God blessed Abraham. He came to him, called him from his idolatrous family, and sent him packing toward the Land of Promise. To him, real-estate and descendants were promised in abundance. He would walk with God and be spiritually blessed, and in response he would become a blessing to others — to the entire earth. Spiritual grace and temporal grace were poured out upon this patriarch in abundance. And when it came to war, Abram continued to experience God’s good pleasure. Valiantly he fought against wicked and powerful kings. Valiantly he defended his family and friends, and because the Lord honored his labors, Abram found himself the mighty victor.
In response to God’s mercy and grace, the grateful disciple worshiped the Lord with both his internal heart and his external wealth:
Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High. Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Genesis 14:16-20)
Abram was exemplary in his sacrifice of praise. God blessed him with victory. God blessed him with wealth. God blessed him with bread and wine. God blessed him with words of comfort and hope. And in response, Abram blessed the Lord with both his internal heart and his external wealth.
Friends, it is true that God commands us to sacrificially give of the resources in our possession. His good Law demands that we joyfully worship him and love our neighbors by giving of His temporal means which he has placed in our hands. Yes, as good worshipers, we are commanded to forgo building extra barns and hoarding his wealth. Instead, with hilarious joy, we are to generously pass along God’s wealth to his church, his worldwide kingdom work, those within our households, the needy within our church families, and those suffering outside our gates. This is the legislative Law of God. This is what he expects, and there is no room for compromise in heart or in habit.
Well, this truth puts us in a sad position, doesn’t it? Yes, if we are entirely honest, all of us stand adequately instructed, graciously blessed, poorly evaluated, justly accused, and thoroughly guilty:
- We are arrogant. We horribly believe we are the ultimate reason for our success and the accumulation of our wealth.
- We are thankless. We do not have intense gratitude for our merciful and gracious Benefactor who has given us far more than we deserve.
- We are idolatrous. We trust not God in totality and instead place too much confidence in our skills, positions, relationships, and investments.
- We are selfish. We have come to the conclusion that God’s wealth is primarily given to us for our personal pampering.
- We are foolish. As God’s stewards or managers, we are guilty of mismanaging his funds which he has placed in our hands.
- We are boastful. When we do give, we need others to know of our philanthropic generosity.
- We are stingy. We distribute God’s wealth in paltry amounts or percentages.
- We are joyless. Giving to God and others is painful to us. We are hardly hilarious in our giving.
- Therefore, we are legalistic and wicked in our divine worship and neighborly philanthropy. Because we do not give with the right attitude, our giving — regardless or amount or percentage — is not lawful. Instead, it is sinful.
Thanks be to the Father. He is the one who sacrificed his Son.
Thanks be to the Son! He is the one who sacrificed adequately and with the proper attitude. In his life, he earned our righteousness. In his life, he earned an “A” in the category of divine worship and neighborly philanthropy. And in his substitutionary death, he paid the full price for all our sins — including those regarding our tithes and offerings. Consequently, for all of us who are identified with the Jesus Christ, we are declared “just.” Hallelujah! According to the verdict of the Heavenly Judge, all who are redeemed are declared to be joyfully sacrificial worshipers of God.
And it get’s better. For all of us who are clothed in Christ Jesus and filled with his Holy Spirit, we are actually becoming sharper worshipers inside and out. We are learning to hate and turn from sin. Christ’s righteous thoughts and practices are seeping out through our sinful flesh. Yes, as we grow in our knowledge of him and in our practice of his Law, more and more we are loving and spending like Jesus. As progressively sanctified disciples, more and more we are worshiping the Lord with both our internal hearts and his external wealth.
Oh friends, consider how God has sacrificed for you. Consider how he has mercifully and graciously granted you his wealth. He has done it before; he can do it again. Love him. Trust him. Look at what you can do for him in his name with his wealth. Therefore, let us all be more thankful, grateful, and philanthropically ambitious. This week, let us who know Jesus Christ be like him and like his servant Abraham. Let us all be holy and hilariously happy in our handing out of God’s wealth.