Part 11 of the “Parable of the Talents” Series – Final Installment
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30, KJV)
It has been said that you can gage one’s spiritual condition by examining his calendar and checkbook. Indeed the Bible has hundreds of verses that deal specifically with money. Jesus himself said that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). While the amount of your checkbook balance in itself is not indication of one’s spirituality, one’s attitude toward money as well as how we spend it can reveal where our true priorities lay. Consider Jesus’ illustration of the rich fool described in Luke 12:16-20.
The Spiritually Poor Lose (Even) More
Servant #3 (aka “unprofitable servant”) lost everything but, more important, his self-imposed opposition to the Master led to spiritual poverty in addition to his financial losses. Had he tried to emulate his Master, his finances would have benefited as it did with his colleagues. He also dismissed himself from the opportunity to establish a relationship with the Master. Contrary to his conclusions, his Master proved to be generous and inviting.
Often we distance ourselves from God’s blessings by drawing hasty conclusions about Him. We should take time to get to know Him and learn from Him. In doing so we could reap temporal (e.g. financial) as well as eternal (i.e. Heaven) blessings while benefiting from the best friendship we will ever have.
10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:10-11, KJV)
Not Just a Regulation …
There are some who say that tithing is a “work of the law” that was no longer necessary after Jesus’ sacrificial death. Indeed there are quite a view verses dedicated to tithes and other mandated offerings in the Pentateuch.
However, the first tithe mentioned in scripture was given before the law was given. While the law regulated the manner in which the tithe was given – and received –, the tithe pre-dated the law.
Furthermore, while that first tithe was given sacrificially by Abram (Abraham) to acknowledge God’s role in a military victory, the tithe’s purpose was to provide sustenance to the priesthood.
23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23, NIV)
Here in Jesus’ denunciation of the legalistic practices of the Pharisees, Jesus brings a moral imperative in connection to tithing (“You should have …”). He shows that while tithing is proper, it should not be at the expense of higher spiritual values.
In an earlier post, I referenced II Corinthians 9:7-8 which posits that giving should not be under compulsion but done in a cheerful manner. Tithing is NOT mandated under our New Testament dispensation. It is encouraged, however, and should be a joyful, natural result of our generous character instead of an unsatisfying completion of a legal checklist.
Investing In Your Church
9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10, KJV)
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21, KJV)
As believers, we should be hooked up with a local church. We should be participants and not just occasional attendees. The benefits of church membership can not be overestimated: fellowship, edification, service to others, etc.
It is the Pastor’s job to oversee our souls and to guide us along in our spiritual development. We should see to our church’s temporal needs while they attend to our spiritual needs (1 Corinthians 9:11). While we may debate the requirement of tithing, we can’t debate that pastors still need to be fed and provide for their families. Pastors are scripturally entitled to a steady income (1 Corinthians 9:14)
Our giving to our local church should be ongoing. The tithing of our income ensures that it is. When the Lord blesses our substance over time, the church is rewarded proportionately. It is a fair and reliable arrangement.
While tithing is not a New Testament command, it is a New Testament principle.
Keeping Your Priorities
33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33; NASB)
However, don’t stop at 10%! Malachi 3:8 mentions tithes and offerings. Giving should be inculcated into our lifestyle. Giving to the poor, good ministries, righteous causes, etc. over and above your tithe should flow naturally from you as you seek His kingdom. Malachi 3:10God promises to take care of you as you take care of His Kingdom. He even promises systematic increase along the way (Luke 6:38). If give God financial preeminence, your needs will be taken care of, you’ve got His word on it.
Are you up to the challenge?
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10; NKJ)
Moses Job Interview with God
6And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. (Exodus 4:6-7, KJV)
Now the focus of God’s demonstration turns inward – into Moses’ character. The supernatural transformation of his hands pointed to a future when the supernatural would flow through Moses’ hands. The leprosy shows that the works that would flow through his hand and the authority he would bear literally carry a grave responsibility. In the bible, leprosy often symbolized sin. As a disease, leprosy meant exile from the rest of society. Similarly, sin serves to separate us from God. I think God was warning Moses about the dangers of acting and working on his own. The tucking of his hand into his bosom told Moses to pay particular attention to the issues of the heart.
20My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23, KJV)
Guard your heart or suffer the consequences.
God repeats the command. He tells Moses to put his diseased hand back into his bosom. He does so and his hand is restored. God is telling Moses that listening to God’s voice will result in his protection while enabling the work of your hands to succeed. Note also that had Moses not followed God’s direction, his associates may have been calling him “Lefty.” Partial obedience is total disobedience. Moses is rising to a new level with God and to Israel. The importance of relying on God cannot be overestimated.
So it is with us. Sometimes in the course of listening and obeying God, he will take us where we do not want to go. We must rely on God to bring us through. If we do so, he will restore us and will work through us to do what we could not do on our own. We must take the works of our hands, the issues of our hearts, and our reliance on God with utmost seriousness. If we do so, God will work signs and wonders through our very own hands.