In no other department has the Christian church gone as completely astray as on the issue of tithes and offerings. Week in week out, Christian congregations are exhorted, harassed, cajoled, blackmailed, threatened and bewitched into giving more and more tithes and offerings.
All kinds of scriptures are distorted, twisted and manipulated to get people to give more and more. If you did not know better, you would think the whole essence of the Christian walk is to pay tithes and give offerings. The average pastor preaches more about “Sowing and Reaping” and “Giving and Receiving” than any other message.
Curse of Malachi
In this regard, the favourite scripture of pastors in the bible is Malachi 3:8-10. It is used to cajole people to give on the grounds that those who withhold tithes and offerings are robbing God. It is further maintained that they are cursed and their resources subject to the ravages of the devourer. Finally, it is said that the windows of heaven are shut against them, ensuring that they are denied divine blessings. Thereby, people are scared into giving large sums to the church.
Pastors and evangelists are able to use Malachi to frighten and arm-twist believers today because Christians have no understanding of kingdom dynamics. As a result, they put old wine in new bottles. When the Pharisees insisted divorce was lawful because the Law of Moses sanctioned it, Jesus pointed out that it was because of the hardness of their hearts that Moses permitted it. But from the beginning it was not God’s intention. (Matthew 19:8). A similar principle applies to Malachi and the question of tithes and offerings.
Malachi wrote about tithes and offerings because of the hardness of the heart of the Jews in his days. They did not have a giving nature. God gave them the Law of Moses because he knew they would not do the right thing unless they were compelled to do so. But instead of the Law of Moses, God has now given the believer in Christ Jesus the “law of liberty.” (James 1:25).
In spite of the law, the Jews were still not inclined to give. Therefore God, through Malachi, called them robbers of God, and threatened them with curses, the devourer and the denial of blessings.
Love of God
The application of Malachi’s curses to believers today is insulting. Once a man makes it a law that you must pay tithes and offerings, he has spoilt you for the gospel. He has already determined that you are a lawbreaker, that you are hard-hearted and that you are not a believer. He has concluded that it is not in your nature to give. If you fulfil his law, you are agreeing with him that you are an unbeliever. Therefore, never give tithes or offerings because of any “legal” requirements. The only basis for action that is acceptable in Christ is love.
How can you get a believer in Christ to do the right thing? You don’t have to do anything at all because a true believer will always do the right thing. A true believer will do the right thing because he is a new creation; therefore it is in his nature to do the right thing. Nobody has to compel him or threaten him. Nobody needs to manipulate or bewitch him. Doing the right thing is the fruit of his Spirit.
When Samuel was explaining the dynamics of the kingdom of God to Saul, he told him the Spirit of the Lord would come mightily upon him and he would start to prophecy like one of the prophets. When that happened, Samuel told Saul to do whatever seemed best to him, for God would guide him. (1 Samuel 10:7). Saul would not need for any man to teach him what to do: he would do it naturally.
Holy Spirit Guidance
Jesus also states this principle to his disciples. (Matthew 10:18-20). It is this same dynamic that John refers to when he says the anointing of the Holy Spirit will teach believers all things: “You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you don’t need anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all things.” (1 John 2:27).
This was the case with Abraham. When Abraham gave a tithe (tenth) of all his spoils of war to Melchizedec, a priest of the Most High God, nobody told him to do so. He did it of his own free will. The pureness of Abraham’s heart naturally led to his godly decision to honour the Lord with his possessions and with the first fruits of the increase in his resources.
Believers should recognise that God is a God of free will. The bible says where the Spirit of God is there is liberty. Jesus said to the Pharisees concerning divorce: “From the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8). So many things have been corrupted by practice and by the traditions of men, but from the beginning that was not so.
From the beginning, people were not compelled or threatened to give. Even in the Old Testament, God only welcomed offerings that were given willingly and not out of compulsion. Thus, he instructed Moses: “Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze.” (Exodus 35:5).
Indeed, in the construction and furnishing of God’s Tabernacle, the people gave so willingly and so exceedingly that they had to be restrained from giving: “The people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done – indeed too much.” (Exodus 36:5-7). That is the kind of giving that honours the Lord.
This means the believer who gives “of necessity” (because he feels compelled to do so) is giving a blemished sacrifice. You don’t give because you are trying to avoid curses or because you are afraid of the devourer. You give because you want to. You give because you love God and men. You give because you want to further kingdom business.
This means that you can decide to give this proportion of your income this month and another proportion next month. The decision is entirely up to you. Moreover, if you choose not to give, the heavens are not going to fall down on you. If you choose not to give, God is not going to rain down curses on you. If you choose not to give, the devourer is not going to be let loose on you. If you choose not to give, the windows of heaven will not be shut against you.
Let no one deceive you. The believer in Christ Jesus is already blessed. Therefore, he cannot be cursed. You cannot curse someone that God has blessed. That was why there could be no enchantment against Jacob; neither could there be any divination against Israel. (Numbers 23:23). Whether he gives tithes and offerings or not, the believer in Christ is blessed. He is blessed, not because of anything he does or will do, but because of what Christ has done.