A Statement of Faith
Sabbath School Lesson 2018 Quarter 1 Lesson 7 Tuesday
First two paragraphs,
“As we saw yesterday, faith is a process, a dynamic experience that, ideally, grows and matures. And one way God is “finishing” our faith and bringing it to completeness is through the act of tithing. Rightly understood, tithe returned to God is not legalism; when we tithe we are not working or seeking to earn our way to heaven. Instead, tithing is a statement of faith. It is an outward, visible, personal expression of the reality of our faith.
After all, anyone can claim to have faith and to believe in God, and even to believe in Jesus. As we know, “even the demons believe” in God (James 2:19, NKJV). But to take 10 percent of your income and give it back to God? That is an act of faith.”
Tithe paying can absolutely be an expression of faith, but does that mean tithe pay is always an expression of faith?
Saying it another way, can people pay tithe without faith?
Are there spiritual blessings from paying tithe? What?
- Actively reminds us of the source of all blessings
- Puts us in active partnership with God
- Keeps us humble
- Practices honesty and integrity by returning an honest 10%
- Exercises faith in God by trusting Him when finances are tight
There are different ways can we can speak about tithing. Often those who see law and grace as sharp contradictions, relegate tithing to the realm of law from which we have been thankfully freed as a relic of legalism. Those who know there is grace in law and law in grace, realize that tithing is actually a vehicle of grace. Tithing is to our possessions what the Sabbath is to our time—a concrete guideline that points beyond itself to the truth that every moment and every part of our lives comes from the hand of God, and will be returned to God. Tithing has always been a training exercise that cultivates a generous and God-centered heart.
Now in contrast, when Jesus came, he found a group of people who were totally preoccupied with God’s laws and with obedience to their every detail. He never had to tell them not to make a graven image. They had learned their lesson in the discipline of Babylonian captivity, and they never sank into ordinary idolatry again. He never had to tell them which day was the Sabbath. They regarded it as their highest duty to obey all ten of the Ten Commandments. He never had to urge them to pay tithe.
Matthew records they used to tithe even the tiniest things: the seeds of the mint, anise, and cumin. Nor did Jesus have to tell them they should obey the laws of hygiene. He commented on the fact that they would even strain gnats out of their goat’s milk lest they should eat a forbidden insect. Nor did he ever have to tell them to search the Scriptures. He said they did it all the time—though they did it for the wrong reason (John 5:39). Nor did he ever have to tell them to be careful in their association with unbelievers.
In fact, when they came in from the market place, they used to wash themselves in certain special, ceremonial ways, lest they be contaminated by association with the Gentiles. You see, they all could say, like the rich young ruler, “All these things we have obeyed from our youth up.” You would think that in the face of such rigorous obedience and willingness to do precisely what they were told—you would think Jesus would be pleased, and they would recognize and welcome him when he came. But all heaven watched the incredible scene of those who claimed to love God’s law, denouncing the Lawgiver as a lawbreaker.
It must have puzzled the angels a great deal. So Jesus ventured to suggest that while they were working so hard to obey, that actually they were obeying for the wrong reason. Because they were obeying for the wrong reason, they really were not obeying at all. You can imagine how offensive this was to them. In fact, he went further and suggested that if only they knew the God who had given the law, they would keep the law for an entirely different reason: a reason that would make it possible for them to be obedient and free at the same time.
What is this truth in which we simply must be settled and sealed, so that despite the devil’s most convincing efforts to the contrary, we cannot be moved? What would you suggest for the list of truths? Is it the truth that God exists and that he is infinitely powerful? Well, the devils believe that and it scares them. Is it the truth that the end is coming soon? Satan agrees that it is coming soon and he works all the harder.
He is settled into those two things. Is it the truth that the seventh-day is the Sabbath? Is it the truth that we should keep all ten of the Ten Commandments, that we should read our Bibles faithfully as God’s word? Is it the truth that we should pay a careful tithe and be very careful about what we eat and be very careful how we associate with sinners who might lead us astray? Not to minimize those matters. Should we not recall, as a warning, the very pious beliefs and practices of those who nailed Jesus to the cross and then rushed home to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, with their tithe paid up and no forbidden food in their stomachs?
Evidently the truth into which we must be sealed is far more than just the list of beliefs I mentioned, important as they are. Throughout the Bible, the all-important truth, the saving truth, is above all else the truth about our God. Jesus came to bring us this truth about his Father, so that we might be won back to God in love and trust. God can heal and save all who trust him. You remember all that Jesus said in the verses from John 14, above. When the Spirit comes, he will bring to our remembrance the things that Jesus has said about the Father. Remember in Ephesians 1:17 above, the Holy Spirit will come so that we may know God better. That’s the consistent picture of the truth, the subject of the truth, the essence of the truth that runs all through Scripture.