No. 28. >> Your answer is a bit surprising to me. But I think it has some interesting implications. Does recognizing the distinction between the left hand realm and the right hand realm also apply to giving? More pointedly, What should we teach people about tithing and about stewardship? General? >>DR. JOEL D. BIERMANN: Oh, another good, loaded question. And this is one where I think if we pay attention to the kind of -- kind of the paradigm and the basic ideas I've been presenting, I think it might lead us into some maybe surprising directions. And you're right, I think it is kind of surprising to see where some of these things come out if we think about them carefully. So let's think about this: The giving that we do in the church. Are we giving to God? Or are we giving to the church? I know one of the traditional things -- this gets said in sermons all the time -- you're giving to God. You're giving back to him. You're showing a love for him. That's why you do this. The church doesn't need your money. And I think in my own preaching I've probably said that a few times myself. Well, I repent of that. I've come to realize, that's wrong. The fact of the matter is God does not need my money. God does not need me to give. God will get along just fine without me. Who needs me to give is my neighbor. And let's be very frank and honest about this: The church needs me to give. The pastor needs me to give. I mean, if we want to do what we need to do as a church, to proclaim the Gospel, to care for people's needs, to present Christ's truth, to train people to walk with Christ, that takes resources. And a you as a congregational member should be giving to support that. Is that law or is that Gospel? Well, I think it is law. It's part of the command. Part of the responsibilities. Part of the vocation we do in this world. Now, what motivates that? The Gospel is there. And the Gospel, knowing what God has done for me. Sure, it fills me. And drives me to want to do more and more and more and more. And I fill my life with even more giving. But ultimately am I responsible to give? Yeah, I am; I am. And I would say that a tithe is not a bad idea. Some people say: Well, that's Old Testament stuff. We're free from that. Well, fine. So if under the Old Testament the tithe is a demand, under the New Testament, freedom is to talk even more closely with God, shouldn't we at least start where they left off in the Old Testament? I mean, there's a really radical way to think about it. Let me -- indulge me just a minute here. Let me tell you one quick story from parrish ministry. I taught tithing. And I believe it's appropriate to set aside that first 10%. Give it to God. Regardless. I believe that's what he wants us to do. Because it helps us to keep the priorities right. It helps to keep our understanding of who really is the giver here. He's the giver. I'm just simply using the gifts he's given me. I think a tithe really establishes that nicely. And it's a good starting point. Well, I taught that on a regular basis. And I had one parishioner that was very sharp. And he had this figured out. And he made an appointment with me. He came in and sat down. He said: Pastor, I know God doesn't want me to tithe. I said: Wow, that's intriguing. I'm interested. I'm really curious to hear why you're so sure of that. He said: Well, I know he doesn't want me to tithe. I said: Tell me about that. He said: Well, it's because this: The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver. Right? I said: Yeah, he sure does. God loves a cheerful giver. He said: Well, there's no way under creation I can be cheerful giving a tithe. So God doesn't want me to tithe. And he sat back quite content. He had me. So I just smiled at him and said: Well, you're right. God wants you to be a cheerful giver. And that's the goal. But God also wants you to give. And until you can give cheerfully, you better give anyway until you can get to that point. So you've got to start practicing so you can learn to be happy about it. So he wasn't very happy with my answer. But I think it's instructive that we don't wait to have the right feelings. Sometimes we have to do the right thing even though our feelings aren't there yet. There's a big principle there, you see. Do I give to the church out of my love for God? That's the ultimate goal. That's the best. But do I give maybe sometimes because I'm supposed to? Yeah, I think sometimes you do. Let me offer you one more little quick story here which I think will maybe clarify this even more and you'll maybe see the truth in what I'm saying. Imagine you're raising a houseful of teenagers. A teenage son gets up one Sunday morning and says: Oh, man, I don't feel like going to church today. I'm going to stay home. Now, what's the response of the parent? If you're going to be consistent a Gospel motivation parent would say: Oh, my goodness. This is serious business. You've got the wrong -- you don't have the right motivation. We need to get your motivation right. Okay, son, you stay home today. When I come home we're going to work on your motivation and get you fixed so that you're going to want to go next week. Now, that's one possibility. I think the more likely possibility is: Son, I don't give a rip how you feel. Get in the car. You're going to church. And we'll deal with your feelings later. Now, I know that's what I would have heard. And that's what I would say. And I think that's the right answer. You see sometimes you've simply got to do the right thing. And your feelings will catch up later. So we shouldn't get so hung up on motives all the time. Sometimes we simply need to say: What's the right behavior? And we'll worry about the motives later. We'll try to move to the higher motives. We want to get to the higher motives. But in the process sometimes we have to practice doing the right thing even when we don't feel like it. So giving, yeah, law or Gospel? Well, I think it's primarily a work of the law. But the Gospel sure has its place to play, even as it does in all the other aspects of our life. But really we need to tell people: You have a responsibility to support God in his work. You have a responsibility to support the church. And the church needs you to give. And if you fail to do your responsibility, yeah, you're outside of God's will. I don't think there's any question about that.