Leviticus ends as abruptly as it started with laws concerning obedience, vows and tithes. God gives His people an overview of the lesson at hand. Obedience = blessing. Disobedience = problems. When obedience = problems, then God will take care of it.
If that isn’t clear enough, He goes on to explain in detail what their lives will look like if they choose to follow the laws He has set out for their good. It’s not a case of dictatorship as in “Do what I say or else…” God takes a fatherly stance, promising in Chapter 26, verse 12 that He will walk among them and be their God.
The recurring theme of the Bible is that relationship is central to God’s purpose and plan for His people. Without it, they don’t stand a chance. With it, they may still fall, but God promises to keep His hand on them to guide them back onto the path of restoration and blessing. No other god would make such an extravagant allotment of grace, but because of love, God made provision on the cross, even for your disobedience.
Throughout Leviticus and especially in Chapter 26, God makes it clear that He wants His people to be free to make their own decisions. If He wanted robots, He would not have created us with free will, the ability to make our own choices, separate from Him and His desires and even His commands and all the consequences. No one has ever been forced to love God or to serve Him. He would simply not have it that way.
So when you see miserable Christians breaking their backs “for the Gospel” you really have to wonder who they’re serving. Is it God or are they seeking glory for themselves? Serving God is not always easy but if there’s no underlying joy, even when times are tough, you have to wonder if you’ve somehow missed God.
Concerning vows and tithes, God gets into specifics in Chapter 27. One-tenth of the increase of their land and produce was to be given to the Lord because it was holy and it belonged to Him.
Today, we are not under the law and tithing does not apply to us as Christians. Today, giving is 100% voluntary. Our giving is to support the poor, the fatherless, the widow and the foreigner. Also, we are responsible to take care of the needs within our Christian community and to support Christian workers, such as evangelists and church planters where necessary to spread the Gospel beyond our immediate areas.
The concept of stewardship still applies to us. Everything belongs to God and we are merely stewards of His resources. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the fruit of our labours. The choice is always ours, yet we will one day give an account of what we did not only with our money, but with our time and talents. Did we invest wisely or did we make poor investments that yielded little but entertainment and self-gratification while the world around us was dying. No guilt trip here – just seek God and ask Him what you should do.
Instead of seeing financial contribution as something you’re giving up, realize that you’re simply transferring someone else’s money, namely God’s, into His account. It was never really yours in the first place. You were simply asked to be a steward.
The problem is the pay check has your name on it. And it gets cashed into your bank account. What happens next is it gets mixed in with the rest. People think the Old Testament is difficult, but the New Testament goes even further, with 100% belonging to God and us as managers to be held accountable for how we invested it. Many people with wealth adhere to the tithe today because it’s easier to live by the law than to follow Christ and obey His promptings concerning giving. And besides that, 10% is not sacrificial for them. They’re getting off easy. What if they could give 90% and still be more than comfortable?
You may have heard the story of LaTourneau Technologies, manufacturer of front-end loaders, log-stackers, mining machines and self-elevating, mobile offshore drilling rigs. A model of generosity, few people know that its founder, RG LeTourneau was a humble machine-operator who was frustrated with the equipment he had to work with to move dirt. In 1922, he designed a stronger, lighter and more efficient machine with a price-point that enabled him to rise to the forefront. He produced 70% of the earth-moving equipment used in WW II and quickly became a multi-millionaire.
All the while, LaTourneau claimed that God was the Chairman of his Board and said the money came in faster than he could give it away. He donated 90% of his profit to God’s works, including Billy Graham’s early crusades, saying, “I shovel it out and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel.” LaTourneau went on to become one of the most influential people of his day, creating 298 more inventions, from cranes to the electric wheel, and his life verse was Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I’ll be the first to admit that at times it hurt to give but I’ve also had more than I needed and been in a position to give more generously. Was I blessed because I gave or did I give because I was blessed? I know people who don’t give a dime and yet they’re wealthy. I’d make a lousy televangelist because I believe it’s not because of what we give, but because of God’s grace that we have what we have. In the end, everything will be sorted out. I just don’t want to stand before His throne and be found with His money in my pocket.
Again, it all boils down to relationship. If you and God are partners, you have to realize He is coming to the table with far more than you. Would you then withhold the little you have to offer? Just a question. This isn’t where I thought I would go with this, but since we’re here, let’s just be honest and transparent.
The other day I was looking at a book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin called, “Thou Shall Prosper.” While I had heard that some Jews no longer pay the tithe, this Rabbi endorsed it fully, saying that even athiests have been blessed by obeying the Biblical principle of the tithe. Even in ancient times, giving was the right thing to do, making provision for the less fortunate. Today, we’ve transferred our responsibility onto the government while the needs around us spill over and touch everyone, but it’s time to do what’s right again.
Whether you agree with your church and how they are spending “your” money, give to God as He leads. The point is obedience between you and God. He may be asking you to give a lot more than you’re comfortable with. What they do with it is between them and God. Just don’t use them as an excuse to stop giving. Many organizations are fully accountable in their spending habits. Pray about it and see if God would have you partner with one or more of them to do more than you could do alone.
God will take care of you, regardless. He is faithful, even when we’re not. Invest wisely and do it with joy. Otherwise, there’s no sense in giving at all. But if you can help someone in need, don’t hesitate to do what’s right. When it comes to God and His Kingdom, no matter how much you shovel out, His shovel will always be bigger.