Initially I didn’t know what to make of the observation that, “Jesus didn’t tithe his blood!”
“What do you mean?” I asked my friend, who then looked at me rather surprised, as if to say, “Don’t you get it?” Well, now in hindsight, I suppose I do. Jesus gave his everything, his last drop of blood, to pay for my sins. He spared nothing to accomplish what only he could do. And so when I’m reminded of that at the Christian Passover evening every year, I’m sobered, humbled, and very, very thankful.
And that leads me to the next point that sometimes I find troubling. You see, Jesus troubled himself for my sake, and so I can’t help but ask, “What does he then want of me?” I didn’t ask to be born. I didn’t ask to live. I didn’t seek God; he sought me. His calling was just thrust on me. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really glad.
But with privilege comes responsibility. And that’s just it. What does God want of me? Here, Jesus’ words come into focus: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). If accepting Jesus as Lord, Creator, and Savior isn’t enough, then what, specifically, is the “will of My Father”? What does God really want? That is the question.
In the light of liberal theology that says, in effect, that the Ten Commandments were done away with, that the Law of God is irrelevant today, and that we’re acceptable to God “just as I am,” that’s hard to answer. But what if God still has “requirements” of us? What if God still wants our obedience? What if God still wants to “test” our faith, as he did with Abraham? What if, as in Jesus’ words, we’re to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)?
See, Abraham gave a tenth of all his goods, and in this passage Jesus is quite explicit in saying that tithing is still as relevant today as it was back then. And yet, elsewhere, Jesus also implies that God still wants more from us. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” said Jesus (Matthew 6:33). That is the equation given to us. Put God first in everything, don’t hold anything back from him, and then delight in seeing him provide for you—food, clothing, shelter, and anything else you might need.
But in real life, for most people, that is a hard call to make! An old widow seemed to have understood this when she gave of her entire savings—her very last two coins— into the Temple treasury. She put everything of hers in faith in God’s care. That, of course, begs the question: Didn’t she forget that she needed to buy dinner that night? Wasn’t she simply financially irresponsible? Didn’t she realize how corrupt the Temple authorities were? No, apparently Jesus thought very highly of her faith, and commended her as a shining example (Luke 21:1-4).
A careful reading of the Scriptures tells us that everything is God’s. He made it. He sustains it. And he apparently makes demands of it. What we do with it, then, is up to us. That’s where faith comes in. “Are you generous with Me?” asks God. “Do you really put Me first? Do you really love Me with all your heart, mind, soul and strength?” It’s a question we might all ponder!