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The Love of a Cheerful Giver

© nounproject/thinkstock The Love of a Cheerful Giver Tithing isn’t always the most comfortable topic to

Tithing isn’t always the most comfortable topic to talk about in the church. But what if we started viewing it as a gift from God? And what if we could use it to help grow our teens into His likeness?

By Ryan Mason

It is amazing how words

have such strong associations. Have you ever played that game where one person says a word and the next person has to say the first thing that pops into their mind? Words like “caring” immediately produce thoughts of a loved one, or a particular profession, like a nurse. The same can be true for less-than- desirable traits like selfish, stingy, and rude. Nobody likes having their name associated with those words. What about words like generous, sacrificial, and cheerful? Who is the first person that comes to mind when you think about those words? I want to be known as a generous person, and I want my children to

learn what it means to surrender their desire to elevate themselves in order to serve the Lord. However, we are all innately broken by a disease called selfishness. It is the core problem of every marital difficulty or parenting struggle. The same is true of our refusal to become cheerful givers as instructed in Scripture (2 Cor. 9:6-7). The area of tithing is one of the last spiritual disciplines that believers put into practice. It has been reported that less than 5 percent of American adults actually tithe. Parents who want to raise generous teens must understand and practice cheerful giving before they can pass it along. Young adults almost have a fifth sense when it comes

to sniffing out hypocrisy. Parents must lead with integrity in this area.

A Closer Look

We generally dislike hearing messages on the subject of money. But the reality is that the Bible contains over 2,000 verses about money—far more than subjects like heaven, hell, or love. So what is all the fuss about regarding the tithe? Tithe simply means “tenth” and the Jewish people have long practiced the discipline of giving at least 10 percent. Abram gave the king of Salem a tenth of everything he had (Gen. 14:20). The Mosaic Law commanded the people to give diverse offerings of 10 percent

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towards tabernacle worship so that the Levites, a priestly tribe descended from Levi, would be supported. This same tithing principle would later be applied to the temple: “When the word spread, the Israelites gave liberally of the best of the grain, new wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field, and they brought in an abundance, a tenth of everything” (2 Chron. 31:5). The prophet Malachi exhorted, “‘Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,’ says the Lord of Hosts. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure’” (Mal. 3:10). Christians will sometimes point out that the references above are Old Testament teachings. Are we not free from the Law and partakers of grace as New Testament believers? Yes, but the implications may not be what you think.

What Did Jesus Say?

Jesus called out the religious leaders of his day by saying, “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Luke 11:42, NLT). The admonition was not that tithing should be stopped but that love and justice should also be practiced. Jesus affirms the tithe in this context but appeals to a higher measure of devotion. There is another part of Jesus’ teaching that goes right to the heart of the matter. The legalists of the day often questioned Jesus on issues of the law as an attempt to entrap Him. However, Jesus thwarted their schemes and answered their questions

Jesus thwarted their schemes and answered their questions Less than 5 percent of American adults actually

Less than 5 percent of American adults actually tithe. Parents who want to raise generous teens must understand and practice cheerful giving before they can pass it along.

and practice cheerful giving before they can pass it along. in a way that exposed their

in a way that exposed their true motives. He was far more interested in the heart motivation that prompted people to behave a certain way than woodenly following a set of regulations (Matt. 5:28; 22:36-40). Giving is also a heart issue. A proper understanding of lordship means that we are no longer the “boss” of our own lives. We surrender control of our lives to the One who both created us and redeemed us. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14- 15, ESV). Young children sometimes exert their autonomy by exclaiming, “You are not the boss of me!” That childish reaction is not nearly as benign when we bring it into our spiritual lives. Opposition to tithing often flows out of a selfish, corrupt heart. We offer partial surrender to God while trying to hold

Opposition to tithing often flows out of a selfish, corrupt heart. We offer partial surrender to

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© nounproject/thinkstock desiring to support gospel ministries, extend help to the poor, and make a difference

desiring to support gospel ministries, extend help to the poor, and make a difference where we live, work, and play. We are liberated from the Mosaic Law only to become slaves to Christ and do the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6:6). It is always a heart issue and our view of money says a lot about the condition of our heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21, NIV). The issue is not whether we are required to give a percentage of our income to the church. It is about the attitude in which we demonstrate the Lordship of Christ in our lives through giving back a portion of what already belongs to God. What thought comes to mind when you think about the word generous?

RYAN MASON serves as Minister of Education at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Dallas, TX and loves to write about real life issues and help others apply biblical truths to daily living. He is married to Kilie and they are blessed with two amazing children. Connect with Ryan on Twitter @ryank- mason.

onto “our” money. Our worship is tainted. Our devotion

is

of Christ.

half-hearted. We are no longer following the example

The Gift of Tithing

What if tithing is actually one of God’s great gifts to help us grow into His likeness? Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a set percentage to give. The clearest teaching connects the tithe to the heart of the believer. A tenth is simply a starting point, but not necessarily

a maximum. The

average Hebrew would have been accustomed to total giving of close to 30 percent of his gross earnings. The modern concept of tithing is really more like a floor rather than a ceiling. Paul writes:

“Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6-8).

Teach Your Children

The biblical command for parents to train their children in the ways of the Lord is crystal clear (Deut. 6; Eph. 6:4). I want to raise generous children. However, my ultimate aim is not to raise generous kids for the sake of being generous. My

highest aim as a parent is to train up godly children that place their hope in the Lord and build their lives on the unshakable foundation of God’s Word. Generosity will be a result of such

a life. We cease to worry about the semantics of tithing when we are fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. We become generous people as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. We respond to the lavishness of God’s grace in our lives by

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