Is God after my wallet?
Prosperity gospel (also known as the health and wealth gospel or the “Word of Faith” movement) is a teaching that financial blessing is the will of God for man, and that faith, positive speech, and giving money to the church will guarantee greater material wealth. Based on perverse interpretations of Scripture, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, this doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, He will deliver His promises of health, wealth and prosperity.
Peter describes the church in the latter days: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
[The purpose of this article is to explain what the false and deceptive teaching is, and then to establish what is biblical and what is commanded of a Christian disciple, and the motivation behind it.]
THE MALACHI MYSTERY
The famous verse many preachers use when asking money is Malachi 3:9-10: “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Many churches and preachers promote a concept called “storehouse” tithing, based on Malachi 3:10, where God tells Israel to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” They teach that the local church is the storehouse, the tithe belongs to God, and His blessing is conditioned upon faithfulness in tithing. They have used those verses to make people believe that if they do not give money to the preacher, they will be “cursed”, and that if they do give money to him, they will be “blessed”. How many preachers will have to give account one day for teaching this portion of Scripture totally out of context for their own despicable gain?
Why did God want these tithes of the land brought to the “storehouse”? (storehouse refers to the granary for grain and not the church). So that “there may be food in My house (in God’s house/Temple/Tabernacle, and not the granary).” Does God ask Israel to bring all the tithes and offerings into the storehouse (treasury, or granary), so that there will be “tithes and offerings in My house?” No. God says, so “that there may be food in My house”.
The only food in God’s house -the tabernacle, was a dozen loaves of bread. And that bread was for the Priests only, not for the tribe of Levi. Since there were only twelve loaves of bread in the Tabernacle or Temple of God, are we to believe that the whole nation of Israel (approx 2.4M people -Exodus 12:37, Numbers 1:45-46) did not bring enough grain to the storehouse to make even twelve loaves of bread? God does not contradict Himself, there needs to be something other than a need for enough grain from the whole nation of Israel to make twelve loaves of bread!
It is amazing how the false teachers make most people think that the only thing of value in the book of Malachi are these three verses on “robbing God” and “receiving a blessing.” There are four whole chapters in this book. God does not rebuke the people or the priests for the lack of quantity in their tithes and offerings and sacrifices, but rather a lack of quality. Here is Scriptural proof… They brought offerings, but why would God not accept their offerings? Because they offered “blind, lame and sick sacrifices.” And why did they do that? Because they themselves were spiritually blind, lame and sick. There was quantity to their offerings, but not quality. “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty” (Mal. 1:8).
The problem is not a lack of money, but offering polluted bread upon the altar of God. God wants “Pure and Fine Bread” (Leviticus 24:5). “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ “By offering defiled food on my altar” (Malachi 1:6-7). God used a physical, outward, visible, type of sick, lame, and blind sacrifices, which He then calls polluted bread to show Israel and their priests what He was really angry with, namely, their “polluted” hearts, minds, and spirits! Israel brought sick and blind sacrifices and the priests did not correct them, but went ahead and offered them to God. Both the people and the priests were polluted in their hearts.
07 Reasons why tithing is NOT God’s standard for Christians
(1) Tithing was a part of the Law of Moses; believers are not under the law.
- The tithe was a tenth part of the Promised Land’s agricultural produce.
In the days of Joshua, when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that land was divided between the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribe of Levi was not given as much agricultural land as the other tribes. The Levites received only smaller lots around towns. To compensate for this, they were given a right to a part of the other tribes’ agricultural produce in the land of Israel. This had a connection with the tithe system. Leviticus 27:30-33 is the first passage where the bible contains the word “tithe” in the singular form.
- When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they did not tithe. It began after they entered the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 12)
- It is not clear what applied to those Israelites who settled east of the river Jordan, outside the actual Promised Land.
- Tithing under the Mosaic Covenant Click here to see tithe facts
(2) Tithing was an involuntary tax to support Israel; believers are not a part of the theocratic nation.
Israel was established to be a Theocracy (God as King). In the Old Testament, there was both required and voluntary giving. The tithe was required. It was commended for every Israelite to fund national worship and help the poor. In actuality, there was not just one tithe, but rather two or three ( Lev. 27:30-33, Num. 18:20-21;  Deut. 12:17-18;  Deut. 14:28-29), so that the total was not 10 percent, but more like 22 percent, or even more. (Ref. Charles Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life [Moody Press], p. 86). Thus if we are required to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse today, we had better up the percentage from 10 to 22+ percent!
(3) The scriptures know nothing of “Christian TITHING”, although much is said about giving.
The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. This is not a gray area. There is no Scriptural proof that such law or custom as Christian tithing was taught or practiced in the Church by the early apostles. Gentile converts were never taught to tithe to anyone. Yet, what is one of the very first legislated duties taught to Gentile converts by the Church today? It is that they must tithe their annual salaries to the Church. Of the 613 laws contained in the first five books of the Bible written by Moses, why is it that aside from the Ten Commandments, “tithing” is virtually the only other law that the modern Church tries to retain?
Paul was inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to declare that “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Cor.9:7). Why was not Paul inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to declare that, “God loves a cheerful tithe-payer?” In fact, why does not Paul mention the words tithe, tithes, or tithing in any of His thirteen epistles -not once? Why does not Peter, James, John, or Jude mention tithing in any of their epistles?
(4) Tithing is not mentioned in any writings of the early church fathers.
By itself this is not decisive, but it lends weight to the biblical arguments. If the early church practiced tithing, then the concept should surface somewhere in the writings of the church fathers of the second and third centuries. But it does not, even though giving was an important part of early Christian worship (Ref. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, G. F. Hawthorne, pp. 854-855).
(5) Tithing puts the wrong emphasis upon giving.
Tithing emphasizes your obligation to God; New Testament giving, as we shall see, emphasizes your willing, loving response to God’s grace. Furthermore, tithing limits giving by making a person feel that he has paid his dues and thus nothing more is required, when, in fact, much more could be done. Tithing has a tendency to put a person on a legal basis with God, rather than a love relationship. It’s the wrong emphasis.
(6) Tithing leads to a false concept of stewardship.
It leads to the notion that 10 percent is God’s money and 90 percent is my money. In reality, 100 percent is God’s money, and He may want me to channel 90 percent into His work and live on 10 percent.
(7) Tithing is burdensome for some and too easy for others.
If a man with a family of five makes $20,000 a year and tithes, he has $18,000 (apart from taxes) to support five people. If a childless couple makes $200,000 a year and tithes, they have $180,000 (apart from taxes) to support two people. That would be burdensome to the man with five mouths to feed, but ridiculously easy for the couple.
THE LESSON FROM MALACHI TO CHRISTIANS
God’s message through Malachi is not a quest for more money! Obedience to the Law of Moses, the Sacrifices and the many Ordinances was to bring physical prosperity, safety from enemies, healthy children, and a long life in the Promised Land, followed by DEATH. Malachi brings us from obedience to physical laws in the PROMISED LAND, all the way down to the return of Messiah in fiery judgment upon mankind.
God never really did want animal sacrifices, there are times that God is angry with offerings and behavioral patterns and the actions of His people and He says “I despise your feasts, I hate your solemn assemblies, and your offerings have become offensive in my nostrils, take away your songs (Amos 5:21-23), “I have had enough burnt offerings, I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls and rams. When you come before me who requires these worthless offerings, I hate your festivals and assemblies (Isaiah 1:11-15) and there are times God completely rejects the outward religious observance of Israel.
The sacrifices spoken of in Malachi were not suitable for God’s house, and the only sacrifices that are fit for God’s house are the sacrifices of a “broken and contrite heart and spirit” (Psalms 51:17). God tells us through Malachi that we should bring all our tithes (spiritual tithes and offerings) to Him and He will bless us with a blessing that cannot be contained – “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing (singular) until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10). The physical tithes that were brought to the storehouse from which portions were sacrificed to God, brought temporary, physical blessings on Earth. For all those who will bring all their spiritual tithes and offerings to God’s house, God promises One permanent, SPIRITUAL Blessing from heaven -the One and Only True Bread of ETERNAL life, Jesus Christ!
THE STANDARD FOR CRISTIAN DISCIPLE
Apostle Paul gives us the standard for today’s giving in 2 Corinthians 9:7, and it is the basis of what is commanded of a Christian disciple: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Here you have 03 commands for Christian giving:
- God commands generosity
- God commands cheerful generosity
- God commands generosity, the amount determined by the individual giver in His heart
So, what should be the motivation behind Christian giving? “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9). Our generosity is motivated by God’s radical generosity. Christ gave His life. So we too are motivated towards radical generosity.
- God didn’t send a fraction of grace and peace to earth from His house. He sent the FULL Christ as COMPLETE atonement for our sins.
- God didn’t send a percentage of Christ so that He would pay 90% of our debts and we would pay the rest.
- We are already bought and paid for in FULL by Christ Jesus.
- We are now to live on a standard far above what we ever knew before Christ called us to become new creatures in the spirit.
God is after your heart and not your wallet
Giving reflects the condition of our hearts: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). If God truly has your heart, he has your wallet! “A faith that hasn’t reached your wallet, probably hasn’t reached your heart” (Adrian Rogers). We can fake some things, but we can’t fake giving money! If one wishes to tithe, he is not in any way, barred from doing so. Those who tithe are often acting in obedience to what they believe God has commanded. However, it is when one teaches it as a doctrine and that God will not bless those who fail to tithe which is the problem. Many people give because of the fear, or in return of a favor from God. God is not going to curse you; for Jesus Christ has already bore the curse on the cross for us, fulfilling the Law to the letter, freeing us from the wrath of God. God delights in our giving with cheerfulness -a carefree attitude of trust in Him and His provision. Generosity with our time, talents, and treasure are ways we can exercise our faith. These are seeds we sow. What happens between the bountiful planting and the abundant harvest is in God’s hands. God determines the blessings that come from generosity. So, authentic generosity can always be traced back to our awareness of what He has done for us. Generosity is simply love in action, sowing bountifully what God first has lovingly provided for us. And He will always use it to bring about a harvest as He determines for His glory.