Give, Don’t Tithe

Are you really cursed if you do not pay tithes? Does God really require you to give 10% of your earnings? Will abstaining from paying tithes really disqualify you from receiving God’s blessings? These are controversial questions in churches today. More attention has been paid to it recently due to the rapid increase of millionaire pastors worldwide. These pastors flaunt wealth in the forms of megachurches, mansions and private jets and build schools with hardly affordable tuition – all on your tithes and offerings. Their poor tithe paying members can’t afford life’s essentials but keep paying 10 percent of their earnings out of fear of God’s curse or not getting God’s blessings. This is not a call to stop Christians from giving; however, in order to be like the Berean Christians who were referred to as “noble” because they searched the scriptures after Paul preached to determine if “those things were so” (Acts 17:11), let us therefore rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) to see for ourselves what the scriptures say. May the Spirit of the Lord in His infinite mercy, guide us as we do. Amen.

History of Tithes

Tithe means one-tenth of something. This was part of the Mosaic law where the tribes were obligated to pay 10 percent of their earnings to one tribe – the Levites. The Levites had no inheritance save the Lord (Joshua 18:7, Deuteronomy 18:1-2), so this was how the Lord catered to their needs as they ministered in His name. Their families could NOT partake in any other work outside of being ministers in Israel (Numbers 8:11-26). There were other kinds of tithes like the tithes for the strangers, fatherless, widows and the Levites which were paid once every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Deuteronomy 26:12), and the Potluck tithes (Deuteronomy 14:22-27) where every household was supposed to use their tithes to buy whatever consumable their souls lusted after and eat it in a place God chose.

Malachi 3 is a champion scripture used by most pastors when trying to convince members of their congregation to pay tithes. This tactic has succeeded in instilling deep fear within the hearts of the children of God who don’t willingly adhere to the practice. It says in verse 8 – 10 that the people of Israel had robbed God through tithes and offerings and therefore, they were cursed. To avoid the curse, they had to pay their tithes to the Lord’s houses. Doing this would attract the Lord’s blessings on the people. It is also important to point out that Malachi 2:1 says “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you”. The Lord was talking to them. In light of this, Malachi 3:8-10 applies to the priests also. It could even suggest that the priests mishandled the tithes being paid to them. This passage doesn’t say tithes were not being paid. It however suggests that it wasn’t brought into the storehouse so that there would be meat in the Lord’s house (used for the work of the Lord). It would not be farfetched to interpret it this way. After all, in 1 Samuel 2:12-36, the sons of Eli the High Priest (Hophni and Phinehas) acted irresponsibly in the Lord’s house and this led to the deaths of both father and sons. It causes us to think, and compare this idea to what is going on with members’ funds in numerous churches today.  Since this is the champion scripture used by most pastors, let us see what has been said about the child of God under the New Covenant.

The New Covenant

Before going into why a child of God in the New Covenant can’t be cursed by not adhering to an Old Covenant practice/law, let us first understand covenants and their significance in scriptures. A covenant is a promise or agreement. The Old Covenant was an agreement between the Jews and God in order to be made righteous by the law. Every year, the High Priest shed the blood of an animal as an atonement to renew this covenant for the Jews. The New Covenant is an agreement between Jews or Gentiles and God, mediated by the Lord Jesus where righteousness comes by faith and not the law (Galatians 2:21). It is the Word of Faith (Romans 10:8) which we are called to preach. Its foundation is “That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. Its engine is the Holy Spirit. “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you”.

The New Covenant commenced when Jesus Christ died and shed His blood once as atonement for our sins. Hebrews 9:15-17 says “And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament (covenant), that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” This ushered us into a new era of no longer living under the law but under grace. Christ became the END of the law for salvation to them that believe (Romans 10:4). This would now lead us to the meat of this write up – Galatians 2 – 3.

Galatians 2 – 3

As children of God under the New Covenant, we should no longer live under the law but under grace. Let us go through the verses to understand what the aforementioned statement means.

  • 2:16-21 – Paying tithes to the Levites was a law in the Old Covenant. Another law that we are no longer justified by is calling the Gentiles unclean and therefore not eating with them. Paul speaking here was rebuking Peter about this from verse 11-21. Peter had refused to eat with the Gentiles because it was unlawful. However Paul said in verse 19 and 20 that we are dead to the law, so that we might be made alive in Christ. If righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died in vain.
  • 3:1-9 – Here, Paul continues to convince the Galatians that were not justified by works of the law, but by the hearing of faith. If the Holy Spirit (the glorified Christ) came to dwell in us through faith, how can we then be made perfect by the flesh? Beloved, the goal is to be made perfect (Matthew 5:48, 1 Thessalonians 5:23) and achieving perfection is through life in the Spirit. This is what Paul was trying to get them to understand.
  • 3:10-14 – I was present at a sermon recently where the pastor was reading from Malachi 3. He said we needed to pay our tithes to avoid God’s curse on us. Beloved, let us read Galatians 3:13 together. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”. No being should ever tell you again that you are cursed, if you have Christ. Jesus paid it all! Verse 10 further explains this. It says everyone that continues to try to be justified by the works of the law, continue to be under the curse. This is because for you to be justified by the law, you have to observe “ALL THINGS” written in the book of the law! How many of us obey the Sabbath? Or wash our hands before any meal? Or observe the feasts of Pentecost, Passover or the Tabernacle? Or eat pork? Well, then why do we pay tithes? No man is justified by the law in the sight of God, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH”. So we might ask, why was the law given?
  • 3:19-29 – Verse 19 tells us that the law was given because of transgressions, till the seed (Jesus) should come to whom the promise was made. Verse 23 tells us that before faith came, we were kept under the law, but Jesus Christ revealed faith which set us free from the law. Verse 24 further explains the purpose of the law. It was our school master (tutor) to bring us to Christ, so we could then be justified by faith. So if it brought us to Christ, and we have put on Christ, why do we still try to be justified by a tutor?  We have faith, so we are no longer under a tutor.

Christ’s approach to the law

Let us look at Matthew 12:1-13. Jesus’s disciples plucked corn in the field to eat on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees pointed out that this act was unlawful. But Jesus in verse 3 reminded them of 1 Samuel 1-5. David and his men unlawfully ate the shewbread in the house of God. It was meant for the priests only. He also said in verse 12 that it was lawful to do good works on the Sabbath. The fact that He was even bringing up the law was because of the era He lived in. He had not yet been crucified, so there was not yet a provision for the New Covenant. This is also why He did not condemn the Pharisees for paying their tithes in Matthew 23:23 but instead rebuked them for ignoring the weightier matters of the law (judgement, mercy and faith). It was a way of weaning them away from the law and unto Him, revealed in whosoever believes and overcomes. This is why Jesus took time to address some practices in Matthew 5:38-48 (an eye for an eye etc.). This was Him fulfilling the law and not abolishing it. While He was on earth, people still kept trying to be justified by the law. Feasts were observed, people still went to the temple to pray, the Sabbath, washing of hands, not relating with the Samaritans etc. However, He didn’t expect these to continue after He established the New Covenant by us receiving salvation by faith, through His death on the cross.

What the New Testament says about giving

Beloved, we are called to give. Jesus in Luke 6:38 shed some light on this. He said give, and it shall be given unto you. This is a spiritual law, and we all should be encouraged to give as the Spirit allows us to. However, we cannot buy God’s blessings. The motive for giving should be because of our love for God and not what we can get from Him. He has already blessed us. Read Matthew 6. We show that we have love for Him when we give. We show His character when we give. He loved us so much that He GAVE us Jesus (John 3:16).

Also, let us consider 2 Corinthians 9:7. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The keyword here is “not of necessity”. This means out of compulsion or obligation. Does subtracting 10 percent of every paycheck qualify under this category? I would think so. We should give everything. Not just money, but our time, efforts and other resources. As we learnt earlier, our Christian race is about achieving perfection. It is about Christ revealed in us.

So how should the church give?

This question will lead us on a needful journey that the Lord in His mercies actually wants us to embark on. Revelations 18:4 says “…Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” “Her” here is Babylon which is described as the backslidden church in Revelations 17:5-6 and Isaiah 1:21. Numerous institutions of man have been established in the form of “churches”. These institutions can only be sustained through tithes and offerings, hence, why this problem seems not to have a solution. How will these mega churches be funded? How will the bills be paid and the lights kept on? How will that pastor of that mega church buy his fleet of cars or private jet? How will “my church’s” university be built? How will “God’s blessings” show on the “man of God”?

Returning the church back to its original purpose of edification (building one another up in the Lord), eliminates these money problems created by man. God is not found in man made buildings, nor is He found within four walls; He is found in us. We are His dwelling place, not a building (study Hebrews 9). God desires to be found in His people. The “House of the Lord” is His people. As His people, there lies an onus on us to shine light in the darkened places (Zechariah 14:7). We should give to one another as the need arises, fund missions to spread the gospel and encourage fellow brethren across the globe. Giving to the poor, the widows, and the less fortunate are ways the church should give. Giving mustn’t always be monetary. Give your time, kindness, spiritual gifts, and what you’re able to out of a cheerful heart.

Do we really love God, or do we just love His benefits? What is fueling your prayer life? Yes, God rewards those that diligently seek Him, but those rewards shouldn’t be the reason that we come to Him. How would you feel if someone only came to you when they needed something? It’s not about what we can get from God, but rather, what we can do for Him. We must approach Him with a pure heart. God knows when He’s being used. He’s not a genie. Let your relationship with Him be sincere and not driven by ulterior motives. The perks are just additional bonuses. Seek Him first. Everything else will follow suit.

Food for thought: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.” Proverbs 22:4

 

 

 

Do you feed where the eagles feed?

These are important questions that you as a Christian should ask yourself in these last days. Why? Because the eagles are already being taken to where the body is, and you shouldn’t be left behind.

 

WHO ARE THE EAGLES?

 

Isaiah 40:31 says:

 

“But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” [NKJV]

 

This passage shows the characteristics of those represented as eagles. Some of us already have all these characteristics, some of us are still growing in these characteristics and some of us don’t have these characteristics but desire to have them. So long as your heart hungers for God, you are an eagle. However, some eagles are more mature than others. Some are fully grown, and some are still babes. But all who desire the Lord are eagles. And in these last days, God is moving His eagles. To where? Our Lord Jesus said: “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” He is moving them to where the body is.

 

WHAT IS THE BODY?

 

The body is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the bread of life. In John 6:51, He said:

 

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

 

This is what these eagle believers are gathered to do: to eat the flesh of our Lord Jesus and drink His blood so that they can have life. But how do they eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life? Our Lord Jesus explains in John 5:24 saying:

 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

 

And in Luke 11:28, He said:

 

“… blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

 

So we see that the eagle believers eat of our Lord Jesus’ body [to gain eternal life] by hearing His words, doing them and using them to grow in faith in God. Moreover, when we remember that our Lord Jesus is the Word of God, we can understand that eating His body simply means feeding on the Word of God.

 

Knowing these [that the body which the eagles feed on is the body of our Lord Jesus and that they feed on Him by hearing His Word, believing it and doing it], we can move to the next question:

 

WHERE IS THE BODY?

 

This is probably the most important question. It’s important because our Lord Jesus said the eagles will be gathered to where the body is. So if we are to be gathered, we need to know where the body is.

 

With what we have learnt from the previous question, this question can be rephrased as “where is the Word of God?” or “where can we feed on the body of our Lord Jesus?” Interestingly, our Lord Jesus has already given the answer. In Matthew 18:20, He said:

 

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” [NKJV]

 

This means that our Lord Jesus is spiritually present to feed His eagles with His body [with His word] WHEREVER AND WHENEVER they are gathered together in fellowship. But for Him to actually feed them [for them to actually receive His body to eat] they must consciously allow Him to lead their meeting through His Spirit. They must not display any of the characteristics He complained about in His letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Some of the characteristics are:

 

  • Revelation 2:4: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” If a gathering of God’s people has left love for God’s word and pursued other things, or if they have replaced the leading of the Holy Spirit with organizational procedures, then they have left their first love. They cannot truly feed on the body of our Lord Jesus.

 

  • Revelation 2:14-15: “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” The doctrine of Balaam represents using immoral means to get what you want. Balaam told Balak to use ladies to seduce the Israelites so that they would sin and Balak would get rid of them. As such, if a gathering of God’s people use immoral means to get anything [e.g. financial support, membership, etc.], then the body of our Lord Jesus [the true Word] will not be available among them. Our Lord Jesus also complained about the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The Nicolaitans were followers of Nicolas and Nicolas means “to be victorious over the people.” Having this doctrine means that in a gathering of God’s people, some people are regarded as the “Nico” [the clergy] while the rest are the laity. Under this arrangement, the clergy dominates the laity contrary to the teachings of Matthew 23:8-11 and 1 Peter 5:1-3. God hates this doctrine because it sets up a structure where man takes the place of Christ [as Head over the church]. Churches that operate in this pattern are represented as the great whore [the adulterous bride] in Revelation 17 instead of the faithful bride in Revelation 19:7. All such assemblies that have man as head of the church instead of Christ cannot have the body of Christ [the true Word] to feed on. They may appear rich, but spiritually, they are poor. They may seem to be feeding, but the word has little or no spiritual nutrients.

 

  • Revelation 2:20: “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” If a gathering of God’s people has sexual immorality going on among them and it is not addressed, then they cannot receive the true word of God.

 

  • Revelation 3:1-2: “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” If a church judges their progress by how much money they get, how large their membership and assets are, or by how much religious activities they engage in, rather than by how spiritually mature the people are and how much of the life of God is revealed among them, then in God’s eyes they are dead. Such a gathering cannot feed on the body of our Lord Jesus [the true Word of God].

 

  • Revelation 3:15-17: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” If a gathering of God’s people is lukewarm then it means that they are mixing the things of God with the things of the world. They are comfortable seating on the fence on many issues, not going all the way with God so as not to offend the world. They try to be politically correct in order to be accepted by the world, something we notice in many churches today. Such behaviors are symptoms of an assembly of people whose connection with God has weakened significantly, and such an assembly will not be able to feed on the body of our Lord Jesus Christ [the true Word of God that is able to give life to their spirits].

 

These are characteristics that can deprive a gathering of God’s people from having the body of our Lord Jesus to feed on. So, when our Lord, in Luke 17:34-37, says “… in that night…wherever the body is there the eagles will be gathered together,” He means that in these last days where there is so much darkness, God is moving His eagle believers out from assemblies where His body is not available to assemblies that allow Him to feed them.

This move of His eagles in these last days is so important; that’s why our Lord Jesus chose to mention it. It is important because it is the last push to build His faithful church – the church that will be a bride without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish, ready for marriage to Him. Majority of what is called church today have backslidden from God. But out of these unfaithful church systems, God is gathering His eagles to simple fellowships where they can worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and can be well nourished with His living Word – His Word that is able to transform them into His likeness.

 

God spoke about these things again in the book of Revelation, chapters 11 and 12, using symbols. In those passages, He likened this move of His people out from the backslidden church systems to how He moved the Israelites out from Egypt to the wilderness. He used the ministry of Moses and Elijah to symbolize the type of empowerment He will give the people He will use to begin this move. And just as He referred to Moses as an eagle in Exodus 19:4 [the eagle that He used to bring His people out into the wilderness], so also God used a great eagle, in Revelation 12:14, to symbolize the people He will empower in these days to move His people to the symbolic wilderness – where they can be nourished with the body of our Lord Jesus [the true and sincere Word of God].

Moreover, God, in Revelation 11:8, has shown that the backslidden church system is also spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. In that verse [Revelation 11:8], the backslidden church system is referred to as the great city, which in Revelation 17:18 is also called the great whore [the great harlot]. And this great whore is the symbol for the adulterous bride of Christ, just as God through the prophet referred to the Israelites as a whore in Jeremiah 3, because they had backslidden from Him and become an unfaithful bride. This great whore had therefore evolved from being the backslidden Jewish religious system, which lasted till the days of our Lord Jesus, to being the backslidden church system in these days.

 

It is from this great whore, this adulterous bride of Christ that has structured itself into a great city, this church system that is also spiritually called Sodom and Egypt that God is moving His eagles out from to the symbolic wilderness – to the simple and true gatherings of His people – the gatherings that are truly in His own name alone. It is there, in such gatherings, that He will wash them [Ephesians 5:26] and feed them, with His word, so that they can grow into the bride that gives Him pleasure and is ready for marriage [Revelation 19:7]. May the Lord help us to be part of such people, especially now that His return and the marriage supper are near. Amen.

 

As for us [your brethren sharing these things with you], we are a people who have heard the call of God and have been gathered out of the denominational church system of man. We simply fellowship in Spirit and in Truth, consciously desiring that the Lord Jesus leads each of our meetings through His Spirit. And He has been faithful to feed us with Himself, working on us individually and collectively, and leading us toward the standard in Ephesians 4:13. That is, till we [as a fellowship] have unity of spirit, unity of faith, unity of our knowledge of the Son of God; till we [as a body of people] become stable in operating as one perfect man, under the singular Headship of Christ Jesus alone, and till we [as a body of people] measure up to the full stature of life we see in our Lord Jesus Christ [such that the virtues found in Him are also found in us].

 

This is the mind of God in these last days. God is building His church to be a bride without spot or wrinkle, holy and without any blemish. And to do this, He is gathering His eagles [as many as desire to feed on the true Word of God], out from churches that do not allow Christ to lead, to simple fellowships where Christ is the one and only Head.

 

Kindly reflect on these things and judge whether or not the church you are part of is an Egypt; judge whether or not it is a place where God’s eagles can feed. If it isn’t, pray and ask God to lead you to where the body is. Remember:

 

Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” [Luke 17:37, NKJV]

 

Moreover, in Revelation 18:4-5 He has said:

 

4 … Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” [NKJV]

 

The “her” He is referring to is the great whore, the adulterous bride of Christ, the backslidden church system.

 

May the Lord guide your heart as you prayerfully consider these things. And may He cause you to be among those who are taken to where the body is, and not left behind to share in “her” sins and receive of “her” plagues. Amen.

 

God bless you.