Posts tagged transforming
As you probably already figured out, we’ve jumped into the part of Deuteronomy that is, essentially, an explanation and expansion of the laws that we previously read in Leviticus and Numbers. And though much of what we read is simply a repetition of prior readings, there is always something new to take away from Scripture.
As I read today, I was struck by an interesting perspective on tithing. Now, to be fair, this is one of those times where I feel inadequate to write on this topic without properly researching it, but to stay true to the “online journal” format of this blog, I’ll just throw out a few thoughts that jumped out to me as I read.
The thing that grabbed me as I read through these verses is that Moses isn’t instructing the people to give away their tithe, but, instead, to enjoy it differently. The meat and the grain being sacrificed as a tithe is still to be eaten by the people. In that sense, they don’t lose the benefit of the tithe. And yet, the way it is to be eaten, or better stated, the attitude with which is to be eaten is different.
In a highly ceremonial culture, this was extremely significant. To eat a meal that was being sacrificed to the Lord was very serious business and one that would have required significant examination of oneself and of one’ s family. And so, we may look and say, “So, they still got to eat the food? What kind of sacrifice is that?” But here, I believe God is establishing the idea of a “cheerful giver” – indicating that he is more interested in the attitude of the heart than he is the sacrifice or offering being made.
At the same time, for those who have the appropriate attitude, they get to enjoy the benefits of their tithe, which is a unique concept. I mean, what if you were able to write your monthly tithe check to the church, but, somehow, you still got to spend that money? What if you gave the “cow” to God, but still got to “eat the meat?”
I think that, in a way, we get to do just that. Assuming that we approach our giving with the appropriate attitude and that we are willing to give not only of our finances, but of our other resources – time and energy – I think we, too, can enjoy the benefits of our tithes. As a pastor, I get a unique viewpoint of tithe dollars at work.
Every time I sit in a meeting and dream about ways that we can help people in our community, how we can serve those around us, introduce people to a different picture of Jesus and be a transforming presence in our city, I know that all of those things ride on the backs of tithe dollars. Without people faithfully giving to the church, we wouldn’t have resources to do anything.
Then, through ministry, I get to enjoy not only my tithe dollars at work, but other people’s tithes as well. And that kind of enjoyment is not just limited to pastors. Anyone who has ever seen a kid’s face light up when they got a new pair of shoes from the church has gotten to enjoy their tithe. Anyone who has had a conversation with a family, so grateful to receive a good meal from the church, has gotten to enjoy their tithe. Anyone who has received anything from a Sunday morning worship time or message, who has been prayed for in a small group, who has received healing through a marriage class or any number of other ministries – anyone who has benefited from being the giver or recipient of church ministries – has gotten to enjoy their tithe.
And so, the best way to experience the benefit of those monthly tithe checks is to plug in. Get involved. Become both the giver and the recipient. Take advantage of opportunities to be refreshed, to grow, to be trained and to serve. Engage in what your church is engaging in. Help to transform the lives of others and be transformed yourself. Serve and be served. If we are doing those things, I doubt we’ll spend much time dreaming of the other things our tithe dollars could have been spent on.