So, if “giving to God” and “Honoring God with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9) is good, as stated in scripture, what then is the proper, scripturally defined way of accomplishing that act?
Let us sweep away all the hype and endless opinion on the subject; the answer to that question is simple and in plain sight. Giving to God consists for all practical purposes, almost exclusively of the act of giving to those in need, as the following scriptures indicate:
Proverbs 19:17 “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will He [God] pay him again.”
Proverbs 28:27 “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”
Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.”
Proverbs 31:8 “Open your mouth for the dumb [those so downtrodden that they are unable to assert themselves], for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless.”
|“”Helping the needy is a demonstration of your subjection to the Gospel of Christ.””
Proverbs 31:20 states of the virtuous woman: “She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”
2 Cor 9:12-13 Paul indicates that giving to the needy is part of your obedience (“professed subjection”) to the Gospel of Christ: “ For the administration of this service [Donating to the fund intended to help others. “Service”, that word #3009 indicates a “service to God”] not only supplieth the want [That word “want” actually means “need”] of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men”
Did you catch that last sentence? Helping the needy is a demonstration of your subjection to the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is not just a story to believe by faith, but it should form your way of thinking, through a number of actionable instructions and commandments to live by. The Book of James hammers this thought down conclusively.
John confirms this thought even more emphatically. Even in the clouded wording of the KJV the message is clear.
First John 3:17-18 “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
“In truth” means according to scriptural teaching.
First John 4:6-11 “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
He is basically saying “We (the Apostles) know what we are talking about. It is God’s Word, take it or leave it as you are able. We know it is not meant for everyone, but it does show us who is of the truth and who is not by how you react to this message.”
John’s instructions continue: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
This “love” spoken of in the above two quotes is not the shallow “Love you, man. Good luck in finding some food.” kind of lip service to love. It is instead an empathy with your brother to the extent of that which you feel the pain as if it was your own self or your family members.
At the moment the part to focus on is that last sentence. It strips away any excuse for inaction on the part of all the pious “amen-ers” and “praise God-ers” who equate churchgoing and tithe-paying with loving God. It clearly presents God’s instructions on the application of your love for Him to His chosen proxy: your Christian brothers and sisters. Particularly those in dire need. After all, it could just as well be you who is pushing that shopping cart down the street collecting aluminum cans.
Again, any favorable mention of tithing or over-funding a preacher is not found within these scriptures.
Luke 5:4-9 and John 21:5-11 are examples of how quickly fortunes can change. God could make us all rich if that was his plan, and in many ways He already has, but then what? By always having the least fortunate (by comparison to the rest of society) in our community, and by having our own times of plenty and times of need; we have opportunities readily available submit to the instructions of Christ and achieve the blessings of helping an unfortunate neighbor.
Proverbs 28:8 speaks of the rewards of helping the needy as does Psalm 112:9.
Here are some more: Luke 18:22-30, 19:8; Acts 4:32-37, 9:36 (gave alms, not tithe), 10:2-4,31 (more alms), 20:35; Romans 12:13; 2Corinthians 8:13, 9:5-15; Gal 2:10, 6:10, Eph 4:28; James 2:14-17.
Psalm 41:1 “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him [the giver] in time of trouble.”
Luke 11:41 “But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.”
Luke 11:42, follows up on that statement and equates giving alms with justice and the love of God, as does 1John 3:17.
Luke 14:13-14 “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be compensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Luke 12:33 “Sell that ye have, and give alms [Alms is Strongs #1654, acts of compassion or benefit to the poor]; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”
|“This nexus between selfless generosity and eternal life can be found throughout”
First Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich inthis world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute [to the needy], willing to communicate [share some of their wealth]; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
This nexus between selfless generosity to the poor, and eternal life, can be found throughout the New Covenant. It all ties in with the Old Covenant as well.
If all of those scriptures are not definitive enough for you, try Proverbs 14:31 which states: “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” In other words – you “honor God with your wealth” by being gracious (helping) the needy brethren.
Are you still unclear about it? Here’s Jesus speaking in Matt 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it [helped, clothed, or fed] unto one of the least of these my brethren [the poor and humble], ye have done it unto me.”
Jesus is not talking (nor does he ever) about giving to hireling preachers or church enterprises as being a means of “giving to Him”. Instead, He clearly identified himself with the least fortunate of the Israel people – the materially poor. In other words, if you choose to feed or help a poor man or his family, it is as if you are feeding or helping a hungry Jesus (God) himself.
Now, some may argue whether or not Jesus was God incarnate, or the Son of God, or a “prophet of God”, or whatever, but this is all a side issue and distraction in regard to the tithe subject. The point is that in any event, at the very least Jesus represented the will of God in His words and deeds. Thus He was close enough to God to clearly make the point of that scripture:Helping the poor = helping/honoring Jesus = honoring God.
John 12:4-50 “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is life eternal: the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak.”
A common reply to all this may be “Yes, of course we should give to the needy, but that’s secondary. ‘Honor God with your wealth’ or ‘giving to God’ means first and foremost “giving to the church or preacher” doesn’t it?”
Well, of course we all know where you heard that from, right? I hope that by now you realize that we cannot depend on certain self-interested parties like the church or the preacher for reliable information on this subject.
You can actually answer that question yourself – After reading that last batch of scriptures on giving to the poor, try a search of your Bible and prove me wrong: How many scriptures can you find in the entire Bible that instruct, or provide examples for you to give money, especially 10% of your income, to today’s preachers?
How many scriptures are there that say that your offerings to God belong to the church corporation to pay off the mortgage, or for the new Mustang for the preacher’s daughter? My count is that there are exactly none.
How many scriptures indicate that a wealthy preacher is part of God’s plan? Same answer: None.
- There was the anomalous tithe to Melchisadek, which we’ve already gone over.
- There was tithing to Levites and offerings to the Aaronite priests in the Old Covenant, being the mandate of a specific contract which expired and is now obsolete.
- There are restrictive references to only basic sustenance and hospitality for God’s prophets of old and to His workers in the New Covenant, such as voluntary support of the Apostles (John 12:6) excess of which was in turn used to help the poor (John 13:29, Acts 4:35).
Luke 8:3 “And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
Matt 8:18-19 “And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
3John 1:4-8 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; [Food and hospitality to itinerant disciples] Which have born witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
Because that for His name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.”
This standard of austerity directed by Jesus and adhered to by the Apostles and disciples seems to also have been practiced by the prophets of the Old Covenant (Moses, Num 16:15; Samuel, 1Sam 12:3-4; Elisha, 2Kings 5:15-16).
This concept of giving to God or honoring God by giving spiritual and material comfort to the needy, prisoners, and the downtrodden fits perfectly with the doctrine of brotherly love instructed in the scriptures.
Faith, Hope, and Charity
We have all heard 1Corinthians 13:13 “But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
That word “love” is Strong’s #26 which means benevolence and empathy. The King James Bible in this case is much more accurate when it translates #26 as “charity”. So if you read 1Corinthians 13, understand that every time you run across the word “love”, or in the KJV “charity”, it means empathy and benevolence to a degree that it is as if they were a close family member, or even as if it were your own need, as in “love your neighbor as yourself”.
Tie in this concept with all the previous scriptures about honoring God by helping the needy, and you will see that this is a continuous theme that started in the Old Covenant, but really expands in the New Covenant.
This theme of charitable love certainly does not omit preachers, but it does omit giving to the ones who are not poor. It excludes entirely and without question the charlatanesque preachers of any financial class who misuse their position of trust to deceive or manipulate their listeners for the sake of financial gain.
We hear a lot of preaching about Law-keeping, and even more about faith as being the foundations of Christianity, but this brotherly benevolent love appears to trump them both. Paul states that faith is more important than Law-keeping (Hebrews chapters 10-11, Romans Chapter 3, Galatians Chapter 4, etc), and in 1Corinthians 13:13 he states that this charitable love is even greater than faith.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Charity is greatest because that is where the rubber meets the road – where words and pontification and your faith and hope are put into practice by mastering your materialistic instincts and shelling out some of your cash for a cause that provides nothing visible in return to you.
Matt 19:21, Luke 18:22 and Mark 10:21 – “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
How did we get from those clearly worded instructions about giving to the poor and embracing non-materialism, to what we have today with people finagled into giving a tenth of their income, and willing their estates to preachers and to the church corporations which are supposed to be a spiritually led institutions? Answer: the preachers told them that that is what “giving to God” means.
Do those quoted instructions of Jesus apply to every Christian? To a certain degree yes, and some may want to argue that because they assume that the concept of generosity would drive the giver into total destitution. Don’t forget: in order to give, a person must first be prosperous enough to have something to give. The idea is to bring the poor up to a decent living, not to bring everyone else down to poverty.
There is certainly no argument however, that scriptural instructions calling for total non-materialism certainly do apply to those who claim to seek that “higher calling”; what we would todaycall “God’s workmen”, “ministers”, “pastors”, “priests”, or in a word – “preachers”: Those who claim a ministerial or leadership status of some sort as a “man of God”.
|“The instruction for true preachers is to give up materialism,”
Leading from Behind
If someone wants to be a leader, then guess what? They should lead. Lead by example, and that example is the instructions and behavior of Jesus Christ.
Talking, and shouting, and kvetching at a pulpit is not leading. Complaining about the “evil of the world” or condemning the congregation for their “lack of obedience” to the preacher, is not leading.
Whining about what a tough job it is to be a preacher, is not leading.
True leaders do as they say, and then raise up more leaders, just as Jesus did. They do not surround themselves with ideologically cloned yes men, or create a flock of unquestioning followers that are dependent on the paid preacher for guidance and who cannot effectively think for themselves to defend their own beliefs.
The fact is, that Biblical instruction for true preachers is to give up materialism, just as joining the military entails your loss of freedom and self-direction. This is confirmed by the term “take up the cross” which is an idiom for physical self-discipline and self-denial. Does this sound like the lifestyle of your preacher?
By mis-defining the term “Giving to God” and applying the giving part of it to themselves, preachers have robbed God by depriving the poor of the potential gifts that God has instructed, and they have robbed the givers of the treasure in heaven they would have received had their generosity been directed to the poor as scripture indicates.
I mean, is not treasure in heaven the goal of all goals and what everyone is supposed to want? Not a pile of gold and jewels in a cloud, but the treasure of God’s approval – the evidence for a favorable judgment in the afterlife?
This “giving” can also include things like hiring the poor to work, helping to establish them in their own business, fixing their roof, forgiving a loan, and the most common concept that people do not recognize as helping the poor: tipping the waiter/waitress.
More than one pro-tithe preacher has mocked this practice with a jackassism that went something like “you’ll tip a waitress 15%, but you won’t give God 10%?”
Well, yes, Mr. (and Ms.) Preacher, I would because it is much more scriptural to tip the low paid workers than it is to do what you are demanding.
As I have explained above, when preachers say give to God, it really means “give to me (the preacher)”. Preachers like this do not want the pocket change involved in a tip, they want 10% of a family’s entire income, from every family in the congregation, all year long.
Furthermore, most of them do not actually need it as much as they just plain want it to add to their present abundance and luxury.
The waitress or similar laborer on the other hand is very likely to be on the low end of the economic scale (poor), otherwise they would not be waiting on tables or other low paying job. So a situation like this is a good chance to help someone out, while giving them encouragement and showing them respect for a job well done. This can include anyone like a cleaning lady or a kid that mows your grass. It is the very essence of what the “don’t muzzle the ox” law is talking about, and has absolutely nothing to do with a tenth of your income.
Believe me, that 10-20% unexpected tip has much more of a positive impact on the poor person than it would on the average church business.
Another preacher/prophetess made national news by refusing to pay any gratuity at all, citing the above-quoted preacher’s line of thinking. She then had the waitress fired for not keeping this niggardly act a secret. So this attitude of greed and arrogance is not exactly rare among preachers.
By applying the “always call your opponent what you are” technique made famous by a communist training handbook, preachers spin these observations 180 degrees and say that it’s non-tithers who actually steal from the poor, because they are not paying their “poor tithe”.
As a propaganda ploy they will dress their tithe doctrine in the skirts and aprons of widows and the panda shoes of orphans, and go on and on promoting the idea that people who are anti-tithe are anti-poor, or anti-orphan. I heard this asinine statement put forth by one preacher who was actually proud of his claim that he gave the magnificent sum of 5% of his ill-gotten tithe proceeds to those on his list of needy people.
This is the same modus operandi used by some of the world’s most well-known charities: suck up fortunes in donations; hog the lion’s share for inflated administrative costs (salaries and bonuses to themselves); give a small fraction to the intended cause; and then brag about what a good job they are doing.
This is an iconic example of Luke 16:1-9 and the crafty steward who used his position to steal from his master to gain the good will of the people.
“And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my Lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my Lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him,Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
Basically it is the concept of hush money or buying friends; casting bread upon the waters to generate a favorable public relations image. In politics it is called “pork barrel spending” or just “pork”. The concept involves someone giving away a little money that rightfully belongs to others, in order to buy the good will of the people for themselves, and to make the people think twice about voicing any dissent against that person’s shady character. This tactic still works beautifully to this day. I know a family who in a time of disaster got $500 from the preacher who reserves 5% of his income for cases like this.
The recipient family thinks this preacher is a great guy and their loyalty to him has been fortified. They apparently never stopped to realize that this $500 represented $10,000 that the preacher took in through tithes. This family was actually robbed of $9500.00 that they might have gotten if the preacher taught his followers the true scriptural means of “giving to God”. As it stands, the family is happy and the preacher is rich, so what more could you want? The best scams are the ones that go unidentified.
In a scriptural reality, the numbers should be reversed with the preacher keeping perhaps as much as the $500 to cover expenses, and the $9500 going to the needy. Alas, we are not dealing with God’s Kingdom on Earth, but instead with a man-made forgery of that Kingdom. It is a mini-kingdom where the with your wealth”which is how we truly “honor Godpreachers call the shots by creating their own interpretation and intent of scripture, and God’s Word is simply a manipulable prop that is used as a means to an end of achieving the preacher’s personal goals and prosperity, not primarily the ends that Jesus or the Apostles had in mind.
In a nutshell, preachers like this are simply buying friends, honor, respect, and approval with stolen money, just like the unjust steward did.
I may not be a math whizz, but if I was needy I think I would prefer to see the goodwill power of the congregation unleashed, and get ten dollars directly from a concerned Christian, than to have them give it to a preacher who in turn passed on to me only 50 cents (5%) out of that ten dollars.
Ideally, the above mentioned family would have been admonished right from the beginning to create an emergency storehouse for themselves and their neighbors with part of the money that they saved by never tithing in the first place.
I think the word racket is appropriate to describe the “tithe helps the needy” facet of tithe mythology that certain preachers engage in.
On second thought, maybe incredible lie is a better term.
Luke 16:10 to 15 follows up the above scripture thusly: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in [eschewing] the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches [spiritual truth]?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
|“Love your neighbor as yourself”, which is how we truly “honor God with your wealth”
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
Like the Pharisees that were just mentioned, today’s preachers will also deride any thought that they need to be non-materialistic in order to be a true man of God.
When asked “who is my neighbor?“, Jesus presented the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 not only to illustrate the concept of helping others at your own expense as being a virtuous act, but Jesus also pointed out the uselessness and unneighborliness of the professional so-called men of God in the situation. He doubles the insult by portraying the Samaritan (considered at that time to be what today is called mouth-breathing “trailer trash”) as being more virtuous than the pious, high class Pharisees.
Organized churchianity of the time was contradicted and disrespected repeatedly by Jesus, in favor of a loosely structured but closely knit sincere Christian society known as the Body of Christ living according to the Perfect Law of Liberty.
Everything that the Samaritan spent to help the robbed man, could be counted as having been given to God, according to many of the above mentioned scriptures. It all has nothing to do with tithing. Tithing was a totally different activity altogether. The reality of scripture is that giving to God involves the second most important Kingdom concept, according to Jesus, that we have all heard, but may not really take to heart: “Love your neighbor as yourself”, which is how we truly “honor God with your wealth” (Proverbs 3:9).
Job 29:12-16 describes the concept and blessings of helping others very well; though he never mentions tithing.
Acts 11:28-29 explains how the new Christians who managed to prosper during a famine each “set apart something for ministering to send unto the brethren in Jerusalem”. Again, it was freewill giving; no mention of tithe, not even a poor tithe.
So to answer the question: “Doesn’t ‘Giving to God’ mean ‘giving to the church or to the preacher’?” The answer is a big, fat, unequivocal and emphatic “NO”.
If it is not depicted or instructed in scripture, then why do it? If in fact scripture repeatedly and succinctly condemns the concept of paid preachers, and indicates nothing more than daily basic necessities for true preachers, how can today’s custom of paying preachers be anything other than a tradition of man?
Flee the Wrath; Malachi’s prophesy of John the Baptist
In Chapter 11 “God Robbers”, the subject was examined regarding Malachi’s prophesy about the future appearance of John the Baptist. Since we now understand the scriptural definition of “giving to God”, we can revisit that prophesy to see what it is all about.
Malachi’s writing is trying to convince a hopelessly corrupt religious establishment to repent. It appears that, almost as if he realized these people were incorrigible, he is given a vision of the future (Malachi 3:1-6) and inserts this future prophesy as a hopeful consolation to the dismal state of affairs that he was addressing in his time. It’s like: “Oh well, we’re in a world of hurt at the moment, but better days will surely come…”
Malachi 3:1-6 reads: “ Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messengerof the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
We know for a fact that the first sentence is talking about John the Baptist, because Christ Himself identifies it as such in Matt 11:10 and Luke 7:27. The rest of the first two paragraphs could be describing John or Jesus, as both had the same message and both had a purifying effect on the hearts of their listeners, but this “messenger” spoken of here is almost certainly John the Baptist.
Obviously, John spoke of many soul-reaching concepts to move the hearts of multitudes to repentance and of course, baptism, but the only specific instructions that we have from John concerning personal repentance have to do with compassion for your brethren. Two of these statements were made to tax collectors and soldiers in Luke 3:13-14, and the third statement of instruction in preparation for the Kingdom of God was to the people in general in Luke 3:11 “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”
Luke 3:7-14 states, according to John the Baptist, a requirement needed in order to flee the coming wrath is to basically give half your substance away to those who are in need. The figure of half may be literal or it may be symbolic, but the concept is apparent – to break the ties to materialism, selfishness, and arrogance based on wealth. These were the vices that the Levites of Malachi’s day were exhibiting. Also, to care for each other and to instill the idea that having anything more than enough to fill your immediate needs is not necessary.
Notice that this material wealth was not directed to go to John, his disciples, the temple, or anything similar that a modern preacher would have tried to pull. John specified “to those who have none”.
In Luke 3:8 John describes this giving as fruits worthy of repentance, but repentance from what? It is apparently repentance from the idolatry of selfishness, materialism, and the arrogance that wealth creates. What else would a prescription like giving your stuff away be meant to cure?
The Pharisees definitely loved money (Luke 16:14), but we can see that John was speaking to the multitudes (which includes us), as well. Apparently the people were not far behind the Pharisees in their sin of materialism and what we call “looking out for #1”. Just as it also was in the days of Malachi, and just as it also is today. How could it be otherwise when so many are following materialistic preachers?
|“Godly giving done right”
When Malachi stated “and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” it was apparently looking forward to a New Covenant time of Godly giving done right – giving with gladness to those in need.
This prophesy describes the happenings of Acts 4:35-37 “And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
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, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
We have here a specific mention of a purified Levite, as well as other Israelites giving righteous offerings just as Malachi said, and just as God’s messenger (John) had instructed.
So these are not difficult steps to go from Malachi’s prophesy, to John the Baptist and his teachings, to the resulting spiritualism and pleasant, righteous offerings that Malachi spoke of.
Obviously this prophesy has nothing at all to do with validating a New Covenant tithe, since all New Covenant giving described is freewill. For the same reason it appears to have everything to do with a general concept of non-materialism and a purifying of hearts.
To support and confirm this aspect of John’s teachings, notice Luke 19:8 where Zachaeus, obviously sincere and versed in the Law of God states to Jesus: “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
So there you have a New Covenant second witness to giving half of your possessions to the poor as a sign of sincerity, repentance, and commitment; plus the other statements previously mentioned stating that you should give all of what you have to the poor.
We see nothing however, anywhere in scripture that says to give a tenth of your income to a non-Levite preacher. We do not see it because it is not there.
And by the way – when the day comes when you show your preacher that a modern tithe is indisputably a big deception and fraud, is he going to repent and say what Zacheaus said: “if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”? Is your Law-teaching preacher going to sell his investment holdings, and stash of silver, and give back to the congregation four times what he’s taken from them (fraudulently) as tithes?
Even if it was constructive fraud (done inadvertently), Leviticus 5:15, and the rest of Chapter 6 explains that the penalty is to return the principal amount, plus twenty percent if the crime is done unwittingly. If intentionally, then according to Exodus 22:1 the penalty is four or five times the amount stolen. This is what Zacheaus was talking about.
Perhaps the question should really be: Will your Law-teaching preacher return anything at all? Will your “loves God’s Law”, “truth-seeking” preacher return even one phony copper-plated zinc cent as he would surely instruct you to do it the situation were reversed? Don’t bet the farm on it.
Additionally, we see in Leviticus 6:2 “If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbor in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbor;”
So along with it being a common theft from your neighbor to preach a false tithe, it is also an offense against God to steal, extort, deceive or defraud your brethren as the tithe doctrine necessitates.
A Most Critical, Unrecognized Scripture
Getting back to Luke 3:8 – If you think I am making too much of that scripture, or that I am some kind of liberal, daisy-wearing peacenik for pointing out Paul’s emphasis on benevolent charitable love, let us see what Jesus had to say about John’s and Paul’s instructions.
In Mathew 25:34 Jesus says to those that He has put on his right hand “Come ye, the blessed of My Father! Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Sounds great, and again, is this not what everyone wants? Is not this the eventual ultimate prize in life that Christians ought to seek? Would you not love to hear those words spoken to you or your family after a plane crash?
So then, who is it that is being addressed in this scripture, and what can we do to be put in the same boat with them? How did they manage to deserve this wonderful reward? Jesus goes on to explain in Matthew 25:35-40 that those who were blessed were the ones who unselfishly gave of their time, effort, and treasure, and had compassion and fed and clothed the needy, the strangers, helped the sick, and visited prisoners.
Again let me point out – no mention of money to a church or preachers. Do you not find that even a little odd? Christ did not mention His preachers because it would have been redundant. His true workers were automatically included with the poor by definition; if they were not materially poor, they were not really His workers.
To make sure there was no misunderstanding, Jesus underscores the importance of His statement by iterating the inverse of what He just said. In the following verses 41-46 he points out that if you do not help your brother in need, and do not feed him, and do not clothe him, etc., you are accursed and doomed to the fires of hell.
See for yourself – Matthew:25:31-46
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and
|“It is like a New Covenant version of the blessing and cursing of Deuteronomy 28”
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
Do you get the idea, from the type of language that he used, that this is a pretty important aspect of achieving God’s Kingdom? It is like a New Covenant version of the blessing and cursing of Deuteronomy 28, but how often have you heard it preached as such? Or have you ever heard it preached in a meaningful, relevant manner? I have not.
No secret meanings. No “kinda, sorta sounds like” fictional nonsense. No manipulative preachercraft shenanigans or hookah smoke of any type needed for you to plainly see what this scripture says, and what it means.
It is the proverbial dead elephant in the living room that many preachers just work around as if it was not there. This scripture is so plain and unambiguous that it can not really be spun to have any other meaning than what it actually says, so it appears to be largely ignored. If anything, it is glossed over in passing, and yet, look at how crucial it is for us to pay attention to.
So, are you going to believe the preachers who claim they would never deceive you when they say “the Kingdom will get here when everyone starts to tithe”, or are you going to believe the words of Jesus Christ saying you will inherit the Kingdom by being kind to the poor and needy?
There is also this misconception floating around that by giving money to the church, they will in turn take care of the poor so that you do not have to worry about it. This is true only to a very limited extent. Like the Pharisees who tithed miniscule amounts of herbs just so they could say they tithed: some churches have just enough of a program so that they can make the claim that they are socially conscious and help the poor. Our philanthropic preacher friend who claimed to give 5% of his ill-gotten gains is a typical example.
Many of these services are window dressing for the church business to create a favorable public relations image to the world. These activities often consist of merely directing the needy to the various government welfare programs which are funded by tax money taken from others who in some cases are less fortunate than those getting the welfare. They are no substitutes for the efficient, scripturally instructed examples of Christians giving, face to face, directly to the needy.
This is not to say that there are no church organizations that are specifically dedicated to helping those in need. I am sure there are, and some may be much better at doing this than others. In these cases they should be happy to (or must, by law) show you their books to show you how much of church income is going to the charitable cause, and how much goes to church overhead.
Only by having this information will you know whether or not it is a worthy cause and if the money that you give to it is truly “going to God” by the scriptural definition.