Tithing — giving a tenth of your increase unto the Lord. Are you a tither? There are many perspectives on the matter. Many today say it is not a New Testament doctrine. Many stress tithing from a law perspective. Many couldn’t teach about tithing without threatening people with Malachi 3:10-11. Many won’t tithe without Malachi 3:10-11. Lots and lots of tithers…..but toooooo many from the wrong perspective — especially a SELFISH one!
In visiting churches, listening to and watching broadcasts and just talking with other Christians, I’ve discovered that the vast, vast majority of churches teach tithing. Unfortunately, most teach tithing from a Malachi 3:10-11 perspective. For those who may not be aware of what this passage says (actually it’s Malachi 3:8-11), here it is:
“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. 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.”
Many saints here this passage (especially those who have just become born again), become fearful/motivated and begin tithing because they’re trying to escape a curse, rebuke the devourer or simply become covetous and tithe from the perspective of opening the windows of heaven on their behalf (to get STUFF). This mode of giving (though the Lord may allow it for a season) is actually selfish. This type of tither is looking out for himself/herself. God is calling us to something higher.
This is going to come as a shock to some, but today, the word of the Lord is challenging all tithers that are called by His name (those who are tithing from this perspective) to change your motivation. Now, before you get hot under the collar, please hear the word of the Lord. What you’re about to hear isn’t new doctrine. It’s old doctrine that has been swept under the rug or skipped over when reading. Unfortunately, many leaders are either repeating what their former pastors taught and giving it to you OR they’re teaching the “fear” perspective on tithing because they’re afraid themselves that many will stop giving and the church (or their own pocket) will suffer. Well, leaders need to walk by faith just as everyone else — when we teach the truth, we’re walking by faith.
Here are some truths/facts/thoughts/issues to consider— to help us overcome selfish tithing and reflect the glory of God in our giving:
Tithing didn’t begin with Malachi. It didn’t begin with Moses. It began with Abraham.(Genesis 14:20). He didn’t do it to rebuke the devourer or open the windows of heaven. He did it to honor God for the victory/provision that was given. Why mention Abraham? In John 8:39, Jesus said, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” Well, Abraham tithed….from a certain perspective. No fear factor. No curse factor. No promise associated with it. No selfish motivation and/or issues. He was fully happy and willing to do such a thing. We ought to follow his example.
- For those who don’t believe in tithing because you’ve been told that it’s under the law, you should also consider the Abrahamic perspective. Tithing came before the law. Those “convicted” by recognition of the goodness of God WILL tithe.
- Jacob was the first person cited in scripture as “vowing” to pay tithes (see Genesis 28:22). There was no evidence of Abraham tithing on all occasions. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t, but it also doesn’t mean that he did. We do know, however, that he did it of his own free will, which is what God wants from all of us.
- Exodus 22:29 contains an exhortation against procrastination with regard to giving. Remember, the law is a schoolmaster. We are under the New Covenant, but should still hear the Spirit of the Lord concerning this issue. If you want to give in a blessed manner (note that I didn’t say blessed in your giving), don’t be a procrastinator. There is no blessing in delayed obedience to the grace of God.
- Exodus 36:5 speaks about how the children of Israel, when exhorted to give of their own free will for the building of the tabernacle, brought so much substance that they had more than enough. God stirred the hearts of the people regarding the giving. A New Testament counterpart scripture for this is 2 Corinthians 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….”
- Are you a tither? Do you have room in your life to receive a blessing from the Lord? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then someone is lying……….and it isn’t God. If you’ve been tithing, but you still have room to receive, this would give the appearance that the word of God is not true. Consider carefully, however, the dialogue in Malachi. It is both interesting and unique because God was trying to encourage His people to straighten out several issues — NOT JUST TITHING. True. They had stopped tithing. But they had also been offering tainted sacrifices before the Lord (keeping the “good stuff” for themselves), were generally dishonoring God in their hearts, the priests were not giving glory to His name, the teachers caused people to stumble at the word, etc. When someone presents tithing ONLY — as the reason for miscues in our lives — they’re doing believers an injustice. We ought to examine ourselves in the other areas as well — NOT JUST IN GIVING. Unfortunately, too many pastors/preachers/teachers don’t like to confront the people of God and won’t mention the other areas. That IS NOT an act of love. God encouraged the people during Malachi’s time to tithe by giving them a special promise — a promise that was directly related to their current condition/situation. It was NOT an at-large promise. If God quickens that word for YOU, then that’s different. But and if you say that He does tell YOU this, He will confirm His word with the performing of His promise. Don’t be found a liar before Him.
- The exhortation to “honor God with our substance” is the real message of tithing (Proverbs 3:9; . The word tithe (tenth) helps us to mark a minimal percentage that is just and right before the Lord. Interestingly, it is a percentage and varies based on the blessing. This is reflected in 1 Corinthians 16:2, where Paul stated: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
- Some people may need the exhortation in Malachi 3:8-11 to overcome the fact that they don’t tithe — if all of the elements apply to you — but you can’t continue to give from that perspective.
- The curse spoken of in Malachi was directed more at the attitude than the act. In other words, the people were cursed because they weren’t even considering God in their hearts. The entire book of Malachi lets us know that they had an improper view of God and did not consider Him in all things. Their thoughts toward Him were not true and downright disrespectful. They weren’t cursed just because they didn’t tithe.
- Likewise, some are tithing and are still cursed. How? For many, tithing is a source of a self-righteous mindset. This is Mathew 23:23 lets us know that the Pharisees paid tithes. We don’t need to prove that they weren’t blessed. It’s highly evident. They paid tithes, but they had other issues. Luke 11:41 speaks further on this matter: “But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.” The Pharisees paid tithes and thought that everything was okay between them and God as a result. This is selfish and erroneous.
- Some pay tithes, but do not honor God with the part of the substance that they keep. Explain? Okay. Some pay tithes, but spend their money on things that dishonor God (e.g., pornography, liquor, gambling, covetous shopping, buying things just because you can but you don’t really need them, buying things to keep up with the Joneses — the pride of life). If you’re going to honor God with your substance, honor Him with all of it — not just the part you left in church.
- Back to Matthew 23:23, the Pharisees paid tithes and taught the people such, but they refrained from teaching about issues that were more important. This is rampant in our day and time. This also is selfish.
- Lastly, Jesus stated that tithing should not be left undone — an indirect exhortation to tithe….from the proper perspective.
That’s enough for today. I miss the old format at times. This will keep some of you busy for a week. Careful review of many of these key points lets us know that the teaching pattern the subject between the Old and New Testaments is quite parallel. In other words, God’s mindset has not changed.
We should tithe, but not for gain, to escape calamity or for other selfish reasons. We should tithe in thanks to God — honoring Him with our substance. When we’re happy to do so, from the bottom of our heart, we will indeed tap into a blessedness that is beyond our wildest expectations. What is that blessing, someone may ask??? Consider the word of the Lord after Abraham (Abram) tithed in Genesis 15:1. God said, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD. Our focus and the main reward is the Lord God Almighty Himself — not His trinkets.
Let’s remember to focus on the Lord in our giving. Let’s overcome selfish tithing.
Until next time, keep tithing (for the right reasons and with the right attitude) and be blessed!