Tuesday, May 6, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 137: The Best

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 137, May 6, 2014
Readings: Psalm 136, Numbers 18, Numbers 19, Isaiah 56, Isaiah 57, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

 Tithing is a tricky subject. What it is, is it required, is it used well by the church...all these and more are questions asked. And more often than not, tithes are not given. I'm not really sure how a church can pay it's bills without them - but if we all chose not to tithe, we'd have no paid pastors. No church buildings. And some people might like it that way, but most would not. And tithing is biblical - for the very purpose of maintaining a priesthood that has no purpose other than to lead the Church!

The concept first came out of the nation of Israel. Every one of the twelve tribes, and every family within those twelve tribes, was given an inheritance from God - land to cultivate and work for their sustenance. All except one. The tribe of Levi.

Set apart to be a priesthood, the tribe of Levi was the sacrifice for the other tribes. God decreed that the firstborn male of everyone (humans & animals) was to be dedicated to God. But He set apart the tribe of Levi so that all male human children could be free. But how were they sustained?

God gave them the tithe. All the proceeds that came from their brethren supported the tribe of Levi. They had no inheritance, no land, no flocks. Every tithe made by the other eleven tribes reminded the Levites that God was their provider...and the other eleven tribes that freedom isn't free. That someone has to pay the price for their freedom.

Our tithe today might be different, but we still rely on the established church to be our priests. They give up aspirations of advancement, fortune and fame to serve us. To give their time when they're tired. To love those who are unloved. And we are called to support them, and to join them in serving others. The non-Levite Israelites weren't exempt from the priestly work, it just wasn't their full-time profession.

But I think the key here is one simple verse:

Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the LORD; from each its best part is to be dedicated. (Numbers 18:29)

It says best. It doesn't say what's left over. It doesn't say whatever is green and in your wallet when the plate gets passed around. And while I know it's a little different when we get paid in currency and not goats or produce, the same applies. The best for me is the day after I've deposited my paycheck for the month. Now, I know that all the bills will come due and eat it up quickly, but on that day, that moment, I have more money than I will have the rest of the month!

That's the best. And that's when we are called to give. Not later, when we might justify keeping some back because our budget is tight this month (and isn't it every month?) Not at the end - because God didn't give us the leftovers, he gave us his Son. The best he had. Shouldn't we be willing to do the same?

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