Malachi - A Book of Warning Against Those Who Would Lead God's People
Chapter Three - Tithing the Truth
Y ou are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. - Malachi 3: 9 (ESV)
So we come to it. Malachi Chapter Three. More important to prosperity preachers than John 3: 16 and dare I say it; more important to the vast majority of churches today as well. I guess it was bound to happen. We are carnal creatures who reflectively think with carnality. The further the modern church dives off the theological cliff the more carnal we become. The more we seek to be relevant to a culture that leads people to hell the more carnal we will think. The truth however is that today's subject has roots deep down in church history. This has been the way the church has always operated. It is what the church has always taught. Over the centuries, the argument has been refined and polished to the point that even deep thinking Christians often accept this slice of false teaching without so much as reading correct contextualized Scriptures or even daring to think about questioning it. It is the sacred cow of the church; the third rail if you will. It is tithing. The notion that God has instructed Christians to pay 10% of their income to the church as an act of obedience. The reality however when it comes to the topic of tithing is that leadership is only about 10% correct. They are in essence and quite possibly in ignorance, tithing the truth.
Tithing never has and still is not today meant for Christians. There, I said it and I feel liberated already. I love watching the snake oil salesmen on "Christian" television these days. They swear that no one is saying that you can buy a miracle from God. No one is saying that you can buy favor or blessing from God. Yet in the next sentence they are speaking all of this nonsense about sowing your seed so you can reap a harvest! That is what you are saying! That is what the church is saying as well with their adherence to tithing. That is why it was embraced so universally. It is the essence of carnality when thinking about God. That we can somehow control Him. That we can somehow buy Him off. I know of pastors who have told newlyweds that they were not conceiving a child because they were not tithing correctly. I know pastors who have stripped lifelong church members of their membership because they didn't like their tithes. As if the church belonged to the pastor, and not the congregant. I know other pastors who do not abuse the system. They preach once or twice a year about giving and never get involved with knowing who gave what. While that is far more palatable, the problem again is that there is no tithing requirement for the church, period.
I recognize this is touchy subject for many because we have been conditioned for so long to equate blessings to tithing. We have been wrongly taught that our tithe is the display of our obedience to God. I understand why that "sells" so well too. The truth is that tithing is the easiest form of obedience we actually have. Tithing allows us to maybe look the other way on the things we are not so obedient about. Like lust, pride, and hatred. We can always come back to the fact that they told us to give 10% and by gosh that's what we did. So we are obedient...kinda. Once again, the carnality of man's thinking. Man will gladly pay 10% of his income to think that the rest of his disobedience matters less. Or that the 10% garners him some kind of favor with God. A Spiritual quid pro quo. But I ask you for the next few pages to put aside your conventional thinking. Put aside the myths that you have been taught and consider. Read the Scriptures for yourselves. First of all, let's start by looking at the New Testament pattern for giving:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2Corinthians 9: 6-7 (ESV)
A tithe is a forced requirement imposed by God, whereby 10% of the increase God has provided is given back for the work of the ministry. It is lifted from the Old Testament tithing system, where the Levitical priests received 10% of all agricultural produce from the other Hebrew tribes since they were not allowed to work. It had a reason within the system God had set up. It was never about money. Before you reflexively think that they did not have money back then - think again: