Discussing
Communicating That Fringe Benefits Are Just That

Todd Hertz

Bethanykj
June 22, 2010

great post, Todd. Here's my take on your concluding question: we can't. Obeying God is something that appeals to you AFTER you have a relationship with God. It's how we demonstrate that we're saved by grace. We might suggest to non-believers that tithing is a good way to manage your finances, but if you are not in the logic of God's grace, it may not be that compelling. It's the logic of grace that makes Christianity what it is; following God's commands is only part of that, and only makes sense within it and within a relationship.<br><br>It would be silly to ask somebody to bring you to the airport because you think in the future you could have a good relationship, the relationship has to come first. I think the same thing is true about God's commands.

Jordan
June 22, 2010

I wonder what these "encouraging" stories say to the Christian who is obeying God and ends up in a real financial need. Did they just not obey "enough"? Did the not hear God right?

Caryn R
June 22, 2010

Amen. Awesome.

Danny Nelson
June 22, 2010

Good thoughts. <br><br>We have been bought with a price and are called to complete obedience for no other reason than our perfect God tells us to be.<br><br>To answer your question, I agree with bethanyk... It's illogical to expect a non-Christian to want to act like a Christian. If you don't understand the power of the Gospel, then you will never understand the joy of obedient service to the God who makes it available. <br><br>I have a question for you. Forgive me if you've addressed this in the past. A man who I thought to be wise advised my wife and I to not tithe until we were out of debt on the grounds that the Old Testament Law was abolished by Christ's work on the cross.<br><br>I understand that the ceremonial/cleansing laws were abolished, but the moral precept laws still stand. My questions is this: Is tithing a ceremonial law or a moral law?<br><br>I've pretty much come to a conclusion for myself, but am having a hard time finding any commentary on the issue and would like some more perspective.

Jerod
June 22, 2010

Hi Danny-<br><br>Here are a couple of discussions we've had on tithing in the past that may give some insight.<br><br><a href="http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2009/06/24/quick-thought-paying-your-mortgage-or-giving-your-tithe/" rel="nofollow">http://www.thinkchristian.net/...</a><br><br><a href="http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2008/04/15/the-tithing-minority/" rel="nofollow">http://www.thinkchristian.net/...</a><br><br><a href="http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2008/12/09/tithing-without-the-church/" rel="nofollow">http://www.thinkchristian.net/...</a>

Rickd
June 22, 2010

I really agree with Todd. The “reward” for obedience is being in union with God. The reward is obedience in and of itself. The reward is being in God’s will despite what happens next. We obey because He is worthy. There are lots of promises in the Bible and I take advantage of them. But I worship the promise giver because He is God, He is good and He is Holy.<br>

Danny Nelson
June 22, 2010

Jerod,<br><br>Thanks for the resources. Though none of them really answer my question.

Todd Hertz
June 22, 2010

Nicely put, Bethany. Thanks.

Moe_NYC
June 22, 2010

I enjoy when I hear that God is the reward. Because, at the end of the day, this is the "it" of Christianity. I sometimes listen to some Christians' view of heaven in such a earthly way. They talk about having huge mansions where they'll live and all of the streets filled with gold and the riches of the diamond-like sea. You can see their eyes open up in awe at the "riches" of heaven. Me? I am completely satisfied with being in the presence of Jesus. I want to see him face to face and be "one" with him. He's what we are all about. I can care less about the gold and the riches. They are God's riches. And I rather have him, because when I do, I will be completely satisfied.<br><br>I think you can advise non Christians about the benefits of charity and abstinence. You can discuss the wholeness of it (once you unite yourself to another woman you become One with her), but you can never say that if done, you will be one with God. Without that relationship, nothing else matters.

Rickd
June 22, 2010

I would think it would be Old Covenant ceremonial law. Tithes were taken to Jerusalem once a year as part of the week-long Feast of Tabernacles where they were eaten in the feast with family, friends, servants, strangers, orphans, widows, and Levites. The 3rd year tithe they were not allowed to eat, the whole tithe was left at the gates for the Levites who received farm fresh food because they had no land. And of course the Levites then donated 10% of that food to the temple storehouses for the high priest’s family. Personally I think it belongs to the ceremonial/sacrificial law. Jesus, the disciples and the Pharisees would have faithfully celebrated this feast before His crucifixion and Resurrection when the New Covenant was enacted.<br><br>Read Deuteronomy 12 and 14 and Deuteronomy 26:12. For the Levites tithe which Malachi talks about read Nehemiah 10:38.<br><br>In the end, it's what the Lord leads you to do. Any other Bible Scholar opinions?

Mark Congdon
June 22, 2010

I think you answered your own question here, without quite realizing it.<br><br>I don't think it is accurate that we obey God simply to obey God, and that our only reward is obeying God. But, at the same time, it is not true that we should expect circumstantial rewards for obeying God. There are tangible rewards for obeying God... internal rewards.<br><br>You wrote: "Obeying God because it draws us nearer to him and helps us care about what he cares about should be and is enough". Drawing nearer to God and caring what God cares about are genuine rewards, and they bring genuine joy and peace into our lives that no amount of circumstantial pleasure can match.<br><br>Do we tithe because God will give us lots of money as a result? Certainly not. Do we tithe because it resonates with the way we were created, and in aligning us with the heart of God helps us achieve true joy and peace? Yes. And that true joy and peace is something that even non-believers have a hunger for.<br><br>Do we follow God's rules of sexuality because it will result in better marriage sex, or will avoid unpleasant consequences? Maybe partially... but those are circumstantial benefits. We follow those rules because they align best with the way we were created, and therefore lead to our fullest joy and peace, regardless of the circumstances. And again, that inner reward that is independent of circumstances is something that even unbelievers long for.<br><br>Mark<br>

Steven Koster
June 22, 2010

Is tithing ceremonial or moral? I'd suggest the strict 10% rules and schedules of the Torah were ceremonial, but that doesn't mean it's not connected to a moral precept. <br><br>In other words, tithing was meant to be a concrete expression in that place and time, but the moral impulse that all your goods and life belong to God (and you should behave accordingly) is an enduring precept. Calvin, for example, placed all tithing in the context of the second commandment: You shall make no idol because I AM the Lord your God. <br><br>Further, tithing in itself is meaningless unless it's an expression of the heart and a God-honoring life. Amos warns the people that their tithes are displeasing to God because of their social injustices. <br><br>Likewise in Matt 23 Christ pronounces woes against the pharisees who pride in legalistic tithes but neglect justice, mercy, and faith. <br><br>So, I don't think the abolishment of the OT ceremonies is a get-out-of-giving card, but neither is there a 10% rule. The real question for you is how are you honoring God with all the time, talents, and material resources he has given you?

Steven Koster
June 22, 2010

I once heard this quote from a pastor, and I never forgot it as an excellent restatement of the greatest commandments: <br><br>"God didn't make you so you could feel good. God made you to make Him look good. And when you show off God's goodness, you feel great." <br><br>So I affirm the idea that we don't live into God's presence so we can get rich somehow--that's the definition of a prosperity gospel. <br><br>Yet when we live as we were created to live (think in terms of the ten commandments, for example), things generally go well because that's the way we're supposed to be. The Proverbs are a list of general descriptions of what happens when living for or against God's design. Blessed is the one fearing God, and woe is upon those who do not--maybe not in every circumstance but generally. <br><br>And again, it not about rewards, it's about the Kingdom: Seek ye first the kingdom, and all these will be added. <br>

Paulvanderklay
June 22, 2010

Great point. We are probably implicitly reinforcing our deeper pragmatism which says that we use God to make life work. Whatever our definition of "work" or "the good life" then becomes our god. Thanks for the post. pvk

Bmh
June 23, 2010

"Do we tithe because God will give us lots of money as a result? Certainly not. Do we tithe because it resonates with the way we were created, and in aligning us with the heart of God helps us achieve true joy and peace? Yes. And that true joy and peace is something that even non-believers have a hunger for."<br><br>Bingo. It's interesting how human nature (myself included) always equates blessing to money first, everything else second. Nice post.

solid4JC
June 23, 2010

Perfectly put bethanyk, - All our righteousness is as filthy rags to God - when we are convicted of that fact by the Holy Spirit &amp; make the transition from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God then, and only then in relationship with our Father do we obey in love. <br>Maybe we have to tell our pre-christian friends that' He who has the Son has Life BUT he who has NOT the Son has NOT life but the Anger of God remains on him'.

Whitt Madden
June 23, 2010

I have actually heard something very similar to that at a church I visited. The discussion was on prayer and why God answers some prayers but not others. The pastor summed it up by telling one of the members of the congregation that the reason the other guy had his prayers answered was because that guy was more spiritual. That he prayed a more sincere prayer. You would not believe the look on the guys face when the pastor said this. The pastor then went on to preach about the proper way to pray so that God will hear your prayers. This is the kind of message being taught in churches today. It truly breaks my heart.

David Justopenthebook
June 24, 2010

Absolutely great post. Too often, we respond to the "what's in it for me?" mentality, when God wants us to lose that mentality altogether. It is difficult to craft a message that resonates equally with both believers and non-believers. Edifying the saints and reaching the lost cannot always be done in the same way. <br><br>However, the freedom and peace that come from obeying God are the rewards that should matter most. Living free from guilt and internal struggles, regardless of yoru circumstances, are the daily rewards for following God's ways. Is there anyone, believer or non-believer, who wouldn't want to be more at peace each day?

1carolinagrl
October 5, 2011

Functioning as God intended Or dysfunctional. "Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits." :) Being equally yoked=benefits. Tithing=benefits. Not having illicit affairs=benefits <br><br>In any relationship, we weigh the benefits. Isaiah 30:1-5 (specifically vs. 5) talks about alliances with people who are of no advantage to the Israelites. <br><br>God mentions that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. While we are justified instantly--that maturity and growth to understand God's ways and the beauty of how they work comes with time, perseverance, and renewing of our minds. <br><br>While cajoling a young person to obey God is flimsy at best for character development-- God's understanding of where we are developmentally is infinite. That is why there is a difference in the milk and meat of the <br>Word. <br>There are different periods of growth for each of us. Re-slathering someone with milk when they need to be chewing on the meat is about as loathsome as giving a teen a baby bottle instead of real food. Paul pointedly talks about that. <br><br>In conclusion, while I agree with the <br>sentiments and statements of the author, I also think it is also good to know where each individual is developmentally in their Christian walk.

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