Gregory E. Reynolds
Money is power and when worshiped, it is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was God's historical assertion of lordship over his creation. For worshipers of the resurrected Lord, money is power to be used in his service to spread his dominion over all nations.
Having expounded the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul goes on to encourage the church to collect money on the Lord's day (16:1, 2). An offering taken on the day of resurrection acknowledges Christ's kingship. Can we doubt that "the tenth" is the God-given norm? Give in keeping with your income, says Paul. For more than 2,000 years the tithe had been the fundamental measure of giving. Just as God commanded through Malachi to bring tithes and offerings into his house (3:10), through Paul he asks the same of the Corinthians church (16:2).
Tithing is part of our stewardship as the King's children. It is God's way of extending his kingdom through establishing Christian embassies among the nations. Tithing is part of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:1). By yielding the firstfruits of our incomes to Christ, we are dedicating all of our possessions and abilities to his service. This is central to being disciples of the Master. True faith is an obedient faith (1 John 3:17).
Many people say they cannot afford to tithe. Scriptures teaches that we cannot afford not to. Often we betray unbiblical priorities by squandering our money on things that are unnecessary. We give in to the idol of covetousness.
Tithing teaches us to seek God's kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). When we fail to do this with our money, God has a strong rebuke for us. He says we are robbing him (Mal. 3:8). It is as if we were saying, "It is futile to serve God" (Mal. 3:14). But if we believe in the resurrected Christ, he promises us that our "labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). The Christian's life is built on Christ's resurrection. Our future is invested in him, not in our pensions.
Tithing extends the kingdom first in our own hearts. It is a powerful way of putting greed to death (Col. 3:5). As we bring our tithes to God each resurrection day, we are reaffirming his lordship in our lives.
Tithing also fulfills the Great Commission. At the heart of flourishing in the work of Christ is spreading the message of the resurrection as Paul did throughout the Roman Empire.
Look at the gracious promise of blessing that God gives to the tithing church. The Lord issues a loving challenge to the remnant church of returned exiles in Malachi's day: "Test me in this." Tithe, the Lord says, and I will bless you. I will throw open" the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Mal. 3:10).
Four hundred years later the Lord sent his son, who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead. The floodgates of heaven were opened wide on the day of resurrection. The promise is being fulfilled today to the tithing church as she proclaims the message of the gospel.
Gregory E. Reynolds is pastor of Westchester OPC, Mount Vernon, N.Y. Reprinted from New Horizons March 1989.
UPDATE on bio:
Gregory E. Reynolds currently is pastor of Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, N.H.
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