Locusts From the Treasury

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As we observe the Lord’s Supper every week, you will have noticed that we begin with the presentation of our tithes and offerings. This Table is a table of thanksgiving, and we know of no better way to tangibly express our gratitude to God than by means of our tithes, our offerings, and our gifts. We are imitating Him. He loved us—to the breaking of His body, and the shedding of His blood. We seek to make our gifts an imitative sacrifice, and that is why we do it here.

What is the difference between tithes, offerings, and gifts? The tithe is God’s tax—and the fact that it is likely the only just tax you have ever paid should not make you shy away from calling it a tax. The Almighty God requires ten percent of your increase as His tribute; the fact that the ever-grasping state demands much more than that tells you everything you need to know about just who exactly they think they are. We will know that our leaders are repentant when they refuse even to think about taking more than God requires.

You may think of offerings as votive gifts. You have made a vow, and God blessed you, and you offer a gift in fulfillment of the vow. This can be made to sound mercenary, but it is a perfectly biblical thing to do. You are starting a business, let us say, and you vow to God that if He blesses it with x, you will respond with y. Take care, however, to make sure that you really do y, just like you said you would (Dt. 23:21).

And gifts are simply gifts—in response to a particular need or just because you are grateful. Offerings and gifts are given on top of the tithe, and should never be thought of as a substitute for it.

This of course leads to a host of practical questions, but why do we assume that practical questions—do I tithe off net or gross?—are somehow inconsistent with a spirit of gratitude? The answer, incidentally, is that you tithe off the increase, that which you realized, that which God actually gave you. A farmer doesn’t tithe off the crops that the locusts ate, and this includes the locusts that work for the Department of the Treasury.

We are here at this Table to love the Lord our God, and not to crunch numbers. But at the same time, if we love the Lord our God with all our minds, these are questions we should ask, and answer, so that we may come with the intent to overflow—with gratitude, with joy, with love, and with whatever we put in the offering box that is placed on this Table.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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Andrew Lohr
8 years ago

Amazing grace/an easy tax/count ten and give God one/the IRS’s law of tax/ten thousand pages run.
Amazing grace/God’s tax takes just/one tenth of riches’ growth/the IRS’s locust plague/takes two, three times as much.
Amazing grace/an equal tax/a tenth from everyone/no special breaks for rich or poor/God says such breaks are sin.                 [Lev 19:15]
Stupendous grace/we pay God’s tax/to any priest we choose./No choice have voters but to pay/guys that we hoped would lose.
    Use freely, everyone.
 

bethyada
8 years ago

Very clever Andrew. Can a make a suggestion? IRS is very USA. Consider taxman in the 2 places IRS occurs, or Treasury for the second occurrence.

Eric Langborgh
Eric Langborgh
8 years ago

Pastor Wilson, this is helpful and I think I mostly agree.  But I wonder how it works when you can’t really know until tax filing time how much the locusts will destroy?  A huge part of my wife’s and my income is as independent contractors/consultants, so we make guesses how much to send in to the IRS each quarter. But sometimes, like last year, we find despite our best try we still owed a ton.  Other years it might go the other way (though rarely!). One other question: Whlle I get your point about tithing on the increase, I also note… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

1) If (and it’s a big if) the government were to be taxing at a just rate, say 9.9%…just a little less than God’s rate, would that be considered a loss to the locusts? 2) I’ve heard different takes re tithing on an inheritance. On the one hand, it was the deceased’s responsibility to have tithe, so it would, in some circumstances, be like tithing twice on the same assets. On the other, the heir has certainly experienced an increase.

Eric Langborgh
Eric Langborgh
8 years ago

Found an excellent debate – short and in written format, with arguments and counterarguments – on this subject of tithing on net vs. gross income, here: http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfiles/antithesis/v1n1/ant_v1n1_issue.html  I am a henceforth a convinced net income tither.