I AM NOT A HYPOCRITE

Hello Lovely Family. We are back to our usual #Mondayposts and we are back to serve you better. This is a long read, so we suggest that you settle in and read. Enough said, now read.

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Don’t you know me?

Don’t you see me?

Yes, me!

I have this favourite seat in church

I don’t ever miss a service.

I who keep every of the Lord’s commands

Name them:

‘Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy’

I am always in church on Sunday and I sure give my tithes and offerings.

‘Do not commit adultery’

‘Do not commit fornication’

That’s easy; I am a ‘VIRGIN’

‘Thou shall not have any other God before me.’

‘Thou shall not make for yourself any graven image’

I am sure the Lord was not talking about me. I am not an idol worshipper. I am a Christian. It’s everywhere on my social media page: #UnapologeticallyChristian #ChristianandProud

‘Do not commit murder’

How does that even relate to me?

I have never killed anyone, I cannot even consider it

The sight of blood makes me want to puke.

I have gone through the entire commandments and I am certain I keep everything.

And the Lord speaks:

‘Let’s dissect your entire life and see if you are nothing but a hypocrite.

No Lord, I am not!

I am your child, the image of you. Anything but a hypocrite.

The Lord speaks:

Let’s hold up your life against these commandments you so highly speak of.

Let’s hold them as a standard and measure your life against them and see how you fare.

So, which of them do we begin with.

‘Do not commit adultery’

‘Do not commit fornication’

You say you are a ‘Virgin’ right, lofty title ‘Virgin’

Do you know the standards you are called to uphold; virtues of purity and chastity.

Oh, you think I do not see how you stare lustfully at that sister that sits just in front of you in church or you think I am blind to the thoughts that roam your mind when that brother in the choir raises his voice in worship to me.

Or you think I do not know that you masturbate. You do it in secret, in your room so that no one knows or sees. You think I do not know where the arcade of porn movies is stashed.

Are you surprised that I know these? Have you forgotten that I see both in the secret and in the open?

 

Should we go on?

Or are you convinced now that your life does not match your words; that the word ‘Christian’ is only but a cover for the mess that your life has become.

But Lord…

I… I…

You what?

Follow the letters of the law?

‘Thou shall not have any other God before me.’

You say you are not an idol worshipper but the love of money and its pursuit fills your day. Yes, money has become your idol.

Lord, I am just being ambitious.

Ambitious?

Yes Lord, ambitious!

No for you it is get more with no thought as to the state of your soul.

When last did you spend an hour with me or say thanks and not the hastily rushed words you spout in the mornings before you rush off to another money-making pursuit.

When last did you talk to me your friend and Lord? Oh no, the only time you remember me is when you are in need.

Now doesn’t that scream hypocrite!

You keep saying you don’t have time, clearly put as you do not have time for me excepts for the Sundays you deign to come into my presence, those times that I struggle with your phone for your attention; time you spend criticizing others for their behaviours; time you should have spent listening to my words.

Oh no, you are not still convinced right, need I say more.

Hate fills your heart.

Your neighbour you have refused to forgive

Your brother you owe a grudge against.

He hurt you deeply and so you won’t let go.

Do you know all the times you offended me, broke my heart and trust; made a mockery of my sacrifice on the cross, made my blood a waste and all you had to say was ‘Sorry’ and I forgave and forgot everything. You do not remember.

You have killed him so many times in your mind.

Aren’t you a hypocrite saying a thing and doing another.

‘Thou shall not steal’

Should we go into that?

Embezzlement, fraud, refusing to earn your wages or pay another his just wages.

You are not carrying a gun so you do not qualify.

You focus on the outside and do not bother with the inside. And you think the title ‘hypocrite’ doesn’t fit you.

Now listen to me:

“It is not enough to clean up your act on the outside, I am more concerned about your heart. It is not enough that you do not commit adultery or fornication, when in your heart you have looked at another lustfully.

The heart is what you are, it holds every of your thoughts and feelings. It is that part of you that only I see and know. I look on the heart and your inside matters as much to me as your outside appearance.

Let go of the secret sins that eat up your soul, keep your heart pure and blameless before me, for only the pure can be admitted into my presence.

Don’t be a hypocrite, one face in the public and another in private. I seek the whole of your heart. Do you realize how much you are worth in my eyes? I love you unconditionally.

Now, return to me!”

 

Man responds:

‘I am a hypocrite; covering my sins with my seemingly good deeds. Your words condemn me Lord and I hide my face in shame. They show me the folly of my ways and the errors in my thoughts. I have been on the path that seemed right but has been the path of destruction all along. Hide not your face from me. Be gracious to me. I repent of my sins.

I want to be able to stand in your presence and have the right to call you father knowing you, loving you and serving you.

I return Lord.

Your child returns to you.’

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The Store House—Conclusion

Hello Lovely Family, we bring you the concluding part of the Store house. Thanks for staying with us.

The tithe cannot buy you Heaven

Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor; Christ taught us that those two were the greatest commandments and all of the Laws & Prophets hang on these two commandments (cf. Matt. 22:36-40). The words of Christ always emphasized the importance of these two aspects, the first being more spiritual and the second being corporally complementing, “for anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). Obeying the law has never been what matters most for Christians. Being like Christ outweighs everything. The laws (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) were a shadow of Who is to come (Christ). Remember the story of a young rich ruler who was a professional law-abiding Jew (cf. Mark 10: 17-22). You could say he was a hard-core tither and Christ loved him because he wanted more than the blessings of life on earth. He wanted more than the windows of heaven flooding him with goodies. He wanted eternal life; that very one John, the Evangelist, talked about in the opening of His first letter which was with the Father and they beheld it as the Son (I John 1:1-4). Christ loved him very much because of his desire and told him to give 100%, neither to the Jerusalem temple nor to Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of his new ministry, but directly to the major shareholders of storehouse Inc. Ltd. Plc i.e. the Poor. Have you ever wondered why Christ didn’t just say, “I love you so much man… believe in me, keep obeying the laws, and especially, paying your tithes so you don’t miss eternal life”? This request Christ made was the most difficult of decisions and I bet you that it would be difficult today, even for some of the rich holies of our present time. It’s difficult to give 100% to the poor especially when we have so much (cf. Matt. 25: 31-46). But Christ assures us that the very act of giving to those in need among us would guarantee that we get eternal life and make it to heaven. Once again remember it’s not grudgingly or out of necessity. As much as we are motivated by our desire to imitate Christ, we are not bound by the necessity to give 100%. Not all can be heroic and Christ knew this, that is why he taught his Apostles to show us that Grace ensures that we are rewarded for trying to the best of our efforts of Love. Yet such a reward for efforts is not the case when we do not even try at all.

The New Covenant, more terrifying than the Old

Indeed, we have received grace and are beyond the curses of the Old Covenant in Moses. Most of us understand that the old has been perfected in the new for many reasons. I am a deep lover of Covenant Theology and I read a long course on the History of Salvation by Scott Hahn. In many ways I have come to terms with the fact God has fulfilled in Christ what He started with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. God’s plan was to make Israel a nation of Priests (Exodus 19:6) who would teach other nations but only Levi made the cut, and even in Levi, only the line of Aaron was selected for this Holy Order. In Christ, He successfully made the new Israel a global kingdom of Priests (I Pet. 2:9) chosen to do way better than the Levitical priests could ever do. It is important to understand how all Covenants come with a Blessing for obedience and Curse for disobedience. If Israel suffered the old temporary curses from not tithing, we the Sons of God should realize that by not heeding to our Lord’s Commands in the new and everlasting Covenant to be the storehouse of God’s people, which includes the Clergy who do God’s work and, most importantly, the Poor in our midst, we risk a far more everlasting curse which is the loss of eternal life. Every time I think of Eternal life, I like to think of it the way John heard (I too want to hear), saw with his eyes (I must see), looked upon (I want to gaze upon Him in awe too), handled with his hands and bore witness to (I’ll probably be dead by then but my memory must be a witness in the world too), of the Word of Life which was with the Father (I John 1:1-4). Although Love compels us to do what we have been called to for our neighbors, the hope of seeing Eternal life as the I AM that He is would be a knowledge overload that would make my hungry soul bask in an infinite bliss of having all my questions answered. At least that’s one way I fantasize spending my eternity with Christ. This is my HOPE. Dream about whatever holy fantasy would fulfil you, it’s allowed. Lol! May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and forever! Amen!

 

P.S. –

I would be taking you into ancient writers to better share the experience I had and to show you other sources like St. Augustine who had something to say on tithing and giving. The insights are so deep and precise but I will take out a few, though it may seem to be much, points I had taken out of the numerous points I couldn’t even finish devouring. I must warn that if your level of understanding grammatical sentences is very limiting, these quotes would sound a bit ambiguous but the more you dissect the long sentences into tinier ones, the more illuminating it would feel to realize you just read ancient texts from some of the oldest writers in our faith. Hehehehe!

 

Do follow us on all our social media platform @Godlywomenarising Guess what we have a final teaser for you all tomorrow and on Monday we will be posting a new post titled I am not a Hypocrite. Come let’s examine our lives under the microscope.

 

The StoreHouse—-Those Beyond the Law

Hello Lovely Family, We are gradually getting to the end of what has been a wonderful and enlightening series on the Store House. I can’t believe that by Friday we will be done with Tithing and move on to other issues. I like to talk but for now just dig in.

 

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When you look at the Laws of tithing in Deuteronomy, the poor had an entitlement in these offerings and tithes (Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12-5). Discovering that God’s intention for the storehouse was majorly to make it a place where there would be food to feed those who are hungry was a real spiritual awakening for me. Realizing just how money and material blessings corrupted the Jews so much that the store house became more commonly used as a treasury to store wealth (cf. 1 Chron. 26:20; Neh. 13:13) while the most important things became neglected made me understand we Christians are just as corruptible as ancient Israel used to be.

In Christ, the laws, even that of the tithes, were to be fulfilled and He taught his own repeatedly that there should be no limit to how much care you put into giving for this reason. His Apostles did just the same thing and gave 100% of their time and their life to this cause. You can read it up in the Acts of the Apostles. I won’t bother myself quoting a single passage for you. READ! No one burdened their followers on laws such as tithing because much more was expected from those who were beyond the law and they were filled with the grace to do exceedingly more than a mere one-tenth tithe, one-sixth and one-fifth offerings or even first fruits. New Israel has been commanded, under the dispensation of grace, to give everything to the cause of God’s true justice. The Apostles were really strict about the dangers of subjecting anyone to the law because every law comes with both a curse and a blessing. Those who are in Christ have received the grace to do beyond what the law demands. St. Paul while talking about the dangers of being held by the laws [of circumcision] warns that they are obligated to obey the whole law if they obey just one of it and “this persuasion does not come from Him [Christ] who calls you” (cf. Gal. 5). Be wary of being forced to obey the laws of Moses. Such persuasion does not come from Christ who calls you. The Apostles taught the faithful to have collections for the Lord’s people and that’s the most you will see in the infant Church of the New Testament concerning commandments of giving.

An Example in Corinth

In Corinth, St. Paul had sown the seed of Christ in the hearts of a good number of faithful but the sheer number of spiritual gifts they kept receiving made these young Christians very unruly in many aspects. In Pauline fashion, he decides to address their misunderstandings in a letter with his usual style of admonishing, in an act to drive home key points that matter most, before returning to the loving fatherly figure he is in person. After talking about divisions, disputes, sacrilegious feasting of the Eucharist and abuse of spiritual gifts he gives them the most important teaching on Love/Charity in chapter 13 before giving them the same commands of giving every Sunday for the purpose of the Lord’s people (I Cor 16:2). Please do not mistake the “Lord’s people” to just mean the Church leaders only because they are not the main people who these collections were for. They were for those Jesus mentioned in Matthew, remember the hungry, thirsty, naked etc. These were the purpose for giving so that all can find meat in the New Covenant storehouse of God (cf. Matt. 25: 31-40). It was important for the faithful in Corinth to understand that they were under no lawful compulsion but were expected to give from the heart so, in his second letter, Paul included the emphasis “not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” to drive the commandment home. Those words were forever etched in my heart as a child even if I didn’t really understand why (see. II Cor 9).

 

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The Storehouse— The Red Bible of Tithing

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“The red bible” is an interesting term used to describe the words of Christ in the new testament scriptures. I have repeatedly mentioned that it’s important to read the entire chapter or book to get a full picture of the situation. In the case of the gospels, it’s important to not just read the book, but compare the other Gospels because they complement each other. The synoptic gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark & Luke are full of similarities and the gospel of St. John the Evangelist brings to light deeper things about Christ that the others either mentioned in passing or didn’t mention at all for many debatable reasons.

The Christ and the Tithe by Matthew

The famous woes to the Scribes and Pharisees is an interesting section of Jesus accusing this elite Jews of many wrong doings (cf. Matt.23). At a point in verse 23, Jesus said this about tithes: ‘Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! For you pay tithes…and have neglected more important matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith”. I wonder if Jesus sounds familiar to you? Imagine with me if Matthew had written this in the same style Malachi had written. It would involve Jesus wrestling them about perverting justice (lies), not being merciful to the poor among them (filling up the store houses) and not having faith (believing in the God of the Heavenly Armies). But they will answer him by saying, at least we’re better than our ancestors, we pay our tithes. But Jesus would shoot back that what they have done was good but the more important aspects were being ignored. But Matthew didn’t mention anything about feeding the poor in that place so it’s safe to assume from Matthew that Jesus wasn’t talking about the poor in his tithing discourse but insisted on the payment of the tithe. It’s easy in our modern English language to ignore the meanings of words like justice and mercy because they have become common political and moral terms rather than actual spiritual goals. It was when I looked up just how Luke covered this same discussion that I reexperienced my storehouse moment more vividly. Exciting!

The Christ and the Tithe by Luke

I want to first acknowledge St. Augustine of Hippo (354 -430AD), my role model in searching the scriptures, in whose work on the Sermon on the New Testament, Homily 56, I discovered this revelation in Luke’s Gospel account.

Here Luke tells us a story of how Jesus came about to be in that position of wrestling with the elites. Christ was given a special invite to the house of this Jewish elite and what ensued lead to the hatred Jesus suffered from the Scribes and Pharisees (cf. Luke 11:37-53). It started with their disgust at the Christ’s seemingly lack of hygiene. Knowing this arrogant piety in them, I mean He knows all things, He began to bash them with woes because of their dirty hearts, including the very same words Matthew used (Luke 11:42; cf. Matt. 23:23). But just before he did that, I observed my store house moment in his words. “Give alms of such things as you have, then your heart would indeed be clean”. I read this in NKJV, KJV, NIV, CPD and MSG bible versions just so I can be sure that Christ has first told these Pharisees that by providing for the poor among them, they would indeed have truly clean/perfect hearts but rather they give tithes and ignore more important things. This act is an integral part of God’s true justice.

Luke had brought to light something quiet about the scenario that Matthew had ignored. Perhaps Matthew, being in Jerusalem and writing an account to Jew, expected his fellow Jewish Christians to understand that love for the needy was more important than other laws. Luke, on the other hand, knew he was writing to Theophilus (Gk. Lover of God) who was definitely non-Jewish. He was writing to we lovers of God who never knew the importance of the law so that we can have just as much insight as a Jew concerning the issue Jesus cursed the religious bigots about.

I took a break to soak in just how important tithing was and just how much Christ fulfilled it by overcoming our subjugation to the bondage of the law and filling us with grace to do above and beyond this. My head started to spin ecstatically. I hadn’t been under the bondage of paying tithes by any law but I had never been able to successfully have a corporal contact with the poor. I mean, I give to their cause because it’s easier for me to give people who would give them. But I have only given them the cheapest of my treasures: my money. I’ve almost never directly given them my food, my clothes, my hugs or even a common handshake. I have never given them the most precious thing I have which is my time on Earth. I realized I was way worse than a non-tither because I really can’t remember how long it’s been since I did a single corporal work of mercy as is in the Commandments of the Catholic Church I totally believed in. I was disappointed with myself for all the intelligent excuses I come up with for not doing the most important reason for God blessing me. Once again, I felt the gospel humiliate me in all versions of hidden pride I hadn’t really noticed till now. Forgive me O Lord, for I have neglected to feed the sick, the hungry, those in captivity and even the foreigners in our midst; Help me find the grace to see you in them rather than only see the laziness of those who seem to exploit begging as a profession. In nomine Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen!” I prayed.

 

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We would be posting the concluding parts from Tomorrow till the end of the week and from Monday we will get back to our usual Monday posts. Guess what we have something interesting planned for Monday. Stay Tuned.

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The Store House— The Store house Robbers

Hello Lovely Family, who has missed us. Yes We are back from our brief hiatus and We would be dishing out the posts every Friday and Monday until we are done with the #Tithing post and then we are back to our regular Monday posts. #Getreadytobeschooled as usual. Thanks for sticking with us. Now savour this post.

 

The book of Malachi: Conversation or Argument?

100 years after Nehemiah, the prophet Malachi had come to observe a Jerusalem far worse than it was in Nehemiah’s days. The author of this book expresses the issues of Israel like a poem in which God accuses Israel and Israel, in defiance, rather than be sober for their sins, accuse God too for not being faithful as in the days of yore (I like that word. Lol!). If you look at the poetic book of Malachi from the very first pages, you would see that wrestling nature that is quintessentially Israel. God says “I have loved you”, the wrestler says “In what way have You loved us” (Mal. 1:2). It’s like a Father trying to give a stubborn first-born reason to realize just how special he is. That’s how the author keeps this discussion. God accusing Israel of their wrong deeds and Israel disagreeing rhetorically.
This generation addressed by the prophet had become way more notorious and evil than their ancestor, Jacob. Rather than wrestle for a blessing they wrestled to show God that His ways are irrelevant. From arguing about the importance of good sacrifices (for they had become like Cain who offered unworthily), to disagreeing about their reasons for divorce, accusing God of favoring evil men over godly men and even claiming that YHWH, the God of the Angelic Armies (commonly interpreted God of Host), had gotten weak for refusing to bring his presence to the tabernacle. This argument was intense and, believe you me, the author’s poetic style shows just how much guts Israel had to keep on disagreeing with the Almighty. They were boldly breaking His laws I tell you.
It’s important to understand that this poetic rendering of the book is the reality of what these people did in the land they had returned to. The discussion, in a sense, begins to be more specific in chapter 2 when God starts to talk directly to the Holy elites in the land, the priests.
The first accused God-Robbers
“And now, you priests, this warning is for you” (Mal 2:1). From this point on we can see God addressing issues with their services and hearts. He accused them for their lack of integrity, then he accuses them of being unfaithful and says they have wearied Him with their talk because they accuse him of not being a just God. God responds with a prophecy in chapter 3 by letting them know of the Messiah who will vindicate his Name by executing His true justice. What exactly is His true justice? Then the discussion becomes more specific to my research in verse 6. God accuses them of not returning [to Him], they argue again “how are we to return”? It’s interesting to note that this discussion is still with the priests. God accuses them of robbing Him in verse 8, they argue again with a question. In verse 9 God says “You are under a curse, even your whole nation, because you are robbing me” (Mal. 3:9). There is a curse for not tithing and both the priests and the nation have been placed under it. Now God urges them to bring all the tithe into the storehouse… why? “That there may be food in my house” (Mal. 3: 10). I know you want me to tell you about the huge blessings that followed this but you could read it up yourself if you really want to know. At this moment I paused, went back, and read this again “That there may be food in my house”. I screamed! This was my eureka moment. I started to see dimensions of visions so I took my new knowledge of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi and started researching ancient texts, literatures and scriptures to see if what I might have been hallucinating was seen by others and indeed it was.
You see that statement creates a new question. Who would eat all of this food in the storehouse? I wondered if what God really wanted when gave Moses the laws of tithes and offerings was for the other 12 tribes to cater for the needs of one so they could improve his monuments of worship and keep a fat bank account in its treasury so they can be financially rich on paper. I tried imagining some GDP calculations for Levi and it was ridiculous. Assuming every tribe made 100 million yearly, then those who slaved under the sun would be left with 90million after tithe while the ones who served in the most beautiful duties of the land ended up with 120 million. This would be the revenue from tithing alone. By the time you include all those other offerings wen be like 15-20% of annual income, the tribe of Levi fit dey enter like 300 million while others would be left with like 50 to 60 million annually. Where is the Justice in that? I’m sure God’s true Justice, estimated financially, must be true to the very last calculation.
I started to realize that the most neglected reason for tithing mentioned earlier i.e. provisions of food for the poor, was the most important reason for tithing. Yes salaries, money and building maintenance was important but feeding the people of God who couldn’t afford to feed was the crucial thing. These Levites were receiving tithes from the people of Israel but they weren’t putting it in the storehouse so that the House of God would be a house of plenty. They were keeping it all to themselves. They weren’t paying a tithe of the tithe and the people weren’t paying their tithes too. Remember God accused them of their lack of integrity. They robbed him. I wonder how familiar this sounds today.
I want to share a little more depth into those verses so that you can see why the storehouse is the purpose of all the offering and tithing laws that the Israelites were subjected to. It was to teach them how to properly take care of the ones God has put under their care. Well let’s not stop there because we would discover that many years later, when the Messiah Malachi prophesied about came to the very same land or Jerusalem, He addressed the very same issue but in a subtler way. His words are frequently quoted as a common verse for pro-tithing Christians. The promised Messiah would bring about God’s true Justice and He would teach this in ways the common eyes might just overlook because we are no longer used to seeing things in scriptures the way the first generation of Christians did.

 

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God bless you.