Tithes & Offerings
by John Clark Sr.
(NOTE: We strongly recommend you read our good gospel tract on Tithes and Offerings, for it will help you get the most out of the publication you are about to read.)
Tithes and Offerings
There is a distinct difference between tithes and offerings. They are mentioned separately throughout the Bible, even though the Lord required both to be brought to Him.
The tithe is the tenth of all the increase that God gives to you. What does "increase" include? "Increase" is everything that increases the value of earthly possessions that God places into your trust, whether it be earned income or unearned gifts. A tenth of everything that is "increase" to you belongs to God in the form of tithes. The tithe of your increase is not yours to give to God; it is Godís for you to give to God, and it is a privilege for us to have it to give to Him.
Listen carefully to Jesusí condemnation of the Pharisees, for it is very easily misunderstood:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin [names of spices], and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law: judgment, mercy, and faith."
Those words of Jesus can be misconstrued to mean that Israelís religious leaders were doing evil by being very careful to bring God tithes of all that entered as increase into their homes. But that is not the case, for Jesus goes on to state in the rest of that verse from Matthew 23:23, "these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." Those men were evil, not because they brought God tithes of everything that was increase to them, but because they neglected the love and truth of God.
If you own a business, your "increase" is what is called "profit". It is the gross amount of money you have earned, minus all business deductions. You figure the tithe on that amount, your net earnings, before taxes are paid to the government. God comes first.
Offerings are gifts brought to God beyond the tithes. The tithe was always ten percent of oneís increase, but with certain offerings, God gave His people some discretion as to the amount or number of offerings to bring. Their financial situation in life and the depth of their zeal for God was shown by their choices concerning offerings. Here are some of the offerings that God instituted in Israel for the people to bring to His servants.
There was the offering of "firstfruits", which was a little offering taken from among the earliest of oneís ripening crops. This offering was not in the form of money but in the form of crops. It was a required offering, but the amount of "firstfuits" brought to God was never specified. The people had some discretion as to the amount.
There was the offering of the firstborn of your female animals. "All that openeth the matrix is mine" said the Lord (Ex. 34:19). If the newborn animal belonged in the category of "unclean animals", it was not offered on Godís altar, but it still was His.
There was the offering of the firstborn child in every family. The firstborn belonged to God, whether animal or human. Instead of bringing to the Lordís temple the firstborn child of every Israelite mother, however, the Lord required Israel to offer a certain amount of money instead of the firstborn child.
Every male was required to offer a small offering of money with him whenever God commanded the leaders of Israel to take a census. The poor could not offer less, and the rich could not offer more (Ex. 30:14-15). A census was rarely taken in Israel, but when one was taken, each male had to make this offering to the Lord.
Three times each year, there was another small offering required of all the males in Israel when they presented themselves before the Lord at His temple.
At times, there were offerings taken from the people for special occasions, such as the erecting of the tabernacle (Ex. 25:1-9) or the restoration of the temple during the days of Judahís king Joash (2Kgs. 12:4-12). On these occasions, Godís people always responded with great generosity and joy; the children of God are the most generous people on earth. When Moses let the people of Israel know that God had told him to collect an offering of materials for erecting a tabernacle, the people brought so much that Moses had to tell them to stop (Ex. 36:5-7). Later, after the tabernacle was built and God required an offering for the dedication of it, God specified how much of an offering was to be brought by each tribe; otherwise, Moses may well have had another problem with too much being brought to the Lord!
For His children who were especially happy to belong to God and have a part in His covenant, God provided a way to express their gratitude by commanding His priests to receive a Thanksgiving Offering for sacrifice if anyone among His people wanted to offer it to God.
These are the offerings mentioned in the Bible that come to mind as I write this. None of these offerings were "tithes"; still, all of the required offerings rightly belonged to God, and it was robbery not to bring them to Him when it was time to do so.
From almost all of the sacrificial offerings on Godís altar, the priests and their families were given a large portion of the animal for their food. It was their portion from God. When cattle were offered, the priest who actually did the work of making the sacrifice was awarded the hide of the animal as part of his pay from God. From this we see that offerings of animals brought to be sacrificed to the Lord were part of Godís system of support for His servants. As long as Godís people were obedient, they were happy and blessed, and as long as they were happy and blessed, they freely brought their tithes and offerings to the Lord. And when they did that, Godís servants always had more than they needed to live and provide for their families.
We no longer bring animals to sacrifice to God. The physical forms that certain offerings took in the Old Testament no longer exists. But Godís servants and their families still need food, and Godís servants still use earthly money to do things they need to do for the good of the body. In this New Covenant, God has not left His people with no way to express their gratitude for His goodness, and He has not left His ministers with no means of support from the children of God. The system of tithes and offerings is still vital for the spiritual health of the body, and I have never seen anyone with a right spirit refuse to acknowledge that.
Tithes and Offerings
(Donít Tip God. He is not your servant!)
God commanded His people to support financially those whom He anoints to minister to them. When He revealed to His people that ten percent of their increase (the "tithe") was His and must be given to His servants, along with the offerings that He required as well, He was not negotiating a position. He was not trying to strike a deal with His people, demanding ten percent, but really hoping to finally get His people to agree to "donate" five percent of their increase.
Godís words are pure and true. He means exactly what He says, no more and no less. We are so used to dealing with liars on this earth that it takes faith to believe that God means only what He says. He is so serious about the "tithe" (a word that means "a tenth part") and the offerings that He requires, that He considers any of His children who fail to render their tithes and offerings to Him to be thieves.
The prophet Malachi was sent with this holy complaint to Israel: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me, saith the Lord!"
This statement was received with some skepticism by Godís people, and they responded, "How have we robbed God?"
"In tithes and offerings" came the terse reply.
If a man would steal from God, he would murder his own mother. If he would steal from God, there is nothing that he would not do to any human being. You cannot trust any man who steals from God.
Some of Godís children do what God hates most. They try to find some middle ground between obeying God and disobeying God. They donít have the love of God or the faith to bring Him the tithes that He has commanded, but they are ashamed to give nothing. They wonít obey God by rendering to Him all that is His in tithes and offerings, so they give just enough to mollify their aching conscience and maintain appearances. But that "middle ground" is the worst of all choices. It would be better if they simply refused to obey God at all and gave nothing than for them to give just a part of what He has commanded. That amounts to nothing but tipping God, as if He were your servant and they are doing Him a favor. It is no more than tipping God for His blessings, as if He were a waiter, forced to take whatever they deem Him worthy to receive. Some pride themselves on being big tippers, but if what they bring to God is not their tithes and offerings, they are still disobeying His commandment and are still thieves.
Do not be foolish. If you will not bring God all His tithes and offerings, please donít insult Him by "donating" a few bucks to His work. Jesus doesnít need your charity or your pity, and He has not commanded that his faithful servants must live on tips.
My friends, Jesus wants us either to be hot or cold. He would prefer that we either obey Godís commandment and bring Him all our tithes and offerings, or just admit to ourselves that we are just sinners and go away and leave Him alone. It is sinful to give Godís anointed servants a little tip now and then, just so you can appear to be doing something good. It is sin to bring God $300.00 when your tithe is $600.00. It is stubbornness and rebellion. It is thievery. It is unbelief. It is unacceptable with God because He was not negotiating when he commanded the tenth part of your increase.
Tithing is a commandment, not a suggestion. When one young man asked Jesus what he must do in order to obtain eternal life, Jesus told him, "You know the commandments." If God had never commanded His people to bring their tithes to His servants, then it would be acceptable to do something else, but God did issue that commandment, and we are required to obey it. When someone asked my father, many years ago, whether or not a child of God who refused to bring his tithes and offerings to the Lord would have a chance to be saved in the end, my father responded, "He will have as much of a chance to be saved as will a thief. Whatever chance a thief has, he will have."
One of the Ten Commandments is: "Thou shalt not steal." Should we construe that commandment to mean, "Thou shalt not steal, except from the Lord?" Of course not. We should be more afraid to steal from God than from anyone else. Besides, stealing is stealing, no matter who the victim is. If the money in your possession is not rightfully yours, then it is stolen money. Listen to Jesus. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesarís, and unto God the things that are Godís." Taxes rightfully belong to the government (Caesar). The tithe of your increase, and the offerings that God demands, belong to God, and we make ourselves thieves if we refuse to give them to Him.
Where to Bring Godís Tithes
"Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:10-11).
These are the promises of God to His children who obey Him concerning tithes and offerings. But those promises are not made to those who bring Godís tithes and offerings to just anywhere. The promises belong to those who obey the perfect will of God-not just to bring His tithes, but to bring them to the place He has chosen. Notice, please, that God said in the beginning of the Scripture quoted above, "Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse, that there might be food in MY house [that is, for MY servants]."
The blessings that follow obedience to God concerning tithes and offerings are predicated on obedience to how God says to bring them, when God says to bring them, to whom God says to bring them, and where God says to bring them. In ourselves, we donít know how to serve God. We must listen to Him if we hope to please Him. The whole world has always worshiped God, but only a small percentage of that worship has been accepted by Him because (1) God is not a beggar and (2) only a small percentage of the worldís worship has been offered according to His will. Paul said his mission from God was to make the worship of the Gentiles acceptable to God, "being sanctified by the holy Ghost" (Rom. 15:16). Paul did not have to persuade any Gentiles anywhere he traveled to worship God. They all were already doing that, whether in Rome or on remote islands. Paulís challenge was to persuade Gentiles everywhere of the right way to worship God.
In the Scripture above, God challenged His people to bring their tithes, all of them, "to the storehouse". This was not just any storehouse; it was the storehouse He had commanded to be built to house the tithes and offerings that belonged to Him. It was the storehouse from which were fed the families of His servants. It was the storehouse controlled by the High Priest of Israel, not by the people who brought the tithes. In both the Old and the New Covenants, once the children of God bring their tithes and offerings to God, they have no more responsibility concerning that money. As long as they exercise any control over that money, they have not released it at all.
This is the problem with tithes and offerings being given to a religious organization rather than being given directly to a man anointed of God. If you bring your tithes and offerings to a religious organization of which you are a member, then how can you say that you have given it to God? If you bring your tithes and offerings to a religious organization of which you are a member, then you have only given your tithes and offerings to yourself. There are many people, especially the very wealthy, who refuse to give any money to any religious organization over which they have no control or influence as to how that money is spent. In other words, they never really give any money to God at all. It is never really out of their hands. Therefore, when you bring your tithes and offerings to a religious organization of which you are a member, how can it be that you have really given it to God? It is still under your control, to some extent; and if it is still under your control, then you still have it! When you have brought Godís tithes and offerings to Him, you have done your part. What happens to His tithes and offerings beyond that point is not your responsibility, nor (to use a blunt phrase) is it any of your business.
Financing the Enemy
It is critical that you bring Godís tithes to someone who is truly of Him, not to somebody or something that claims to be of Him but is not. Godís tithes that are in your hand are important to the work of God on earth. It is your responsibility to make certain that you bring them to a man whom God has sent. It is sin to bring Godís tithes and offerings to the wrong place or the wrong person.
Where do you bring Godís tithes and offerings that he has placed into your hands? To one of Christianityís religious clubs (denominations) where members have control over how it is spent? That is where most of Godís children in this culture are, and that is what most are doing with Godís tithes. But in doing so, they could be financing their own worst enemy, for they are hiring men to teach them whatever that particular club thinks he should teach. And in hiring that man to teach a certain brand of doctrine, they are pressuring him, however unintentionally, to hear from God, or at least to refrain from telling the people what God says to him if what God says differs from that sects beliefs. Most of Godís children today are participants in the religion of Christianity, bringing Godís money to institutions that hire ministers to say what they say. God's tithes and offerings, for the most part, are used today to pay ministers to teach what a religious organization says should be taught. That is the way of the heathen, not the way of Jesus.
If you do not know a man who has truly been anointed by God to minister to the body the manna that comes only from heaven, then store your tithes and offerings in a safe place until you find one. It is better to store up Godís money than it is to finance the enemies of Christ and his righteousness.
Why Pay for Poison?
Godís heart was broken with grief many times when His children offered His tithes and offerings to priests of other gods. He was not grieved with them because he needed anything, but because they were sowing seeds for their own destruction by financing the enemies of their souls. Here is just a part of His heart-rending cry through Ezekiel (16:16-19): "And thou has taken thy fair jewels of my gold and my silver, which I had given thee, and made to thyself images of men . . . and took thy broidered garments and covered them, and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them. My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, that hast even set it before them for a sweet savor. . . ."
Godís children were persuaded to hire the priests of Baal and of Astarte and of Molech, and the priests of a hundred other gods, to teach them about spiritual things. Meanwhile Godís servants, instead of being encouraged in the work of the Lord by the tithes and offerings of Godís people, watched the servants of other gods prosper with goods that should have been theirs. Once in a while, a wise and godly man would ascend to the throne and would protect Godís children by enforcing Godís judgments. When that happened, when the people were directed to bring Godís tithes and offerings to the proper place, Godís priests were encouraged in their work, the truth of the Law was zealously taught, and blessings from heaven were restored to the nation.
Young Hezekiahís first order of business when he became king was to restore the knowledge of Godís Law to the nation. He gathered Godís priests and other servants together and spoke kindly to them, exhorting them to do the work for which they were anointed by God (2Chron. 28:1-11): "The Lord has chosen you", he said, "to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that ye should minister unto Him, and burn incense." That done, he commanded the people to come worship their God. They responded by bringing so many sacrifices to the temple that there werenít enough priests to offer them all. Their helpers, the Levites, had to fill in for them (2Chron. 29:32-36). Then Hezekiah issued an order that Godís people should no longer take Godís tithes and offerings to the priests of other gods but should bring them to Godís servants to encourage them instead (2Chron. 31:4). The people responded by bringing so much to the temple of God that special chambers had to be prepared just to store all the wealth that was brought. 2Chronicles 31:5 tells us:
"As soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of the increase of the field. And the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly."
Thus began a happy and blessed time in Israelís long and difficult history because there was a man on the throne who led the people of God rightly.
But when another man, Hezekiahís very wicked son Manasseh, became king, all was changed again. Isaiah, who labored for the Lord through the reigns of several kings, including Hezekiah, saw both the good and the bad times for the servants of God. Through this great prophet, God pleaded with His people, whom He dearly loved, to explain to Him why they kept taking His tithes and offerings to other gods (Isa. 55:2-3). "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen to me, and [I will feed you with] that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come to me, and your soul shall live!"
Where is the Anointing of Godís Spirit?
When you learn that it is Godís will to render to Him His tithes and His offerings, your next obligation is to find out where God wants you to bring them. If you bring them to a place or to a person not ordained of God to receive them, you are throwing Godís money away, or worse yet, you are financing the enemies of God and His righteousness. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to determine where to carry Godís tithes and offerings, and it is an obligation that wise men take seriously.
The only place acceptable to God to bring His tithes and offerings is the place that He has chosen. It is His money. In the Old Covenant, He anointed the temple as the place to which His people should bring His tithes and offerings. In this New Covenant, I have found no "place" that God has anointed. This is important for us to know. In this New Covenant, God does not anoint places; He anoints people. This must mean that those who walk in faith bring Godís tithes and offerings to people, not to places. Moreover, there is no Scripture that indicates that God anoints institutions. And if that is the case, then it is sin to "donate" Godís tithes and offerings to a religious institution instead of to a person, an anointed servant of God.
Part of a Holy Life
Tithing is no gimmick. You cannot use it to force God to bless you. Tithing is acceptable to God only as part of a godly lifestyle. The blessings that come from tithing come because of the kind of life lived, not because of the money given. You cannot live a sinful life and then expect to be blessed by God just because you bring tithes to the Lord. I knew one young man in college who made money by selling illegal drugs. He had been taught as a youth to tithe on all his increase, and so he brought tithes from his drug money to a servant of God. That young man was foolish to think that God would accept such money, and when the man of God learned about the source of those tithes, he refused them. God is not needy. He is not a begging minister, eager to take whatever money men choose to bring to him, no matter what the circumstances. It is an honor for God to accept our tithes; it is not an honor for Him if we offer them.
Moses told the priests of Israel not to allow the money earned by harlots and sodomites to enter into Godís temple. He said, "Thou shalt not bring the price of a whore of the price of a dog (a queer) into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow, for even these both are an abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Dt. 23:18). God is not a beggar. Nor is he like so many ministers today who beg for all the money anyone will give them, as if the kingdom of God is about to collapse because not enough money is being given.
If a manís ministry depends on enough money being sent to him, then money is that manís god. The work of the true God does not depend upon money. Uncle Joe once said that to hear Christian ministers as they beg for money on television, pleading with viewers to help save the ministry, a person would think that God had failed and the devil is about to win, after all. My friend, Jesus did just as much good for Godís people when he didnít even have a place to lay his head at night as he did when he owned a house in Capernaum. Earthly possessions do not qualify or disqualify a man for the ministry. The holy Ghost can do just as much through a poor man as it can through a rich man, and most of the time it can use a poor man more easily.
Worthy to Bring His Tithes
One of the fundamental rules concerning animal sacrifices in the Old Testament was that the animal had to be without any physical blemish (e.g., Lev. 1:3). When the people brought to Him animals with missing eyes or broken legs, or diseased, or some other blemish, the Lord challenged them to offer those animals to the governors who ruled over them at that time, to see how pleased those men would be with such sorry gifts. He said, "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now to thy governor. Will he be pleased with thee?" (Mal. 1:8).
In this New Testament, it is the condition of the heart that matters. And the soul that brings tithes and offerings to the Lord in this New Covenant must bring them without any blemish of sin in his heart if he wants God to accept what he brings. Allow me to repeat: God is not needy. He is not a begging minister, eager to take whatever money men choose to bring to him, no matter what the circumstances. It is an honor for us if God accepts our tithes; it is not an honor for Him if we offer them.
There have been a number of people over the years whose money the Lord would not allow me to receive when they brought it. Their lives were unworthy of the Lord, and they were not able with their offer of money to blind God to their iniquity. Money is no substitute for repentance. Apparently, they thought that God would receive their money even though their lives were a disgrace; they were surprised to find out they were wrong. Some became angry when I refused their money; others behaved as though they had been mistreated; still others just went away and never came back. But peopleís reactions when I obey Christ is none of my business. My business is to do the will of Him who took me from the trash can of sin and made me a servant of Jesus.
If your pastor receives Godís tithes and offerings from you even when he knows that you are living in sin, then what you are doing is simply bribing him to keep his mouth shut. He is "on the take", and you are hiding from Godís conviction under the shadow of a dying tree. That pastor is killing you with phony mercy, and you are killing him with money stolen from God. Both of you should repent. You should stop putting Godís tithes into the hand of a fool, and he should stop receiving Godís tithes from the hand of one.
God demands purity of those who worship Him. When a person with a crafty, evil heart sings hymns, God considers that singing to be a sin. Solomon said that "the prayer of the wicked is an abomination." Praises offered to God by a stubborn, rebellious person disgust Him. For one to rejoice with the body when there is secret envy and strife in his heart is self-deception. It brings a curse, not a blessing. And when someone with secret sin drinks of the Spirit in the assembly of the saints, it is only to drink damnation into the soul. The Bible is very clear about all those things. Then, why should we think that God, or any minister that is truly of Him, would accept money from a person with an unclean heart?
The righteous life includes honoring God with His tithes and offerings. No godly person is content unless he is rendering to God what is His. When a wicked man brings money to the Lord, it cannot justly be called "tithes" that he brings because it is not of faith. It is more likely to be an attempted bribe. Unfortunately, it very often works with men who claim to be ministers of Christ, and the preaching of the unadulterated word of God is quieted. Whom does a greedy minister dare to reprove for sinning?
Tithe-bringers or Bribe-bringers?
So, those who bring money to the Lord can be divided into two groups: tithe-bringers and bribe-bringers. The tithe-bringers are only doing what is their nature in Christ to do. It is the nature of righteous people to bring to God what is His. Their obedience in tithing is laying up for them a good resurrection. The bribe-bringers are doing what the world has always done: they are trying to mask a sinful heart with deeds that appear to be upright but are not. Their giving is a crime, and it would be better for them not to give at all than to give with a sin-stained heart. They would be better served to use that money to buy a new car than to try to appear righteous with it. They donít know yet that "God is not mocked."
Ask Jesus to help you take a look at your heart from his perspective so that you can make certain that what you bring to God, you are bringing out of a sincere heart. Otherwise, it is worse than a waste of your money to bring it to the man of God.
Here Men That Die
"Here, men that die receive them."
In this New Covenant, Godís system of tithes and offerings as a means of providing for His servantsí earthly needs is still in force. This is what Paul was referring to when he said, "They that preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Some argue that rendering tithes and offerings was an Old Testament system that is no longer in effect, but it is precisely because Godís system of tithes and offerings is still in effect that Christianity came to exist. Satan is after the glory that belongs only to the true God, and his ministers are after the wealth that belongs only to Godís true servants.
Paul wrote to one assembly, "We beseech you in Christís stead". If a man is really speaking "in Christís stead", it can only be because Christ has sent him to do so. And if Jesus sends a man to speak "in his stead", then that man is safe for Godís children to follow. And if he is safe for them to follow, then it is safe for them to render to him Godís tithes and offerings, for he will be receiving them "in Christís stead".
Jesus bluntly called pastors who are hired, rather than sent from God, "thieves and robbers" (Jn. 10:1, 8-13). This is a hard saying, but Jesus said it, and it is true. Such ministers are, as the Lord of heaven and earth said, "thieves and robbers" because what draws them into a religious career, whether as "pastor", "bishop" or anything else in that field, is not the call of God, but the call of money. The love of money is the root of all evil. Since Jesus came, Satan has had to "transform himself into an angel of light" in order to deceive the saints (2Cor. 11:14), and men who have the same spirit of envy against God that Satan has are also "transformed into ministers of righteousness" (2Cor. 11:15).
Itís for the money.
We are told in the Bible that God made Jesus a priest in the order of the man called Melchizedek (Heb. 6:20). A thousand years before it happened, the Bible foretold that the Messiah would be that kind of priest (Ps. 110:4). But what do we know about Melchizedek, and what great deeds did he do, so that Jesus would be like him? First of all, Melchizedek appears only in four verses of the Bible, so we know almost nothing about his background and life. This is one way in which Jesus became a high priest like Melchizedek (Heb. 7:13-16). Neither Jesus nor Melchizedek had relatives who were priests of God; both were simply chosen by God to be who they were and to do what they did.
Secondly, the only two deeds that Melchizedek performed in the four verses of Genesis where he appears were (1) he received tithes from Abraham and (2) he blessed that great man of God. Thatís all he ever did, as far as the Biblical record is concerned.
Now, if Jesus is a high priest like Melchizedek, the very least that he should do is (1) receive tithes from righteous people and (2) bless them. That is what Melchizedek did. It seems incongruous to me that we should be told that Jesus would be a high priest like Melchizedek but that he would only do one of the two things that we know Melchizedek did.
Here and There
Melchizedek was ordained by God to receive Abrahamís tithes, and because Melchizedek was ordained by God to minister for Him on earth, whenever Melchizedek received tithes down here, those tithes were received in heaven. The same is true in this New Testament. "Here men that die receive tithes," and if those men are truly men of God, then "there [i.e. in heaven] he [Jesus] receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth" (Heb. 7:8).
This is the reason I stress so much to you that you should make certain that the hand into which you place Godís tithes and offerings is the hand of a man whom God has ordained to receive His tithes. Otherwise, you are subsidizing the lifestyle of "a thief and a robber", and helping to finance your own worst enemy. Bringing Godís tithes and offerings to the wrong man hurts that man, as well as everyone else. It encourages him to believe that he really is what he has been misled to think that he is. It enables him to continue functioning in a position for which God has not equipped him, which means that it enables him to continue to mislead the people who trust his words. When Godís tithes and offerings are given to a man whom God has not sent, that money is used by Satan to poison the hearts of even Godís own children against the truth of Christ. There just isnít an error that Godís people can make that has the potential to cause more harm than to give Godís tithes and offerings to the wrong man.
If the man who receives your tithes and offerings is truly of God, then the tithes and offerings that he receives are received in heaven. If he is not of God, then you have provided Satan with the means to abuse Godís "little ones" and to continue to confuse and divide the children of God everywhere.
Please do not think that simply because you have been tithing your "increase" that God is pleased. He may be broken-hearted. To whom have you been giving Godís tithes and offerings? Our heavenly Father loves us so much that He can only be pleased with our tithes and offerings when we have brought them to a place that is safe for us to bring them; that is, to men whom He has anointed to care for you as He does, and whom He has ordained to receive His tithes and His offerings "in His stead".
Over the years, I have noticed two evils that, above all others, prevent people from bringing to God His tithes and offerings. The excuses for disobedience given to me by these people have varied, but when all is said and done, two fundamental evils have consistently stood out.
The first of the two evils that most often prevent people from obeying God in tithes and offerings is covetousness. These people just donít want to part with the money. They cannot admit to themselves that Godís tithes and offerings really do belong to God. They consider Godís tithes to be their money. Instead of humbly considering the great and many blessings from God that fills their lives, they can only envision the things they could buy for themselves if they kept Godís portion. How foolish they are!
When Israel was leaving Egypt, they had no idea what to expect from God when they would finally meet with Him at Mt. Sinai. While in Pharaohís palace, Moses told Pharaoh that he did not know what God would require of them in sacrifice (Ex. 10:24-26). The gods of the nations, including Egyptís gods, could be brutal in their oppressive demands of people, even demanding that they sacrifice their little children in the flames. Israel did not know whether or not Jehovah would prove to be the same. They had to be ready to turn over to Him all that was theirs.
Facing this unknown, Moses could not agree to Pharaohís demand that the Israelites leave all their herds behind while they went to meet with Jehovah. What if, when they arrived at Mt. Sinai, God required the Israelites to sacrifice every cow, goat, and sheep in their possession, not to mention their children? He could have justly demanded that they surrender everything they owned because He created all things, and everything Israel possessed was from His merciful hand. Everything belongs to the Creator. So, when the Israelites left Egypt, they left with everything they owned. And when they came to the foot of fiery Mt. Sinai, the Mountain of God, they came trembling. Fear shook Moses himself to the bone (Heb. 12:21).
When the terrified Israelites heard Godís commandments at Mount Sinai, they must have been astonished at how little in the way of religious ritual and sacrifice He required. A tithe -- a tenth! -- of all their increase, and then offerings at certain times, was all that he required of them. Misinformation about the Old Testament in our time has prevented this generation from realizing that Godís Old Testament people failed in their walk with God, not because God was so heavy-handed and demanding, but because He required so little of them that they could not believe it was enough. Basically, Israel failed in her walk of faith because she was more religious than God was. One place of worship was not enough for them. One altar was not enough for them. One God, as it turned out, was not enough for them.
What if God required of His children one half of all our increase? That would still be merciful of Him. That would still be more merciful than we deserve. But the Creator of the universe, who holds our next breath in His hands, demands that we honor Him with just a tenth part of all our increase. In spite of that, the heart of the covetous feels that the tenth is too much to demand. They cannot help but suspect that the servant of God is secretly scheming to take away their money when he teaches them to bring Godís money to Him. They cannot be happy bringing God His tenth, and yet they canít be happy stealing it. When they are around happy and obedient saints, they have a miserable life, and in time, they usually fall away.
Idolatry among Godís Old Testament people undermined the government of God with the borders of Israel. Idolatrous priests took from Godís people the goods that should have been taken to Jehovahís servants, and the nation was destroyed, and taught them lies in the name of Jehovah and the other gods. Idolatry stole the hearts of Godís people, and stole Godís money from Godís servants. Paul said that covetousness was the spirit of idolatry (Col. 3:5). Covetousness is kin to the spirit of Satan, the rebel cherub, and it is a principal reason that many fail to obey God in tithes and offerings. Avoid it. Be thankful and rejoice for what God gives you, and do not envy what belongs to another, whether it belongs to God or anyone else.
"Despisers of Government"
The second evil that prevents people from rendering to God His tithes and offerings is a proud, rebellious spirit. To bring tithes to a man of God is to confess that there is government in the body and that you are submitting yourself to it. To an unruly heart, that confession is difficult to make. The saints are always to render tithes to those who are "over you in the Lord", to men who by Godís choice rule among the saints (and only to them). A proud, government-despising spirit cannot humble itself to do that. It is distasteful to a rebellious man to confess, by bringing tithes to a man of God, "You are over me in the Lord", because pride and stubbornness reign in his heart instead of Christ.
Those children of God who despise the government that God has instituted in the body will be the first to receive damnation, once "judgment begins at the house of God" (2Pet. 2:9-10). Having been washed of sins by the blood of Christ, those believers are among the most blessed of people, and yet because of their ingratitude and self-will, they are of all people most deserving of Godís wrath.
When Abraham brought to Melchizedek the tithe of all that he had recovered from the slaughter of the kings, he was making a confession that Melchizedek was higher up on the spiritual ladder than he. The author of Hebrews points this out by reminding his readers that Melchizedek blessed Abraham, not vice-versa, and "without all contradiction, the less is blessed by the better" (Heb. 7:7). My friends, if you are bringing your tithes and offerings to a man who is unable to bless you, then you are bringing them to the wrong person. If a man is not able to bless you with something from God, why would you even consider bringing Godís tithes and offerings to him? Store up your tithes and offerings until you find a man who is close enough to God to be able to "bless you in the name of the Lord". Why would you do anything else with Godís money?
Jesus said to render to Caesar (earthly government) the things that are Caesarís (taxes) and to God the things that are Godís. One of the things that is Godís is the tenth of all your increase with which He has blessed you, along with offerings that he demands. There has never been a government on earth so stupid that it would tolerate its citizens refusing to pay their taxes. Every earthly government understands that citizens who withhold their taxes are undermining the government itself. Those people are, in fact, enemies within the house, using money instead of swords to bring the government down. No society on earth can have peace without having government, and no government on earth can exist without receiving taxes from its citizens.
Those in the body who refuse to bring to God His tithes and offerings make themselves the enemies of the kingdom and government of God. If earthly governments are wise enough to recognize that rebellion against taxation is a threat to the safety of the nation, shouldnít we assume that God is wise enough to recognize that those who refuse to render tithes are a threat to the peace of His people?
Covetousness and rebelliousness. These are the two principal causes for peopleís failure to bring to God what belongs to Him. But even if there is another reason, it can only be an evil one. It is the will of God that His people bring to Him His tithes and offerings, and whoever in the body refuses to obey that commandment can only be following an ungodly spirit.
When we have brought to God His tithes and His offerings, we should understand that we have not given God anything. His tithes and His offerings are His to begin with. We are just doing our duty of bringing to God what is already His. It is good to do our duty, but we must understand that by doing our duty, we are only being a faithful handler of Godís possessions, and avoiding becoming a thief.
In the Old Testament, God gave permission to His people to bring gifts to Him that were beyond the requirement of tithes and offerings.
Even when people wanted to do that, however, God set the standards; He has never accepted just anything that people decide to bring Him. But if one among His people wanted to bring a gift to God beyond what was required, or if he wanted to help a needy brother or sister, God allowed it. Concerning such offerings and alms, Jesus said simply, "Give." And then he promised that God would especially reward such abundant giving: He said: "Give, and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal shall it be measured to you again" (Lk. 5:38).
Concerning this opportunity to give beyond what was required, Paul told the saints in Corinth, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity (i.e., not because someone has talked you into it), for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2Cor. 9:6).
It is a waste of money to give with half a heart. You will regret that you gave, and there is no reward from God for that. It is a waste of money to give because you have been made afraid not to, or because someone has made you feel guilty if you do not give. There are many ways that religious men have invented to pressure people into giving when they donít really have it in their hearts to give. For one example, it is evil for Christian ministers to "take up a collection" while reminding the people of how much Jesus has done for them. Such a man knows that he is pressuring people to give what they do not really want to give. And he knows that he is embarrassing some people for their past failures to give. When people are pressured by such tactics, they afterward invariably regret yielding to the pressure, and their hearts are further hardened against generosity by a feeling of being taken advantage of.
We all need to be made aware of the blessings that follow obedience to Godís laws concerning tithes and offerings, and giving beyond that. But if it is not in a personís heart to do those things, it is evil to pressure him to give because money is not acceptable to God if the person bringing the money doesnít really want to do it. It is a matter of the heart, only the heart, always the heart! Where is your heart concerning God and money? That is the only real issue.
The Christian tradition of "taking up a collection" is nothing but a tool of oppression. It is of the devil. That godless tradition is not intended simply to provide Godís saints with the opportunity to bring God His tithes and offerings; a simple basket by the door would suffice for that. "Taking up a collection" sprang from the covetous heart of men. It not only pressures people to give when they otherwise would not give but it also consumes valuable meeting time.
Besides that, the evil ritual of "taking up a collection" would be completely unnecessary if a minister would simply feed Godís people the truth. The children of God cheerfully bring Godís tithes and offerings to Him without being asked when they are fed and cared for. I have never once in all my years of serving God and His children had any need to "take up a collection", not because I am so wonderful but because Godís children, when fed the good word of God and made fat in their souls, are the most generous creatures in all of Godís creation. By their example, Godís children teach the angels about giving when the truth sets them free from Christianity to become who they really are in Christ.
Over the years, I have turned away, I am sure, more money than some ministers are ever offered. Sometimes, it has been because the person bringing the money was living an ungodly life and was not worthy to mingle his or her money with that of the saints of God. Jesus would not allow me to take what those people offered until they repented of their wickedness and made things right with him. At other times, I could not take the money because the precious saint who was offering it was being too zealous for their own good. They were offering more than what was good for them to give because they were excited in the Lord and hadnít learned yet how to express such feelings of thanksgiving and joy with temperance and discretion.
The Lord knows us, that we are made of dust and stagger sometimes in our walk of faith. But He continually challenges us to trust Him. Often, it appears, He has more confidence in us than we have in Him. One of the challenges that He believes we can meet is the one He issued to His children through Malachi: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove Me herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Every commandment of God is intended for our happiness. If we walk in His ways, the end will be joy forever. There are fears to overcome; difficulties to endure; and snares laid for our hearts. But we belong to God, and He is mindful of every step we take. He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we are destined to reign in peace and safety with Him throughout eternity. Rest in His promises. Believe His word. Donít falter because of unbelief and fear. Walk in the way of peace now, while the winds of error blow, and you will live forever in peace in a land where they can never again assail us. The comforting words of Jesus ever draw us gently to the goal: "Fear not, little flock; it is your Fatherís good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Believe me when I say that we will never out-give God. I have known old saints who were anointed with the gift of giving that Paul mentioned in Romans 12. They were all poor, but they found ways to give that richer people could not find. It was their gift from God, and how sweet it was to share this life with such souls! They gave unceasingly and in varied ways, without thought or care, but even they, the most giving of all people, never out-gave God (not that they ever even tried!) Do not fear, little flock, to obey Jesusí commandment to "give". The same Father who provided what you have to give will also cause you to reap what you have sown in sincerity, from the heart.
Be courageous, and believe God. He has promised us that He will care for us forever if we simply trust Him in this evil and greedy world. "Be of good cheer," Jesus said, "I have overcome the world." And so can we.
Tithes and Offerings, Final Thoughts
Here are some scattered, final thoughts of the issue of tithes and offerings that will conclude this series on the subject:
QUESTION: Is tithing something that was for old testament people like Abraham, or those under Moses' law?
ANSWER Jesus said, "If Abraham were your father, you would do the works of Abraham." And we know that one of the works of Abraham was to render tithes to Melchizedek, an ancient figure of Christ (Ps. 110:4). Abrahamís children live as Abraham lived. Tithing was not simply a commandment that was given under the Law. Abraham and Jacob lived hundreds of years before the Law was given, and they both offered their tithes to God. The righteous have always known what was right to do and have done it. They did not need the Law of Moses; they were "a law unto themselves." Paul said it this way: "The Law was not made for a righteous man" (1Tim. 1:9).
QUESTION: Is it true that there is a blessing which comes from tithing?
ANSWER Tithing is one of the principal means by which we obey Solomonís admonition to his son, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones" (Prov. 3:6-8). In hope that God would bless his young sonís life, the wise king earnestly admonished his son with these words: "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shalt burst out with new wine" (Prov. 3:8-9).
QUESTION: Why does the flesh sometimes struggle with the issue of tithes and offerings?
Godís system of tithes and offerings works against the fleshís natural desire to strive to be rich and to hoard up wealth. It teaches us to be like God, who gives liberally to all, in that we learn not to think of the wealth God gives us as something intended just for our welfare.
QUESTION: How do Christian ministers discourage God's people from obeying Him concerning giving?
ANSWER One great evil that is in Christian ministers begging for and taking Godís money from His people is that they are never satisfied. They never seem to have money sufficient to match their grand ideas. The spirit that rules in Christianity will never inspire ministers to do as Moses once did; it will never lead a man to tell Godís children, "Bring no more money now. You have given enough."
QUESTION: What about the objections that come from people who think they make toomuch, or too little money to bring tithes and offerings?
Some people claim that they make too much money to bring Godís tithes and offerings to the Lord; others say they donít make enough. Neither one is telling the truth. Nobody earns either too little or too much money to obey God.
QUESTION: Is there any judgment against, or punishment for those who refuse to render their tithes and offerings?
Moses taught Israel that "All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed or of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lordís. It is holy unto the Lord. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord." It is dangerous for an unauthorized person to touch what is holy unto the Lord. Uzzah touched the ark of God and was struck dead for his indiscretion. Korah and 250 of the princes in Israel were burned alive in Godís wrath for being where they ought not to have been in the holy precinct. The otherwise good King Uzziah was stricken with leprosy when he became proud and entered into the temple to offer incense on Godís golden altar.
Such stories teach us that a child of God will be in some serious trouble if he holds on to Godís tithes and offerings. They are, as Moses said, "holy unto the Lord". It is also true that if someone gives Godís money into the hands of a minister not sent from God, then he has put that minister into a dangerous position. He is not ordained to touch the holy thing. What is Godís must only be given only to those whom God has anointed to receive it.
QUESTION: What is wrong with having tithes and offerings both total up to 1/10th of your income?
Our offerings must come from our nine-tenths because the one-tenth is Godís already.
God does not want the money He gives to you to supply the needs of your family and yourself. He does not want you to borrow money to give to Him. He does not want you to give away to any man the money that He has given to you to help you pay your bills. If you stay close to Jesus, He will protect you from ministers who would take what God has given to you. Jesus hates the work of men who steal from His children in His name. Of the money that God brings into your hand, all He demands is His tithes and offerings. That is not too much for anyone to do, though it always seems too much to those who donít want to return to God His portion of what He has given them.
Someone has said that the tithe is the basket in which God gives us the money we need, and if we fail to bring Him the tithes and offerings that are His, we have stolen the basket.
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