A test of faith: tithe and offerings

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1. Introduction

It is not sufficient for the professing believer merely to say ‘I believe’ - we must exhibit a real change for good in the life. 

An important way of demonstrating such a change is to trust God in the financial aspects of life.  These are (arguably) the hardest aspects of life to devote wholly to God.  In this study we address the paying of tithes and offerings.

2. Tithes and Offerings

2.1 Tithing

Mal 3:10  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. 

God requires the believer to bring a tenth of the increase:

De 14:22  Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

Today, we understand ‘increase’ to mean profit from a business, or wages earned as an employee.

The deductions taken by government from the increase are actually payment in kind.

In return for tax we receive infrastructure, law and order etc.  In countries where a social security deduction is made, we receive unemployment assistance, health care etc.

Thus we should pay tithe on the GROSS of our increase.

Note.  If we are not paying a full tenth, we are not paying tithe.  As a general rule, if we are not sure whether tithe should be paid on a sum, pay it anyway - God will bless accordingly.

In Mal 3:10 (above) we are challenged to trust God in tithes and offerings.  In return for our trust He promises a great blessing. 

Those who respond to this challenge understand that, far from not affording to tithe, we cannot afford not to tithe.  The blessing that God bestows on the tithe payer not only replaces the tenth, but far exceeds it.

Many hold that tithing, along with all the feasts and sacrifices of the Ceremonial law, was abolished at the cross.  If tithing was indeed abolished, then so was the accompanying blessing.  There is no record in the New Testament that tithing was abolished.

In Mal 3:10 God invites us to test Him.  This an exception to His general instruction that we should not put Him to the test (Mt 4:7). 

God is willing that we should hold Him up to scrutiny - He invites us to test no less than His character.

In the Old Testament, the tithes were given to the Levites (He 7:5), whose work was to minister in the Sanctuary.  Thus the tithe supported the work of God’s Church, together with those whose lives were devoted to it.

Today, the tithe is for the support of both the work and the maintenance of the Christian Church central organization, and also for the sustenance of its ministers.

2.2 Offerings

In Old Testament times, in addition to the tithes, many offerings were required:

2Ch 31:12  And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.  

The OT offerings mainly took the form of animals for sacrifice for the remission of sin:

Le 7:37  This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings; 

Since Christ on the Cross made the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, we are not to sacrifice animals.  Yet today God still requires offerings, but for a different purpose than in the OT.

Today our offerings are given generally in the form of money, which is used for the work and maintenance of a local Church.

2.3 The spirit of giving

It was always God’s plan that His Church should be supported by faithful believers who give willingly:

2Co 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 

The faithful payment of tithes and offerings demonstrates a willingness to sacrifice the pleasures of sin in order to gain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to win others for God.

2.4 Robbing God

Mal 3:8  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 

This matter is very serious. Those who knowingly withhold tithes and offerings rob God - no robber can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Those who rob God also rob themselves - God cannot bless those who do not believe and trust Him.  Those who rob God demonstrate that they are unwilling to sacrifice the pleasures of sin, and thus shut themselves out of God’s Kingdom.

2.5 The widow’s mite

Mk 12:42,43  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 

43  And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

This episode should hearten those who have little to give.  Christ looks upon the willingness of the heart, not the size of the gift.  We can be sure that the widow received the great blessing promised by God - as do all in a similar position.

This lesson is also for those whose task it is to administer tithes and offerings. God can multiply the smallest gift given faithfully. 

3. Summary

God requires His faithful believers to render to Him both tithes and offerings.  In return, all who trust Him are blessed far in excess of what they have given.

The payment of tithes and offerings is a test of the faithfulness of both the believer and of God.

Those who knowingly withhold their tithes and offerings rob God - their profession of faith is nominal because they are not willing to sacrifice the pleasures of sin to support God’s Church.

Every professing believer is required by God to give, whatever their means.  The size of the blessing that God gives in return is determined by the willingness and the generosity of the giver’s heart.

Only those who sacrifice the world to invest in God’s Kingdom here on Earth will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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