The Old Testament demand for tithing is clear.
The following quotation comes from the Book of the prophet Malachi:
"No; I the Lord do not change; and you, sons of Jacob, you are not ruined yet! since the days of your ancestors you have evaded my statutes and not observed them. Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord God. You ask, 'How are we to return? Can a man cheat God?' Yet you are cheating me. You ask, 'How are we cheating you?' In the matter of tithes and dues. The curse lies on you because you, yes you the whole nation, are cheating me. Bring the full tithes and dues to the storehouse so that there may be food in my house, and then see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you and pour out blessing for you in abundance. For your sake I will lay a strict injunction on the locust not to destroy the fruits of your soil nor make the vine in your fields barren, says the Lord God Almighty. All the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delights, says the Lord God."
Jesus showed that the Old Testament focus on physical rules and on money was misdirected. Driving out the money-lenders from the temple, He revealed these laws and the coins of the realm that supported them to be merely physical symbols of underlying spiritual truths that are the true essence of religion. In this sense, man thinks in terms of money as far as tithes and dues are concerned, but not God. In the Bible, money is a metaphore for true riches. Actually, the 'tithes and dues' of God are the spiritual obligations demanded of us by the commandments.
When we obey Christ's commandments scripture tells us that we produce the fruit of the kingdom. Tithes to God that truly matter must be made out of this store of riches.
As far as the financial tax is concerned, Jesus said the sons are exempt (Matt.17:24-27). How can they be exempt from a necessity? They are exempt from money, but not from the spiritual tithes and dues that clothe the bride. These must be brought to the altar in great abundance. What is exalted by God are the true riches of justice, mercy and good faith. It is these that clothe the bride and so it is out of these true riches that we must offer our gifts before the altar of the Lord.
"Bring the full tithes and dues to the storehouse"
"His bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints'. (Rev. 19:8-9)
These "deeds" are the tithes and dues requested of us by Jesus: Acts of righteeousness, mercy, justice, compassion and good faith.
The confusion between works and faith that has haunted Christianity from its earliest days actually revolves around the issue of these spiritual tithes and dues. Every time we obey one of the Lord's commandments, we make a spriitual offering to God. That is a tithe.
Jesus taught that money is a man-made god. A graven image. When He said, "What is exalted by men is an abomination in the sight of God", scripture tells us that Jesus was speaking of the abominations of money and the love of money (Luke 16:14-15). Obviously a Caesarean drachma such as this is not the gift God seeks from us.
It can be argued that we need a massive expenditure of capital in order to perpetuate the image of Christ before the world i.e., that money buys the billboard which advertises Jesus and sells him to the masses. In our materialistic time, that argument might seem convincing were it not for the global spread of Christianity in its first 300 years, working out of the catacombs of Rome. It is not money but spirituality that spreads the truth of Christ to the world. People are converted by truth, not by packaging.
Capital is necessary to maintain the churches. Churches need to be supported by those in attendance who have an abundance of wealth to give toward their maintenance. But those who are poor need to know that God does not further burden His people with additional economic hardships. The most important tithe to God is spiritual, not financial. Those who give to God spiritually give enormously more, in fact, than all the money in the world.
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