The Tithe - Have Ye Robbed God?
"Prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not ... pour you out a blessing..."
THE greatest command to Christians is:
"The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (MARK 12:29-30).
This is the first and great Commandment and our lives should be subordinated to it. Are not our health, abilities and possessions all granted through the grace of God? We are the sons and daughters of God, and as such - if we claim to be Christians - our very all belongs to Him.
We brought nothing into this world and, most certainly, we shall take nothing out with us, except the credit or debit side of our account showing what we have done in the name of God, such as propagating the Gospel by thought, word or deed, or any other manner of assistance. Remember:
"...All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth... Surely the people is grass... But the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Most people have surely read the Law of the Lord, as outlined in the Old Testament, given to Moses at Sinai by Almighty God, and probably will have noticed the instruction concerning the payment of dues to God's service, known as the "Tithe." This payment, if carried out in strict obedience to Divine Law, would be more than sufficient to meet the cost of evangelising and spreading the Gospel unto the ends of the earth, instead of which we find that this work is not only poorly financed but most definitely has to make a dire struggle against poverty to exist and to wage its fight against, sin, unrighteousness and injustice.
It would seem, statistically speaking, that only about five per cent. of our Christian population, so called, have ever realised that not only is it most necessary to Tithe and behoves us to do so, but that it is also a most emphatic and explicit command from God.
The "Tithe" is a tenth part of our income. One in ten. One shilling in ten shillings and so on. You will find it referred to in LEVITICUS 27:30,
"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's : it is holy unto the Lord."
It is from this ancient command - though very much neglected today - that in some of the churches we still observe the Harvest Festival - the custom of paying unto God the first-fruits of the land, which ultimately go to charity.
God created us. Our very all belongs to Him. He should have first claim on us in all things. Is that so in our lives, or are we far removed from this great truth?
MALACHI 3:8 reads:
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."
Verse 10 reads:
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my 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."
What a Challenge! What a Promise!
Yet we ignore it utterly, as a community. Only isolated folks, here and there, conform to it. It is stated within the teaching of the British Israel World Federation as a basic principle of the Divine Law and, also, the practice of Faith. In the second Book of Chronicles we read:
"Since the people began to bring their offerings into the House of the Lord... the Lord hath blessed His people."
Again, in PROVERBS 3:9-10:
"Honour the Lord with thy substance..., so shall thy barns be filled with plenty..."
This is a most definite challenge by God to His people. We are not asked to give something for nothing. It is a challenge to give unto the Lord. A challenge more to our faith in God than to our generosity. A challenge to teach us implicit and absolute reliance upon His Divine Word and, if we have that most implicit trust in His Word, we can rest positively assured that God will carry out His promises, and our reward will be far in excess of our giving unto God. In other words
"so shall thy barns be filled with plenty...".
The truth of Tithing is one of the most important, yet it has been neglected and certainly misunderstood by members of the Christian Church.
God sets forth most clearly and definitely His commands as to the observance of the "Tithe" and this observance, if carried out, would most plenteously provide a super-abundance of finance to carry out the Lord's work in all its many directions.
We are challenged to observe this principle and watch its operation in bringing reward.
"Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not... pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be enough room to receive it."
What a challenge to faith in God! Are we numbered among the waverers who trust up to a point but draw the line when such trust means "hitting the pocket"? Time and enthusiasm are easily given, but we need to have sufficient faith to give of our substance - as commanded! What more do we want than God's infallible word? We only lend unto the Lord, and He restores it greatly increased.
Of the entire Church congregations but a very small proportion recognise and carry out this principle. The bulk belong to the "cannots," "have nots" and "don't know anything about it"; in fact many state, "I have never heard anything about it in Church."
Whoever may be to blame, what utter ignorance and negligence of God's Divine Law!
Have you ever heard a Minister in any Church preach a sermon on the "Tithe"? If so you have been fortunate, for I have not, though in one instance I heard of the whole law being very crudely, but very beneficially summed up by a Dutch Minister at a "Nachtmaal." He opened his service with: "We owe £2,000," and, before that Nachtmaal service closed, he had secured promises covering the entire amount.
That well-known evangelist, Lionel Fletcher, says: "Let me say, after thirty years in the Christian Ministry, that I have never known a Church or person who has taken up the challenge of Malachi, thoroughly and sincerely, who has not received the fulfilment of the promise contained in the challenge."
From my own personal point of view, I can absolutely vouch for its fulfilment as the result of a life's experience.
The well-known writer, P. W. Thompson, M.A., who has written most excellent books on the subject, says: "Get a simple record book and record therein all revenue received, in the shape of wages and salary, etc., and on the opposite side record all the gifts you have made to God's work, such as Church collections, gift to a beggar, donations to charities or orphanages, sustenation funds, etc. It would thus be a simple matter, at any time, to add up the two sides and see if you have given what is known as the 'whole tithe' to God, which is the equivalent of 10 per cent, or 2/- in the pound."
This is an excellent idea and could be put into effect by all believers with great benefit.
Having adopted this truth many years ago, not from a point of accepting God's challenge or for what I might get as an enhanced reward, but in an effort to conform with this principle of the Bible, as far as I was able to do so, I can state, most truthfully, that the windows of heaven were opened. The material blessings that have since accrued to me have been out of all proportion to the efforts I have made to observe this Truth. In fact, the success which has come my way has frequently made me feel totally unworthy of it in proportion to my efforts. Still more wonderful to relate, when I was, from an unexpected quarter, particularly hard hit financially one year, I continued to carry out my obligation. The immediate rewards which commenced flowing in - also from unexpected quarters - resulted in my paying the highest income tax in my lifetime.
Such happenings only serve to drive still deeper into one's soul the truth we are our "brother's keeper," and that all things should be used to the glory of God.
When one has started to "Tithe" there will never be any necessity to look far to see what service requires funds. There are far too many outlets ever to cope with. In due time it will be found that the blessings are beginning to return, not necessarily in the manner it may be anticipated, but come they will in God's good time and our reward is both sure and certain.
Do not be afraid to start the scheme because it cannot be afforded, for that very circumstance makes our offering of greater sacrificial value to God and proves that, in accordance with the command, we are honouring God with our substance. On the other hand - do not pay the tithe with the same amount of joy as a stomach-ache creates! Let it be a cheerful giving on our part, for remember "it is more blessed to give than to receive," and "the Lord loveth a cheerful giver." What feeling of inner glow it leaves when one has given to God's service!
Doubtless, in the past there has come - as it will in the future, too - a feeling of despair and disgust with humanity, because in various ways, no matter how hard we may try, or to what extent we may give in our efforts to help the unfortunates, the less fortunates, the deserving and the undeserving, we will most surely receive more kicks and abuse than thanks in return. Man's inhumanity to man is almost unbelievable. There may be instances when, after having rendered service to friends, or even relatives, we receive abuse and ungraciousness. Such happenings are prone to disgust one with humanity and we vow never again to help anybody, but - and thank God for that but - there is that spiritual urge within one, if we are trying to be Christian, which leads us again and again to assist the less fortunate folks in life, even though - at times - some prove most undeserving. After all, does not such a policy conform to the principles of the "Sermon on the Mount"; and, yet again, our Lord's words come to mind.
"Inasmuch as ye do it unto one of the least of these, ye do it unto Me."
Such benevolence comes under Tithing. It matters not in what direction we may assist humanity. There is, however, no better service rendered than to assist in supporting the Church and the ministry of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The Bible makes it clear that it is not charity to give unto those who are not in need, neither is it charity to give in the sure expectation of receiving some gift in return.
Some claim that the low spiritual tone of the Church is due to the non-observance of Tithing as financially many churches are as poor as the proverbial church-mouse. What an utter disgrace to our so-called Christian community!
From a recent article in the "Kingdom Digest," by Kenneth S. Keyes, we quote a few instances of Tithing and the opinions expressed by well-known business men:
William Colgate left home at the age of 16. When starting out in life a boat captain gave him this advice, "Someone will soon be the leading soap-maker in New Yorks. It can be you as well as anybody else. Give the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar you earn; make an honest soar; give a full pound, and I am certain that you will be a prosperous and rich man."
Colgate knew the soap trade. He got a job in a New York factory. He united with a church. His wages were small but he gave unto the Lord ten cents out of every dollar. He advanced rapidly. Soon he was a partner in the business, then his partner died and he took over the entire business. To-day Colgate's preparations are known throughout the world.
As the business prospered he gave two-tenths to God. Then he gave three-tenths, four-tenths, five-tenths and, finally, when his children had been educate, he gave all his income to God. He build a great fortune and a great business through honouring God with his substance.
John D. Rockefeller, when asked, replied: "Yes, I tithe. I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. The first week I took my 1.5 dollars home to my mother and as she held it in her lap she explained that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord. I did and from that week to this day I have tithed every dollar that God has entrusted to me, and I want to say to you that, if I had not tithed the first dollar I made, I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made. Train the children to tithe and they will grow up faithful stewards of the Lord."
The celebrated Heinz of the "57 varieties" fame, H. P. Crowell of "Quakers Oats," Kraft of "Kraft Cheese," are just a few of the most successful business men who have risen to fortune and fame as the result of honouring God with their substance.
Here is a remarkable instance of a farmer of Florida (U.S.A.), who stated: "For 41 years the tenth of my income has been used for the glory of God. The way I have prospered is little short of a miracle. At this place a number of farmers plant from 50-100 acres a year (he had only 20) but none of them has made as much as I have. For many years I have averaged about five thousand dollars nett profit. I have enough to keep us in comfort for the rest of our lives. All I make from now on goes to spread the kingdom of the glorious Lord."
It is of interest to note that P. W. Thomson, M.A., in his work, "The Whole Tithe," shows the whole Tithe is equal to 10 per cent., or 2/- in the pound, that "Tithes and offerings" amount to 3/4 in the pound, and ultimately, if blessed to be able to do so, the "whole Tithe and offerings" plus "freewill offerings" amounted to 20 per cent., or 4/- in the pound.
One hears of ministers and speakers of all denominations deploring the apathy toward religion among the people, and the usual antidote is that we need more prayer. That may be so, but is it not rather the fact that so many are woefully ignorant of the Divine principles that has been responsible for the great apathy, and will it ever be better until such time as people are taught these principles of life so that they may live by them?
If they commenced with Tithing, it would ensure a solid foundation of support by which the gospel could be spread to the ends of the earth, as commanded. This would do away with such God-dishonouring means as bazaars, sales of work raffles, rummage parties, special appeals and all such funds that exist as substitutes for the Tithe in financing Church work generally. These appeals always fall upon the shoulders of the few voluntary and willing workers, and it is not right that the faithful few should always have to shoulder the burden of the negligent, in supporting the Church and the proclamation of the Kingdom Gospel, though - be quite sure of one fact - such actions is not lost sight of by Almighty God.
It is time our modern generation stopped considering sixpence-in-the-plate on Sunday sufficient to secure a front seat in Heaven! It was John Wesley who said, "The man who is aiming to get just inside Heaven had better rather try to get right inside Hell."
Naturally, wealthy people should be much better able to Tithe, but do they? It is rather the reverse, I think. Read what the Apostle Paul says to such folks:
"Charge the rich of this world not to be supercilious, and not to fix their hopes on so uncertain a thing as riches, but on the living God who richly provides us with all the enjoyments of life; tell them to be bountiful, rich in good works, open-handed and generous, amassing right good treasure for themselves in the world to come, in order to secure life which is indeed life" (1 TIMOTHY 6:17-19, Moffatt).
It is held by some that, as we are under the New Covenant, we are not under the law and therefore have no need to pay Tithes, forgetting that Tithing originated in faith with Abraham, whilst others contend that all things are of God and should therefore be used to the glorification of His work, in every respect and at every opportunity, quite irrespective of the 10 per cent. ear-marked under Tithing. Personally, I prefer the latter view, and regard the 10 per cent. as an absolute minimum.
God certainly does not remain a debtor to any man, and anyone who gives of his substance unto the Lord will most surely be rewarded beyond all expectations, in accordance with God's challenge and promise.
There is a rabbinical proverb among Jewry which says: "Pay your tithes and grow rich," and be sure it is no idle proverb, for when it comes to money matters the Jews surely know all about it!
It may be argued that taxation is too heavy to-day to be able to pay Tithes, but that is an erroneous idea, and the best answer is that of St. Augustine's: "Pay God's tax first, and be marvellously helped in the matter of Imperial taxation." There is a great deal of wisdom in that.
There was no doubt whatever in St. Augustine's mind as to God opening the windows of heaven and returning the reward promised to those who sincerely observe the principle of Tithing. Such an undertaking at first may even cause temporary financial difficulties but, remember God will not long remain in our debt. The ensuing period before the reward comes may constitute more of a trial of our faith than a financial one, but rest assured that every penny given unto the service of God will return double - and even more.
"Prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord God of Hosts."
There is no more direct challenge in the whole Bible. A challenge to our personality, our faith, our character and trust in God.
Here is an opportunity to accept the challenge of God.
Why not do so and experience the miraculous generosity of the Divinity that can shape our lives so that they are crowned with His grace and glory?
I have tried, proved and found God's plan a most positive assurance. Why not accept the challenge?
Delivered as a public address in 1949
Source: Gilbert C. Saddler, Christians awake!, pages 144-151