February 17, 2007 Matthew

Tithes and Prayers – Deuteronomy 26:12-15

Deut 26:12-15

In this short statute given by God there is to be found a grand truth about giving and receiving.
It serves to show what pleases God, and how we can please him by obeying. We are not bound by the command, but we uphold it (Rom 3:31, Mat. 5:18-19).

“…giving to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat…and be filled.”
God first shows in this statute some specifics about who he would like us to give to.

“…then you shall say before the Lord your God…”
Now we have the grounds prepared for prayer. God in this passage brings prayer and giving right next each other. The statute contains a request at the end:
“…Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers…”

The entire piece is like a picture of a holy method of giving-praying-receiving. Jesus taught continually that receiving starts with giving. Elsewhere in the proverbs, money is likened to seed which is meant to be scattered.
“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.” (Prov. 11.24)

“The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” (Prov. 11:25)

The condition of our hearts will be the ultimate key for how we experience these truths. We may often find ourselves in prayer and asking to receive when we have missed the first part of the commandment. We might be giving, but yet lack the prayer life before God that moves him, by perseverance, to keep his own word. We may lack the giving and praying altogether, expecting to just receive. But, oh, how our hearts must be right before God! How can we think to ask when we have not given? How can we think we would receive, when we have not asked? You have not because you ask not, says the apostle James(Jam. 4:2). For those that ask but don’t receive, you do not receive because you don’t ask from a giving heart! And your heart is proved by your actions.(Jam. 2:14)

This command was kept very well by the Hebrews. However it was fear of the letter of the law that kept them to it. A bondage. Now, through the blood of Christ, we are freed from the fear and captivity of the law and now serve not in the letter of the law, but in the Spirit (Rom 7:6). The command becomes our close friend. And we are free to give cheerfully, and as we decide in our hearts. And thats where it comes down to: our hearts. If the inner man is not right, then nothing of the outer man matters. For in my flesh there is no good thing(Rom 7:18), and the flesh is of no use (John 6:63).
God swore to our fathers in the faith that he would bless. But the Spirit and the Bride say ‘come!’ Lay your heart before the Lord! May the Spirit give you life!

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