by Robert Morris
Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.Matthew 5:17
The Blessed Life
There are a lot of excuses I hear people make about why they don’t tithe, and some of them are rather humorous. My favorite excuse, and it’s the one I hear most often, is, “I’m under grace, not the law.” People think that because Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law, they’re off the hook when it comes to tithing. We touched on this yesterday, but I want to show you why this can’t be true by explaining what the law of grace actually is and how it works.
The grace of God really is amazing. Here’s the key phrase I want you to remember: The righteousness of grace always exceeds the righteousness of the law. This is the essence of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17–20:
Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (emphasis added).
Let me reiterate the key phrase I want you to remember—the righteousness of grace always exceeds the righteousness of the law. Notice that each time Jesus points to an Old Covenant law, He then sets a higher standard under New Covenant grace. This doesn’t just go for the rule of tithing but for every aspect of the law.
Here’s an example: In Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17, the law said not to commit murder, but in Matthew 5:22, Jesus said don’t even be angry with your brother. It’s a higher standard! In Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18, the law said not to commit adultery, but in Matthew 5:28 Jesus said you shouldn’t even look at a woman lustfully. Once again, we see that Jesus is setting a higher standard. In other words, the righteousness that grace demands (and Jesus is grace) goes further than that which the law demands.
That’s why I smile when someone says to me, “I don’t tithe because I’m not under the law. I’m under grace.” I almost always respond by saying, “Oh, so you give according to grace?” “Yes, that’s right.” Then I say, “Great! That means you give much more than 10 percent, because the righteousness of grace always exceeds the righteousness of the law. It’s a higher standard.”
When we give according to grace, we’ll give more than the tithe. Under grace, tithing is simply the starting point for giving. And when you start understanding that the law of grace always exceeds the Old Covenant law, your life will totally change.
Lord, thank You that Your grace brings freedom. Instead of being burdened by the law, help me to live by the higher standards that grace sets. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For Further Study
- Exodus 20:13–14
- Deuteronomy 5:17–18
- Matthew 5:22