in the 30's & 40's, must admit that as Americans have prospered in the 60's, 70's & 80's, they have grown more indifferent toward the Lord and His work.
In other words, the more prosperity, the more indifference toward the Lord. God warns us numerous times that prosperity will lead to forgetting Him. And it does.
Solomon said it like this: Proverbs 30:7-9, Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Paul, in Colossians 3:5, tells us to Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: Covetousness is defined as a desire for anything which causes us to compromise the requirements of our God upon us.
When we fail to follow the word of God because of a desire which we have, we are committing idolatry. In other words, when a Child of God desires a new car enough that he takes the Lord's money to buy it, he is serving another god, that new car. (This is another study under the second commandment.)
Not only did the Lord identify the failure to honour Him with the first of all our substance as service to other gods, the god of mammon, but he also said it is theft, Malachi 3:8, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
The Lord expands upon His warning against forgetting Him which He gave in Deuteronomy 6 in chapter 8. We will cover the high points here.
First, v. 1, the people are standing on the wilderness side of the Jordan, ready to go in and claim the land. Moses is instructing them one last time before he dies and they go on over and take the promised land under Joshua's leadership. What the Lord was about to do for Israel was because of His promise to their fathers, from Abraham on down, and not for any good in them.
Second, v. 3, they had gone through some very difficult experiences in the wilderness, in order to humble them and to prove whether they would follow His word or not. Notice what the Lord says here. Man's life is not totally dependant on material goods which he can purchase, but upon his following every word of God. In other words, obedience to the word of the Lord is more important than the food we eat.
Our Lord used this passage Mat. 4:4, in His confrontation with the Devil.
Third, v. 7, the Lord will bring them into the good land, because of His promise to their fathers.
Fourth, vs. 8, 9, the land would provide a good life of plenty to eat and prosperity as they followed v. 1. Obviously, this would require work, dig brass...
Fifth, vs. 10-16, the danger is that as they work hard and prosper, they would forget that their prosperity was the result of the promise of the Lord. The Lord had promised to bless their obedient efforts. Their prosperity in this new land was going to be a result of that promised blessing.
Sixth, v. 17, so what do His people do? The Lord blesses and prospers them as they followed His word. The problem is that now they get lifted up with pride and think in their heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
Seventh, v. 18, they are prosperous and forget that the Lord gave the prosperity because of His promise to bless their efforts. Their wealth is from Him as He prospered them, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto their fathers.
In other words, their gain was not a result of their hard work, but it was a result of the Lord's mercy and grace. It was a result of the covenant, or promise which the Lord made to the fathers of the faith, Abraham.
Because of sin, not all labor produces increase. How many have worked extremely hard, and even applied the principles of God's word, yet they lost everything? The Lord is the one who permits any gain which we might accomplish.
Also included here is the command to use the wealth which the Lord has provided to expand His kingdom on earth.
Finally, eighth, v. 19, 20, I Samuel 8, tells us that as God's people forget God, the Lord will raise up an ungodly civil government which will tax them to death. His people shall surely perish, because they forgot the Lord in their prosperity.
When people, as well as nations, start thinking that they prospered by their own power and might, they fail to pay what the Lord requires of them. This failure is identified as forgetting God. But the Landlord and Tax Collector has not forgotten them.
Now, obviously, we are talking of godly gain, not wealth gained through ungodly means such as theft or fraud or even gambling.
We are seeing this very thing take place before our own eyes. The Lord has been almost totally forgotten by Christians and by our nation. Not only is He no longer recognized as the giver of all wealth by the return of the tithe to Him, but He is being rejected in every area. The result is that we are seeing this nation on the fast track toward total economic destruction in every area.
And it will not be like the collapses in the past. The morality of the people is different. Also, there is no hard currency in circulation, therefore, there will be hyper inflation along with unemployment such as Germany had in the 30's, and the former Soviet Union is now having.
Deuteronomy 8 does not say that the sinner who refuses to recognize the Lord as the giver of all wealth has gained his wealth on his own. The farmer who denies God, yet his crops prosper, prospers because the Lord allowed the prosperity. All the Lord would need to do is withhold his breath, and the wealth would be gone.
Again, how many farmers have worked extremely hard, only to fail to gain enough to stay in business? The Lord provides the gain.
Back to Deuteronomy 14:22. (Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.)
II. The tithe was not a gift to the Lord, but was His tax on the increase of land that belongs to Him, Exodus 9:29 (And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD'S.).
This gives us these points:
1. The tithe belongs to God, to be used as He directs, for the advancement of His kingdom.
2. The modern state's effort to tax the land is an attempt to be God.
3. The state's taxing of the church is a tax on God.
4. Only what is given over and above the tithe is a gift. Malachi 3:8, tells us that to fail to give gifts is theft also, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
The promise to God's people was twofold: If they failed to pay this tax to their Landlord, He would throw them off the land. Only as the taxpayer faithfully pays his tax to his Landlord, will the state release their grip, 1 Samuel 8. Second, when this tax was paid, God promised great blessings.
Since the tithe is the Lord's tax, He alone is the tax collector. There is no human agency that has the God-given authority to enforce many of the laws given in the books of Moses. This is one such law. In this case, the word of God tells man what is expected from him, then leaves it there. Does the individual love the Lord enough to do what the Lord requires of him without the threat of human authority hanging over his head?
Malachi 3:8-14, shows us how this Tax Collector collects His taxes. Men greatly fear what other men can do to them, but show very little fear of what the Lord can do to them.
Observe the promises to the ones that fear Him in the rest of Malachi, as well as the motive for obeying the command of the Lord, v. 14. Many are motivated to 'obey God' by, "What is in it for us?"
Even though the Lord did not tax the land, He did tax the individual. This tax was called the Head tax or Poll tax, Exodus 30:11-16; 38:26. This tax spoke of atonement, and was the only tax which went to the center of civil government, keeping the civil government very small and weak.
The Poll Tax was a reminder that only by the mercy and grace of Almighty God does man exist, Lam. 3:22.
III. This tax is on the increase. The law of God knows no tax on the initial investment, rather it is on the increase of that investment. Nor is there a tax on a gift. It was/is a tax on the labour of an individual which produced an increase. The Lord's tax is on the strength & abilities which He gave the individual to prosper with.
In other words, if a man invested 15,000 in a piece of property and spent another 15,000 on improvements, and sold it for 45,000, he only owed the tax to the Lord on the 15,000 profit, not on the total 45,000.
James 1:17, (Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.) James tells us that God is the Father of Lights from whom all good things come. The payment of His portion shows that we are thankful to Him for His blessings and the increase which He permitted. It says that we remember that all good things do come from His hand.
Furthermore, God's people are required to give only the best to Him, Numbers 18:12. This would prohibit such things as garage sales and bake sales by the church. Although, under the law of gleaning, the people could have such a sale and donate the proceeds to the church.
We will not have time to go into IV and the PURPOSE of these taxes, or the tithe. We will only say that, according to Numbers 18, the tenth of the increase, the first fruits and the first born among the animals, went to the Levities. It was considered their personal income, the same as the increase of a crop is considered the personal income of the farmer.
The Levite had great responsibilities of godly activity throughout the land, which we cannot go into at this time. Suffice it to say this, when the funds were not available, the Levite was not able to carry out his responsibility before God, and the people paid the price for it.
A Short, Short Story
Years ago, a man knelt with his pastor and prayed as he committed himself to God to tithe. His first week's pay was $10.00 and the tithe was $1.00.
As he grew older, he became more prosperous. His tithes became $7.50 a week, then $10.00. He moved to another city and his tithe was $100 a week, then $200, then $500. He sent his pastor friend a wire, "Come to see me."
The pastor arrived at the man's beautiful home. They had a good time talking over old times.
Finally the man came to the point. "You remember that promise I made years ago to tithe? How can I get released? When I made the promise I only had to give a dollar, but now it's $500. I can't afford to give away money like that."
The old pastor looked at his friend and said, "I'm afraid we cannot get a release from the promise, but there is something we can do. We can kneel and ask God to shrink your income so you can afford to give a dollar again."
To here, January 12, 1992
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