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The test of giving
- Jacob Ninan
The covenant which God made through Moses with the people of Israel was never meant to last forever, but only to serve as an intermediate step towards the new covenant which God would make through the death of Jesus (Ga.3:22-25). The old covenant gave an indicative outline (shadow) of the relationship and standards that God really wanted to set up through the new covenant. For example, not doing any work for six days and dedicating the seventh day to God and giving one tenth of one's income to God were meant to indicate the priority that one should give to God. Under the new covenant, when we and all that we have belong entirely to God, the concepts of tithes and sabbaths became obsolete. We can't consider the 90% that is left after giving the tithe to God as ours to spend any way we like, and nor can we live any way we like for six days a week! All our money and all of our time and everything else in our life belong to God to be used according to His will as living sacrifices (Ro.12:1).
But some people take advantage of the new covenant and consider themselves free from any obligation to give any money to the Lord or to have any time for God! That only shows that they have not entered into the new covenant meaningfully. When someone actually enters the new covenant with God, recognising himself as a lost sinner headed for hell and thankfully receiving forgiveness because Jesus had already suffered for his sin, God causes him to be born again. This man receives a new mind with new desires and attitudes that make him completely different from what he used to be before.
One of the differences is in his attitude towards God. Now God becomes supreme for him because He is the one who truly loves him in spite of knowing everything about him. He falls in love with Him, and wants to spend time with Him, listen to Him, pour out his heart to Him, do what is pleasing to Him and essentially, give his life for Him. If this does not happen, there is a big question mark about whether he is really born again.
One of the practical results of this change, among others, is his desire to give to God, His work and His people. He no longer needs a rule of tithing or constant reminders or exhortations to give. When he has given himself to God unreservedly, it is no problem for him to give his money (2Co.8:3-5).
Can we examine ourselves on this point? How is our giving? 'How much' is not the question, but the condition of our heart from which our giving comes. Is it out of compulsion that we give, or out of gratitude? Is it in the form of paying a premium expecting great returns from God? Is it out of fear that God might punish us if we didn't give? Is it out of a sense of duty because our local church demands it?
If our heart convicts us on this, don't just think about giving more! We need to realise that we have not let Jesus enter deeply into our lives, but maybe only superficially or not at all.