Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Acts 4:35, "And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."
Acts 11:29, "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:"
2 Corinthians 8:12, "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
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."
According to these verses, giving is shown as a relief to those in need. This is the Apostle's Way of giving. Giving is an essential part of the Christian way of life. Giving in many forms, not just money, is true charity. We can give of our time, attention, labor, effort, forgiveness, grace, sustenance, and yes, money. Many however, confuse giving with tithing. They are not the same. Not one iota. As mentioned in many of my tithing posts, tithing was part of the Mosaic Law in and for the people of Israel and does not transpose itself to Christ's legitimate, authentic Home based church. The truth is, the contemporary, Main-Stream, Institutional 'Church' System of man's design has cultivated the idea that tithing is a Biblical Principle meant for the N.T. church. The idea is that, if the money rolls in, a building, staff and Programs can be supported. Not only these things, but pastors could gain a living off the 'Church.'
Alex Rattray Hay, a Missionary/Author labels this behavior from 'Church' leaders as "Priestcraft," in his book, 'The New Testament Order for Church and Missionary,' circa 1947. The early 'Church' Fathers,' such as Augustine, Ignatius, Origin, Aquinas and others blatantly caused their parishioners to pay an enforced "Tithe Tax" to gain a living (and more) at the people's expense. In the Roman Catholic 'Church' System, tithing in the fourth century became a local, municipal statute everyone in the parish must follow or suffer the consequences. The government back then was a theocratic one based out of the Mother 'Church.' Tithing didn't gain acceptance within Baptists 'Churches' until the mid 1800's. Giving however, was free will, based upon need and availability in every century.
The word 'Priestcraft' is an odd but accurate term used to describe the clergy's methods of operation. 'Priest' means 'minster,' while 'craft' means to manipulate something or someone to a desired end result. Here's an example: My wife teaches ladies how to make greeting cards and scrapbook pages. She shows then how to manipulate card stock, ribbons, glitter, beads and other materials by using glues, scissors, cutting boards and rulers to Produce a finished work of art for a specific purpose. Priestcraft works much the same way. Clergy manipulates their congregants to give ten percent of their income using their 'craft' of wresting the Holy Scriptures. They maneuver and indoctrinate their members to part ways with their livelihoods so that the end result will be financial support towards themselves and their position, Properties and Programs. Simply put, Priestcraft is when the clergy manipulates the laity into financially supporting their business interests by labeling it, 'God's.' The tools they use are persuasion and the twisting of God's Word. They even go as far as saying, "God commands it!" I'm not writing this to be critical or unkind. I'm just exposing the facts. There is plenty of material in this blog to support these facts. I'll refer to a few posts as a quick reference as we press on.
In an average Institutional 'Church' today, congregants give of their money in many charitable ways. Giving towards Missions is very popular, but the way we go about it is against the Apostle's Way. The Program referred to as 'Faith Promise Giving' is a good example. 2 Cor. 8:12 says, "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." 'Faith Promise' encourages us to give when we don't even have it to give. So many times we have been 'brow-beaten' into giving of what we do not have. The Scripture says first we must have a "willing mind" to do it. I never looked forward to Faith Promise time each year at our 'Church,' because I had too many irons in the fire as it was. I didn't exactly have a 'willing mind' to participate, but I did out of peer-pressure. Some people who are poor give in the hope that they'll have their financial Problems go away.
I'm all for supporting missionaries, but I want to do it the Apostle's Way by giving from what I have and not Promising something I may not be able to give later on. Filling out Faith Promise cards to commit to something I don't have is not prescribed by God. That is a tool of Priestcraft. Tithing in the Main-Stream 'Church' System however, isn't a choice. It has become a mandate. Not from God, but from the pulpit. Those who think that Malachi 3:8-10 teach the Christian to tithe needs to read chapters one and two before reading chapter three. The tithes and offerings mentioned in chapter three are separate. They are two totally different things used for two totally different purposes. A tithe was presented in a tithe cycle and was mostly a festival celebration of foods, drink and livestock. No money was given as a tithe.
There were specific ordinances for the tithe and only certain people were allowed to give or receive tithes. An offering however, was either a blood sacrifice or items for the treasure house of the temple. These weren't even required from the people who could give. Those who couldn't, didn't. The command to give an "offering" in Malachi was a command to the priests to offer up burnt animal sacrifices, not money. A wave offering was given by the people as a free will offering of goods. The tithe was restricted to land owners from the borders of Israel only. No imports were allowed. Certain people were exempted from tithing, those being the Levite, priests, orphans, strangers and widows. They received a special tithe every third year in the tithe cycle at least three times that year if you were an Aaronic priest or a Levite. Twice that third or sixth year if you were a Levite, widow, orphan or stranger. The reason? The harvest was during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Every seventh year in the tithe cycle there was no tithe given. See the post entitled, 'What Is The Tithe Cycle and Who Was Exempt From Tithing?' for more details.
So how does one unravel the misconception of 'giving' within his or her congregation? It seems many give tithes out of ignorance and obedience to their pastor's urging that God commands it. First off, God didn't command it of us, and second, we need to search the Scriptures more closely to determine just what the Bible says about tithing for the believer. I'll give you a hint; it doesn't say anything connecting the two. To determine our aptitude regarding tithing, I suggest that we 'Take The Tithe Test' offered to the left of this post in the Post List. Go ahead; it'll take you five minutes to fail it. I didn't get one question right when I first took it, and I was a faithful tither for thirty years! Go ahead, take it right now, cold turkey, then come back to this post...
Done yet? I wonder how you did. Well, not really. I already know the results. Even after all of the information revealed above, they were the same as mine, weren't they? Even some of you pastors failed it, didn't you? To illustrate my point, let me tell you about a friend of mine. He was in a similar boat as you. He was a faithful tither for years. This man has a heart for people that overflows with generosity. He tithed $600.00 a month, and he doesn't make $6,000.00 a month. His giving of time, effort, charity and money goes far beyond what even an above average tither would. At a mutual friend's request, he decided to take the 'Tithe Test' in this blog. But, before he did, he committed himself to study the tithing references of Scripture on his own to get a 'heads up' on the topic. He is no slouch on Scripture and spiritual matters and was eager to try. How well dd he do? As well as you did! He failed miserably.
He failed because, even though he was studying the subject before taking the test, he was looking at Scripture with what I like to call, 'Institutional Eyes.' He was viewing tithing as he was taught from the pulpit. Most pastors today only know one way to teach tithing. They use God as the Great Intimidator. They Promise that if we don't tithe, we are robbing God and no blessings will be bestowed upon us. Then they go even farther by saying if we want "gross blessings," we will give tithes of our gross income. If we want "net blessings," we'll give tithes of our net income. Not so! That kind of advice is a form of Priestcraft. God was speaking to the Aaronic Priesthood in Malachi, not we as believers today. Read chapter one and two of Malachi as suggested earlier. We as believers are not included in their conversation. Tithing simply does not apply to us as Christians, but Giving the Apostle's Way does.
When my friend discovered that tithing wasn't prescribed by God to His authentic church, he repented of the practice and started giving the same amount to those who had a need in the Institutional 'Church.' He still had a great desire to give and did this by choice, not because he's commanded by a pastor to do so. He didn't want there to be a void in his heart in the area of giving. He focused mostly on widows. He no longer saw the need to give to the pastor to distribute his offerings. He just gave it directly to those who needed it. There is one instance where he discovered that a widow woman had no air conditioning in her home. She was sickly and had no one to see to her needs. Her home was akin to an 'Easy Bake Oven.' What'd he do? He bought her a new air conditioner, brought it over and installed it for her. I think he may have even turn it on! Glory to GOD! How many of us would think to give the pastor the money and let him determine who would receive it? To this day, he gives the same amount of money, but this time it doesn't go to a building or to pay a pastor's salary. Since his discovery, he has left the 'Institute' and gives freely to those who actually need it. If a brother or sister, poor or lame, blind or sick, widow or orphan, is in need, that's where the money, goods or services end up. It doesn't matter if the recipients are members of the Institutional 'Church' or the legitimate home based church. Whoever needs it, gets it.
My dear brother indeed gives out of a wiling and cheerful heart. He loves people first and then manifests his love through giving. He gives according to what he has and never deprives his family of what they need first. The Institutional 'Church' has a dependency issue regarding the tithe to survive. The sad thing is, those within have greater needs, which are not fulfilled because the clergy does not give the Apostle's Way. God has to step in more times than not to meet those needs. We should be giving of what we have to those in need, and not to pay for a building or a pastor's salary. If you have a heart to give, seek the Lord and find out who is in need. Seek out the widow, the lame, the blind and thou shall be blessed. Continue to give in love and with a generous and cheerful spirit. I know that most of you do. but, what is your target? Is it a building's mortgage and a staff's salary? Or, is it the poor, the widow, the sick, the hungry, the orphan who really need it?
A pastor doesn't need a salary derived from his congregation. That's something he wants and thinks he's entitled to. He's supposed to eat the bread earned by his own two hands, that's what he's entitled to! Being a pastor isn't a job, it's a ministry! He's stationary, unlike a missionary or evangelist who are always on the road. They are allowed to accept sustenance from those they minister to by preaching the gospel. Pastors can stay in their local area and get a job or start a self employed career to earn their bread. They are not supposed to take it from their congregants. That system of giving is foreign to God's prescription of giving. Pastors don't 'need it.' They can work a full time job on the open market to Provide for their families. See my post, 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' to get a good look at this.
The two main words we need to remember are 'need' and 'give.' A want is not a need. Giving is meant for every believer, not just the well off. When we have it to give, give. If we don't, don't. If we purpose in our hearts to give a certain amount, or even goods and services, we can Proceed as long as we have them to give without short changing our own families. But let us ask God first before we make a commitment to someone else. Another caution is to be careful about vowing to God to who and how much we'll give. The number one reason for 'Vow Breaking' has always been 'Vow Making.' If we make a just vow, and we don't follow through with it, God will be displeased and hold us accountable for breaking that vow. Think long and hard before making a monetary vow to God. Giving is good and is prescribed by our Saviour, but give wisely. One doesn't have to make a vow to give. Let us not concern ourselves with tithing. Tithing was meant for Israel, not New Covenant Christians.
Take a Que from my friend and discover that when we give directly to those in need the Apostle's Way, we will be blessed beyond measure. Giving to the Institution is giving to a business entity. If some of our money gets to those who need it, glory to God! But, if the pastor, or the building gets it, we are not giving to the Proper target. Why? God prescribes in His Word to give to the living, not brick, stone, staff or a Program ~1 Peter 2:5, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." We are living stones, who are built up a spiritual house as a holy priesthood. We are the lively stones. Christ is the Master Builder. Funny how twisting this verse makes it sound as though we are to give towards the maintenance and payment for a building. He never told us to give a tithe to anyone, let alone toward a building. Jesus didn't tithe. That "render unto Caesar what is Caesars" quote had nothing to do with tithing. That had to do with a tribute to a foreign government.
Paul didn't tithe. Peter didn't tithe. The rest of the Apostle's didn't tithe. Why? They weren't farmers who owned land in Israel. That was the main requirement just to be allowed to tithe, because tithing was always food Products derived from the seed of the land within the borders of Israel only. The tithe wasn't money even though money was in wide use in Israel at the time. Not only that, Jesus disannulled the tithe by virtue of His death on the cross. It is not a law for Christians to follow. Why? Because tithing was a Ceremonial Law given by God to the Hebrew within the land of Israel. It simply doesn't apply to us, no more than Orthodox Jews tithe here in America. Why is that? Simple: They live here and not in their homeland, and second, they're not farmers working the land in Israel.
It is not a so-called "Biblical Principle" or a "Timeless Moral Principle" that commands us to tithe either. The tithe was a Ceremonial Law, which was not under the Moral code of Laws within the Mosaic Law. Again: it was a Ceremonial Law, NOT a Moral Law! The Law of Moses was broken down into three main parts. The Moral Laws; don't steal, commit adultery, kill, etc... The Judicial Laws, which applied to the nation of Israel only, just as our Judicial Laws apply to us here in the States only. The Jewish Judicial Laws are not within our jurisdiction, and as a result do not apply to Gentiles of any other nation on this Earth! Including the good old U.S.A. The Ceremonial Laws was a section that was reserved for the Jew only. These were Laws which dealt with blood sacrifices of animals, dietary laws, marriage, etc. One of these laws was the law on tithing. The idea that New Covenant Christians, especially Gentile Christians are to tithe, was made up by those who engage in the activities of Priestcraft in our modern day Institutional 'Churches.'
Priestcraft is the art of the clergy fleecing the flock of their resources by indoctrinating them with false doctrines such as tithing, two classes of 'Church' members (clergy and laity) and that a pastor must be paid a wage. Priestcraft is when the clergy teaches that pastors are the successors of the Levitical Priesthood, and should be treated the same as priests in the Old Testament. Sadly, most pastors have been sucked in to this practice without realizing it; "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 2:17. To most, it seems like the natural course to take when the subject of giving is brought up. Why? Because most listen to men's traditions instead of studying Scripture. Let us learn how to give the Apostle's Way and forsake the Priestcraft way.
Are we sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in our giving practices? Do we let Him lead us, or do we succumb to peer-pressure and commands from our pulpits? Do we Promise to give of what we do not have and fall short of our commitments before year's end? Wouldn't it be great if we could give first of a willing mind with no guilt attached? Proverbs 3:27 says, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Notice it didn't say, "whether it is in the power of thine hand to do it or NOT." The word 'when' is the operative word we should be concentrating on in this verse. WHEN it is in the power of thine hand. Let us give Scripturally. Let us give the Apostle's Way to those who need it and when we have a willing mind from what we do have.