Devotional - Malachi Chapter Three - Tithing The Truth

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Malachi - A Book of Warning Against Those Who Would Lead God's People

    Chapter Three - Tithing the Truth

    You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. - Malachi 3: 9 (ESV)

    So we come to it. Malachi Chapter Three. More important to prosperity preachers than John 3: 16 and dare I say it; more important to the vast majority of churches today as well. I guess it was bound to happen. We are carnal creatures who reflectively think with carnality. The further the modern church dives off the theological cliff the more carnal we become. The more we seek to be relevant to a culture that leads people to hell the more carnal we will think. The truth however is that today's subject has roots deep down in church history. This has been the way the church has always operated. It is what the church has always taught. Over the centuries, the argument has been refined and polished to the point that even deep thinking Christians often accept this slice of false teaching without so much as reading correct contextualized Scriptures or even daring to think about questioning it. It is the sacred cow of the church; the third rail if you will. It is tithing. The notion that God has instructed Christians to pay 10% of their income to the church as an act of obedience. The reality however when it comes to the topic of tithing is that leadership is only about 10% correct. They are in essence and quite possibly in ignorance, tithing the truth.

    Tithing never has and still is not today meant for Christians. There, I said it and I feel liberated already. I love watching the snake oil salesmen on "Christian" television these days. They swear that no one is saying that you can buy a miracle from God. No one is saying that you can buy favor or blessing from God. Yet in the next sentence they are speaking all of this nonsense about sowing your seed so you can reap a harvest! That is what you are saying! That is what the church is saying as well with their adherence to tithing. That is why it was embraced so universally. It is the essence of carnality when thinking about God. That we can somehow control Him. That we can somehow buy Him off. I know of pastors who have told newlyweds that they were not conceiving a child because they were not tithing correctly. I know pastors who have stripped lifelong church members of their membership because they didn't like their tithes. As if the church belonged to the pastor, and not the congregant. I know other pastors who do not abuse the system. They preach once or twice a year about giving and never get involved with knowing who gave what. While that is far more palatable, the problem again is that there is no tithing requirement for the church, period.

    I recognize this is touchy subject for many because we have been conditioned for so long to equate blessings to tithing. We have been wrongly taught that our tithe is the display of our obedience to God. I understand why that "sells" so well too. The truth is that tithing is the easiest form of obedience we actually have. Tithing allows us to maybe look the other way on the things we are not so obedient about. Like lust, pride, and hatred. We can always come back to the fact that they told us to give 10% and by gosh that's what we did. So we are obedient...kinda. Once again, the carnality of man's thinking. Man will gladly pay 10% of his income to think that the rest of his disobedience matters less. Or that the 10% garners him some kind of favor with God. A Spiritual quid pro quo. But I ask you for the next few pages to put aside your conventional thinking. Put aside the myths that you have been taught and consider. Read the Scriptures for yourselves. First of all, let's start by looking at the New Testament pattern for giving:

    The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifullywill also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2Corinthians 9: 6-7 (ESV)

    A tithe is a forced requirement imposed by God, whereby 10% of the increase God has provided is given back for the work of the ministry. It is lifted from the Old Testament tithing system, where the Levitical priests received 10% of all agricultural produce from the other Hebrew tribes since they were not allowed to work. It had a reason within the system God had set up. It was never about money. Before you reflexively think that they did not have money back then - think again:

    Every valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall make a shekel. - Leviticus 27: 25 (ESV)

    Besides shekels and gerahs they also traded in silver, gold and livestock. Tithing, which was established in the same book as this verse, had nothing to do with money. The church however, needed to make it about money so that they could generate income, and stay open. But the verses above from 2Corinthians shows that God created a offering system for the church. It is not mandatory however. It has two parts bound by a universal principle. The two parts are simply this. First we must individually seek God and decide in our hearts how much we are going to give to the work of the church. When the church first started in the Book of Acts, they gave everything they had to the work of God. The second part is that we then have to cheerfully give it! Are we cheerful because we think we are buying something from God? No! We are cheerful because our lives are supposed to be about God now and the kingdom. We are cheerful because we trust that our church is about the Lord's business of bringing as many people to the cross with the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ as possible. If you do not feel sure about those statements regarding the church you are in then you need to run out of there as fast as possible. The time is short. Find a church that is busy saving people. The universal principle that binds these two simple concepts together is known as the law of sowing and reaping. He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. This is true for more than just money beloved. If we find ourselves loving the things of this earth too much, such as money, we will not see God moving in our lives. It is not about the money - it is about loving the money. Yet if you give freely, you will find things returned unto you. This concept is also verified and confirmed in other portions of the Bible:

    One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. - Proverbs 11: 24 (ESV)

    Here is another profound truth - the insistence by leadership to rely on the church tithing system shows a drastic lack of faith in God. Let me explain why. Look at these verses! God cannot be clearer - we should not be giving out of compulsion yet tithing is a compulsory system! I honestly feel that the church has short changed God and themselves for centuries now by insisting on this 10% mark! I honestly believe that if you leave giving up to the individual person and the Holy Spirit within them that you will get more than 10% at the end of the day. I read a study recently that said only 3% of church goers actually tithe the full 10%! What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I know people who were prompted by the Holy Spirit to give everything they had on them to someone. Quite frankly, we let people off easy by demanding tithes and it shows a tremendous lack of faith that God will work on the people to cheerfully give what the church needs. This point to two problems, which result from the devolution of the church into this purpose driven muck. The first problem is that we have congregations filled with goats who we try to teach to act like sheep. It is hard then for someone to cheerfully give to God when they do not have the Spirit of God inside of them. Secondly, because pastors think they are responsible for horizontal church growth and not God, we often see a vision not matched with the incoming resources. That would be a good indication that the vision is not from God but instead the leader will say that the people are not tithing correctly! Sorry it doesn't work that way.

    But wait a minute preacher - what about Malachi Chapter Three? What about it? As we have seen in the previous three devotionals on Malachi - this book was written to the priests of that day - not the congregants! It was the Levites themselves that were corrupting the system. But the key verse today does say - "the whole nation of you." Here are the notes from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible on this portion:

    "the sin was become general, and therefore a general judgment was inflicted on them: Grotius thinks, that the people seeing the priests withhold the tithes from the Levites, they refused to pay them to them, and so the sin became universal. Kimchi observes, that in other sins charged upon the nation, the people were not all alike guilty, but in this which respected the tithes and offerings they were."

    The people saw how leadership was not complying - so they followed suit. We see this today in the modern church as well. Leaders preach holiness but then fall from grace and what lessons are learned in the congregation? Or they preach kindness and then treat people with disdain. But again - what were the people here guilty of? They were guilty of not tithing correctly, agricultural proceeds, during a period of time when tithing was the system for ensuring the Levites had food. One of the most fundamental rules of hermeneutics is that the Bible confirms itself. Where else in the Bible do we see anything remotely indicating that the few sentences found in the middle of a book written to the Levitical priests should somehow be New Testament theology? Nowhere. The key verse also states that the people are now under a curse because of their lack of compliance. We know that Jesus broke all of the curses for those who have faith in Him. In order to believe that these portions of Malachi now are applicable to Christians today means we must apply the entire context. You cannot cherry pick Scriptures here and there and create doctrine where none exists. That is what cults do. We cannot be found in our position in Christ and His imputed righteousness and at the same time be cursed for not tithing correctly. Nor can we claim blessings as a result of our tithing. We are blessed because of our position in Christ not because of our adherence to one of the 613 Mosaic laws. By the way - what about the other 612 laws? It is not sound Biblical interpretation to say that Malachi Chapter Three discards 612 laws for the sake of tithing! The Bible simply does not support New Testament tithing. But preacher - what about Abram? What about him?

    Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.”Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered. - Genesis 14: 19-20 (NLT)

    Abram gave ten percent one time in all Scripture and that was ten percent of the pagan spoils of war he had won. He also refused to keep the other 90%. Wait a minute preacher, didn't Jesus Himself teach tithing? Absolutely not:

    “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. - Luke 11: 42 (ESV)

    If you read this verse and the context of everything Jesus criticized the Pharisees for and come away with the lesson that we must tithe I would say you missed the points, all of them. This has nothing to do with tithing. It has to do with where our hearts are as believers. In some ways, this speaks to the point I made earlier. We have created Christians who are more than happy to pay ten percent so they can look past the harder obediences that God requires. Neglecting the love and justice of God while paying ten percent means nothing. Moreover, look at what they were tithing! It was not money it was agricultural produce because that was the system that was still in existence then. The only reason Jesus eve says they ought to tithe is because He had not gone to the cross yet!

    The truth is that as the church has seen more and more leaven infiltrating its walls we have seen carnal thinking explode exponentially. Chasing secular leadership principles. Employing non-biblical growth theories. But underlying all of them is the centuries old backdrop of tithing. It is founded and defended by a patchwork of Scriptures taken out of context and cobbled together by well trained speakers to sell compulsory giving. Listen, not everyone involved is even aware. I have seen otherwise solid biblical preachers jump off the theological cliff for the tithing principle. James McDonald, who I usually like, had a sermon on tithing where he abused Scripture constantly to arrive at his pre determined point. I know people who otherwise are completely sold out for Christ yet this malformed tithing deception has been so deeply ingrained for them that just this writing alone will be anathema.

    I think if you taught accurate New Testament giving and truly left it up to the people of God who are indewlt with the Holy Spirit, we would be amazed at the results. I think it would far exceed the ten percent that only 3% of the people tithe today. At least at those churches truly serving God. In carnal churches devoid of the Spirit of God, we will see compulsory giving continue to be taught and wielded like a ruthless hammer. The truth will continue to be tithed.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - August 25, 2013

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