|Sons to Glory book by Paul Jablonowski||
Part 1 - Thinking Like Mature Sons - Doctrine
The Lord's Tithe and Finances
Another characteristic of mature sons is that they are able to handle their financial affairs in a God-given manner. A good father will not give an inheritance to a son who is not properly trained with the Spirit of Wisdom to manage the estate. Many of Jesus' parables dealt with correct ways to handle possessions and finances. This is because God created mankind to have dominion over the earth and therefore, He also has a blueprint for proper management of earthly resources. Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us why: "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." The Lord's Tithe is the starting point (or Instruction Class 101) for learning Kingdom finances.
Jesus said: "Woe to you Pharisees! For you TITHE mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." (Luke 11:42) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay TITHE of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." (Matt 23:23)
Understanding the love and justice of God is more important than tithing. Nevertheless, Jesus still encouraged the practice of tithing in these verses by saying "not to leave it undone" and it is therefore important that we tithe as well as understand why we need to tithe. The words "tithe" "tithes" and "tithing" appear 40 times in the KJV of Scripture and 8 of them are from the New Testament. Forty is the Scriptural number of testing, and Jesus said that money is a test to see whom He can trust to handle the true riches of heaven.
"He who is faithful in what is least is also faithful in much. For if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Luke 16:11-13). Jesus calls money "least" and gives us again the impression that money is a really minor issue in the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless it is still a test for us here on earth because money is a major idol in this world. "You cannot serve both God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).
A "tithe" means a "tenth" and consists of giving the first 10% of your increase to the Lord. Abraham was the first person recorded in the Scriptures to give a tithe (Gen 14:20), and he taught his children to tithe because his son Jacob did it as well (Gen. 28:22). Abraham tithed by faith because the law of Moses had not even been written yet. Abraham was the father of faith, and I would say that faith is the most important factor involved in tithing. Abraham believed God and therefore tithed. It should be the same with us. If you are not able to give the Lord's tithe in faith, then I would suggest doing it out of obedience to His word, and asking the Lord to increase your faith.
We don't tithe in order to earn "brownie points" with God or to win favor with Him. We do it because we love God and want to obey Him like any loved child would want to obey His earthly father. Romans 4:4-5 says that, "...to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." Likewise, giving the Lord's tithe does not make us any more righteous in God's eyes than those who don't give a tithe, because only those who are giving for the right motives (from faith) will be honored by the Lord. But in the end, true faith will produce godly works (James 2:20).
So, how do you get faith to tithe? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Hearing what God's Word has to say about tithing will increase your faith to do what God says about the tithe. Therefore, in this chapter I will highlight a few of the many Scriptures that mention the Lord's tithe. I will also discuss where Scripture says to give the Lord's tithe, because there are many false practices of "tithing" in use today that turn people away from the true grace of giving.
Malachi 3:6-12 is the most comprehensive portion of Scripture on the Lord's tithe: "For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 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. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field, says the Lord of hosts; And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land, says the Lord of hosts."
The first thing to note here is that the Lord starts out by saying that He "does not change." The same Lord who told His people to tithe here in Malachi has not changed his mind about His people tithing today. It is not "legalistic" to believe that the Lord's instruction about tithing is still valid. God's word is everlasting and although the manifestation of the law has changed, His Word/Law is eternal. For example, the ten commandments were not done away with after Jesus came. They were fulfilled by Jesus and they are still being fulfilled in those who have them written on their hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us in the New Covenant. Likewise, the tithe has not been abolished either. We can now tithe with New Covenant hearts, out of loving obedience to the Father, and not just out of ritual obligation.
The second thing to notice is that the tithe is one of the ways in which the Lord said we "return to Him." We return to the Lord when we obey his covenant precepts which He has set forth in His Eternal Word. The Lord's Covenants, which He has initiated with mankind, are everlasting and contain many promises for our inheritance and instructions for obedience. Many Christians simply write off God's covenant principles as irrelevant by saying that Jesus did away with the Old Covenant by being a fulfillment of the law. Yes, Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the law, but we are "in Him" and therefore our lives are a "living law" reflecting God's "perfect law of liberty" written on our hearts. Tithing is just one aspect of God's Covenant, but it is nevertheless a part of returning to the Lord and His ordinances.
The most striking thing we find in Malachi chapter 3 is that God considers it robbery when His people do not give tithes and offerings. He also says that it puts people under a curse due to the disobedience on our part of the Covenant. But the Lord challenges us to "prove" Him in this aspect of tithing by promising to open up the windows of heaven upon those who choose to faithfully give the Lord's tithe and offerings. Offerings are anything we give over and above the 10% of the Lord's tithe.
The most important point in Malachi 3 is that the devourer is rebuked! God operates by certain principles set up in the Covenants He made with man, and because He is a God of justice and truth, He will not violate His word. When we break our end of the Covenant and rob God, then a curse is the result (Deut 28:15-68). So, when we do not tithe it opens the door for the enemy to legally accuse us before God in the courts of heaven and we are vulnerable to attack. But when we tithe, God promises to open the windows of heaven and bless us! It really is quite simple. God wants to protect us, but we tie His hands from helping us when we don't obey or know His covenant principles. God's Covenant is in effect whether we are aware of it or not. A policeman can give you a ticket for speeding whether you are aware of the speed limit or not, it still doesn't give you a legal excuse before the court of law. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).
"Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine" (Prov. 3:10-11). This verse shows that when we give, God blesses us. However, we should not give money to the Lord for the purpose of getting. This is the false message behind the popular "prosperity message" that is commonly taught today. This false teaching says if you will "plant a seed" of money in certain ministries then the Lord is required to bless your finances. While the Lord does operate by certain principles set in His word and His desire is to bless us, He is not "required" to give us anything. Faith and obedience is what He honors, not money. After all, Jesus' perfect obedience led Him to a cross and not to a pile of earthly riches.
The man Job is a perfect example of one who walked in covenant with God, and had God's "hedge of protection" due to his obedience, but yet God still allowed Satan to attack Job for the purpose of refining and perfecting him (Job 1-2). We can never put God in a box and use His goodness for our own purposes. His covenant principles work, but they are so manifold that we cannot totally understand His works from beginning to end as Job learned and Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes 3:11. Even when we are faithful to give the Lord's tithe and offerings, sometimes God takes away our finances temporarily to put us in a wilderness where we will learn to trust in Him alone.
Nevertheless, this example of Job is the exception and not the rule. Spiritual laws work just like the natural laws such as gravity, and if you try to defy the laws of gravity you will get hurt. It is a spiritual law that you reap what you sow, and those that give much will receive much. "Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38
The current world economy is based on working, doing and performing in order to gain prosperity for yourself. It revolves around being concerned for yourself and what you can "get." However, God's kingdom economy is very different. Although there is much work to be done in God's Kingdom, the Kingdom economics are based on giving and not getting. It is based on being your brother's keeper and giving without expecting anything in return. If everyone operated with this attitude, then life on earth would be so much more like it is in heaven.
WHERE should we give the Lord's tithe? This is a question that the Scriptures answer directly and one that has not been obeyed properly by a majority of those who give tithes. The bottom line is that the Lord's tithe goes directly to PEOPLE and not to building projects or gospel literature or organizational overhead expenses. Deuteronomy 26:12-13 specifies four different types of people that are eligible to receive the Lord's tithe: 1) "Levites" - which include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, singers and psalmists. 2) "the stranger" - which is anyone who doesn't know the Lord 3) "the fatherless" - orphans or homeless, and 4) "the widow" - people who do not have family to care for them.
Deuteronomy 26:12-15 - "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the Lord your God: "I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey."
The Lord's tithe is used to build PEOPLE and not ministry centers. Moses' tabernacle was built with the wealth of Egypt and the Jewish temples were built and maintained from free will offerings and not the Lord's tithe. The key thought in WHERE the Lord's tithe goes is to PEOPLE, and not to things. It should be given directly to people in the name of the Lord and not in the name of a church or organization because it is His money and not ours. This way, the Lord gets the credit and not the person or group giving it. This requires a lot of time and effort to be sure that the Lord's tithe ends up directly in people's hands, but this is why the early church in Acts 6:2-4 had to appoint "seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" over the matter of distributing the treasury that was delivered to the apostles. This is part of the true "work" of the church, and it requires men and women of wisdom to deliver it properly as the Spirit leads. It is an important matter to get the Lord's tithe WHERE the Lord says to give it, and this requires being led of the Holy Spirit to give it into the hand of the people whom He desires to have it.
The Levites who received the tithes from the people were also required to give a tithe of the tithes that were given to them. So ministers of the gospel are not exempt from giving a tenth of their income either. Numbers 18:25-32 is very clear about the Levites giving the best of the tithe gifts to the Lord as a heave offering. It also gives a warning to them to be sure and give their tithe so as "not to profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die." vs. 32
"For God so loved the world that He GAVE..." We can be cheerful givers too if we ask God for the grace to be like Him. If we love God we will obey His commands to love one another. Giving the Lord's tithe to whom He tells us is an important part of loving God and loving one another. If we love and fear God, then I believe we will want to obey in this matter of tithing. I would certainly encourage people to give a tithe of their income in the name of the Lord, and to give with the right attitude, "not grudgingly or out of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7) If you start feeling in bondage regarding your tithing, then read Deuteronomy 14:22-29 which seems to indicate that you can even spend the Lord's tithe to finance a feast in His Name: "spend that money (the tithe) for whatever your heart desires." (vs. 26)
As New Covenant believers, everything that we have is the Lord's. Therefore, giving 10% of our income to the "Levites" and the poor as God specifically asks us should be no big deal. I believe that those who are being led by the Holy Spirit will give ten percent (and probably more) without even having to keep track of the exact percentages. But if you find the "devourer" constantly in your financial camp, then the first thing I would suggest is to check the amount you've been giving lately. Many people say they cannot afford to tithe, but if the devourer has legal access into your camp, then I would say that you cannot afford to not tithe!
Finally, be directed in your giving by your LOVE for God. Tithing is all about Him, and the reason we do it is because we want to be a model of His great heart of giving. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)