And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat…
The two important matters of notice, in this text, are the early purpose of this young patriarch to give a portion of his wealth to religious ends, and the establishment of a fixed system in presenting it. It seems to be in Scripture history the exact beginning of all that custom of tithing the people which meets us everywhere in the Old Testament. It has arrested my attention, because it is the act of a young man just starting in the new life. It furnishes me with this for a topic — Systematic beneficence: its principle and its measure.
I. THE PRINCIPLE may be stated in one compact sentence: A Christian is to contribute, not on impulse, but by plan. Jacob seems to have understood in the outset that this was to be the practical side of his life.
1. This duty should be taken up early by every young Christian as a matter of study.
2. It will not do to discharge this work all at once. A settled habit of giving is promoted only by a settled exercise of giving.
3. It will not do to leave this duty to a mere impulse of excitement. Christians ought never to wait for fervid appeals or ardent addresses to sympathy,
4. It will not do to perform this duty as a mere mechanical form. We are told, in one familiar verse of the New Testament, that "he which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly." This singular word "sparingly" occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. It means grievingly, regretfully; holding back after the gift, if such an expression may be allowed.
5. This duty is to be discharged only with a diligent comparison of means with ends. System in giving is the secret of all success.
II. THE MEASURE OF CHRISTIAN BENEFICENCE.
1. Give tithes to start with.
2. Tithes, just to start with, will in many cases force a Christian on to increase as he grows in fortune. When life grows easier, and gains more plentiful, the good Lord, whose stewards we are, raises His rates of loan, and expects more liberal returns.
III. CONSIDERATIONS WHICH ENTER INTO THE RECKONING.
1. Think of what has been done in our behalf by God, our Maker and Redeemer. We should measure our gifts in money by our receipts in grace.
2. Remember whence the prosperity came, out of which we give money. God seeks where He has given.
3. Consider the extent of the work which is to be accomplished.
4. Think of the promises which reward the free-giver. "The liberal soul shall be made fat."
5. Think of the exigencies arising under the favouring providences of God.
6. Think of the listlessness of others.Conclusion: He who gives tithes at the start will grow himself as his fortune grows. He that delays will harden. And it should never be forgotten that money is only the measure of manhood when consecrated to Christ. It is ourselves we give to Him, ourselves He demands.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,