TITHING: A BLESSING?
This article is intended as a continuation of last month’s article on tithing. It seems that some of those who push "New Covenant Theology" have a tendency to present matters such as tithing, which originated in the Old Testament (albeit prior to Moses), as a burden no longer to be carried by God’s people. The attitude that comes across by some is that if we preach tithing as a part of our worship we are not experiencing the freedom promised under the New Covenant. Liberty, according to this thinking, would include freedom from obligation to tithe. In other words, a Christian is at liberty to do as he will with that which is his. No one, they say, has the right or responsibility to instruct another to give a portion of all that he receives back to God. While they may speak of giving, the word tithing seems to stir up tense feelings.
The problem with this thinking is that it misses the point of great blessing that is associated with tithing. Let’s recall the verses from Proverbs and Malachi associated with the command of God to tithe. Proverbs 3:10 promises, So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. Sounds like the fruit of your labor will be increased. The impression is not that you will have to work harder, but that the work you do will be more fruitful!
A similar and even more impressive promise is given in Malachi 3:10-12, 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. God challenges the nation of Israel and individual families to put Him to the test: "prove me now herewith." God promises to them, and I believe to us as well, blessings from heaven (more than mere financial gain), protection from economic disaster, and a visible witness of God’s goodness to all who see us. God will testify to the nations, including our family, friends and neighbors that He blesses those who honor Him.
To ignore God by not submitting our finances to Him is to say to all who know us that we have taken ownership of all we have and forgotten that we are but stewards of God’s blessings to us. If we view all that we have as His, then it is easy for us to submit whatever portion of that money or possession He demands of us. His burden really is light! The more we give and the more cheerfully we respond in the giving, the greater the blessings from heaven to our own souls and lives.
Is obedience necessary to obtain the associated blessings? Some who press "New Covenant Theology" stress that there are no conditions placed upon God’s blessings. Following their emphasis no person should ever feel the need to obey God in order to receive blessings from God. But the New Testament would lead us to a different conclusion. Interestingly enough the Apostle Paul references another commandment from the Old Covenant that has a blessing attached to it. Ephesians 6:2, Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise). Even in relationship to giving, the Apostle states that God loveth a cheerful giver. He also specifically teaches that blessings received are directly linked to the amount given: He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully (II Cor. 9:6).
Testimonies of God’s people abound that support the truth of God’s promises. Many have experienced financial difficulty and other painful struggles in life when they hoarded all God gave them. It wasn’t until they began to act in obedience to God, out of faith in His promises, that specific positive changes began to be seen in their lives. God keeps His Word!
It is interesting to note that of the many examples of monetary giving (tithes and/or offerings) that God might have preserved for us in His Word, He points out those who were not rich in this world’s goods. Remember the "widow’s mite?" And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (Luke 21:1-4) While nothing is said specifically of the blessing the poor woman received as a result of her giving, that the Lord Himself took note and pointed her out was a blessing money could not buy. It does not require a big bank account or a large income to tithe and receive God’s blessings.
The Apostle Paul points to the giving of the churches in Macedonia as an example to us all. This church gave of its poverty (II Cor. 8:1,2). Paul speaks to them of their wealth in Jesus Christ. In the Philippian letter he assured the church that God is able to supply all their needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). And the Corinthian church was exhorted to give liberally, trusting God to bless them according to the nature and the generosity of their giving (II Cor. 9:5-7).
Blessings associated with faithfulness in tithing is not merely an Old Testament, outdated principle. God still promises to bless the cheerful giver. He loves the cheerful giver! You can commit yourself to giving freely and liberally with the confidence that God will take care of all your needs. You can give generously understanding that it is still more blessed to give than to receive. The promise of blessings to those who tithe is still applicable to God’s people. So, bring your tithes into God’s storehouse. His New Testament storehouse is the church, the house of God (I Tim. 3:15). God is still honored by your tithes and offerings. The earthly work of the heavenly kingdom is still funded by the giving of God’s chosen people. Preachers of the gospel are supported, poor saints are cared for, and the church carries out the gospel mandates by way of the funds given through tithes and offerings. It is still God’s way of providing for His work. His blessings are still attached to this long-standing act of worship.
Kyle White, Pastor