The Story of Us, Pt. 3: Worshipful Giving
Genesis 14 features Abram as a warrior, a king who appears from nowhere acting like a priest, and the strange custom of tithing. Pastor Glenn Packiam explains how Abram reconfigured the ancient custom of tithing to become an act of worship. While there is no magic in the math of giving, there is a power in worshipful giving to silence the lie of self-reliance and break our slavery to the false gods of consumerism and more. We never give in order to gain a blessing; we give because Christ has blessed us with the greatest blessing: His very life.
Listen to the podcast HERE.
OT Reading: Genesis 14:18-20 (ESV)
NT Reading: Hebrews 7:1-3, 7 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: Luke 16:10-13 (CEB)
The Test of Victory
- How do you handle the blessing of victory?
- Does Christianity have anything to say to the successful?
Genesis 14:8-9, 11-12 (ESV)
“Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five… 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.”
- Lot’s troubles begin…
Genesis 14:13-16 (ESV)
“Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.”
- Abram the war hero!
- The first signs of God’s blessing on him
Genesis 14:18-20 (ESV)
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Abraham handled the blessing of victory by tithing.
- Oh no…money talk!
- Tithing’s checkered past
What is tithing?
Tithing literally means giving a tenth, but can refer to a symbolic percentage.
Tithing was an old and widespread custom in the ancient orient.
Tithes were given to both sanctuaries and kings.
Who is Melchizedek?
Hebrews 7:1-3, 7 (CEB)
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever…7 Without question, the less important person is blessed by the more important person.”
Who is Melchizedek?
Melchizedek is a type and shadow of Christ.
- Abram has received a priestly blessing from Melchizedek
- It is because of his priesthood that Abram gives him a tithe.
- Giving a symbolic percentage of our money is an act of worship.
- Abram responded to the blessing of victory by bring gifts in worship.
- Not charitable giving, not a donation, not a tax-exempt contribution
- Giving is worship when giving is an expression of surrender. (Not designated)
- When we give a symbolic percentage of our money as an act of worship, we rebuke the lie of self-reliance.
“I know of nothing that will transform someone’s spiritual life more abruptly than beginning to tithe. If we want to learn about dependence on God, tithe. If we want to have our treasure in heaven, tithe. If we want to have any hope of having solidarity with the poor, tithe.”—Lauren Winner, Duke Divinity
- When we give a symbolic percentage of our money as an act of worship, we confront the false gods of our day.
- King of Sodom—represents the systems of the world—got the rest!
- We are implicated with the world’s systems, but we need not be entangled.
There is a kind of worshipful giving that is given to the house of worship.
- Abram sets an example for all his descendants to follow: tithes are brought to the Levites (i. e. the priests)
- In the OT the principle was to tithe to the place of refuge, and to the house of worship.
- In the NT, proceeds from sales (which was NOT mandatory!) were brought to the Apostles’ feet; and Gal. 6:10 says, ‘let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’
- The local church is your refuge!
- This is not just ‘living simply’ or ‘living generously’; This is about surrender.
- New Life takes that seriously: ECFA; 12.5% toward outreach…We are good stewards of your worship…but don’t give because of that.
Don’t give because the church needs your money; give because God wants your heart.
That’s how we respond to the test of victory: by demonstrating and ensuring that God has our heart!
Don’t give to get; give because you have been blessed.
- Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant! (Heb. 7:22)
- We have been invited to HIS Table, where His Body is the bread, His blood is the wine
This is not compulsion; if it were, it would not be worship.
This is an invitation.