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From the Archives

by William C. Martin

´┐╝The Spirit anointing of Jesus, the Spirit baptism of the disciples, and the Spirit baptism of Cornelius are all functionally equivalent experiences.
1. Tithing is deeply rooted in a long history of observance in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Old Testament is saturated with the conviction that “the tithe is the Lord’s.” The New Testament, without losing the central idea, puts around it spacious horizons of joyful liberality. While refusing to allow the practice of tithing to become a substitute for “justice, mercy and faith,” Jesus put the sanction of His approval upon it. Tithing has stood the test of 30 centuries.

2. Tithing has satisfactorily met all of the demands that emerge from a complex industrialized civilization. It is applicable to small incomes and to large ones. Like the principle of the “seventh day,” it is grounded in the nature of God’s moral order. Instead of being a remnant of outgrown legalism, tithing is proving to be the up-to-date, intelligent answer for thousands of modern Christians to the question, “How much shall I give?”

3. Tithing is an outgrowth of a sense of thankfulness, which for the Christian is as natural as breathing. Since God’s mercies are constant and unfailing, our response should be of the same nature in proportion to our ability. The “grace of gratitude” has high rating in the Christian standard of virtues. It is developed by saying “Thank You” to God. Tithing is not a cheap thoroughfare to financial success. At the entrance to life abounding stands the cross of self-denial.

4. Tithing lifts the financial support of the church from “what we feel like giving” to the level of regular, dependable, proportionate contributions. The maintenance of the means by which God’s truth is made known should never be a matter of sporadic impulse, but of continuing regularity.

5. Tithing sets the economic pattern for the support of institutions that undergird the moral and religious life of the social order. The principle of tithing stands as a constant barrier to selfishness and greed. The basic importance of man’s relation to his material possessions is emphasized by the fact that one sixth of all the recorded words of Jesus are concerned with the use of money.

6. Tithing takes the irksomeness out of giving. Having set aside this definite proportion of his income for the support of Christ’s work, the tither gives it gladly and without feeling that he is giving up something which he needs for himself, or which belongs to him.

7. Tithing puts a spirit of discipline into the handling of financial affairs. Extravagance and waste are brought under the light of our obligations to others. The definite experience many tithers have had—that tithing is a financial blessing—is doubtless due, in part, to the requirement which it imposes for careful planning of both the individual and the family budget. And God does promise blessings in return!

8. Tithing ensures to the church and its agencies adequate and dependable financial support. At a time when the witness of the Christian faith is more urgently needed than ever before, it is embarrassing to Christians—and it must be disappointing to God—that the church should limp and halt in its ministry at home and in its worldwide mission when it ought to be advancing with confidence and courage. Tithing is one of the answers to this disturbing situation.

9. Tithing imparts a special meaning and value to the nine tenths that remain. I once asked a tither whose income was not large, and who was confronted with unusual financial demands, if he was ever tempted to give up the practice of tithing. His reply was: “I have tried it both ways; I would rather have nine tenths with God’s blessing upon it than ten tenths without it.”

10. Tithing involves a continuous experience of adventure. In the last book of the Old Testament—a book so close to the New Testament that it seems to have absorbed some of the Christian spirit of daring—God speaks through His prophet to challenge His people, who had forgotten their obligation to Him and had been keeping back their tithes. He calls upon them to put Him to the test—”… if I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (Malachi 3:10). In ways that can never be measured by material gain, this promise has not been known to fail!
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The Forgotten Way, Part 4: Two Masters—Bill Hybels
In just four verses of Scripture—Luke 16:10-13—Jesus sets forth for His disciples and the church today a leadership development plan that can get a church on track and keep it moving fully into kingdom growth. This message expands on the character traits needed by leaders who are entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the local church—traits of trustworthiness in all things: honesty, wise money management, care with other people’s property, and loving God more than money.
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WILLIAM C. MARTIN. The Pentecostal Testimony, August 1963. Originally published in the Pentecostal Messenger.
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