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August 30 Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 33-34
“If you really want to get folks to open their wallets…”
“Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:2)
While eating lunch at one of our favorite restaurants a few years ago, my wife and I could not help overhearing the conversation of two men sitting next to us. They were preachers. One was a young pastor. His guest was a middle-aged evangelist. I listened as the older man gave instructions to the younger. He talked about one trick and then another to get men and women to give their money, having special meetings to teach people to give, etc. Every word they spoke to one another was about other people’s money and how to get it. Finally, the older preacher said, “If you really want to get folks to open their wallets, you should,” and proceeded to suggests another method of religious thievery, as the young pastor sat spell-bound before his advisor. In the thirty or forty minutes it took us to eat, not one word was spoken about God, his Son, his glory, his grace, his salvation, or the souls of men. The whole conversation was about raising money!
Because it was a public place, and I was not a part of the conversation, I chose to say nothing; but I said to my wife, “I would like to say to that young man, ‘If you will preach the free, saving grace of God in Christ three times a week to them, God’s people will give generously because they want to. You will not have to get them to.’”
My abhorrence of such men is inexpressible. They are self-serving thieves! The Lord God declares that he is against them; and that he will require his flock at their hand in judgment (Ezekiel 34:10). God’s people do not have to be tricked into opening their wallets, or talked into being generous; and they will not be threatened into tithing.
Givers, not Tithers
God’s people are givers, not tithers. Nowhere do I find in the New Testament that believing men are commanded to tithe. Such a commandment would be contrary to the Gospel of grace and the spirit of the new covenant. Legal commandments are good enough for children of bondage, like Ishmael. But the children of promise are motivated from a better principle. For them, it is enough to say, “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 8:9). We do not niggardly divide out our tenth, like religious misers. We give ourselves and all that we have to Christ. Cheerfully we give all that we can for the cause of Christ and the support of the Gospel ministry. Why? Because we know his grace.
Here is what Christ has done for us. This, according to 2 Corinthians 8:9, is his grace. — “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” The wealth of God, the treasures of the infinite, the riches of eternity are the possession of our blessed Savior. From the highest throne of glory to the lowest pit in hell, the Lord Jesus Christ owns it all. It is true that Christ became the lowly man of Nazareth. But he is more. He is the eternal God, possessing all the riches of Divine wisdom, power, and glory.
“Yet he became poor” (Philippians 2:5-8). The eternal Son of God took manhood into union with himself. The God of glory robed himself in human flesh. Behold the depths of his poverty at Calvary! He was betrayed, mocked, and beaten. He was crucified. God made his Son to be sin for us! There he was robbed of all the joy of heaven and the comfort of his Father’s presence. His dying bed was a malefactor’s cross. His resting place was a borrowed tomb. What was the reason for such humiliation?
“That ye through his poverty might be rich.” — What riches are ours through the mediation of Christ! In him we have all and abound. The riches of grace and redemption, time and eternity are ours. Do men who know such grace need to be tricked into giving or threatened by the law to make them tithe? No! The love of Christ constrains us. And in everything grace produces more than the law. Let us, poor sinners saved by the riches of his grace, give cheerfully and bountifully to the cause of our Redeemer, through whom and in whom we have been made “rich in faith”.