The Blessing of the Tithe

Malachi 3:10-12(KJV) 10Bring 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. 11And 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. 12And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

This week we have been studying the tithe. I believe this practice predates the law and is part of covenant relationship. God is the source of all we have. I believe it is a reasonable thing for us to give back to him the first ten percent of what he provides for us. Although this is certainly not the only thing we need to do to keep our heart right toward God where finances are concerned, I find it to be something that helps me.

This week we have focused on the way the tithe was used under the Mosaic Law. God instructed Israel to bring the tithe into the storehouse. For me, this is the local church. It was to be the inheritance of the tribe of Levi, those called to fulltime service in the house of God, so they would not have to work in the secular world. This was not some form of charity. This was God’s method of paying those whom he employed.

In the New Testament, I believe this system is the best way to care for those who meet our spiritual needs. This is not a matter of law or doctrine, but I believe it is the wisdom of God. We have used the tithe in this way for 24 years and it has produced great blessing in our church.

To finish our look at the practice of tithing, I want to point out the blessing that God ties to it in Malachi 3. The first thing he says in verse ten is that we can prove him in this. What does that mean? It means that God is challenging us to see if he will keep his Word. This is very interesting.

I do not know of another area where God makes this kind of statement. God is a faith God. Faith is not something you just “give a try.” You either believe God or not. The very nature implies that God is true to his Word and we can stand on the promises contained within it. The idea of proving God to see if he will do what he says he will do almost seems the opposite of faith to me. What is the significance of this?

I do not believe this means we can tithe for a week and see if it works. I believe the only way to receive the benefits we are going to talk about is to tithe because we believe God will do what he says. We must be willing to be faithful in this even if we see no results at first. If we are not faithful, we will never see the blessings. Most of the time, when people step out into something like tithing, things will get worse before they get better. The Devil does not want us to get established in truth so he tries to pluck it up before it really gets rooted in us.

Yet God does tell us to prove him in the tithe. I believe this is to emphasize to us how important these things are to God. We must still stand on the promise by faith, but God wants us to know that in this area we will see results. He will move on our behalf. If we tithe, certain things will happen. They may not happen in a week or a month, but they will happen. This is God’s covenant to us.

What will happen? God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing we cannot contain. Wow. That is almost too big for us to handle. What could the open windows of heaven mean to us today? I do not really know. I know it sounds like there is no need in my life that will go unmet if the windows of heaven were open over it. It sounds to me like God is saying that there are no limits to the blessing available to the tither.

Specifically this can mean different things to different people, but I think it is bigger than most of us are able to accept at face value. We recently went through a devastating flood in our area. It rained heavily for almost two days. When it rains that way, we sometimes say the heavens opened. This is the idea behind this statement concerning the tithe. God is willing to pour out a torrential rain of blessing on the tither. He will meet every need in abundance. We need to grasp this truth with our faith.

The reason this must be so is the covenant. God established the blood covenant with Abraham. The church lives in the age of the New Covenant, but the basis is still the idea of blood covenant. When two parties come into covenant together, what belongs to one belongs to the other. If I give the first fruits of my increase to my covenant partner, he will give to me the same and more. It is not that God needs to obligate himself to bless us. It is that this covenant relationship means the devil has no right to stop God from blessing me. I am in covenant with God. I am exercising that covenant by paying my tithe. The devil has no legal right to keep me from receiving the blessing of God.

God uses this extreme term so we will understand that it is his will to bless us abundantly. It is his will that our needs should be me. It is his will that we have the desires of our heart. The most important aspect of this blessing, however, is that we become the same kind of channel of blessing as our covenant partner. Note the next part of this blessing. “And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

In this study, I have tried to emphasis the balance in what God wants to do for us. He loves us. He wants to meet our needs. Nevertheless, there is a more important purpose in God’s heart. He wants to use us to bless others. If we are blessed so much that we cannot contain it, God’s intention is that we give it to others. Jesus taught that the man who simply built bigger barns to contain more was not rich toward God. That has not changed.

God wants to do something very big in the life of his covenant partners. When they bring him their tithe, he promises a huge blessing. He does not intend for us to squander this blessing on the lusts of the flesh. He expects us to become a channel of that blessing to the world around us. As we do, we are also able to share with people an even greater blessing. That is the blessing of knowing Jesus as savior and lord. That is the real point of all that God gives to us.

Release your faith in this blessing today. If you have never tithed, prove God in this and see if he will not do what he said. If you have been a tither for years but have not seen the blessing God says you should have, start to stir up your faith in this promise. If you are experiencing the blessing of the tithe, make sure that you are the channel God wants you to be. That is the best way to ensure that the channel of blessing continues in your life.

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What does the New Testament Say?

1 Corinthians 9:11-14(NKJV) 11If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12If 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. 13Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

In our study of divine prosperity, we have come to the practice of paying tithes. I am convinced that this practice is both relevant to the church today and beneficial. I do not teach this as a law. We do not make tithing a qualification for church membership. I teach this practice as a way to keep our hearts right before God where finances are concerned and as a practice, that opens the door to God’s economic system. This system is based on giving. The tithe is a part of that system.

Yesterday we looked at the purpose God assigned to the tithe in the Old Testament and how it relates to church life in the New Testament. I shared what God instructed me to do in our church. This is not doctrine. It is revelation to me and has produced great blessing in my life and the life of our church.

In the period of Israel’s history governed by the Mosaic Law, God told his people that the tithe was to be used to provide an inheritance to the tribe of Levi. This tribe was given the responsibility to labor in all things related to the house of God and the worship of Israel. They were not to work in the secular world. In the church today, we have a group of people who serve a similar function. They are those called to fulltime ministry as well as some called to do jobs that support the house of God and the ministries that function within it.

When we were starting our church, God showed us the pattern used in the Old Testament. He instructed me set up this system in our church. The system was simply this. We would not receive all tithes and offerings together and put everything into one big pot. We would separate tithes and offerings. The tithe was designated for the ministry while offerings would be used for the operation of the buildings and grounds.

The tithe goes first to pay the salaries of the people on staff. Second, it pays for equipment and supplies that are necessary for the function of various ministries. It is also used for travel to various mission fields. Heat, lights and supplies for the buildings are paid for out of free will offerings. For over 24 years this system has produced great blessing to our church and its people.

The question we must ask is whether there is any New Testament authority for this. Does the New Testament teach that the tithe belongs to the full time ministry of our day? The answer to that is no. What does the New Testament say about the support of ministry? Let us find out.

In today’s verse, we read the words of the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. This was one of the greatest and yet most problematic of the churches Paul dealt with. Paul states that he did not take any money from the Corinthian believers. In other places, he says he worked to supply his needs and those of his companions. One might say that all preachers should follow Paul’s example, but let us look closer.

Paul says a number of other things in these verses. He says that those who minister to spiritual needs have a right to compensation from the natural resources of those to whom they ministry. The word, right, is very strong. This is not charity. Paul tells the Corinthians he has this right but has chosen not to use it.

Paul also cites the same Old Testament pattern that we have been studying. Although the tithe is not specifically mentioned, what God designated it for is mentioned. “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?” The tithe is what they lived on.

Paul then draws a parallel with those who preach the Gospel in the New Testament era. “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” Paul says the Lord commanded this. That is a strong statement. Why, then did Paul not partake of this “command of the Lord?”

There are two reasons. First, it would have hindered the preaching of the Gospel to the Corinthians. I go to many places where I do not receive any offerings. It would hinder the Gospel to ask for money and often the people have nothing to give. Money is never a factor for me in considering where I will preach or teach the Word of God. It should never be a factor for any true minster of the Gospel of Jesus.

The second factor is something in Paul’s own makeup. I will let you decide if it is a strength or weakness.

1 Corinthians 9:15(NKJV) 15But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.

Paul says that he has chosen not to partake of what he is teaching them as principle because he does not want anyone to make his “boasting void.” Again, I will leave it to you to decide whether that is a good thing or not. Either way, Paul taught the Corinthians that they should support those who minister them spiritually and he has cited the Old Testament pattern as proof.

Many other New Testament verses teach us to take care of those who minister the Gospel. I will quote only one more due to space limitations.

1 Timothy 5:17-18(NKJV) 17Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

The Amplified Bible expands the term “double honor” to include, “adequate financial support.” Paul again uses the Old Testament as his authority for encouraging Timothy to teach the church to support those minister the things of God to them.

Does the New Testament teach the system I use in my church? Is a church out of the will of God if they do not use this system? Of course not. I do believe that God revealed a pattern in the Old Testament that can be applied in New Testament times. Since this pattern was God’s idea to begin with, I just believe it is the best way.

Because we have used this pattern, our local church of 125 to 150 has been able to impact our area and over 20 other nations with the Gospel. Our people do not feel used or bound. They feel that we are all working together as a team to fulfill the great commission. No one, not the ministry or the people, is asked to carry a financial load greater than they can bear. This is not a law for us. However, it has been a blessed practice in my life and my ministry.

What is the Purpose of the Tithe

Numbers 18:21-23(NKJV) 21“Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. 22Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. 23But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

In our study of divine prosperity, we have looked at the tithe from the perspective of its function in keeping our hearts right toward wealth and money. Giving God the first ten percent of what we earn is an expression of our priority structure. My income represents my life. Therefore, when I give the first fruits to the Lord I give God the first and best of my life.

In our study of the tithe, we have found that, when God incorporated the tithe into the Law of Moses, he gave it a purpose. In Malachi 3:10 God says the tithe should be brought to the storehouse so there will be food in his house. Yesterday we focused on what the storehouse should mean to us. I believe the storehouse is, or should be, the local church.

If the tithe is to provide food for the house of God, who is supposed to eat this food? God certainly does not need it. In today’s scripture, we see that God gave a specific purpose for the tithe. When Israel came into the Promised Land, every tribe had a parcel of land that was designated as their inheritance. One tribe had no inheritance of land. That tribe was the tribe of Levi.

The Levites were the people to whom God gave the responsibility of minister in the things of God on a full time basis. They took care of the needs of the tabernacle and the then the temple. They were singers, workman and priests. They were all called by God to fulltime service in one capacity or another. God did not want them distracted from this service by secular work.

It is important to understand that this did not make the Levites better than any other Israelite. It simply meant that their job required a full time focus on the things of God. In reality, the Levites existed to serve the rest of God’s people. Each Israelite was responsible for his relationship with the Lord. The Levites were there to help them fulfill that responsibility.

If the Levites had no farms or flocks from which to produce a living, how were they to survive? Numbers 18 tells us. Their inheritance was the tithe of the rest of Israel. The tithe always belonged to God. God did not need the things or the money brought in the tithe. God established as part of the Mosaic Law the way those who were employed by him were to be paid. They lived by the tithe.

How did Israel pay for buildings and utensils in the Old Testament? Let us look at Exodus 25.

Exodus 25:1-2(NKJV) 1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

As you read on in this chapter, you find that the offering God is asking for is what is needed to build the tabernacle and make the utensils of worship. The tithe was not considered optional for the Israelites. Here we see that God expressly says that this offering should come from those who give it with a willing heart. If you wanted to participate in this offering, you could. If you did not want to participate, you were not required to. It was a free will offering.

Let me make something clear. I do not believe that we are under the same legal constraints as Israel was in the Old Testament. What I do believe is that God put in place a pattern here that works. In the New Testament, we also find people called to fulltime employment by God. Ephesians 4 lists on such group.

Ephesians 4:11-13(NKJV) 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Here we see apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers given to the church to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Their purpose is that we all come to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Like the Levites, they exist to help the whole church grow in their relationship with God. They are not better than any other member of the body of Christ. However, the calling on their lives can be better fulfilled if they do not have to be distracted by secular employment. How could it be possible for them to live if they do not work a secular job? Could it be that we might want to consider using the tithe the way God used it in the Old Testament?

There is certainly nothing wrong if a minister of the Gospel has to work and preach. We know that Paul did so. We will look at that tomorrow. There is no New Testament law that the tithe is the inheritance of fulltime ministry. However, I believe that God revealed a better way to deal with church finances when he incorporated this idea into the law.

What I am going to share is how God revealed to me concerning the finances of our church. I would present it for consideration. If you are not in a position in your church that has financial responsibility, you should submit to the local church authority and how God instructs them in these matters. You might want to pass this along to your leaders for their consideration. Many churches struggle financially. I am not saying we never have our challenges, but I can say that for the 24 years we have handled our finances this way, God has always met our needs and we have done far more than a church of our size should be able to.

We separate tithes and offerings. The tithe goes to pay the salaries of those called to work full or part time in the things of God. It also goes to pay for ministry related equipment and supplies. We support our buildings by free will offerings. In this way the emphasis is on the ministry people not on the buildings.

We have more staff than most churches our size. This means that the people in the church have more types of ministry available to them then they would have if we just paid a senior pastor. This also enables us to have more people available to lead outreaches, take missions trips and generally lead the work of the ministry in our community. This is all possible because we designate the tithe for this purpose

To some this may not seem fair. I believe if God thought it was fair under the Old Covenant, it is still fair under the New Covenant. Again, I am not saying it is the only right way. I am just saying it is a pattern that God established in the Old Testament and one that the New Testament does not prohibit. I am also saying that it has worked to produce great blessing for us and our people.

To Whom Should We Pay the Tithe

Malachi 3:10(KJV) 10Bring 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.

In our study of divine prosperity, we have been looking at the practice of paying tithes. The Lord may this practice a part of the law, but it actually predated the law. Abram paid tithes to the priest Melchizedek. This was long before Moses and the law. Why would he give this man, who Abram recognized as a priest of God, 10 percent of what he had obtained in battle? I believe it is because Abram understood paying tithes to God and his representatives as part of his relationship with God. This would indicate that the practice of paying tithes had been known since the days of Adam.

The tithe is the first ten percent of an individual’s income. The Bible uses the word increase. Any kind of income that brings an increase into our lives is subject to tithe. I pay tithe to God on every kind of income I make. I have a salary from our church. I pay tithes on that. If I receive an honorarium for speaking somewhere other than our church, I pay tithes on that money. If there is some other kind of offering that brings increase to me personally, I pay tithes on that offering. I believe that this practice keeps my financial life protected from the curse that came because of the fall of mankind.

To whom are we to pay our tithe? We know that the invisible God cannot receive our visible tithe. We also know that God does not need our money. Therefore, the question remains, to whom do we pay our tithes. Today’s verse gives us some insight. The Lord tells Israel to bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be meat, or food, in his house.

Under the Law of Moses, the tithe was brought to the priests and placed in storage rooms until it was needed. In the New Testament, we do not have priests or temple storage rooms. What is the storehouse for our tithe? A storehouse is the place from which you are fed. In modern vernacular, we might call it a cupboard. In my house, we have a cupboard, a freezer and a refrigerator. It is in these storage facilities that I store my food. When I need to eat, I go to the storehouse and get something. What is the storehouse for our spiritual food?

I believe the place where our spiritual food is stored should be the local church. Many believe the tithe should be given to any place from which we receive spiritual food. However, I get physical food from places other than my storehouse. I often eat in restaurants. When I do, I am not eating from my storehouse. I am eating from someone else’s storehouse, or cupboard. I do not pay them with my “storehouse” money. I pay my bill from other money.

If you receive spiritual food from sources outside the local church, you need to pay for that food. I believe you pay for it by purchasing the material or giving an offering. However, the tithe belongs to your storehouse, not to the restaurant or outside source.

Why do I make this distinction? We are going to take some time to look at the purpose the Lord gives for the tithe this week, but for now let me say that God has established a system to support the ministry. He speaks of tithes and offerings. The tithe is specifically for the storehouse. I believe the storehouse must be the local church. I say this because your storehouse is designed for you personally.

Have you ever been in someone else’s home and looked in their refrigerator or cupboard? There will be things in there that you would not have in your storehouse. I hate mushrooms. I know many of you love them but I just cannot stand them. I do not like how they look; I do not like how they feel. You might ask, “Do you dislike the taste?” I have no idea. I cannot get by how they look and feel. You may think that is silly or irrational. That may be so, but you will not find mushrooms in my storehouse. It is my storehouse and it contains what I like.

I am not saying that we can pick and choose the food God gives us to eat, but I am saying that our storehouse contains food prepared by the Lord for our needs. My wife cooks what I like. However, she also gives me what I need. We have both lost a considerable amount of weight recently. This has caused a bit of a change in our lifestyle. In order to keep the weight off, we need to eat fewer calories than we used to. To accomplish this, my wife cooks much differently than before. My storehouse contains what I need and my wife prepares the food for me.

The local church is the storehouse for you spiritual health and well-being. You may receive good spiritual food from other places. It may be helpful to you and strengthen you at a given time. However, the leadership of the local church seeks God for exactly what you need at all times in your life. They know you. God has placed them in your life to teach, encourage and strengthen you. They are your storehouse.

The restaurant may make great food. It might be a specialty that you cannot make at home, but it is not made for you. The restaurant makes food for anyone who wants it. If it meets your needs, that is great but it was not prepared to meet your needs. The food you get at home was prepared for you. It contains the ingredients you want and need to satisfy you.

The local church should fill that role in your spiritual life. If does not, than you should not be there. That does not mean if the pastor has a bad week you should leave. It does mean that if you are consistently unfed or uncared for, you should take you tithe and your presence to somewhere that will care for and feed you. I am not afraid to tell our people that if this church does not deserve your tithe it does not deserve your presence.

I believe this is a wonderfully designed system. The tithe makes the ministry of the local church possible. Ten percent of everyone’s income that receives ministry from the local storehouse is not an unreasonable or inequitable amount. At the same time this system serves as a check and balance for those who do the work of the ministry. If they do not provide for those under their care, they should not receive the tithe. If they consistently fail to meet the needs of those for whom they have the care, they will not survive long in the ministry.

If you are not part of a good local “storehouse”, I encourage you to find one. If you are part of one, bring all your tithe to that storehouse. By doing so you will ensure that you will have ministry designed by God to consistently meet your ministry needs. You will also ensure that others around you whose tithe may be less than yours will have the special care they need to grow in the things of God. God’s system works when God’s people simply obey.

Giving and Receiving

Philippians 4:15(NKJV) 15Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.

This week we have been looking at the practice of tithing. We have discovered a number of things. The tithe, although incorporated into the Law of Moses, predated that law by many generations. The tithe is part of our covenant relationship. The tithe helps to keep our hearts in the proper place concerning wealth and money. The tithe belongs to God. He gives us all we need and then asks us to give back 10%. This is a very reasonable request.

We have learned that the tithe by definition is ten percent of our increase or income. I believe it is important to understand that God does not require more than that. There are many other types of giving God expects us to participate in, but the tithe is the only required giving. I know some who, in good faith, have tried to make a practice of giving fifteen percent or even fifty percent. This is noble, but when we go beyond what God requires it often opens a door of attack to the enemy. I have seen this lead to disillusionment and in some cases disaster.

We have learned that it is to be the first fruits of our income. For the tithe to do what God designed it to do, we must make sure it is the first ten percent of our income. In that way, it will help keep our heart where it belongs. If it is the second or third fruits, we are giving God the second or third place in our finances.

Finally we have discovered that the tithe protects our finances and by extension our lives from the influence of the devil. Those who do not tithe are cursed. God does not curse them; they open a door that allows the curse of the fall to affect them. They put themselves under the influence of the devil. If that is true so is the converse. If I am a tither, my finances are protected from the curse. My finances are blessed and by extension, my whole life is blessed. Do not underestimate the importance of the tithe.

Next week we will look at more concerning the tithe, but I want to stress another aspect of divine prosperity today. Philippians 4:19 is one of the most commonly used “prosperity” scriptures in the Bible.

Philippians 4:19(NKJV) 19And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Before Paul makes this statement, we read what he wrote in today’s scripture. The Philippian church was particularly beloved of the apostle Paul. He commends them on the fact that they were one of the few that communicated with him concerning “giving and receiving.” I believe that with these words Paul has revealed an important principle of the Kingdom of God.

We often think of many things related to how God works as beyond our understanding. We know the saying, “God words in strange and mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” To some degree, this is true. They are often strange and mysterious to us. God often does things in my life and I wonder how he pulled them off. However, they are not really so strange at all. God operates according to principle.

A principle is something that is always true. Principles work together to produce predictable results in given situations. In the natural economy, there are such principles. There are college degrees in economics that teach these principles in detail. One example is the principle of supply and demand. When the supply is low and demand is high, what a person can charge for goods or services goes up. When supply is high and demand is low, the price will go down. That is a principle. You can predict markets because it is true.

When we think of the financial blessings of God, we tend to think that they do not operate by principle but by some strange whim of God that we cannot fully understand. This is not true. The economy of the Kingdom of God is just as much driven by principle as the natural economy is. They are just different principles based on different truths.

What we see in the world today that natural economic principles have been abused, ignored and distorted to the point where they are no longer working properly. Scenarios that used to be predictable are not playing out the way they used to. The end result is an economy that is in disarray all over the world.

One natural philosophy says government must step in to modify or control economic principles. The government must insure that there is a “level playing field” for all citizens. This has never worked. Whether called communism, socialism, or just a “left leaning” approach, it always fails. Government is not qualified to control economic forces. They function outside of government’s ability to influence them properly.

Where does all this leave the believer? One of my favorite statements is this. Our finances are not based on an economy but on a covenant. That covenant does govern a financial system. God is qualified to maintain economic principles in their right order. His economy operates above the natural economy, but it can affect the natural economy. God’s economy can use the natural economy. If God’s people will be faithful, God’s economy can fix the natural economy.

There is one basic principle that governs God’s economic system. Paul told us what it is in Philippians 4:15. It is the principle of giving and receiving. This is the heart of God’s system. If you give, you will receive. If you receive, you must be ready and willing to give. A person who applies this law by faith can never stay poor for very long. Divine prosperity is not random.

Just as things in the natural economy take time to develop, this is also the case in God’s economy. When necessary he will take care of you just as he gave manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness. Nevertheless, his will for Israel was that they come to Canaan where the land itself took care of their needs. His will for us is that we learn to flow in his economic system and that system will become the vehicle that provides for our needs.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul points this out to this beloved church. He tells them, “God will supply all your needs because you have been applying the economic principles of the kingdom of God. You communicated with me concerning both giving and receiving. This put the principle in motion in your life and the predictable result is that my God will supply all your need.” Philippians 4 is not just written to that church. It is in the Bible because God wanted it to be a message to you as well.

Take the time today to examine your economic life. Do you have enough insurance? What will you do about retirement? Have you made provision for your children’s education? These are all valid considerations. However, if you really want to secure your financial future you need to ask one more question. Am I applying the principles of God’s economy by making sure that I am giving, receiving and giving again? If these principles are firmly in place you can trust God that he will “supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

What About the Curse

Malachi 3:9(NKJV) 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.

In our study of divine prosperity, we have spent this week discussing the tithe. We have discovered that the tithe is the first fruits of our income. Since the word “tithe” means a tenth, we can say it is the first ten percent of our income. Although the tithe was included in the Law of Moses, we have learned from Genesis 14 that the practice of honoring God with the tithe predates the law. It is a part of our covenant relationship with the Lord. Abram paid tithes to the priest Melchizedek long before Moses or even the nation of Israel existed.

We have also discussed the fact that, in the New Testament we are not under any kind of Law. Therefore, we do not tithe as a matter of law. We do tithe as a matter of practice. A practice is something we do consistently. I believe the practice of tithing should be part of our discipleship. A disciple is a disciplined believer. The Bible does not give us a law of the tithe. However, the practice, or discipline, of paying tithes helps keep our heart where it needs to be when it comes to finances.

The tithe is not really giving at all. The tithe belongs to God. Leviticus 27 tells us the tithe is holy to the Lord. That means it is vitally connected to him. The tithe is, in one sense, voluntary. No one is authorized to present you with a tithe bill. However, grace does not mean we no longer have to keep the commandments of the Lord. It means we should keep them naturally as a part of our lifestyle. The tithe is still holy. We should bring it to the Lord because it is the right thing to do, not because there is a law that says we must.

Today I want to look specifically at verse 9. This verse can leave us with a disturbing conclusion if we do not correctly understand it. On the surface, we could assume that God is doing bad things to us because we did not pay him his money. This is not the picture of a loving heavenly Father. It is the picture of a tyrant who wants his own way and will punish anyone who does not give it to him. That is not our God.

What is this curse? Is God actively cursing the one who does not tithe? I do not believe so. Let us look closely at the wording. Verse 9 begins with the phrase, “You are cursed with a curse.” It does not say, “I am cursing you with a curse.” It does not say, “I will curse you with a curse.” The implication is that the nation is already curse.

God is not who curses a person who does not tithe. The person curses himself. When we do not give God what belongs to him, in effect, we are stealing what belongs to God. I did not say that, God did in the rest of this verse. A thief cannot be blessed. The wages of sin is always death. Death is the curse that came with the fall of man. Therefore, if we do not give God what belongs to him we are cursed.

What does “cursed” mean? In literature, a curse is a pronouncement of doom upon someone for something a person has done. Legend said those who opened the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt were cursed. When some died mysteriously, many believed it was the pronouncement of evil against them that killed them. God is not speaking of this kind of curse in Malachi 3.

In this context as well as in the context of the fall of man, a curse means to be under the authority of the devil. The devil hates God and he hates man because man is God’s highest creation. Man is God’s family. When we are under the curse, we are within the sphere of Satan’s control. In other words, he can get to us.

When that is the case, many bad things will happen. When the curse is over our finances, we will find that we cannot have divine prosperity. I believe this curse extends to all areas of life. That is why the tithe is so important. However, it begins in the area of finances.

This curse does not necessarily mean we will be poor. I could mean that, but it could also mean that we will have more than enough but with strings attached. As we have already pointed out, prosperity that does not come from God can often have more negative effects on a believer than not having prosperity at all.

Let me take a moment and turn this around. If one who does not paid tithe is cursed, than one who pays tithes must be protected from the curse. At some point, we will look at the specific benefits promised to the tither. However, for today I want to concentrate on the idea that the tithe protects us from the curse.

If the biblical thought behind the word curse is that we are under the authority of the devil, than if we are protected from the curse, we are protected from the authority of the devil. The curse makes my finances and, by extension, my life vulnerable to the devil. Paying tithes protects my life from the influence of the devil.

This means that my productivity is protected from the devil. In Deuteronomy, we read about the blessings associated with the covenant between God and Abraham. If I am under the curse, these blessings are not mine. If I am a tither, the devil cannot take these blessings from me.

If I am a tither, I am also protected from the negative spiritual influence of the god of mammon. My attitudes toward money will be correct. This will free me to have wealth and still serve God with my whole heart.

God is not a curser. God is one who blesses and does not curse. God does not require that we pay tithes because he will curse us if we do not, but because it is his will to bless us in every area of life. This includes in the area of finance. Tithe protects me from the devil. Tithe opens the door of God’s blessing. That is the point. That is why you and I should give God what is his.

What is the Tithe?

Malachi 3:10(NKJV) 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

This week we are continuing in our study of divine prosperity. We have found in Malachi chapter 3 that the Lord gave an unexpected commandment to Israel when it came to their spiritual return to him. He did not ask them to increase or initiate spiritual activities like prayer, worship or fasting. He told them that if they wanted to return to the proper place of relationship with the Lord, they had to get their tithes and offerings right. In particular, he told them in today’s verse to bring the tithe to the storehouse.

There are many types of giving we are asked to do, however the first type is the tithe. It is what opens the door into God’s financial system. Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21 that our heart would be where our treasure is. The tithe is the method that God has given us to be sure we keep our heart in the right place when it comes to our financial life.

There are many questions surrounding the tithe. Many wonder if it is valid for a New Testament believer to tithe. “Isn’t the tithe part of the law?” we might ask. Although the there is the law of the tithe, the tithe predates the law by many years. We find the practice mentioned in Genesis 14. This is long before Moses, the lawgiver, existed.

In this story, Abrams nephew, Lot, was kidnapped. Abram sets out to get him back. He was very successful. He got Lot back as well as much spoil from the battle. On the way home a priest named Melchizedek, called the King of Salam but also considered a priest of God, came to meet them.

Melchizedek is an interesting character. In Hebrews Jesus is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek. This is because Jesus was not a priest by the law. He was not from the right tribe. Jesus is a priest because God said he was. Hebrews tells us Melchizedek was the same kind of priest. He was not a priest according to the law. What Abram does next, therefore, is also not part of the law.

Genesis 14:20 says that Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of all he had won in the battle. Why did Abram do that? Why did Abram give the priest ten percent of what he had gained? Why not give Melchizedek 5, 15, or 20 percent? I believe it is because the tithe, or 10 percent, was the figure that had always been connected with honoring God. Abram knew this truth, as did Melchizedek.

So what is the tithe? Obviously, it is ten percent of something. That is what the word means. However, what is it ten percent of? Let us ask the scripture.

Deuteronomy 14:22(NKJV) 22“You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.

In this scripture, we find that a tithe is brought from all our increase. Here it is specifically speaking of grain, but the tithe is the tithe. It always comes from what we have as increase financially. We use another word. That word is income. I believe the tithe is ten percent of all of our income. Let us look at another scripture.

Nehemiah 10:35-36(NKJV) 35And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord; 36to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God;

In the book of Nehemiah, the tithe is called the first fruits. I believe that the tithe is the first ten percent of our income. It is interesting that Nehemiah is a book that is also about returning to God. In Malachi Israel was returning spiritually to a relationship with God. Here they are returning physically to the Promised Land. In both cases, the Lord addresses the tithe.

I did not grow up paying tithes. My wife’s father taught her that the tithe belonged to God, but my parents did not. My family was catholic and not very religious. When we went to church, I gave a quarter and my parents gave a dollar. They just did not know any better. When we got married and my wife began to talk to me about tithing, I said no. It seemed unreasonable to me. I upped my giving to 20 dollars when possible, but that was more than enough to my mind.

It was not until I went into the ministry that I understood that the tithe was not unreasonable. God gives me the power to obtain wealth. Since it all comes from him, it all belongs to him. It would be unreasonable if he required I give him ninety percent and I was required to live on ten percent. To ask me to give back to him only ten percent of what he gives me is very reasonable. We should not look at the ten percent we give to God; we should thank him for the ninety percent we get to keep. That is a very different perspective.

Therefore, what is the tithe? It is the first ten percent of all of our income. The tithe must be the first fruits because of all we talked about yesterday. Giving that first ten percent of what we produce to God will keep our hearts where they must be in order to have divine prosperity.

Let me add one more thing today. It is not and offering. It is a requirement. You may say, “I thought we were not under the Law?” That is true. It is not a law. It is much deeper than a law. It is part of our covenant relationship with God. That is why Abram automatically gave this amount to Melchizedek. Abram was a covenant man and the tithe was part of his covenant.

As a New Testament believer, we are not bound to this ten percent figure. I do believe it is the right figure. I have known people who have said they were going to give fifteen or twenty percent. Usually they fail. That is because God only asked for ten percent as the required giving. Anything else is a free will offering. We can give it or not give it.

God asks us to give the first ten percent of our income. If we do that, there are certain guarantees we can claim. It is not a law, but I believe it should be a practice. It should be part of our discipline as believers to give God his ten percent. Do you know what the word disciple means? It means to be a disciplined believer. I want to make sure my heart can handle the blessing God wants to pour out on me. I believe the practice of paying tithes to God is one thing that will help me do that.