Articles and book excerpts used in and referred to on Issues, Etc.
A Topical Summary for "Issues, Etc."
Broadcast July, 2001
Dr. James Bollhagen
As long as the Christian Church is In the world, it
will need money in order to accomplish its tasks. There is no shame in that;
after all, even Christ himself had a treasurer (Judas Iscariot, no less!) to
manage the disciples' finances. But, like everything else in this world,
churchly expenses have also continued to soar. Faced with mounting debts, many
congregations have increasingly emphasized tithing on the part of the
membership. It only seems natural to do so, since tithing is a Biblical idea,
and there have been many financial success stories as a result. One might think
of the mega-churches, particularly those that make their appeals through the
mass media, that seem to be awash in funds. However, at what theological price
has this outward success come? From God's point of view, just how "successful"
is a church whose members, when they hear the word "church," immediately think
of the word "tithe" instead of Christ? What happens in the process to the
Gospel of God's grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the doctrine upon which
the Church really stands or falls? What happens to the Gospel when offerings
become a matter for a pocket calculator instead of a heart that is moved by the
Gospel? These questions are terribly important, because a church that does not
have the Gospel has nothing at all, no matter how rich it might be. To answer
these questions, we shall undertake a brief survey of the Biblical evidence for
tithing followed by some practical suggestions for the Christian congregation.
Tithing in the Old Testament
The first mention of tithing is when Abraham give a tithe to Melchizedek, the priest to the true God at Salem (Gen 14:20). Two generations later Jacob promised a tithe of his possessions to God in response to the vision of the ladder reaching up to heaven (Gen 28:22). Where did these men get the idea to tithe 500 years before tithing was legislated at Mt. Sinai? Their spontaneous acts were probably suggested by the fact that tithing was a common practice among pagan religions in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan, and all over the world. Just like with animal sacrifices - which the people of God offered long before Mt. Sinai - tithing may have seemed like "the thing to do" when someone wanted to worship his God.
God's Mt. Sinai legislation regarding tithing is spelled out in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Although many Bible students see some overlapping, there are as many as three separate tithes that can be distinguished:
1) An annual tithe for the support of the Levites, the tabernacle/temple workers (Lev 27:30-33; Num 18:21-24). This was the only visible means of support for them, since they inherited no land when Canaan was conquered under Joshua. The Levites, in turn, passed along a tithe of this tithe to the priests, the highest echelon of worship leaders (Num 18:26).
2) An annual feast tithe, which apparently went for the support of the house of God and its services (Deut 14:22-27).
3) A "social ministry" tithe, received every third year, for helping the poor and needy (Deut 14:28; 26:12).
The whole legal code for tithing appears to have been quite complicated, and even the most knowledgeable Bible scholars admit that many questions about the details remain unanswered. This fact alone should be remembered when the modern-day preacher confidently proclaims that he has worked out all the fine points of tithing like a Christian CPA. It should also be noted that the Old Testament tithing code specified the bare minimum amount to be contributed; it commanded the starting point for giving, not a goal toward which the worshipper should strive. The tithing code presupposed an agricultural existence, targeting the offering of grain, wine, oil, and livestock.
It is helpful, when considering tithing, to maintain the traditional distinction between the Old Testament moral law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, which applies to all people of all times, and the laws which pertained specifically to the Old Testament people of God, the civil and ceremonial laws. The tithe, since it was used for the support of both the "church and state" in Old Testament Israel, was actually a blend of civil and ceremonial law. But in neither case, in neither the civil nor ceremonial area, would tithing be considered binding upon the New Testament Church. The point is: if a preacher today wants to insist on tithing as a legal requirement, then he needs to be consistent by also requiring in his congregation the offering of animal sacrifices, circumcision, and Old Testament inheritance laws. He is not free to arbitrarily pick and choose which civil and ceremonial laws he will follow and which he will not.
If one wants to be coldly calculating with his offering to God, then let's run the numbers for a moment. The Old Testament tithe was originally designed for the support of a theocracy, the direct rule of God, in which the church and state formed a single entity. Basically the tithe paid for everything needed in the day-to-day operations of the people of God. When one adds up all the contributions of the typical Israelite - the basic tithes, firstfruit offerings, special almsgiving, prescribed sacrifices, specially vowed offerings, dedicatory offerings, free-will offerings, sacrifices, thanksgiving, and the half-shekel temple tax - it is conservatively estimated that the Israelite gave 33% of his income. Now consider modern times, in which the church and state are separated. When one adds up all the income taxes and sales taxes at the federal, state, and municipal level the average U. S. citizen pays out roughly 40% of his income, and that amount supports only the state with nothing going to the church. If these hard numbers are left to speak for themselves, that means that every church member should be getting an annual 7% rebate from his congregation! At the very least one might wonder if a tithe today should be computed on before or after-tax Income. The prophet Samuel, In fact, warned Israel that if they would be given a king (as they requested) to run the government, that king would be requiring a "tithe" of his own (1 Sam 8:15).
Beyond Mt. Sinai, the tithe is seldom mentioned in the Old Testament, surfacing only during the reforms of Hezekiah (2 Chr 31:5), Nehemiah (Neh 10:38), and Malachi (Mat 3:8-12). In those times the tithe was either being abused or ignored altogether.
Tithing in the New Testament
With respect to tithing, the New Testament can be divided into two periods, during the ministry of Christ and after it. While Christ was in the process of fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies about himself, he continued to observe the Old Testament ceremonial laws that pointed to his redemptive work, and he urged others to do the same. For example, he was circumcised and dedicated, he attended the three major feasts in Jerusalem, and he even assisted his disciples in paying the half-shekel tax for the temple (while at the same time asserting their freedom from it - Matt 17:24-27). And yes, he instructed his Jewish audience to continue tithing (Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42). On this point, however, it is extremely important to note why the subject of tithing came up: while going to extremes in following the letter of the law on tithing, the Jews had completely forgotten the Gospel motivation for it. The caution and reminder Jesus gave about tithing is needed today more than ever.
After Christ died on the cross for our sins, rose from death on the third day, ascended into heaven to rule all things, and sent his Spirit on all flesh, the situation changed for the New Testament church, because the Old Testament had been fulfilled. The ceremonial laws which pointed to Christ had served their purpose. From Pentecost onward the rite of circumcision, the temple sacrifices, worship on the seventh day, and other observances lost their importance, and along with them, the practice of tithing seems to have fallen by the wayside in the early church. The Jewish historian Josephus states that all three tithes listed above were firmly in place in first century A.D. Judaism, but nevertheless tithing is never mentioned in the New Testament's description of the first century church.
All three tithes became obsolete. The tithe for the Levites became unnecessary when the Levites were replaced by the apostolic ministry. Concerning the material support of ministers of the Gospel, all the New Testament says is that they should eat what is set before them (Matt. 10:10) and that the church should take care of them (Gal 6:6). Secondly, the tithe for the support of the temple services outlived its usefulness: the sacrifices of the temple, soon to be leveled in AD. 70, gave place to the one Sacrifice for all sin. Thirdly, the "social ministry" tithe was no longer needed because Christian brothers and sisters helped one another by way of special collections, as was the case with the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16). While giving for the Lord's work obviously continued in the church, no amounts or percentages are prescribed in the New Testament. All that is said is that early Christians had everything in common (Acts 2:44 - a "tithe" of 100%!), that they gave sacrificially (2 Cor 8:1-3), and that they gave as God had prospered them (1 Cor 16:2).
Practical Applications for the Church
What can be gathered from the Scriptural witness about tithing for the Church today? To answer this question, it is best to ponder the spirit behind tithing rather than the letter of the law regarding tithing. Tithing should be treated in a manner not unlike the approach we take to the commandment, 'Remember the Sabbath Day.' The church does not follow the letter of the Sabbath law - adhering strictly to Saturday worship, linking one's journeys to less than five-eighths of a mile, or avoiding carrying anything; instead, the Church gets to the spirit of the commandment, urging that all believers devote themselves to the hearing of God's Word. In a similar fashion, the tithing laws cannot be pressed into service to dictate times and percentages, but we can look at the spirit of tithing, remembering that the God behind the tithing laws was the same God that we worship today.
Even in the Old Testament tithing was never intended to be a mere drudgery or test of obedience. It was a joyful endeavor. It was an expression of fellowship with God, which was freely granted solely by God's grace. It was the expression of a heart truly thankful to God for all his blessings in this life and the life to come. It was a tangible opportunity to give all glory to God, who allows His people to honor him with their "substance" (Prov 3:9); even their gifts were deemed acceptable by the mercy of God. And, it was a concrete way for fellow believers in the Gospel to express their fellowship with each other and to care for each other in a very specific way. In short, tithing in the Old Testament, in God's own original design, was a Gospel activity through and through.
In these respects nothing has changed for the people of God today. Under the cross of Jesus Christ, giving for the Lord's work is still a joyous privilege, flowing from the Gospel itself. It expresses our thanksgiving to the God of all grace and gives all glory to him. By faith it recognizes that Christian giving is a sign of our totally undeserved fellowship with God, but certainly not a cause of that fellowship. With their hearts moved by the Gospel, we can give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7) and as spontaneously as Jacob, for whom there was absolutely no law about tithing. As God has accepted us through the forgiveness of sins, he also accepts by the same mercy our meager gifts and uses them in his kingdom. With the love of Christ constraining us (2 Cor 5:14), our offerings express our love for those who bear the name of brother and our concern for those who do not yet know Christ.
What else might be gleaned from the Old Testament practice of tithing? What else might a Christian latch onto without sacrificing the precious freedom he enjoys in Christ? The believer can see how the tithing system presupposed the basic truth: everything the people had actually belonged to God, and by their offerings they were simply returning to God what was properly his. One gets the picture of loving parents who graciously accept from their child a Christmas gift purchased with the allowance the parents had given him. The believer might individually gain (No new laws, please!) a certain sense of proportion with Christian giving; on the one hand, he might see that his gift to God might be more thoughtful and substantial than the 25 cents he found stuck between the seat cushions in his car; on the other hand, he might avoid giving so much that he neglects the needs of his own family in the process (Matt 7:9-13). The believer might also see that his gift to God, by God's gracious condescension, can become more substantive and tangible than mere pious thoughts and warm feelings (Rom 12:1). Finally, the believer might realize that, in remembrance of Christ's incarnation, there is no shame in the fact that the Church needs money in order to operate in this world and that the Church might occasionally mention that fact without losing its grip on the Gospel. In the sanctified life that flows from the Gospel, money is not the last stronghold of Satan that requires a hushed, hands-off policy by the Church.
What should not be gathered from the Old Testament practice of tithing? It was stated earlier that the Gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ is literally the lifeblood of the Church, the teaching by which the Church stands or falls. Without the Gospel, the Church has nothing. What, then, must be avoided at all costs? Any mention or use of tithing in a congregation that confuses, beclouds, obscures, or calls into question, even for a minute, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To be avoided is anything that threatens to turn the grace of the Gospel into a law, old or new, anything that makes the Gospel a law that kills (2 Cor 3:6) and leaves members in doubt about their salvation. It would be better for a congregation never to mention tithing at all than to lose its grip on the Gospel.
The Gospel is obscured when preachers, by way of a gross misinterpretation of God's call to faith in Malachi 3, entice people into greater giving by appealing to their fleshly, selfish desires: "If only you would give more money to church, you would have unparalleled business success and two new cars in your garage." Such talk turns Gospel giving into a business deal - "If you do this, God will do that" - and striking a deal with God is totally contrary to the Gospel. Even worse, business-deal language smacks of manipulation, the thought that God can be manipulated into doing this or that through one's own activity. This kind of divine manipulation characterized all the pagan Canaanite religions that surrounded the nation of Israel.
Following upon the previous point, the Gospel is obscured when the giver himself starts to view tithing as a means of improving himself or his lot in life. The congregation is then looked upon as a self-improvement center, like a spiritual "health spa," and accordingly the giver may very well start to wonder if he is getting enough personal "bang for his buck" that he has placed in the offering plate (as occurred in Mal 3:14). Contrast this self-centered, acutely law-oriented approach to the offerings of the 75 year old man who is avidly supporting a parochial school, a program that will afford him no direct personal benefit. Only the Gospel can inspire giving like that.
The Gospel is obscured when tithing is made into a new law, thereby turning the grace of the Gospel, in the final analysis, into no grace at all. The extreme (but true) example is given of the preacher who went to a non-tithing member's home and "repossessed" his car from his driveway in the name of Christ! But congregations have far more subtle ways of turning tithing into a new law without baldly proclaiming this heresy from the pulpit. For example, members may be barraged by "testimonies" of the truly faithful, who turn up the heat by saying, "I tithe to the church why don't you?" When tithing is made into a law, one of two anti-Gospel outcomes can result: 1) the individual member fails, and 2) the member succeeds. If the member fails to tithe, his conscience may become burdened to the point of despairing of God's grace. If a member does tithe, he faces the distinct danger of taking pride in his accomplishment to the point of considering the grace of God irrelevant. (This has been known to happen - Luke 18:12)
One of the oldest tricks in the book (not the Book) is often pressed into service in order to get people to tithe or even force them to do so. If someone were to ask you, "What assurance do you have of your salvation?" the correct Gospel response is: "I am sure of my salvation, because I trust my powerful and merciful God, and I know that all his promises are sure, absolutely sure." But now for the trick. Are you sure of your salvation? Pay close attention to the following phony response so that you can recognize it if you should see it:
"Are you sure you're going to heaven? You know - only believers are going to heaven. So now the question is: are you really a believer? How can you be so sure? The only way to reassure yourself that you have a saving faith is to look for evidence of that faith in the conduct of your life. Look at yourself. How committed are you? Can you prove by your level of commitment that you are a Christian?"If one applies this faulty, totally unscriptural reasoning to the subject under discussion, there is only one inescapable, but equally faulty, conclusion that can be reached - Real Christians tithe. If one goes down this primrose path all the way, he might even wind up saying: "For me, tithing is 'Exhibit A,' the single piece of proof-positive evidence that I really am a Christian. Thus, tithing provides the proof and assurance that I am on my way to heaven." It is hard to imagine that any minister of the Gospel would spell out such a horrendous conclusion in so many words; however, he may not object if you draw such a conclusion on your own. But where is the Gospel in all this? Where is the gracious work of God? Reassuring yourself? Even though this line of reasoning may have started (way back when) with the Gospel, it has ended up in sheer, terrifying law. At first one demon of legalism may have been swept from the house, but seven other legal demons have moved in to replace it (Matt 12:43-45).
The Gospel is obscured when tithing is presented as an extra boost which is necessary for the continued financial health of the congregation. The implication is that the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, does not have quite enough power to do the job, that the Gospel comes up short as the impetus and motivation for the Christian life. In this regard, congregations should be wary of outside professional fund-raisers and should think twice about hiring them. These agencies are not particularly famous for their firm grip on the Gospel. In God's eyes, a congregation is much better off remaining in debt and remaining forever indebted to the grace of Jesus Christ.
A Few Thoughts for Further Reflection
The Gospel is the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. (If it were not free, it would not be a gift!) If you really think about it, the fact that God's salvation is free is often reflected fiscally in the life of a congregation. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper that for the specific task of spreading the Gospel they would always have everything they need (John 14:13). What does your congregation really need for the hearing and spreading of the Gospel? Usually, precious little is needed. For example, how large a chunk of the congregation's budget is used up by the evangelism committee? How much does it cost to hear a sermon? How many items on the budget are just accouterments, extraneous to the spreading of the Gospel? By the same token, how much more could not be expended for world-wide mission work, if the accouterments were minimized? If all the extra frills in your budget are sinking your congregation into the red, it probably means that in God's eyes you do not really need them. What does a Gospel-based congregation truly treasure, anyway? The members of a congregation that had just completed a state-of-the-art building were asked: "What time in the congregation's history do you remember most fondly?" The overwhelming response was: "The days when we heard the Gospel in the local funeral home? Yes, It was a time when they had no building at all!
A preacher will often try to offer Gospel comfort to his congregation by saying, "Don't worry about things like money; they are no big deal." But then, that same preacher will turn around and worry constantly about the church's money and even get obsessed about it. His own worries may lead into all sorts of high-pressure tactics. Although he has never been legalistic about tithing, he may secretly wish that the members think tithing really is a law. If the pastor (and the lay leadership) want to teach freedom from worry, they should do so by word and example, too.
In the Old Testament some offerings were required, but others were free-will, over-and-above offerings. In view of the sacrifice of Christ, all offerings in the Church today fall under the category of free-will offerings. Interestingly enough, the required offerings in the Old Testament had to be perfect, but the voluntary offerings were supposed to be perfect, too! (Lev 22). After all, the same gracious God was the recipient in either case. Giving motivated by the Gospel can surely lead God's people to give their first and best.
Some people in the Church will give less than a tithe, and obviously, because of the Gospel, they will remain full-fledged recipients of God's grace. But there will be others in the Church who will be moved by the Gospel to give a tenth of their income. The Church truly rejoices that there are such people. The Church needs them and gives thanks for them. We would be remiss if we did not express these thoughts. And who knows? There may be some people who wind up giving more than a tithe like the widow who gave 100% (Luke 21:4) or Zacchaeus, who gave far more then what was expected (Luke 19:8). You never know what is going to happen when the Gospel is at work.
|Gen 14:20 - And blessed be God Most High, who
delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of
Gen 28:22 - and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
Lev 27:30-33 - " 'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord ; it is holy to the Lord . If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock-every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod-will be holy to the Lord . He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.' "
Num 18:21-24 - "I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting. From now on the Israelites must not go near the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. It is the Levites who are to do the work at the Tent of Meeting and bear the responsibility for offenses against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord . That is why I said concerning them: 'They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.' "
Num 18:26 - "Speak to the Levites and say to them: 'When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord 's offering.
Deut 14:22-27 - Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
Deut 14:28; 26:12 - At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
1 Sam 8:15 - He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
2 Chr 31:5 - As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.
Neh 10:38 - A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury.
Mat 3:8-12 - Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Matt 17:24-27 - After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax ?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes--from their own sons or from others?" "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
Matt 23:23 - "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Luke 11:42 - "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
Matt. 10:10 - take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
Gal 6:6 - Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Acts 2:44 - All the believers were together and had everything in common.
2 Cor 8:1-3 - And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,
1 Cor 16:2 - On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Prov 3:9 - Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
2 Cor 9:7 - man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Cor 5:14 - 14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
Matt 7:9-13 - "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. The Narrow and Wide Gates "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Rom 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Cor 3:6 - He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Mal 3:14 - "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?
Luke 18:12 - fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
Matt 12:43-45 - "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
John 14:13 - And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
Luke 21:4 - All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
Luke 19:8 - But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
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