The Law And The Gospel Of Giving -- By: Frank Fox

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:284 (Oct 1914)
Article: The Law And The Gospel Of Giving
Author: Frank Fox


The Law And The Gospel Of Giving

Frank Fox

An old English fable tells us that once a barefooted boy trudging along a dusty highway found a golden coin. He lived threescore years and ten, and found a fortune; but he never saw one of Turner’s sunsets or landscapes. Fields, forests, fountains, and flowers had no beauty or attraction for him. For him the path of life was but a dusty highway in which to hunt for dollars. For an ever-increasing number of men, life is a search for material treasure. There is one little, wretched, shriveled, mean, contemptible word which expresses the ideal and sums up the ambition of earth. That word is get. The ideal and ambition of heaven are expressed in the little word give. To right the wrongs and relieve the wretchedness of earth, we must oust that word “get “and enthrone in its place the heaven-born word “give.” In the Old Testament, God gave man a law to guide his giving: in the New Testament, He gave him the gospel to govern his giving.

The Law Of Giving

1. The tithe is older than human history.

Man steps across the threshold of sacred story with an offering in his hand from field and flock. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek, the priest of God. At Bethel, Jacob vowed to give to God a tenth of all

he should give him. Greek, Roman, Arabian and Carthaginian devoted a tenth of the spoils of war and of the profits of trade and of confiscated goods to sacred purposes. Tithing, then, in its origin was a voluntary system. It seems to have been incorporated into the Mosaic system as a simple and reasonable requirement, already justified by a well-nigh universal practice.

2. There was a threefold requirement in the law of tithing.

(1) A tenth of the increase of field, and flock, and herd, and orchard, and vineyard, and of the spoils of war was given to God. This tenth must be paid in kind; if redeemed, one-fifth must be added.

This was for the support of the Levites who ministered in Tabernacle and Temple. The Levites in turn gave a tenth of all they received to support the High Priest.

(2) Forty years later, when the tribes were about to enter Canaan, the law of tithing was extended. An additional tenth must be brought to the central sanctuary for a public festival (Dent. 12:5–18). Those living far from the central place of worship might sell their sacrifice and buy again in Jerusalem. The Levites were to share in this feast.

(3) Every third year another tenth was devoted to a home festival. The poor and the Levite were to have a part...

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