Jesus said, "He that believes in me, as the scriptures had said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" John 7:38
I have been a born-again Christian for over 40 years and I have also been a pastor for 19 years. I believe that tithing is an Old Testament law and that all OT laws were fulfilled and ended at the cross. Jesus became the one and only Levite or High Priest who could make intercession for us before the throne of God (Hebrews 7). I believe that giving is still important but it is subject to person's own free God-created will. The magnitude of a person's sharing and giving will make known his love for God and people (especially the saints). I do not believe that church members and potential members should be seen and used as "meal-tickets" and real estate investors for religious leaders and their earthly projects. It was also written in the law that the Levites (priest, minister, pastor) could not own any property, but received the tithes (Numbers 18). Jesus became the one and only High Priest who was sacrificed for us and is interceding on our behalf.
Luke 16:16 states that
"The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man is pressed into it".
Tithing has become the focal point of many ministries today. Religious leaders have become like the Wall Street giants who take risks and speculate with the pledges and donations of their members, in the disguise of their exercise of faith. Terminologies like seed-faith, sowing and reaping, deliverance from lack, prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11), and abundant living are used to encourage the flow of money so that they could compete and build their religious dynasties.The most popular scriptures used today as a prophetic word to control the masses is Jeremiah 29:11 and Malachi 3: which read:
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Take note: This is the original translation.
Jeremiah 29:11 (King James Version) (Original translation)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.
The book of Malachi was specifically written and addressed to the corrupt priests of Israel and not to the congregants. They were breaking all the rules like the shepherds at the time of Ezekiel. God scolded the priests through Malachi, and now the ministers of today are threatening the flock of God with this same scripture: curses, no healing, and wide range of misfortunes and hardships if they do not commit to tithing and sacrificial giving. Some religious institutions demand pay stubs, bank statements and asset reports of their members in order to verify the amount of their donation, and to be able to speculate when to begin the next expansion project.
We must also remember that the leaders are the only ones that have the offering plates. The members cannot pick up an offering to pay their delinquent light bill or house note, especially if they have lost their jobs. Many were told that their predicament was a result of inconsistent or no tithing. This is no new problem among God's people. Examples are found in Ezekiel chapter 34, and in the book of Malachi, where God sent the prophets to prophesy to the then religious leaders of Israel for the misuse of God's resources.
Many Christians who felt that they were called into the ministry, somehow think, or were trained to believe that God has ordained that they become the head of a "mega church" with all the multi-million dollar trimmings, embellishments and graces. Some deceitfully or forcefully do whatever it takes to make this dream come to pass in the name of seed-faith.
1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the sheep, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”7 ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock”— 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! 10 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” 11 ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” 17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.” 20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.....Verse 23 was a prophesy of the coming of Christ our only shepherd.
When Christ came, He stated His position in John 10. But let us pay special attention to verses 7-15 and 27-30.Jesus the Good And Only Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23, John 10)
7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
The Origin of Giving
The practice of giving back to God, started with Adam and his family. Cain and Abel offered the fruit of their labors to God, not because He demanded it, but because they believed that they were obligated to do so to show their appreciation to God. This action has been a part of the history of man for ages. Men have been giving sacrificially back to Almighty God, or paying homage through some system of ordered giving to other gods or idols in order "to appease or thank God, or their gods". This act of gratitude through giving was also scaled down in their expression of thanking people. Advanced giving was also practiced by faith, for a desired outcome. They felt that it was compulsory. These offerings included food, money, property, animals, bribing, and even human lives. (Genesis 4; Jeremiah 32:35; Hebrews 7: 1-2)
The Purpose of Tithes and Offerings (Giving)
Malachi 3: 10 expresses clearly the purpose of the tithes and offering. "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts.
( Note: The book of Malachi was written and addressed specifically to the corrupt priests of Israel). The tithing system was put in place to address the needs of the Levites, widows, orphans, strangers, and the needy. The religious leaders were not paying their portion of the tithes and offerings, which would also affect the giving of alms to the poor and needy. They were not true examples to the flock of God. God sent Malachi to tell them that they were robbing Him. God warned them that He would discipline them.
11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—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, 13 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. 14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an 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.
Proverbs 19:17- He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.
Today, many ministers are using this book of Malachi to financially rape and abuse the flock of God.Giving was henceforth demonstrated in Acts 4, as spirit-led giving. Giving was voluntary and it addressed the needs of all the people. The people gave bountifully without any pressure or set limit by the elders.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Who Should We Listen to?
Moses said, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear".
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Jesus did not teach the laws of tithing, but the principles of giving. He knew the importance of, and the attitude behind giving, and therefore encouraged it by offering incentives. He knew that money or material things could not be a substitute for the wickedness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). We cannot buy God's blessing, love, forgiveness or healing. Giving back to God is not like the lotto, casino or stock exchange, where someone, regardless of the state of his heart, makes an initial (seed) investment and expects a windfall. Giving is based on a right spirit. We should not give to receive, but give to meet the needs of others.
In Luke 18: 10-14, Jesus said that the sinner was justified because he had a repentant heart, but the Pharisee was not because he was boasting about how he faithfully fasted and gave tithes (self-righteous).
Give, and it will 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.”
Matthew 10:8" - Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’(worthless) shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heard the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he became unfruitful.
35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”So they said, “Nothing.”36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
Paul continues to teach on the law, principles of giving, and warnings of exploitations.
Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
2 Peter 2: 1-3
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time does not linger, and their damnation does not sleep.
Administration of Giving
2 Corinthians 9
1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:“He has dispersed abroad,He has given to the poor;His righteousness endures forever.”10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!Greed could hinder our walk with God.
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman the leper was healed by God through the prophet Elisha. He then offered gifts for his healing of which Elisha refused because the blessings and miracles of God are free. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, being overcome by greed, secretly went to Naaman and accepted the gifts. Because of his greed and deceitfulness, God cursed him with the leprosy that Naaman had.Many ministers will not pray for or "waste time" with people who do not tithe or contribute to their ministry.
In Mark 10: 17-22, a rich young ruler asked Jesus what it would take to inherit eternal life. He then went on to brag about how good a person he was by keeping all of the Ten Commandments from his youth. Jesus could have seized the opportunity to have him join with them to finance their missions because they sometimes had monetary needs (John 6:5-13; Matthew 17: 24-27). He also could have accepted him in first, then taught him the principles of the kingdom. But knowing the young man's heart, he immediately told him to sell all of his possessions and distribute them to the poor, then return and follow Him. Jesus did not even suggest that he brought back ten percent of the sales. The young man went away sorrowful because he was too attached to his possessions, and Christ did not want them for Himself or His ministry.Even though we need money, we should not let money control us or dictate for how we live and treat people.
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 3:2-4
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.
18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
James 1: 2-4
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
”Trials, hardships, famine, loss of job, various emergencies and other incidents do not indicate that God has placed a curse on us because we missed a tithe. He said that we must through trials and tribulations enter heaven (Acts 14:21-22). When Abraham arrived at the land that God gave him, there was a famine in the land and they had to go to Egypt for food (Genesis 12). Because of a famine, Isaac went to another country (Genesis 26). Jacob and his family had to move to Egypt because of a famine (Genesis 41 & 42). Elijah stayed with the widow because of a famine (1 Kings 17). Paul was also subjected to hardships (Philippians 3: 11-13: 2 Corinthians 11). These men of God did not suffer because they failed to tithe. Life comes with the bitter and the sweet. God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45). He blesses the unjust even though they have no covenant with Him.
I believe that part of the problem that exist was created by modern-day disciples who surrendered their rights, authority, and mission to their pastors, bishops and apostles/missionaries, which makes it extremely expensive to reach the lost and teach them the word of God. It lends to the impression that we pay pastors to perform their and our assigned duties (Matthew 25). All Christians should be able to share the gospel of Christ with their family, friends, strangers and co-workers. They should be able to lead them to Christ where and whenever the opportunity presents itself instead of just inviting them to come to church for the pastor to preach to them. Special programs and revivals cost a lot of money. Disciples have also set their pastors up as "golden calves" and CEOs. These and many other over-sightings lend to the misuse of God's money.
Proverbs 22:16 - He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.
Paul collected offerings from many churches to help the poor saints in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8...15 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
Question - Is God more concerned about monetary blessings than your soul's salvation, deliverance and healing?
River of Life Evangelistic Outreach