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Generosity (3 of 4)

Mike Connell

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He's saying: I'm telling you something different. He said: I am raising it up, and showing you how God intended this to be fulfilled - that you'd not have lust in your heart (lust after someone), because if you've got lust operating in your heart, then adultery is already present.

So you notice now, He hasn't done away with the law. He's lifted up an understanding of what it really means.

Now we have to understand that when you look at the Old Testament, some of the laws were moral laws; some of them civil laws; and so on. The dilemma for us is: what do we do, and how do we handle it; but you see here Jesus lifted the level of expectation up.

So for example, concerning circumcision, in the Old Testament all the children, descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised. Now in the New Testament, in Galatians, it tells us that circumcision is of the heart and spirit, it's not a physical circumcision - otherwise the moment you become a Christian, we've got to circumcise you.

So He said: we're not under that. There's a fulfillment that comes by the spirit; and that fulfillment is a circumcision of the heart, where you have a heart change; because people cannot murder someone without hate in their heart; people cannot commit adultery without lust in their heart. People can be physically circumcised, but still have no faith in Christ. You getting the idea of what it means: the fulfillment of the law?

So then we start to look then at the issue of tithing. In the Old Testament - and we won't go into all the details, I just want to catch the spirit of this - the Old Testament said: give a tithe to the Lord. Why would we come back just under the letter of that, when we come under the letter in no other area?

You see, what He's really saying in the New Testament is: I don't want your heart to be in conflict with God over the issue of money; I want you to be free. So in the New Testament He raises it up: tithing was the letter of the law. He says: “I want you to have a generous heart”, and almost all New Testament teaching concerning giving, has to do with the heart attitude, generosity, willing heart, free will.

When we talked on this area of Mammon, and giving, we said: it required that it came out of a heart that honored God, had faith in God, was thankful to God, and was willing.

Whatever you give then is acceptable to God, if the heart is right; because it's possible for people to tithe diligently like the Pharisees did; but have no heart for God, nor trust Him in any financial area. In fact, the Pharisees were quite covetous, yet they tithed.

So when it comes to the area of tithing, it's not just a matter of physically, or literally, tithing every carrot and every turnip and every apple. It's actually: having a heart free from greed; and being full of thanksgiving, and generous; because I know many Christians who will diligently tithe, but generosity isn't in their life.

It's like saying: well, I haven't murdered anyone, but I've a little hate sitting in my heart, and that's okay; or: I haven't committed adultery yet (or haven't been caught out), but I've got all this lust going on in my heart, but that's okay.

No, no, no, no, Jesus lifts it all in the New Testament to say: we're under a new covenant, and it has to do with the heart and the spirit, so we're not caught with the letter of the law. That's why I've never commanded, or demanded and told people: they must tithe. Instead we talk about honor, and first-fruits, and giving to God; and being generous is the thing that flows. It must come from the spirit.

Now clearly, tithing was in the Old Testament; and every other realm of Old Testament law was lifted to a higher level; so clearly our giving is going to come to a different level, than it was in the Old Testament. We won't be stuck with the letter of the law; we have a new realm, that's a realm of generosity and giving. It's a lifestyle.

I want to talk about Generosity, John 12:1. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus, who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. That's where Lazarus was.