Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tithing Part III - Robbing God—of What?

This topic has certainly spurred a lot of discussion. After contemplating said discussion, we sought the counsel of a good friend who has worked in ministry for over 20 years and he clarified things for us, from his understanding, while backing it up scripturally. To clarify my erroneous, earlier point, while there is no place in the New Testament where Christians are commanded to tithe, it should come naturally as an act of spiritual maturity. So, be generous with everything God has blessed you with. Not just your money, but your time and your talents.

Give God of the first fruits, which as Ken Wetzell told me, means to do God's work with 2.4 hours of every day, as well as actually giving of your other resources. That doesn't mean go spend that time having a bake sale necessarily, but most of us easily spend that time serving others and our families, which is doing God's work. And, we do so because it comes naturally to care for and love those God has placed in our lives.

An interesting point our friend made was the origin of two words, which sheds a lot of light. First is the word "tithe" which liteally translates as a tax. Secondly is the word "church" which translates as a gathering of 10-15 people. What we all seem to know as a church i.e. a much larger body of people that meet in a specific place every weekend and do God's work throughout the week, etc., is really an organization of churches.

So, when God's people lived under a theocracy during parts of the Old Testament, they were indeed tithing (paying tax) to their government, which essentially relates to modern times as funding the staff and programs of the Church Organization, since we live in a democracy, not a theocracy. But, we're no longer commanded to pay. So, don't let guilt be a motivating factor in your generosity, but instead, replace that negative motivator with love.

We should all give and give generously, for by clinging to our money, we're engaging in a form of idol worship. If we're truly worshiping God, we should do so with every fiber of our being, every iota of our lives. God gives us all we need, whether we realize it or not, but if we fret and worry, we're essentially telling God we lack faith that He will meet our needs and when we turn from Him in faith, often He'll pull away from us and let us find our own way... till we find out our way is the wrong way and we make a u-turn back to Him, which is to repent.

To round this out, here's the next devotional from Pastor Conley.

Malachi 3:8-9 gives us a sober warning,

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation."

Now if you think about this statement, you have to ask, "How do you rob God? I mean, really, what does that mean?"

There are two ways we rob God when we refuse to tithe:

1. We rob God of honor that is due Him. In Proverbs 3:9 it says to, Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase. By giving God the first part of our income, we are honoring Him as being first in our lives. We demonstrate faith in His promise to supply our needs as well—and God is honored by our faith.

2. We rob God of the opportunity to bless us. In Malachi 3:10, God promises to bless us if we bring Him the first tenth of our income (the tithe).

The promise in Proverbs is that our barns will be filled with plenty if we will honor the Lord with our firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9-10).

He can bless us. He desires to bless us. Let us not rob Him of the opportunity to do so, nor of the honor that is due Him.

Thanks to Gary for his comments that catalyzed a lot of thought provoking discussion, prayer and consideration on this topic.


  1. I'm back, Mike. Consider the following when using Malachi in your arguments:

    Let’s look at Malachi 3. First, who is God speaking to – the priests or the people?
    We need to study the entire Book of Malachi rather than take a few verses out of context.

    By the time we get to verse 6 in chapter 1, we see it is the priests that are being addressed at that point.

    In both chapters 1 and 2 of Malachi there is a conversation going on between God and the priests. Every time the word "you" is used, it is referring to the priests. Chapter 3 continues with this conversation. In verse 5 God says "And I will come near to you to judgment….." In the Old Testament, during this period of time and generally speaking, only the priests could get near to God. It is only in the New Testament that born again believers, you and I, can get close to God. So up to chapter 3 verse 5, God is speaking to the priests. The word "you" is still referring to the priests. There is nothing in the scripture to indicate this changes when you get to verse 8. But that's not all.

    Read Numbers 18:29-30 and then read Malachi 1:14. Those verses explain robbing God of the offerings. The PRIESTS, not the people, robbed God of the offering by giving to God the worst instead of the best.

    In Nehemiah 13 we are told that the priests stole the Levites portion of the tithe; therefore, they had no food to eat at the temple, and they went back to their own fields.

    Therefore, taking the Levites portion of the tithe is the robbing God of the tithe. Or to put it another way, THE LEVITES WERE ROBBED. God said He was robbed because the tithe was not taken where God directed.

    Next, in Malachi 3:10 God says to bring all the tithes to the storehouse. The people took the tithes to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities, not to the temple. The Levites took the required tithe of the tithe to the temple. (See Nehemiah 10:37-38) Only those tithes ever made it to the temple. The priests then took those tithes to the storehouse. It only makes sense if God is speaking to the priests in this verse.

    Since in Numbers 18 God makes it perfectly clear that the tithe belongs to Him, and He gave it to the Levites, anyone who takes God’s tithe to their local church must also be robbing God since the Levites are not the ones getting it.

    I see no way around this. Either the tithe ended per Hebrews 7:18, OR those who take God’s tithe to their local church must be robbing God since God gave clear instructions where to take His tithe. There is nothing in God’s Word to show that God ever changed those instructions. Therefore, the only conclusion I can reach is that taking a tithe to your local church is NOT paying the tithe to God. It is giving it to man. Nowhere in God’s Word does He give permission for the Christian Church to receive His tithe.

    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV) “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:”

    2 Timothy 2:6 (KJV) “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

    1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

    Question: How do you put God FIRST in your life with your money (income)?

    Before answering, please consider the following:

    The gospel is FREE to everyone. There is no charge for the gospel.

    When you go to a seminar, you usually have to pay to attend. When you go to a concert, you usually have to pay to attend. When you go to social events, you usually have to pay to attend.

    Why does one "go to" church? Maybe for the following reasons:
    1. For instruction / education in God's Word
    2. To worship The Lord
    3. For prayer and/or to pray
    4. For entertainment (the music, etc.)
    5. For fellowship / socializing

    WE go to church so that WE can get instruction and education in God's Word, so that WE can worship The Lord, so that WE can participate in prayer, so that WE can be entertained and enjoy the music, and so that WE can fellowship or socialize.

    WE benefit from going to church services. When WE give our offerings, is it not to PAY for what WE have received from the service? Is that giving to God, or is that paying for a service WE have received?

    Who is getting the money? Is it God? Or does the money go to PAY for salaries, the building, utilities, etc., ALL of which WE benefit from?

    In the Old Testament, God commanded the tithe be paid to HIM, and HE directed the Israelites to take HIS tithe to the Levites. HE gave HIS tithe to the Levites. Offerings to God were heave offerings, or burnt offerings, or wave offerings.

    In the New Testament, God does not tell us HOW to give to HIM other than to give to the poor/needy. God did NOT direct HIS gifts be taken to any church.

  3. And finally (maybe),

    Those who attend church services have a moral obligation to pay their share of the bills. Those who are able to give even more should do so to make up for those who can't afford to pay their fair share.

    The New Testament teaching giving where there is a need. Obviously, a local church needs funds to operate.

    I am all for being a generous giver, but there is nothing in the New Testament that even hits at using a tenth for our giving.

    Since in Malachi 3:7 God is referring to His ordinances, the laws, the blessings and curses in Malachi don't apply to Christians. We can't buy God's blessings. ALL giving should be totally from the heart with absolutely NO motive of getting anything back, including blessings.