Every kingdom has laws and principles. The just shall live by faith! Faith is a medium of exchange. Every kingdom on earth and even Heaven’s Kingdom has a medium of exchange. In America, it’s the US dollar. Go to Europe, it’s the euro. Go to Iraq, it’s the dinar. Go to India, it’s the rupee. Go to Thailand, it’s the bhat. Go to the Dominican or Mexico, it’s the peso. Every kingdom has a medium of exchange, and what is the purpose? Exchanging goods and services. You pay, you receive, right?
Well, the Kingdom of Heaven has a medium of exchange as well. It’s called, “faith.” Faith is the medium of exchange in God’s Kingdom, just as currency is the medium of exchange in earthly kingdoms. And I think this may be one of the reasons that Scripture speaks so much in regard to money, wealth, and prosperity. It talks more about money than hell and heaven!
So it’s an important issue, particularly to God, and stewardship is an equally important topic. We need to talk about that. Now, I want you to keep in mind that faith is a principle. It is not simply a formula by which we live. Many have tried to utilize faith more as a formula than as a principle.
A principle is defined as follows: “It is a comprehensive and fundamental law, a rule or code of conduct, a primary source, the origin.”
Faith is a principle. On the other hand, many try to use it as a formula.
A formula is, “A set form of words that is used in a ceremony or a ritual. It is a conventionalized statement intended to express some fundamental truth or principle, but it has become conventionalized.”
Sayings like, “Oh, I’m blessed nonetheless.” We think that’s faith. We complain over here and then say, “You know my dog died, my house burned down, they came and repossessed my car, but I’m blessed, nonetheless.”
And so out of one side of our mouth proceeds cursing, while at the same time, and out of the other side of our mouth, comes blessing. And all the while the Scripture says that, “The just shall live by faith.” And faith is not denying your house is burning while flames engulf it. Faith is a principle and not simply a formula, not a catchphrase.
Now, Paul is speaking to the Galatians because they’ve been bewitched by Israelites who were trying to subject them to the Law. Church, we must not allow ourselves to be led astray. Another word for “bewitched” is to be “beguiled” or to be “deceived.” Paul makes a very clear point here and in other places where he is writing to believers. He states that we are saved by grace, not by works, lest any man boast. The great Martin Luther revelation was that we are justified by grace, through faith.
Faith is the dynamic that releases the grace of God and causes a man, woman, or child to be saved; it’s by grace. And Paul says, “You’ve begun in the Spirit, now don’t allow yourselves to get into the flesh.” And so today, I want you to ask yourself why you give. Why do you bring an offering to the Lord? Why do you pay your tithes? Why do you bring tithes to honor God? If it’s simply to avoid a curse, then you are living in bondage to the Law. That’s called, “F.E.A.R.” I don’t want God to curse me, so I’m going to pay my tithe. Do you really think that God is such a manipulator? He’s not manipulating you, and He’s not looking for you to manipulate Him with the following: “I’m going to tithe so God can open up the windows of Heaven so that He will pour me out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to contain.” That’s trying to manipulate God!
Jesus said, “Except our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees.” That’s what the Pharisees lived by, the Law. Jesus said, “Except your righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees, you will not see the Kingdom of God!”
And why didn’t Jesus talk more about tithing? Over the years, you must have asked yourself that. As many times as we’ve had opportunity to give at offering time, we’re always using the same Scriptures. You know why? It’s because in the New Testament, there’s not much written about the tithe. In fact, you can look it up under “tithe, tithing, tithes, tither,” I bet you wouldn’t find more than six examples, probably four.
And in one of them, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees. He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
Nowhere in the New Testament does it command us to tithe. Why? I just had to ask that question the other day. “God why didn’t you just make it plain?” Well, because when the New Testament was written, it was a given. The Israelites, they knew they were supposed to tithe. They were tithers! Think of the rich young ruler. “I’ve don’t this, this, this, and this . . .” And it was answered unto him, “Yeah, but one thing you lack.”
Why is that? It’s because God is looking for more than the tithe. It’s not so much what we do, but why we do it. It’s called the motivation behind one’s actions. Jesus didn’t have to address the issue of tithing. People in the synagogues were doing that. He said, “Except our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees.” Even the Jewish community and heathens regarded the Pharisees as the most righteous group of people on the earth. These were righteous people! They appeared to live according to the Law of God. They went to great extravagance and extremes to abide by the Law of God, and they were faithful to tithe.
Jesus said, “That’s okay, but what you’ve neglected to do, which is even more important, is that you’ve neglected to do justice, you’ve neglected to show mercy, you’ve neglected to walk by faith!” Wow, might I remind you that if you’re tithing to avoid the curse according to the Law given by Moses, I want to give you a heads up. You probably owe God a whole bunch of money. I’m just saying.
According to the Law of Moses, there were three tithes: the Levitical Tithe, the Festival Tithe, and the Welfare Tithe (to take care of every three years in order to provide for widows and orphans). So if you’re only living according to the 10% rule so that God won’t curse you, you ought to be thankful God is not the IRS, or you’d be getting a dirty letter in the mail that told you how much you owe in penalties and back fees! You don’t even have to call Bender and Bender. I just gave you some tax relief, as ultimately, the tithe was like a tax.
It really boils down to getting out from under the idea of being subject to the Law in regard to tithing and beginning to operate under the principle of sowing and reaping. There’s a bit more that I’d like to share in regard to this topic, and I’ll include that in my next blog.