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October 16, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

It seems to me from time to time that tithe becomes a hot-button topic. It does a couple rounds on social media for a few weeks and hibernates until the following cycle. Almost everyone, or almost every christian, rather, comes up with their own “insights” on what it is and what it isn’t. I wonder why that is so; after all, for the most part, we all read the same bible.

Well, I typically like to do my part by sharing my knowledge on certain issues [as I understand them], and hopefully, encourage one or two people to have a change of perspective. If you’re unsure on what tithe is and/or it’s purpose, please read with an open mind as I try my best to explain.Tithe is a tenth [or ten percent (10%)] of the personal income of every christian that is set aside as a special offering to God. A tithe is different from a love offering or thanksgiving offering because it is a commandment. It is non-negotiable. Its purpose, according to God, in Malachi 3:10, is to ensure the availability of sustenance in the church. His word says, in that passage, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house”. In the days of old, it meant both agricultural produce and income. You can think of tithe as a mandatory tax for the support of the church.

Why is it mandatory and non-negotiable? Leviticus 27:30-34 says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord”. Also, Malachi 3:8-9 says, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – your whole nation – because you are robbing me”. It is mandatory and non-negotiable because God says it is. If you refuse, He says you’re robbing Him – and those are His words, not mine. I don’t know about you, but God is someone I definitely don’t want to offend, rob or piss off.

It is because of that instruction that congregations are reminded to “pay” their tithe, not “give” it. I prefer to say “return” because it was never mine to begin with. Returning a tenth of all He gives me seems quite reasonable to me.

You might say that a lot of pastors these days are diverting church funds for their own personal and/or selfish reasons; I’ve heard those rumors too. While that may be true of some pastors, when you give your tithe, you give it in obedience to God’s instructions – you give to God. The important thing is that He accepts it from you. Try to be less concerned with what the church uses the funds for. It’s left for the pastorate of the church to decide how to use the funds available to it according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If the pastorate uses it the way that best suits them without regard to God, they are answerable to Him [not you], and He will deal with them how He deems fit. Don’t throw yourself into the mix by talking smack about an anointed man of God. And honestly, if you are uncomfortable with the way your church uses the funds it has, you can always leave.

I’ve heard people ask if they can use their tithe for charitable acts. For example, donate to someone in need. No, you cannot. It is for God and God alone. Proverbs 19:17 says, “The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay him for his good deed”. Giving to those in need has its own reward.

I’ve also heard people ask if they can substitute their tithe for love offering and vice versa. For example, break the tithe into four parts and give a part as love offering for each Sunday in a particular month, or give a love offering every Sunday rather than return their tithe. No, you cannot do that either. Deuteronomy 16:16 says, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. You should never come before God empty-handed. He is our God and we give to Him to appreciate Him. Proverbs 3:9a says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions”. Giving offerings (whether love offering or thanksgiving offering) is a form of worship. Giving is also a sign of love. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

Tithe cannot be substituted for alms, love offering or anything else. Tithe is tithe and it is mandatory. Let us stop rationalizing the word of God; it is very clear. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). However, in all these, please remember to not give grudgingly or angrily. There is nothing you have that God didn’t give to you, so give cheerfully. Remember, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

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