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Genesis 14:18-20 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:53 mins 54 secs

Grace-giving: Gratitude and Generosity. Genesis:14:18-20

 

Much of this lesson was review of the previous lesson and has not been repeated here.

 

The Mosaic law didn't recognize just tithing, it also recognized free will or grace giving that was important for the sustenance of the temple and for the people. So there were these two categories of giving. There are several verses in Proverbs that emphasize this. Proverbs 3:9 10, "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." Notice the emphasis there. It is from the first, it is not giving the Lord from whatever you have that is second class or used. In the Old Testament economy there seems to be this material/physical connection between spiritual obedience and material prosperity. That is not true in the church age. For one thing, we are not living in a Christian nation. They were living in a nation that was a theocracy under God and so God built into this these concrete barometers for self-evaluation. We don't have this today. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the completed canon of Scripture, we have so much more. So a principle like this can't be taken as a promise. (A proverb is a wise saying that is generally true but not always altogether true; it is not the same as a promise which is an unconditional statement of reality that is backed up by the integrity of God) Proverbs 11:24, "There is one who scatters, and {yet} increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, {and yet it results} only in want." The one who scatters is the one who is giving. We all know people like that, they are very generous and not only with money. Giving doesn't just have to do with money, it has to do with time, with energy, with whatever talent God has given us in serving and helping others, and it also has to do with whatever financial resources the Lord gives us. If you are a person who has that attitude of gratitude and generosity from grace orientation, then it works itself out in all these areas. It is not just a matter of giving money to the church, it has to do with giving of yourself and time in many different ways and it may be in ways that are not seen by others. So there is the one who scatters, the person who is giving of himself and yet increases all the more because as he gives God is going to supply that which is necessary. There is also the person who withholds. This is the person who is relatively tight and even though it is justly due he holds on to it, but it results only in want. Giving, even under the Mosaic law, was not part of the means of spiritual growth but part of the outworking of genuine grace orientation and gratitude in the soul for all that God has provided.

 

In the Gospels Jesus never talks about tithing in a positive way, He only condemns the Pharisees for their false tithing system. They would tithe from their excess, not from what they had. They followed the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law, Luke 11:42; 18:12. There was no generosity of grace orientation among the Pharisees. There is no positive instruction in the Gospels or reaffirmation of the Old Testament principles of tithing. Secondly, our Lord taught that giving was to be a private matter, it wasn't to be done in public for show, Matthew 6:2-4. The New Testament recognizes that free will giving is based on gratitude in the soul and not on the basis of a prescribed value, not on a set percentage. For example, Luke 21:2-4, "And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."

 

Abraham's tithe involved three things. He gave of not simply his possessions but from the recovered plunder that belonged to everybody. This is because he recognizes that God gave the victory for everybody. Secondly, he didn't give a tithe of his possessions but a tithe of everything from the battle. He has a lot of possessions, but that is not what he gave a tithe of, he gave a tithe of everything from the battle. There are italics added in the translation of Hebrews chapter seven that "he gave from all of the spoils." It is an active interpretation but it is not in the original which just says that he gave of all. When we look at the context of Genesis chapter fourteen, right after he gives the ten per cent to Melchizedek Bera the king of Sodom pipes up and says, You keep the possessions, I'll take the people. It is clear from the context that this is talking about the plunder from the battle, not all of Abraham's possessions.

 

New Testament principles are given in four central passages. 1 Corinthians 16:1ff; 2 Corinthians 9:4-15; Matthew 6:1-4; Luke 21:2-3. In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul is going to be on his third missionary journey and he is taking up a collection from each of the congregations of financial aid to take back to the church in Jerusalem because they were going through some financial distress. We get some principles for giving from this. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you." So it is very clear that Paul is going to do some teaching about taking up a financial collection. The first principle we should learn about that is that Paul was not afraid to talk about money to the congregation. This isn't talking about the normal monthly contribution to support the local church at Corinth or the pastor there, this is talking about the special collection that had a special focus for the believers in Jerusalem. This is something that Paul has been telling all the different churches so that he can swing by and pick it up on his next journey. This tells us that he believed on planning ahead of time and setting aside for the future. Verse 2, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." There are two other principles here: that it was to be regular. They met each week and saved for that eventual time when Paul would come; and then the next clause gives us the standard for giving in the church age. It is the Greek word EUODOO [e)uodow], and it is the present passive subjunctive. The present tense emphasizes the ongoing nature of the prosperity. The passive voice emphasizes that the prosperity comes from the Lord, not from the individual. The subjunctive mood indicates its potentiality. The word euodoo means to be led along a good road of a good path. The prefix EU has to do with something that is good or beneficial—we see that in the word "eulogy" where eu is the prefix and logos means words: good words. So EUODOO to do with being led along a good road. In other words, it is an idiom for having the road of life go well, to be successful, and it expresses the standard for giving which is proportionality. How much a believer gives is between him and the Lord, so it is not a standard of ten per cent, it is as the Lord has provided. The purpose here is so that Paul doesn't have to take up a collection when he comes, because he wouldn't get as much as was needed to take care of the believers in Jerusalem.

 

New Testament grace giving follows the same pattern as the Old. There is mandated giving in the New Testament in terms of the support of a government or national entity in taxation. This is clear from Romans 13:6. Just as the Israelites gave tithes to support the divinely ordained system under which they lived, so we are to pay taxes to support our government. Then there is free will giving, and that is giving to support the local church and giving for missions. We are to give to the Lord according to whatever we purpose in our heart, according to 2 Corinthians chapter nine where there is the ideas of being generous and grace oriented. 2 Corinthians 9:5, "Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up before hand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful [generous and grace oriented] giver."