Monday, 27 July 2015

THE TRUTH ABOUT TITHING, BLESSINGS AND PROSPERITY

THE TRUTH ABOUT TITHING, BLESSINGS AND PROSPERITY
Chinaemerem Joshua Ibezim 
Monday, July 27, 2015

There are basically three eras: The pre-Law era; the era of the Law and then the post-Law era. Understanding this is important.

A. BEFORE THE LAW

Now, we see in Genesis that Abraham paid tithe. But it's recorded that he paid tithes just once. Jacob promised God a tithe; but note that his decision to pay tithes to God was hinged on the fulfillment of certain conditions. Genesis 28.20-22 says, "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.'" Notice that Jacob was not in any way compelled to give God the tithe. And we are not told if he eventually did or not.

B. THE LAW

When God gave the Israelites the Law, He said, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord ’s. It is holy to the Lord." Leviticus 27:30. But God also made it clear that tithes were to be used for different purposes.

1) Tithes were to support the Levites who had no inheritance. In Numbers 18.20-21, God said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. “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."

2) Tithes were to support the strangers, the fatherless and the widows.

Deuteromomy 26.12-15. “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year— the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, 'a land flowing with milk and honey.'"

Notice the people God asked them to give the tithes to: those who had no inheritance in the land and were helpless. For God is a gracious and merciful God.

C. MALACHI 3:8&9 AND THE CURSE OF THE LAW

Malachi 3:8-9 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation."

That's understandable because God told them that the tithes were His. But why the curse? In Deuteronomy 11.26-29, Moses said, “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. Now it shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal."

That's the curse God referred to, because in the Old Testament, there was a curse for not obeying the Law.

D. REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW

First, it's important to state that the Law has been abolished. Jesus fulfilled the entire Law. Ephesians 2.14-15 says, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that  is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace."

But tithing preceeded the Law. So, that the Law was abolished doesn't necessarily mean we should automatically stop tithing (assuming we choose to). But here's what Jesus did that no one should overlook: He redeemed us from the curse of the Law! Galatians 3.13-14 says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

E. WE ARE BLESSED

Believers must realize that we are already blessed. I mean since the very day we believed. 1 Peter 3.9 "knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." Ephesians 1.3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."

F. PROSPERITY IS FREE!

1 Corinthians 2.12 says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." What are these things? I can tell you without fear of contradiction that prosperity is one of them. 2 Corinthians 8.9 says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." 1 Corinthians 3.21-23 says, "Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s." All things are ours!

We are blessed by grace!

G. DON'T BE LIKE THE PHARISEE

Jesus told a parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:12-14.

Sadly, a lot of Christians are boasting today: they brag about paying tithes and condemn those who don't; ignoring the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ Who became poor so that we could be rich!

H. WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE

Give because you love God and men. That, really, is the true reason why God wants us to give. I tell you, when brethren of the Early Church gave all their possessions, they were not expecting anything in return. They gave because they didn't want anyone among them to lack. That was love. And that's what Paul spent time doing, getting from those who had in order that those who didn't have might be well catered for. He said to the Corinthians: "I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others." 2 Corinthians 8:8

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