Kernersville Community Church
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When Tithing Offends God

Luke 11:42 clearly demonstrates that tithing can offend God. It is possible to give 10% of your gross income all your life, only to hear God say “woe to you” when you die. “Woe” is a strong word; it is a word of cursing. Jesus cursed the Pharisees for the way they gave. Why?

Because they neglected justice and love. I think the idea of justice here has to do with the way we treat others, and is primarily outward in application. The Gospel of Luke took special interest in those elements of society considered least. Widows, women, children, the poor, and Gentiles – these are the people Luke took special note of. I think the idea here is that we should take up the cause of those people ordinarily denied justice. The context supports this interpretation, because the surrounding verses are about giving alms. The idea here is that religious giving that does not flow from a deep desire to see all have access to the justice of the Kingdom offends God mightily. What this really means is that all our giving must revolve around a deep desire to bring people into the Kingdom of God, because that’s the only place true justice, and justification, resides.

The second thing the Pharisees neglected was love. This short reference to love in Luke 11:42 evokes all the Scriptures that speak to the centrality of love as the primary motivator for action. When we first believe in Christ, we are justified by faith alone. Love does not justify us, faith does. However, the first thing faith produces is love. Then, all the other commandments of the law are worked by faith through that love. That is what Paul meant when he said For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). Circumcision (or tithing, or any other thing) counts for nothing in and of itself. What counts are the things faith produces through love, namely the requirements of the law of God. That’s what Paul meant when he said that God sent his son so that that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (Rom 8:4a). Simply put – love is the key to the law. God requires the law to be lived in our lives, but it only pleases him when it flows from the right kind of heart.

Let’s break it down. Grace is the wellspring of life. And, yes, I believe in tithing. It is a precious thing to my family. But let’s make sure that we are tithing out of worshipful hearts, hearts that beat with God’s. If we do so, God will use our money to advance his kingdom, to bring people into the experience of justification. If we don’t, we’re just a bunch of Pharisees.

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