The Truth About Tithing
I was probably around 9 when I was first introduced to money in the church. I was at a children"s meeting, while the adults had their big meeting elsewhere.
Somewhere after we had sung all of our Sunday school songs, the leaders passed around a bag to take collections. I still remember the feel of the rich velvet cloth as I heard my few little coins make that distinctive "clink" sound as they hit the bottom.
I felt pretty good about myself. It might have been a few cents, but I had given to God! After that experience, I would nag my parents for some money to drop into the collection bag as it came round each week.
I guess back then I was just a child and to me giving was something exciting. I did not think about where the money went or what the church would do with it. My thinking was simple. I gave to God.
Then later on we even had the opportunity to help with the building of a new church. Well my extent of "help" was to tag along mainly as my parents visited the site. It was quite exciting to see that building go up
Because we lived down the road we would go by it every day. I remember going with my parents to visit it once it had been completed, but not open yet to the public. It was beautiful with its lush carpets and new piano.
At the time things were not going well in the economy and my father had lost his job. Things were tough at home. Not only was there no money for the regular stuff I needed, like pens and pencils for school, but we did not even have money for food.
I remember a family member being led to send us a little cash and my memory is so clear. That night we walked to the local café to buy some bread and I will not forget the delight of even being able to get a candy. A rare treat.
We walked past the magnificent church on the way there. We passed the magnificent church on the way back. What a beautiful building. No expense was spared.
What a monument it was. Yet just a few houses up from it, we were starving. It is not like we were faceless members in the church. We were well known. Everyone knew our situation and on Sundays they would ask in serious tones how we were.
They would shake their heads sadly in empathy and say, "Yes times are hard, we pray that God will do something."
They gave their tithes faithfully to the church each month. Like the 9 year old child I was, they thought proudly of themselves, "I have given to God."
But did they? Or did they simply fulfill the obligation they thought was expected of them and now they were off the hook?
Years later reading the book of James I understood the man well when he said:
James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
I will share a little with you later on about what God's Pattern for tithing is. For now though, I want to challenge this strange "obligation" thinking that has seeped into the church.
On the one hand, leaders use the obligation of tithing to ensure that their flock continue to pour into the work. This has created a terrible mindset in the church.
Not only are Christians bound by obligation, instead of love, but they have also locked God out of the rest of their lives.
Smash the 10% Thinking
If there is one thing I learn again and again, is that God deserves more than just 10% of my life. Sure, it starts with the money. You commit 10% of your finances to the Lord.
And so you are chuffed with yourself. You gave your 10%, so the rest is up to you to use as you see fit. And so you have the 10% part of your life that you give God and the other 90% that you decide about.
But the Lord wants to be Lord of all your life. When Jesus died on the cross, He did not say to Himself, I shall give 10% of my blood. This is what I owe the Father.
No He spilled all of His blood on that cross. He held nothing back. He gave his whole life. Do we owe God anything less? Not out of obligation, but out of pure love.
When is enough... enough?
When is it that you feel you have given "enough"? Did Jesus give up one hand and then say, "Ok guys, that is enough pain. Let us just stop it here."
Lord of our families. Lord of our finances. Lord over our private times. Lord of our ministries. Lord of our relationships.
Lord of all.
When you put your whole life into the Lord's hand, you are making an incredible investment into your heavenly bank account. Because as believers we do not make this choice because we have to, we do it because,
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
He first loved us. He first gave all for us. Is it too much to give Him all that we are? God does not need your 10% tithe. His heavenly storehouse is filled to overflowing.
But I will tell you who does need what you have to give. It is your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is those leaders that serve the Lord and His people with a pure heart, not asking for anything in return.
It is those that have loved you, before you loved them. Those that are the image of Christ. It is these that need your "natural things" as they have given you their "spiritual things" as Apostle Paul teaches.
This goes way beyond that limited little 10% thinking doesn't it?
Break the Bank
It's time to break the bank in your life. You see I might be talking about finances, but this thinking permeates your entire life. Consider this passage:
Mark 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Your heart lies where your treasure is. Consider everything that is a treasure in your life. Your finances or those things that are important to you. You will find that all of your thinking and everything that motivates you revolves around these things.
That is why in the passage just above it Jesus said, Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
If your treasure is in God's hand, then your heart will be there also and you will be free from the bondage that you find yourself in. Not only does God want to put a new pattern on your heart, but He also wants you to walk in abundant blessing in ALL of your life.
Make no mistake. God does want you to be blessed. In fact the Lord wants you to have more than you could ever need. He wants you to overflow with so much that the abundance splashes off you to everyone around you!
But I promise this abundance is not going to happen with 10% thinking. It is all or nothing with God. Either He is Lord of it all. Or you are Lord of it all.
Scriptural Pattern For Tithing
Even unbelievers know the phrase, "Jesus is Love" so why when someone gets saved, does God suddenly judge them for not giving their tithe?
As a husband or wife, could you imagine your significant-other getting you a gift because you demanded it of them? How special would that make it?
How special would it be if they walked away saying, "Whew, well now I have fulfilled my obligation." Or even worse "Well I have given you what you wanted, now can I have what I want?"
Does that sound crazy? Well that is exactly how the tithing doctrine is taught in so many places.
You are Cursed With a Curse!
You did not give your tithe this month and God is going to curse you.
You are stealing from God if you withhold your tithe.
You call yourself a CHRISTIAN but you do not tithe?
The first thing a new believer must be taught is tithing. How else will they ever be blessed?
Being a Christian means to give give give! Give that 10% or you are in big big trouble.
Now tell me, how many of these phrases echo memories of your past? Thrown down on the page here, they sound so extreme. Implying that pastors have preached this way for years would be humorous if it just was not so true.
So what is the truth? Why don"t we begin with that age old passage in Malachi 3:6-9:
“For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 7 Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the Lord of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
Wow, those are some heavy words. After reading them through, you cannot help but feel that sinking feeling right in the pit of your stomach.
But look a little closer. I want to draw your attention to verse 3. Take a really good look at it. Do you notice something profound?
It says clearly "You sons of Jacob, are not consumed"
Now tell me something, since when are we believers known as the son's of Jacob? Do a good study of the Word and you will find that as believers we are known as sons of Abraham. We are known as the children of God and the Bride of Christ.
However not once are we ever known as the sons of Jacob.
So why did the Lord single out the son's of Jacob in this passage? Why did he just not say "sons of Abraham?" The answer is simple:
Tithing Was Never God's Idea!
You heard me right. Tithing was never God's idea. It was Jacob's idea. Check this out:
Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Jacob made a covenant vow before God, vowing 10% of all he received. If you understand the concept of covenants, you know also that such a vow is binding to your generations as well.
So when Jacob made this vow before God, He bound his descendants to it also. And so every child that came from Jacob, was taught this principle. It was a vow to God and when the Israelites went back on it, God reminded them of it in Malachi.
Even Joshua, who made a foolish vow with the Gibeonites could not renage on it after it was made. A vow was a vow and was taken seriously.
Keep in mind, that this was a vow of Jacob, binding his descendants. Israel is under covenant because of Jacob.
This is not a vow that that binds the church. For the Word clearly says that we are now redeemed from the curse of the law! We are not the sons of Jacob and what God requires of us is something entirely different.
New Testament Giving
I can imagine that it must have caused a serious ruckus in the New Testament church when gentiles started getting saved. I mean, what laws applied to the gentiles and which did not?
The whole circumcision thing came up and a teaching was going around that the gentiles should now also be circumcised if they wanted to be Christians.
"Here, come and be saved then follow the door to your right where a nice man is standing with a very sharp knife ... " Boy, was being a Christian a price in THOSE days!
I can imagine that a good few complaints started coming into the Apostles. So much so that they got together and had a counsel about it. They needed to decide what was important for the gentiles to follow now that they were believers.
Paul being the one making the biggest fuss was summoned and so a decision was made.
Rule #1 All Gentiles Must Pay the Tithe (right after they are done at the chopping block...)
Acts 15:24-29 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.[b] If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
No mention of tithing. Not even a little in-between the lines. In fact you will not find Apostle Paul speaking of tithing. We can understand no mention of it from Apostle Peter.
Peter ministered mostly to the Jews and they knew of their obligation. There was no need for him to make a point on the subject. But what about Paul?
The gentiles would not have known this doctrine. Why did he spend so much time telling them about dying to the flesh and not even hint at tithing... even once?
You will find him speaking about giving often. This was a man that was not afraid to say exactly who had blessed him. He was not afraid to make it clear that they should give to one another.
So he was clear on giving. But not tithing, because the early church did not tithe. They gave.
God's Way - Giving, Not Tithing
Acts 4:34-5 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
Giving takes on an entirely different face in the New Testament. Not only has the 10th fallen away, but the motivation is different too.
Look at how the early church gave. They gave out of love for one another. It was a church where there was no need, because each was moved on behalf of another.
The Apostles did not have to nag. They did not have to "curse with a curse." In fact they got so tired of people dropping the money at their feet all of the time, that they had to appoint some deacons for the job. All the "dropping at the feet of the apostles" thing was starting to slow them down!
Can you imagine a church like that? A church where every believer is not obligated, but liberated to give?
Well that starts with you now doesn"t it?
Your first realization is that God does not require your 10%
Your second realization is that God requires your 100%
Do not limit God in what He can do in your life. Hold up all you have and all you are and put it into His hands. Allow Him to open your eyes, to give where He wants you to give.
Allow Your Heart to be Moved With Compassion
You know I wondered so many times as a child how people could see us going without food or clothes and not be moved to help.
How they could feel satisfied with themselves thinking that they had "done enough." Perhaps it is these experiences that have helped change my view so much.
When Jesus walked the earth, again and again, the Word tells us that He was moved with compassion. That He reached His hand out with love and compassion.
If there is one spiritual force that brings the most results, it is the force of love. When we give with a true heart of compassion and love, we can know that we are making a good investment.
It really does not matter what "soil you sow into" or what benefits you think you will get in return. Whether you felt moved with compassion to give someone poor some food or someone you love financial help, you are sowing into your Heavenly bank account.
Sure it is vital that you also pour into your leaders, because the Word is clear on that!
I would also hope that you love your leaders and have a deep desire to see them being blessed.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Anyone that has committed to do the work of God has given 100% of their lives to the Lord and deserves to have your natural things. However give out of faith, hope and love and you cannot go wrong.
God wants to smash your limited thinking. He wants to take away your Tithing Thinking and He wants to give you Giving Thinking.
A new door stands before you today. It is a door of abundant blessing and of joy.
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