Responding to God’s Provision; May 22, 2018

Matthew 21:43-44 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

This passage is used as the major justification for Replacement Theology by those who hold to it, saying that it means the kingdom of God has been taken from the Jews and given to the Gentile Church. However, just like the rest of the Bible, this needs to be read in context. In the first place, the very next verse says, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” (Matthew 21:45) In other words, Jesus was talking about the Jewish leaders, and not about the Jewish people as a whole. In any case, the whole parable is about accountability and stewardship. God gives us a lot, but we must remember that He is still the Owner of it all, and act accordingly. Jesus told parables with this point repeatedly, most famously in the parable of the talents (which comes up in a few days in Matthew 25). In this parable, it wasn’t that the tenants weren’t to enjoy the fruit of their labors, it was that they were to remember who it all belonged to. So often we live as though everything we have were a product of our own labors and so ours alone, forgetting that it’s God who gives us the ability to generate wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:18) Tithing is actually a safety mechanism to help us remember that everything comes from God. Too many people give grudgingly, complaining at God’s “demands,” forgetting that every breath they take is a gift from Him. We should be grateful for all He allows us to use, even though it belongs to Him!

As I have written before, I was raised from childhood to tithe, putting 10 yen in the offering each week out of my allowance of 100 yen, back when the exchange rate was 360yen/$1. Like many other people, I got away from that in college, but the Lord graciously brought me back to it around the time of the birth of our second daughter. We were so broke at that point that Medicaid paid for just about everything about that pregnancy/delivery, but the Lord gave us the courage to take the tithe out first, and we were actually a little shocked at how far the 90% went! Since then the Lord has continued to provide in many different ways, and we have always had enough. Sometimes that provision was through work, sometimes through an unexpected inheritance, and sometimes through outright gifts. That has given Cathy and me great assurance that, “Where God guides, He provides.” as the saying goes. As a pastor, one of my stresses is that so few of the believers really have that through their heads and in their hearts. I am not to be condemning, but rather speak the truth in love and continue to pray for them, walking alongside them to lead them into understanding of God’s abundance.

Father, thank You for Your gracious generosity. Help me not only rejoice in it myself, but also lead the believers to recognize it as well, so that together we may give You the obedience and the praise You deserve, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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