In the opening weeks of 2018, the Lord led me to write about the dire need and His requirement for character among all professed Christian men.1 Now, as a measure of His urgent stress on the issue, in the very first week and post of 2019 I write about the important character trait of integrity even this morally deteriorating world still values to some extent, but apparently not all professed Christians! Integrity with other godly traits of character God values are not just about honoring what pleases Him or modeling the divine image and likeness as a witness as important as these are. In the Spirit’s power, being men of integrity also helps enable our faithful living for Christ.
Microsoft Encarta Dictionary defines integrity in three parts. First, it is “the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards.” Second, it is “the state of being complete or undivided.” Third, “it is the state of being sound or undamaged.” The Bible incorporates all three aspects of this definition and related synonyms in its use of integrity. For example, Abimelech falsely sought to assure Abraham he was acting with the highest morality toward his wife (Genesis 20:1-7). God charged Solomon to live up to his father’s completely devoted heart (1 Kings 9:4-9). Paul exhorts young Christian men to be sound in doctrine and speech (Titus 2:6-8).
In biblical Christianity, Christians are not to just be known for what we do not do in sin, but what we do in accord with Kingdom righteousness! In His powerful instruction “on a mountain,” the Lord Jesus Christ, our King, teaches among many things that we of the Kingdom are to be men of integrity that need not swear to give authenticity to our words (Matthew 5:1-2, 33-37, NKJV).2 We are honest and truthful as the moral standard of God’s Kingdom; we do not lie because He does not and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:1-2). And so, as a matter of integrity Christians are not supposed to lie to each other or anyone else; our word is our bond (Colossians 3:9-10).
Telling me what I and the Lord know full well that lying is endemic among professed Christians (hence, this post) does not change the truth of His Word or amend His eternally firm will as some appear foolishly to want to believe. Dishonesty and lying are sin! The sovereign God pure in absolute truth is who He is, has been and will be forever; He does not change (James 1:16-18)! As a result, professed Christian men of integrity not only do not lie, but steal from or cheat anyone nor do they conspire together as many do in the churches to do these things, harm others in any way or cover up sin (Leviticus 19:11, 13, 35-37; Mark 10:17-22; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:28).
This latter business of church leaders and members conspiring to in some way harm others and cover up sin so sadly, but accurately portrayed in many contemporary fictional dramatic films and television shows, is thoroughly scandalous and reprehensible to the Most High God! They clearly forget He hears and sees as He has also enabled them to do (Psalm 94:8-9; Proverbs 20:12). Indeed, the Lord knows the very secrets of their hearts since He searches the hearts of all men to reward each according to their deeds (Jeremiah 17:10; Revelation 2:18-23). This is why it is completely ludicrous to plot or do evil or cover it up thinking no one saw it when in fact the living God who judges did (Psalm 37:12-15; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 1:29-2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11)!
The Bible is filled with examples of men and women with a lack of integrity as a momentary or lifestyle issue that God exposed and dealt with. Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together” in an attempt to cover up their sin guilt and shame before God (Genesis 3:6-11, 16-17 NKJV). Achan let Joshua go through an extended process to discover him as the one guilty of sin in the camp (Joshua 7:10-26). David conspired to murder Bathsheba’s husband after he got her pregnant (2 Samuel 11:1-17, 12:1-15). Jezebel conspired to steal a field for her husband (1 Kings 21). Religious leaders conspired to murder Christ, Ananias and Sapphira to deceive the church about their property sale proceeds and magistrates to cover up Paul’s mistreatment (Matthew 26:1-5; Acts 5:1-11, 16:16-40).
Now, if it is all like that from Scripture, ought we not all that profess to be Christians to take due warning? God expects His sons to be men of integrity who are always joyfully conscious of His living presence within and seek to please Him by living holy, righteous, transparently honest and truthful lives. Rather than attempting to hide or cover up our sins to our hurt knowing God knows (Numbers 32:20-23; Luke 12:1-3) and certainly not sharing in the sinful deeds of others (1 Timothy 5:22), we instead, confess and repent from our sins as they occur to obtain forgiveness and cleansing (Psalm 32:1-5; 1 John 1:5-10); rising up afresh to welcome God’s inescapable work of building Christ’s holy character traits in us such as integrity. Therefore, let the guilty repent now (2 Corinthians 7:1-12)!
In being men of character generally and integrity in particular through the power of the Holy Spirit, professed Christian men are enabled to live faithfully, pleasing God and doing His will as His aspiring strong men in the image of Christ; standing out brightly “as lights” in an ever darkening world (Philippians 2:12-16, NKJV).3 Such men also welcomed and allowed to flourish in the churches as leaders obedient to Christ’s command to “love one another” surely will not think themselves lofty enough before the Lord to justify conspiring to deceive, manipulate, cheat, mistreat or otherwise harm any of God’s people especially through sinful, manmade religious rules or cover up anyone’s sin including their own (John 15:12; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 3:10-23, 4:7-12, 20-5:3, NKJV). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 See the January 28, 2018 post, Character Is Required Of Christian Men, Instruction.
2 Not because He needed to as the writer of Hebrews instructs, but only to give double confirmation to Abraham and his heirs that He would do as He promised, God
swore an oath (Hebrews 6:11-20).
3 The Lord leads me to present the character traits of Christ He wills to build in redeemed men in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics and its compan-
ion instructional resource, The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study. Both are available in the Strong Man Store. Incidentally, I name Nehemiah in the book and
men’s group study as among the Bible’s many aspiring strong men of God in the image of Christ that are men of integrity. New Testament stand outs beyond the
apostles include Joseph, the Lord’s surrogate father and Simeon (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:25-35).
It is with great joy the Lord has allowed me to conclude my 2018 blog writing service to Him and our readers with a word of instruction on tithing. Writing a post on legalism this fall, I was troubled that I was not able to say more about this important, voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline for willing Christians that has been mostly foisted on us historically as a legalistic carryover requirement of God’s Law and commandments to Israel.1 I know some were worried I was against tithing. However, the footnote I would have written explaining the sin of teaching Christians to tithe as a matter of Law, rather than faith, free will love and worship would have been this post and too long!
Now, by the grace of our God, here in summary form is the teaching the Lord gave me early in my journey as a Christian over forty years that I also taught my family and church members as a pastor. Let me begin by saying I was introduced to the concept of tithing as a Christian babe in a traditional black American Baptist church by leadership that insisted it was God’s required will straight up out of Malachi 3:8-12. As a result, out of guilt, shame, fear and inadequate faith I wrestled with how to become an obedient tither and where to begin--off of my net or gross income that either way by sight left me short of my budget needs--as most other folk when introduced to tithing.
After much prayer, I took my first shaky steps toward being one who tithed off of my net (just keeping it real), then my gross and eventually whatever financial increase came to me in addition to giving my God offerings for whatever causes I was led by Him to sow into. Along the way, He took me deeper into His Word about tithing as giving not out of the Law for a Christian, but faith and love (that authentic, always involves the will and worship) as a voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline. Building faith and love are why I am convinced God does not harshly swoop down on us as babes right away to correct tithing wrongly introduced as legalism--but woe to the unrepentant legalist!
Giving a tithe (a tenth or more) in the Bible is first introduced some 500 years before the Law as the act of Abraham, the man of faith, when he did so to “Melchizedek, king of Salem” who “was the priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek had come out to bless Abraham after his successful rescue of Lot and others from marauding kings (Genesis 14:13-20, NKJV). In that blessing, the mysterious priest declared, ‘“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.'” After this blessing, Abraham gave Melchizedek “a tithe of all,” (Genesis 14:19-20, NKJV).2 What made Abraham do this?
Making offerings to God goes back to Adam, who obviously taught his sons to do so (Genesis 4:1-7). Clearly too, the practice of making religious offerings to priests as intermediaries with a tithe being the norm was common in Abraham’s day. Beyond this, no doubt, the key to Abraham’s tithe given to Melchizedek was his faith recognition in the blessing that his successful rescue campaign and all of its spoils were the direct result of the Most High’s providence who owns everything in Heaven and on earth! Abraham then--though he refused anything for himself, was giving back a portion to the priest for God what He had already blessed him with (Genesis 14:21-24).
The foregoing principle of giving was preserved by God as motive and requirement in the Covenant Law and commandments He gave Moses for Israel to support the priesthood, Levites, His house and benevolent causes among the people (Numbers 18:7-32; Deuteronomy 12:1-19, 14:22-29, 26:1-15). Later, king Solomon declared God’s principle and the associated blessings in instructions he as a father gave his son (Proverbs 3:9-10). After this, it is only for their disobedience in not giving as required in His Law and commandments that God rebukes Judah before and after their Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament and under the New Covenant there is no divine command to tithe!
The Lord Jesus commended the Jewish religious leadership of the time for their obedience to tithe, but failure in other, “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23, NKJV). In conformity with the divine transcendent principle, He also taught the blessedness of giving of one’s substance to God (Luke 6:38, 9:10-17, 12:13-21) to support His Kingdom workers, work and benevolent causes; receiving such support as did His apostles with but one exceptional exception (Luke 8:1-3, 10:1-7; Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 John 3:16-18). In the likeness of Melchizedek and the priests of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ is also our High Priest and formal Intermediary when we give to God.3 He receives our tithes and offerings on behalf of the Father and is also honored by us with them (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:14-5:10, 7:1-8:6).4
Thus, even though there is no New Testament command to tithe of our income in giving as Christians, the principle--reaching all the way back past the Law to Abraham our faith example in everything, commends it to us as normative and certainly, as I can testify, a spiritual privilege and discipline (like regular Bible study, prayer and church attendance) God blesses as a matter of walking by faith in Him (Romans 4:3; Hebrews 11:6; James 2:20-26)!5 So, then, let any professed Christian leader attempting to get God’s people to give through tithing by falsely and legalistically making it a requirement of the Law repent now if you will please God. Teach His Word faithfully!6 I wish all a blessed and prosperous New Year especially as you make giving to God a spiritual priority.7
1 Read the two-part post, Let’s Talk Legalism, under the category, Instruction, beginning September 23, 2018.
2 So much for the net versus gross question!
3 Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus also very significantly share in common being bearers of “bread and wine,” (Genesis 14:18; Luke 22:14-20; John 6:31-59).
4 As the apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 8-9, Christ’s churches and Parachurch ministries have a stewardship responsibility from Him to receive any kind of offer-
ings as His agents and to disburse them at His direction in support of His Kingdom workers, work and causes. Woe to the churches, ministries and their leaders that do
not do so (Matthew 23:14; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11)!
5 Learn more about the concept of spiritual discipline for the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ from my book, The Strong Man Of
God: Back To Basics. It is available at all major internet booksellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
6 Teaching God’s word faithfully does include examining the spiritual, moral, ethical and transcendent truths embodied in the Old Testament Law and commandments to
understand His good intent in them and to make a proper application as the Lord led me to write in the post on legalism. So, for example, we can look at Malachi 3:8-12
and see how God wanted the Israelites to obey His Law and commandments on tithing to be blessed of Him while also fulfilling His support plans for the priests, Levities,
the Temple and community benevolence. God stresses His willingness to bless their obedience to the point of inviting them to put Him to the test! The application for
Christians is to see the consistency of God in His transcendent principle of blessed giving through the proportional discipline of tithing that reaches all the way back to
Abraham which also our Lord Jesus Christ affirms. Then, out of faith and love, to act out of it to benefit both us and God's Kingdom priorities!
7 Please remember Strong Man Ministries in your giving among the ordained Kingdom workers (me--Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 3 John 5-8), works and causes of
God in this generation. Give securely on our Web Site at https://thestrongmanofGod.org/Give. You can also mail your cash, check or money order made out to our or-
ganizational parent, Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. and send it to P.O. BOX 56704, Portland, OR 97238.
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