Malachi 3:8-10: “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. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
Previously, I gave examples of denominations disagreeing with each other. But there is little controversy regarding “tithes and offerings” and “the storehouse”.
Most denominations teach their assemblies are “the storehouse”. The officers of the denominations and the pastors of the assemblies are financially supported by the tithes they have taught the people to give. Tithes and offerings were once used to support the Levites fulfilling their priestly duties, but such priests are gone with the passing old covenant, and now tithes are used to support the present-day ‘ministerial’.
As you know Malachi 3:8-10 is quoted often. Now let us look at a few verses from Malachi rarely quoted:
Malachi 1:6-8: A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ “You offer defiled food on My altar. But you say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil?
Malachi 3:8-10 tells us the Lord was angered when the “sons of Jacob” withheld tithes from the Lord. Malachi 1:6-8 reveals He was enraged when the Levite priests offered sick and blind animal sacrifices to Him.
The people who were “cursed with a curse” for robbing God by withholding tithes and offerings, were certainly “cursed with a curse” for allowing the Levite priests to offer “the lame and sick” on their behalf. (And the same curse was the result of every other act of disobedience.)
Using the same yardstick, if the new covenant believer is “cursed with a curse” for not tithing, why is he not cursed for not sacrificing unblemished animals to the Lord?
Yes, the thought of ‘Pastor’ Whoever sacrificing animals in the church is bizarre. But is it not equally irrational that the old requirement of tithing to the Levites somehow got transformed into tithing to the local church?
Somewhere in times past someone made a giant leap from Scripture and established a mandate that has no biblical foundation. Everyone would agree no person has authority to add to God’s Word, yet this violation has been embraced, warmly, by evangelicalism.
That God placed on the Israelites a charge to tithe to “the storehouse” is clearly written in God’s Word, but who has the right to lay upon the christian community an obligation that is most definitely not God’s Word? Like the magician pulling a rabbit from his hat, present-day evangelicalism simply pulled this financially lucrative doctrine of tithing out of the old covenant.
But, one might argue, if tithing was the will of the Lord then (under the old covenant), is that not an indication that it is His will today? Perhaps that question is best answered by a question….
Because it was the will of the Lord to offer unblemished animal sacrifices then, is that not an indication that it is His will today? And…. if it was the will of the Lord for men of Israel to be circumcised before Calvary, is that not an indication that christian men should be circumcised today? The same question could be asked of the many other ordinances imposed upon the Israelites that the church totally (and rightfully) ignores.
The Lord was angered because Israelites were disobedient to a very direct command (tithing). He is not angered by the evangelical who does not tithe because He gave them no such command. Why would He be angry with christians who do not tithe and not be angry with christians for not sacrificing animals? Tell me, is this not sound reasoning?
Why is it that tithing is the only old covenant ordinance that was pulled out of the old covenant and imposed upon the new covenant believer? The answer is not pleasant….
The way it is must be financed, and the doctrine of tithing to the local assembly is the financial foundation upon which it is built. Take it away and evangelicalism collapses!
Matthew 6:21: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Your heart follows your treasure. The one capturing your treasure also captures your heart. The way it is or Jesus Christ…. it is an issue of lordship.
John 16:13: when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;
“All truth” includes how much to give (very important) and where (equally important). You have paid for your giving with your time and energy. Directing your gifts is directing your life, the amount of life you spent earning it. Commit your “treasure” to Jesus as an act of obedience, and your heart will follow your treasure and be captured by Him.
The way one obeys Jesus is by submitting to the lordship of “the Spirit of truth”, “the Spirit of Christ”. One day you will give an account to Jesus for the choices you make in your here and now. (Rm.14:12)
2 Timothy 2:15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The direction and success of your life is affected greatly by your decision to tithe to your local church or to give as the Spirit of God leads. If you are still confused over the issue of tithing it is wisdom to prayerfully study the matter for yourself and come to your own conclusion. As you make your study, look for a precedent. Is there a biblical occasion whereby a christian tithed? Is there evidence that Paul or Peter or any other writer tithed or taught others to do so? May the Lord help you to “rightly (divide) the word of truth”.
1 Timothy 5:17,18: Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
This verse shows (again) the discrepancy between God’s Word and the way it is. Elders in the local church are not paid for their services. (Some churches define an elder as one who is unpaid.) Since he isn’t paid he will be used only sparingly to minister God’s Word, regardless of how qualified he may be.
Strangely, this verse is used to justify the pastor’s salary. Being a pastor elevates him above the elders in the church but he uses a verse in reference to elders to rationalize his salary. (“The laborer is worthy of his wages.”) Such are the ways of That’s Just The Way It Is! in evangelicalism.
1 Timothy 5:18: “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
The labourer teaching children downstairs in Sunday school is as “worthy of his (her) wages” as the pastor preaching to adults upstairs.
1 Corinthians 9:7: Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
The pastor doesn’t, but many others do. Sunday school teachers (of children and adults), elders and deacons, many evangelists, those leading Bible studies, people working the streets talking to prostitutes and addicts, those in music ministry, etc., etc. How much more would these people be able and willing to produce if they were financially supported and didn’t have to work full time in secular employment?
The above verse suggests wages should be food and drink and the expenses incurred by ministry. There is no suggestion the collection plate must fund a high standard of living. Because a few take so much, others must labour at their “own expense”.
James 2:9: if you show partiality, you commit sin,
Paying a pastor for his services while overlooking others is committing the sin of partiality.
1 Corinthians 9:9: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.”
Partiality is feeding some ‘oxen’ while muzzling others.
Titus 3:13,14: Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Christians are not nearly as fruitful as they should or could be. They neglect obedience to New Testament guidelines because they have been taught (coerced?) to blindly tithe to their church, thereby depleting both their funds and their faith.
Christians have learned to ignore “Zenas the lawyer and Apollos” (unless they happen to be attending their church, and even then it is ‘iffy’), the stressed widow next door living on welfare, the evangelist wanting to go but cannot.
Many starving children in third world nations would be fed, clothed and housed if less of the believers’ money was used to finance buildings and salaries. More evangelists and missionaries would be sent out, more gospel tracts produced, and other “good works” maintained if only christians were encouraged to submit their donations to the lordship of the Word and the Holy Spirit.
Titus 1:11: teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
It is so obvious God never intended the new covenant believerr to tithe. How can it be that denominations scrap over many other issues but are in harmony with a doctrine so obviously suspect?
Perhaps most in the ‘ministerial’ are not “teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain”, but do so out of ignorance, repeating what they have been taught, assuming those ‘above’ them are expert at what they teach. Perhaps, like most of us, they are simply followers of followers, victims of victims, having an inordinate loyalty to That’s just the way it is!.
We have all sinned the sin of preaching as gospel truth fallacies of the way it is. And we must all give an account. (Ouch!)
1 Corinthians 11:1: Imitate me,
Most envy Paul’s accomplishment but few imitate him. Since he accomplished so much, since he has the respect of the entire christian community worldwide, since his letters were “given by inspiration of God, and (are) profitable for doctrine” (2Tm.3:16), should the church not heed his example and “imitate” him? If not, whom should we imitate? What standard should the church adopt? Whose word should be followed?
1 Corinthians 2:4: my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
“Demonstration of the Spirit and of power” is sorely absent. The church does not have the power of Paul because it does not have the commitment of Paul.
1 Corinthians 11:1: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Paul could “imitate Christ” because he had developed an intimacy with Christ. His letters reveal his commitment to Jesus. Jesus taught the words one speaks reveal one’s heart, and surely the same applies to written words. Paul spoke Christ and Paul wrote Christ. In this particular letter (1 Corinthians) he mentioned the name of Jesus or made reference to Him as “Lord” approximately 120 times!
It is incredible that in spite of all the teaching and preaching today, the name of Jesus is infrequently mentioned. Read a periodical, listen to a christian television program, read a ‘how-to’ book and usually (not always) the name of Jesus is seldom mentioned. Many (most?) pastors do not mention Jesus’ name 120 times in a couple of months of Sunday-morning preaching.
Paul’s power was in his commitment to Christ. Listen to his heart….
Philippians 3:7,8: what things were gain to me, these things I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Paul was committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and both his letters and his lifestyle proved it.
2 Thessalonians 3:8: nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,
Paul was often supported by others for his work in the “ministry of reconciliation” and in this way he is imitated by those of the ‘ministerial’. The above verse, and others, establishes that he sometimes laboured with his hands for the sake of the ministry…. but in this way he is seldom imitated.
1 Corinthians 9:14: the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
This verse is often quoted, but there is another charge “the Lord has commanded”….
Matthew 10:8: Freely you have received, freely give.
These words of our Christ are rarely quoted and rarely heeded.
The precious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is big business. Many make their living marketing teaching tapes, CDs and videos, gospel music, testimonies, teaching books, music books, fictional books, ‘how-to’ books, inner healing books, how-to-reach-the-lost-for-Christ books, church growth books, Bibles, pictures of Jesus, posters of famous musicians, signatures of the famous, monthly publications, calendars, tracts, greeting cards, etc.
Many (most?) preachers sell their services. You have seen pulpits with an engraving of a cross or a dove or a Bible; some (most?) pulpits would be best depicted by a dollar sign! The people behind the pulpit wouldn’t be there were they not paid.
The pastor is there because it is part of his job description; he doesn’t want to share the pulpit with the unpaid because it would be hard to justify one preacher being supported and the other not. Some guest speakers demand a certain fee; others spend ten minutes or longer ‘working’ the congregation before taking a collection.
The evangelical pulpit, like other pulpits, is definitely not under the lordship of the Holy Spirit, but rather the lordship of the way it is.
Galatians 6:6: Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Yes, it is the responsibility of those who are spiritually fed through (not by, but through) the preacher/teacher to share what they have “with him who teaches”. Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of “him who teaches” to offer his services without charge to “him who is taught”.(“Freely you have received, freely give.”)
Philippians 4:17: Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Paul’s source of support was not those to whom he ministered; his source was Jesus Christ. He loved the Philippian believers and wanted them to be well rewarded at the judgement seat of Christ. His love was not ministry but people, a consequence of his love for Jesus. (Jn.21:17)
He gave to the Philippians freely. The Philippians responded by sending “aid once and again for (his) necessities”. (Not luxuries, but “necessities”.) That’s how it is supposed to work.
Titus 1:7: not greedy for money,
This is one of many criteria for the one serving as an overseer. It is quite common for the pastor’s salary to be greater than that of the average wage earner in the congregation. (It is uncommon for the people to know the amount of that salary.) The lead pastor in a large church can hope to make a lot of money, more than the combined respectable wages of a working husband and wife in the congregation. (And because he is licensed with the government he gets taxation benefits for which most don’t qualify.)
There is no New Testament verse suggesting preachers of the gospel should receive a salary sufficient to support a lifestyle beyond frugal. (As a matter of fact, there is no verse substantiating a salary.)
1 Timothy 6:7-9: For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
The way it is has its own creed: “The minister of the gospel has every right to live as comfortably as if he applied his energies to a secular job. Is it fair that he should have to live conservatively while there are some in the assembly living affluently?”
2 Timothy 2:3: You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Almost always soldiers are not well paid, at least not compared to civilians. Not every christian is a “soldier of Jesus Christ” though each should be; most are content to be ‘civilians’, and observe the battle from a safe distance.
And not all spiritual soldiers are good ones. Some murmur and complain and compete to have the same lifestyle as civilians. They simply refuse to “endure hardship”.
Others would do anything to “please him who enlisted him as a soldier”. Their reward at the judgement seat will far surpass the complaining soldiers and the civilians who refused to join the battle. It may not be fair that the soldier does not live as well as the civilian; nonetheless he made the choice to serve. If soldiers were equally paid there would be insufficient funds for weapons and uniforms and transportation.
In the Lord’s army the supply is limited by the faith of the church, and therefore there are always shortages. That is why a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” must “endure hardship”. A minister of the gospel who finances an expensive lifestyle by unduly withdrawing from the collection plate seriously impedes the work of God.
2 Corinthians 4:17: our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Paul was a good soldier. He was not well paid for his services, but now he eternally enjoys an “exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.
1 Corinthians 9:12: If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
I heard of a father-son team of pastors who work at a secular job and do not take a wage from the sizable church they serve. They “have not used this right”. It can be done. The money not spent on salaries can be used to further “the gospel of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 7:23: You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
That “price” was nothing less than the sacrifice of Christ at the hands of the Roman government. “Do not become slaves of men.” No matter whom others are following, you will do well to follow your Master. Bring your finances under the lordship of the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Do so out of loyalty and gratitude to Jesus.
It costs nothing to give.
Not one cent.
When we get to heaven and look back we will realize it wouldn’t have cost us anything to give. We could have given so much, brought the gospel to so many, at no cost.
It doesn’t make sense, but neither does feeding thousands of people with five loaves and a couple of fish.
It’s a different economy, this economy of Christ Jesus.
It doesn’t work by hoarding. Or by fear. Or by being chintzy.
It works by dispersing. And by faith. And by generosity.
Faith comes via relationship with Jesus. And so does generosity. We become like the One we walk with and gaze upon. And He is so generous.
So generous. “I lay down My life for the sheep.”
A shortage of generosity indicates a shortage of intimacy.
He gives seed to the sower. When the sower runs out of seed the Lord replenishes. He is faithful.
Jesus loves the poor. “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.”
He will replenish. It costs nothing to give. “Give, and it will be given to you.”
“With the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Give little, receive little. Give much, receive much. It costs nothing to give little; it costs nothing to give much.
God “gave His only begotten Son”, and now he has many sons and many daughters. It costs nothing to give.
“Jesus had compassion.” He gave out of compassion.
Jesus “has pity on the poor.” The poor of spirit. The financially poor. The fatherless. Those in need of salvation.
“Jesus, moved with compassion.”
“I have compassion on the multitude.”
In evangelicalism, there is a dearth of compassion. A lack of compassion is a lack of Jesus.
We need to return. We have strayed, and we have to go back.
We could be so fruitful. There is still time to lay up treasures in heaven. It’s not too late.
With Jesus comes faith and generosity and compassion and an abundance of fruit.
It’s time to return.
————————————————-A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
here and there
near and far
north and south
beneath and above
today and tomorrow
and ever after
song so pleasant
breath so fresh
drink so fine
blood so innocent
lily of the valley
bright morning star
fire of love
giver of life