Offering time? Blessing time! Let’s open our Bibles to Malachi 3:8-10!
Mal 3:8-10 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Ye [are] cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, [even] this whole nation.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now 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].
This is one text I must have heard a countless number of times growing up in the church I attended. The big idea, though sometimes not so stated was, ‘Pay your tithes and offerings so that God will bless you. Don’t pay and he will not just refuse to bless you…he will curse you’
A lot of believers in the church today struggle under the weight of the Law of Moses, forgetting that the new creation man in Christ has nothing to do with the law, but everything to do with grace.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
We have liberty in Christ through faith by grace.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
They also forget that Christ came to fulfill the law.
Rom 10:4 For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Interestingly, the central scriptural passage (Mal 3:8-10) that has been used by many churches to harass and harangue members into giving is simply misplaced in context and interpretation.
An in-depth explanation will take a long time, so let me just give synopsis. My first question to those who insist that tithing is a scriptural practice is this: “Are you an Israelite?”
The book of Malachi was addressed to Israel (Mal 1:1), to the house of Jacob (Mal 3:6).
While much has been said about Abraham tithing and tithing in the law of Moses, little has been said about Jacob as regards tithing. Well, pay close attention!
God had a right to demand his tithes and offerings from the children of Israel (Jacob) because their father owed him, based on the vow he made.
Gen 28:20-22 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
But it was Jacob that made the vow! Why did his descendants have to be the ones to redeem it?
Short answer: God made the promise to Jacob, and fulfilled it to his descendants.
Long answer: www.tithing.com/blog/jacobs-tithing-vows
We should also ask ourselves: what exactly did God give Jacob? The answer is found a few verses before his vow. God promised him land, which was what he gave him and his descendants.
Gen 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
This is one of the reasons tithing had to be included in the law of Moses, because all the children of Israel were under the obligation to redeem their father’s vow.
Another dimension of understanding we gain from scriptures is this: Israel was a theocratic state. The religious, political and judiciary systems were all fused into one. Since they had no inheritance in Israel, the institution of tithing in the state of Israel was also to provide a means of provision to cater for the temple needs, the maintenance of the Levites and their families.
So! You’re not an Israelite, but you insist tithing is a necessary scriptural practice because it is found in the Bible, or because “Abraham gave tithes before the law”. I beg to differ, and I base my reasoning on the New Testament.
Please stay with me while I dismiss just a few myths. People who argue that tithing is still relevant to the New Testament believer often give the following reasons, among others;
- 10 percent belongs to God
My question is…ten percent of what? Believe me; this is still hotly debated in many churches till today. Do we tithe gross or net income? Basic salary only, or allowances too? I’m a student, do I tithe my allowance? If I get a cash gift, am I to pay tithe? What if someone gives me a car gift, do I tally the car’s monetary value and pay tithe based on that? The craziness is unbelievable!
Typically, a lot of religious people would say ‘Ten percent of whatever you have belongs to God’. Some would even argue that since 10 percent of what you have is God’s and not yours, we do not ‘give’ tithes, we ‘pay’ tithes, much in the same way we pay bills!
Alright then. Let’s view and interpret the word with as much of an open mind as we can, shall we?
Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
What do you have that you have not received (1 Cor 4:7)? The answer is: nothing. The truth is this: God gave us everything we have. Hence, everything that we have belongs to God! As a matter of fact, we couldn’t possibly even have life (whether ephemeral or eternal) without it having been given to us by God! God gave his very self for us, while we were still sinners and had absolutely nothing to give him in return, neither was there any real assurance that we would accept him.
So, dismiss the myth that God owns only ten percent of what you have. The Psalmist acknowledged that ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’! More importantly,
Psa 50:7-12 GNB “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel. I am God, your God. I do not reprimand you because of your sacrifices and the burnt offerings you always bring me. And yet I do not need bulls from your farms or goats from your flocks; all the animals in the forest are mine and the cattle on thousands of hills. All the wild birds are mine and all living things in the fields.
If I were hungry, I would not ask you for food, for the world and everything in it is mine.”
God does not own 10 percent. He owns all.
- Pay your tithe so that things will not be tight for you ( aka Pay your tithe so that God will bless you)
This is a classic example of erroneous importation of Old Testament logic into the New Testament. The new creation in Christ is blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ by God through grace by faith. Period!
Eph 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
Really? But I gave tithe and it opened a door of finances.
But of course! There’s such a thing as a law of sowing and reaping. God installed it, Jesus talked about it and Paul echoed it.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
2 Cor 9:6 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
You give, you will receive. You should expect to receive. It’s that simple really.
While we have reward for our works, what qualifies anyone for God’s favour or blessing is God’s grace, shown to us all in, and through Christ.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- Abraham gave tithes before the law
If Abraham gave tithes before the law, we should do so too, right? I just might agree, but first let’s examine exactly what Abraham did in Genesis 14. Here are the facts:
Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was taken as a prisoner of war by some kings who ransacked Sodom, where Lot lived. When Abraham got wind of the news, he armed his servants and set out on a mission to rescue Lot. With his men, he killed the kings and rescued Lot and other people and possessions that had been taken from Sodom.
Gen 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Those are the facts of the account as set forth in Genesis.
If we should take Abraham’s example for a precedent, we ought also to observe the following:
- He did this of his own freewill. He was neither instructed nor commanded to give, neither was a tithe demanded or requested. No portion or percentage was stipulated or mandated.
- Abraham gave a tenth, not of all he had, but of all the spoils of the war he had just won.
- Abraham was not paying a debt he owed, but he gave a freewill offering, from a depth of gratitude.
- Abraham did not touch the rest of the spoils of war, but divided it among his allies who followed him into battle.
I need not begin to delve into the implications of these inferences, or I would risk making this treatise more verbose than it already is. I trust that you can draw appropriate conclusions.
So! Am I saying you should not pay ‘tithes’? That’s entirely up to you! If your church still teaches you to give tithes, well, by all means please utilize the opportunity to give. I’m just saying, whenever we give, we must have proper scriptural reasoning and motivation for our giving so it can be effective and effectual.
2 Cor 9:7-8 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work:
In the New Testament, we are not to give by percentages, or to give in compulsion as a response to threats. We are to give by faith in response to God’s love and grace as led by the Holy Spirit within us, cheerfully and joyfully. Please note that giving “cheerfully” has nothing to do with singing and dancing during ‘offering time’. Cheerfulness is a thing of the heart, a matter of willing disposition, not mere outward display.
I believe that taking this gospel-centred, new creation approach to giving and getting rid of the ‘law’ mentality and perspective concerning giving will solve a major problem some churches face today.
“What problem?” you ask.
The problem of impoverished church members straining under the weight of unscriptural, church-imposed laws about giving that have no basis in the New Testament, while their pastors look down on them from their luxurious jets, saying “How have we robbed you?”