'Give unto the Lord and he will release blessings from heaven upon you', said a Pastor with faithful fervor.
I once knew of a young Christian family suffering financial hardship and it was putting a strain on their marriage. Little did I know at that time, that the real cause of the financial hardship was the husband's legalistic attitude toward tithing. The problem? The husband was giving one tenth of his income to the church, while not being able to feed his family, buy milk for the new baby, or pay the rent.
The Prophet Malachi in Chapter 3 verse 8 writes:
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
There are those who like to preach tithing as recorded in the old testament and in doing so fill the hearers hearts with fear that if they fail in their tithing, the blessings of God will cease in their lives. Unfortunately the concept of tithing is not really understood and I would recommend readers do an internet search and randomly read what can be found about tithing. As for the words of Malachi, one can't help but notice that God is not speaking so much to the individual believers as to the religious leaders and priests who fail to use the tithes and offerings in the prescribed ways.
Tithes and offerings had many uses and these uses included looking after the stranger in the land, supporting the priests and the temple, and looking after the widow and orphans. If a church is going to preach tithing as a 'law', then they are bound by the 'law' on tithing.
- For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi Chapter 2:7-8)
Those who preach the law of tithing are faced with a dilemma. If tithing releases the financial blessing of God, then how can people who pay tithes suffer financial hardship, lose the bread winner of the family, or fall behind in their bills unless they are hiding some serious sin in their lives.
The 'prosperity Gospel' which dictates that God will financially bless faithful Christians, requires us to believe that less fortunate Christians must be in sin. This is clearly not taught in Scripture. A cursory reading of the new testament (1 Corinthians Chapter 16:1 - 2 Corinthians Chapter 8:1 and Chapter 11) reveals easily enough the financial and other struggles suffered by both the Christian Churches in general and the various leaders in particular.
God requires us to give willingly and cheerfully 'as we are able' or as we are led by his Spirit, as an expression of our love and commitment, not as an act of fear lest God not bless us. (See 1 Corinthians 16:2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7)
As for those who will find excuse to preach the 'LAW', it is helpful to remember the lessons in the book of Isaiah Chapter 58 wherein God makes plain the difference between those who follow religious formula in order to gain profit, and the real purpose of religious formula.
When it comes to tithing one must also remember: "whatsoever is not of faith is sin". (Romans 14:23)
M. Wallace Johnson
1 Peter Chapter 4:12-16
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
I Peter Chapter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles to date by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Gifts of God
Prayer and Fasting