Hardened Heart, Generous Heart

Paul asserts that God’s law is perfect, holy, and just. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” In mentoring those in Corinth, Paul appealed to them to be generous participants in the needs of his ministry. Notably he does not mention tithing. Yet, we can’t deny the spirit and intent of generosity even if tithing historically was mandated.

The universe is governed by law – gravity, for example. Law is central to civilised, sustained life. Even the “gentiles” recognise the need for law. Spiritually speaking, Paul illustrates the perfection of God’s law, and how it obedience is commanded and how it brings us to Christ, but equally notes the limitations of the law in that it can’t save us. What the law actually does is condemn us because by the law Paul learned what sin is. Romans 7:7  What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Paul helps us to understand the veracity of what the law is, who the Lawgiver is, and what the law does.

The idea of the law’s integrity can also be rephrased by asking, “What is sin?” What or who defines sin, and by what means? Paul knew that coveting was sin, and he knew it by the law of God – specifically the Ten Commandments – as thundered from Sinai, and written on tablets of stone by the very finger of God, and commended to our hearts by the Holy Spirit..

The hardened and stubborn heart, of course, resists God, resists His Word and rebels against his laws. The Ten Commandments occupy a higher place than do all the other laws, statutes and judgments, as those ten were kept in the Ark of the Covenant; the other 613 laws existed outside of that.

It’s a good conversation to have as we wrestle with the prescriptive and descriptive facets of life under the old covenant, and what this new life in Christ looks like under the new covenant. Do we believe in tithing, as patterned in Scripture, and as expressed in Jesus’ words of “render unto Caesar what is his and render unto God what is His…”? But more than just the bare minimum, the intent of God’s law is spiritual, holy and perfect, and best manifest in a generous and obedient heart.

John Classic
By John Classic