Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abraham's Tithe

Hebrews 7:4-10 (ESV)
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! [5] And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. [6] But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. [7] It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. [8] In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. [9] One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, [10] for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
“It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.” Knowing that the end of Matins always bothered me, but reading the definitions of blessing, there is a manner in which we can “bless” God without putting ourselves in a position above God. But here we do see that Melchizedek was superior to Abraham. Abraham paid his tithes to him. The peculiar episode here is the ten percent was given without compulsion. Today so many want to put their congregations, and people back under the yoke of the law by demanding ten percent, demanding a tithe.
Now, in many ways ten percent seems to make sense. There is a Biblical precedent for it. While in the Air Force they had has go to financial planning seminars etc. Even the secular financial planners recommended ten percent giving to charity. It was their claim that ten percent was something anyone could afford. I don’t know how true that is. I think it is a good goal. When it comes to giving, I recommend deliberate planning. Figure out what you can give without compulsion, with a cheerful heart that isn’t begrudging, and give that. But whether or not it is ten percent is up to you. It is also a good exercise in financial fasting I suppose.
When one gives deliberately to the church, you begin to see your finances a bit differently. Perhaps you learn that you don’t need all the latest gadgets and gizmos, the hottest fashions, the newest car etc. Not that you can’t have those, but you might learn to put off for awhile. That said, neither is tithing some sort of magic charm to keep you out of the red. People who tithe do, I know they do, experience financial hardships. Yet they also come to realize that God is good to give us our daily bread. But giving from compulsion, a feeling of guilt, etc is really quite ruinous. Abraham gave under no compulsion whatsoever. There was no law here. Neither can there be for the children of Abraham who live by faith.


Steve Martin said...

I totally agree with you.

No law for Christians when it comes to giving.

Why stop at ten percent? The window gave all that she had and Jesus said that was a true gift.

When our giving is is just that...a calculation.

God is after faith, not calculations.

Bror Erickson said...

No reason to stop at ten percent, but I would stop short of starving your children.
I don't know that calculations and faith have to be opposed to each other. A person with faith can sit down and determine a percentage as Abraham did, as Zacheus did, Jacob too. It could be what ever they come up with and determine to give. I rather think it is good advice to have people determine what they want to give. Though pledging is another matter I am skeptical about. Yes yes, no, no sort of thing. Better not to vow than break a vow. But determining an amount to give, and budgeting for it I think is as good advice as telling someone to budget in the first place. But perhaps I am misreading calculation here.
If you are calculating that God will repay x, if I give y, then no that is not a good thing.