Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Do You Do That?

I had a conversation recently with a fellow believer who attends a church in another city.  He said he had received Christ as his Savior and had been baptized, however, he was currently struggling over tithing (giving 10% of his income).  He said that he had been able to do so a few times, and that when he did he "felt good" and that "it made him proud". 

I asked the young man how he felt when he failed to give.  He replied, "I feel guilty."  I then asked, "Why do you give?"  He seemed puzzled at first that I would ask such a question.  I assured him that I was just curious, and that it was a good thing to know the true motivation behind our actions.  With that, he answered, "After our pastor preached on tithing, I told my wife, 'We've got to do this – I don't want to go to hell!'". 

I then asked, "Didn't you say earlier that Jesus was your Savior?"  He answered, "Yes."  I then asked if he felt that his giving would help his standing before God on judgment day, to which he answered "Yes."  So I asked, "Then who is saving who?"  He responded, "I'm saving myself."  Then, as if he suddenly realized what he had said, he remarked, "That didn't sound good."

Before the Apostle Paul ever became a follower of Christ, he had amassed quite a religious resume'.  He wrote about in his letter to the church at Philippi: "…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law; blameless.  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…"

Paul was not going to stand before God, relying in any sense upon his own record (a righteousness of my own).  Why not Paul?  Why not bring that along?  Just in case of course!  Isn't it because that the truth of the gospel is that Christ's righteousness has saved us from God's wrath and hell already, and there's nothing we can or should attempt to add to that?

So what about our giving, what should our motivation to give be?  Our giving, our service, all that we do for the glory of God is not to be done to keep ourselves saved.  No, no, never!  We who are "found in Him" are to be motivated by joy and gratitude for the grace we have received – both past and future grace.

Pastor Van

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