Okay, here we go! Last Friday, we talked about the Old Testament tithe and the New Testaments guidelines for giving. I left you with the thought that what God really wants from us is not our money (tithe), but something much more valuable and rich.
When the seed (word of God) is sown (proclamation of God's word), it falls onto different types of ground (human hearts). In Matthew's parable, there is only ONE TYPE of ground that produces lasting FRUIT---now we know that the soil that produced FRUIT is the person who has been regenerated, born again, made a new creature--- the soil that produced FRUIT are those who have become children of God.
Now, remember the only way we can differentiate the unproductive soils from the productive soil is that the good soil produces FRUIT. Jesus tell us in Matt. 7:16 that we can identify false teachers by the false FRUIT ( i.e., you don't get grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles) they produce.
Hebrews 6:1-12 talks about those who have become apostate---the contrast between those who are true children of God and those who have become apostate is FRUIT or the lack thereof. The good ground produces a crop and receives the blessing, but the the bad ground (the apostate) produces thorns and thistles and is worthless and in the end it is thrown into the fire (vv. 7-8).
Let me share one other text just to show that the Bible uses agricultural language to prove whether or not one is a true child of God. Matthew 13:24-43 presents us with the parable of the wheat and the tares. Now, we already know that the wheat represents the child of God while the tares represent the children of the devil, and both the wheat and the tares have two totally different destinations at the time of harvest which is the final consummation of all things.
Now that I laid some ground work I can open up the idea of what God really wants from us---and it is not our gold, silver, dollar, or paycheck, but it is our FRUIT. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:20, he told us to store-up TREASURES in heaven, where they can never be destroyed. Paul reminds us of this principle in Romans 7:4 where he tells us, "since you are dead to the law and have become free in Christ ...you should now be bringing forth FRUIT to God.
Again in Colossians 1:10 Paul tells us to "...bear FRUIT in every good work," and Paul in Romans reminds us again "...You have FRUITS unto holiness."
So what are these these treasures (or FRUITS) that we are to be storing up, and offering to God? The Apostle Paul gives us some insight into this when his lists (nine) visible attributes (FRUITS) of the Christian life in ( Galatians 5:22-23). Throughout the entire New Testament we see what God wants from His children, hear 1 Thessalonians 3:13 "...abound in love to one another and to all men... so that He (Christ) may establish your HEARTS (your soil or ground) ...in holiness before God the Father...."
Look at Hebrew 13:8-16 and notice what the Christian is to offer to God---again it is not tithes and offering, it is the sacrifice of praise.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp, and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the FRUIT of the lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Notice that in this text there is a mention of sharing with one another the things that we have---this goes back to the last blog about HOW we are to give---willingly, out of those things we have, and remember we can GIVE and it does not necessarily even mean money---it can be your time, talents, a listening ear, and certainly these Christian FRUITS are to be considered a form of giving.
Let me tie this all together:
1. Nowhere in the N.T are we commanded to tithe or are we commanded to give our money every week to a local church.
2. Believers are to GIVE, but our giving does not necessarily have to be money---it can be possessions, time, talents, a listening ear, or the showing of kindness, etc.
3. The overriding principle for giving is the Christian's motive---not what or how much he gives. To my understanding all of he giving examples in the N.T were meeting others needs.
Consequences to this teaching:
1. A Christian can be robbing God while having a perfect tithing record (by grieving the Holy Spirit in his life---thus having a life that is devoid of FRUIT).
2. A Christian can "lay up treasure in heaven" even if they are flat broke.
3. Listen to this beautiful word from our Lord, "Happy are you when men revile you and persecute you...on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your REWARD is great in heaven" (Matt. 5:11-12).
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Colossians 3:1 "Since you have been risen with Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of the God,." Christian if you are setting your affections on those things above your giving will come from a heart that has been captured and transformed by the living Christ.
Christian friend---offer God the FRUIT of holiness in your life and continue to walk in the steps of our Savior. AMEN!