NOTE: Before you begin reading this, I want to state up-front that I am a simple layman, meaning I have no church title or office.
What I share here is not a part of any program or directive, nor is it shared at the bequest of any human being.
These are the words of my soul that have been proven true both by His Word and the paths of obedience and disobedience I have pursued throughout my lifetime.
This is what God has been showing me all week and the shift in my writing this morning is where His Spirit led me to go.
I write these things to 1) return to who I used to be in hopes of being used by God to a greater degree and 2) to be of benefit to the body of Christ (the church) in this hour.
May the Lord bless my humble submission to you now.
The only way to deal with a transgression is repentance (not apology).
An apology is simply saying, “I’m sorry.”
As a teacher, I know first hand that most of the time that translates to “I’m sorry I got caught.”
Apology is like a gentleman’s agreement to let something drop. Two words to cure a not-so-simple matter.
Though it may be hard for the transgressor to muster the strength to utter those two words, it really forces more on the victim of the transgression…it forces them to release their righteous anger in a “no strings attached” kind of way. It causes the victims to humble themselves as well.
That is why I like repentance.
Repentance is admitting the guilt plus making restitution in such a way that it leads the victim to believe that it won’t happen again.
The victim receives something for their trouble and is not required the same stress of apology.
In the Old Testament, repentance required giving things up. It usually meant a spotless lamb or other unblemished livestock. Read into that: it cost the best of your herd (belongings and livelihood).
Sin has a cost. That message has never changed.
Even today, most farmers name their animals for identification purposes. A bond is formed between them. Even the children know the animals as they are part of the everyday life of the family.
Imagine the father of a Jewish family taking the prized lamb to the temple for sacrifice.
The children would have to say their goodbyes to the most beautiful animal they owned. They probably called him by name as they let him go with father on that last journey.
The way the Scriptures are worded, it appears that the owner was responsible for slitting the throat of the animal while the priest caught the blood for the sacrifice.
The best of the herd … your most promising and profitable money-maker … gone thanks to your transgressions against a holy God.
There would be a natural temptation to withhold the best.
This eventually became the case as the prophets told us this happened in Israel after a while. It seems man has always had a “heart issue” when it came to repentance.
Yes, repentance costs something and it is not easy.
Estimates say that the average household in that day gave up to 25% of their property in sin offerings and offerings of praise to God.
A 10% tithe doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
Flash forward to the new covenant written in the blood of Jesus that flowed from the cross.
The holy God of the universe supplied His own spotless lamb for all of humanity.
The cost of repentance had been eternally reduced to 0%.
No more bulls, goats, or lambs. Just you as you are.
Then what does He want and expect from us?
David said of God, “a humble and contrite heart you will not despise…”
The cost is humility and openness with the victim. A dialogue over what we have done that leads to repentance to the holy Creator God of the universe.
A dialogue where we own up to what we have done and make steps to never do them again (not simple promises).
Once again, all that is required is time & humility.
Alas, those are the two things Americans have in short order.
Is it any wonder that our churches are anemic and powerless?
God will not place His Spirit in places of disorder except for the sake of exacting His judgment or to lead us to repentance.
An unrepentant sinner cannot invite the presence of a holy God for anything but judgment. His unrepentance is a mockery that is on the same level as breaking the speed limit and then cursing the officer writing the citation…
OK, actually it is much worse because, in the case of God, He is an absolutely blameless victim when His character is assaulted by our sins (unlike the sinner-police officer who is enforcing agreed upon righteousness).
But, lest I lead you to think the wrong way, let me state that God is not a victim.
He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. There is nothing we can do to assault His sovereignty. He is all powerful and unassailable.
Yet, for a reason unknown to except for His Own goodness and ever-enduring mercy, He extends the olive branch to us, the felonious rebels of mankind, through the cross of Golgotha.
What will we make of it?
Mockery or catalyst for a life change of eternal proportions?
He is no longer asking for livestock and grain offerings.
He is asking for you.
The tithe (10% monetary gift to the ministry of His churches) is a signal that He has you and you belong to Him.
May I be so bold to say that if He does not have the tithe, He doesn’t have you?
There are all sorts of excuses not to give God what He is due, there are just no valid reasons to do so.
He did not apply for credit cards in your name.
He did not overextend your spending to the point of breaking the bank.
If you are in that situation, it will cost you a bit more than repentance.
It is going to cost a lot of faith.
It is going to take a faith that steps outside of your comforts and earthly pleasures and say, “God, I am going to forsake the things that I enjoy to give you what you deserve.”
That act of obedience is like the oaths of fealty of the Middle Ages.
It is bowing before the king and acknowledging who he is and that he is worthy of it all but he only asks for a token of what he has given to us.
That is the nature of God. His rules are not burdensome to a heart that is in right standing before Him.
It is when we play the part of the traitor in rebellion against Him that we withhold the tribute from our King and by our actions acclaim that He is not worthy.
Ask me and I can tell you from experience what a dangerous thing that is.
The nature of this post was simply repentance and how it costs us nothing except time and humility.
The Heavenly Father drew me to the tithe and how that act of worship is an act of faith and humility before Him.
In Acts chapter 10, Cornelius, a God-fearer (a gentile who believed in God but was not a proselyte Jew) received a vision from God. He was told that his alms had been received as a sweet smelling aroma to the Father.
Our theology is wrong.
For years our teachings have been that God does not talk to unbelievers, yet the Bible is full of instances where God talked to and promised things to unbelievers who made steps in His direction but were not of His flock.
In Cornelius’s case, salvation was coming in the form of Peter.
See the story of Pharoah Neko (Niko?) from the Old Testament.
We never know who the Lord has His hand on and who He is exalting at any given time.
And the unrepentant heart will never understand as he does not desire to hear from God nor does God trust Him with the oracles of His Word and plan.