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Driving Lessons

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In your tithes and contributions (Malachi 3:8, esv).

“Tithing isn’t for today.”
“Tithes are not what God requires.”
“Tithing is so Old Testament.”

Okay, let’s go with that. Let’s celebrate the awesome reality that we are no longer under law but are gloriously under grace. You’ll find no one more enthusiastic than I am about the exciting privileges that come from being part of the new covenant with Christ.

Once you’ve trusted God with everything, you’ll never want to go back to anything less.

But where in the New Testament are we told that our response to grace should be less than our response to law?

In the Old Testament we’re told not to murder, but in the New Testament we’re told that even anger and hatred are equivalent to murder (Matthew 5:21–22). In the Old Testament we’re told not to commit adultery, but in the New Testament we’re told that merely lusting in our minds is the same as adultery (Matthew 5:27–28). In the Old Testament we’re told to give God ten percent (the tithe) and keep the rest, but in the New Testament we’re told that everything belongs to God—“from whom are all things and for whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

So maybe the common objection that the tithe doesn’t apply to believers today is true only in one sense: we shouldn’t feel confined to giving only ten percent.

I like to think of giving as a highway, with tithing as sort of the on-ramp. Through tithing we merge into the far right-hand lane—the do-what’s-right lane—the one that’s about careful compliancy for nice, upstanding, law-abiding believers. And that’s fine. You can drive safely over there. It’s clearly in the flow of traffic. You can make steady progress from that location.

But how would you like to be in the passing lane? How would you like to be sailing at full-speed, over there with the top-down drivers who are smiling and laughing and rejoicing together, delighting to be out on the open road? Fully enjoying the ride on this Highway of Generosity?

What grieves me most are those New Testament believers who, in declaring themselves free of Old Testament parameters, are crouching down there at the bottom of the on-ramp, not even moving at all, completely at a standstill by choosing to operate their generosity engines at only one- to two-percent capacity. What encourages me is a tither who’s at least headed toward a new destination—because, yes, ninety percent with you and God is way more than a hundred percent on your own.

But it won’t take long, once you’ve put even the limitation of tithing in your rearview mirror and experienced the wind in your hair from trusting God with everything, before you’ll never want to go back to anything less than wide-open driving.

If you would pull on ahead by faith through the tithing ramp and glide over into the less congested lanes of generosity, you would learn some new things about the Lord. You would experience things you’ve never seen or known were possible. With God in full control, with your obedience at full throttle, and with His promises in full view, you won’t feel robbed of power. In fact, you’ll feel more energized than you’ve ever felt in your life.

You might even feel like stepping on that New Testament gas a little harder.


  • What is God speaking to your heart right now about the principle of tithing?
  • God says to “test Me now in this” (Malachi 3:10, nasb). How do you respond to that challenge?

Heavenly Father, thank You for not withholding one thing from me that prevents me from experiencing abundant life. Thank You for continually giving to me, day after day, completely and lavishly. Help my own giving correspond to that. Take me beyond where I’ve been. Show me how and where to increase my faith, as evidenced by my willingness to give. I accept the invitation to test You, knowing that You will prove Yourself faithful, in Jesus’ name, amen.


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