Faith To Give Tithing and Trust God
Prophetic Promise of Malachi
The words of Malachi in the Old Testament are lamentable as he pleads for a return of Israel to the ordinances of Jehovah. Reading in that book reminds us of the Words of Isaiah and Moroni. Malachi is in the same tradition as Moroni in that his book is the last of a testament and he echoes words of warning and invitation. Malachi invites us to test God.
It seems strange that a prophet promotes this opportunity to verify the creator of all things, but the invitation veritably extends to all believers. Malachi was particularly speaking to his brethren of Judah when he admonished them to return to God, but his words are applicable today as in the past. Malachi challenges,
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 3:10-12
How marvelous are the promise give to those Jews who followed the law instituted among them in olden times of tithing! The same promises apply to all people today who keep this law and honor it. In these last days, Jesus Christ teaches that " those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever... [T]hose who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law...." Doctrine & Covenants 119:4-5.
God is the same forever and in Him, there is no hint of uncertainty about His role in our lives and His relationship to us. He does not have us worship Him out of vanity. We do so out of love and devotion to Him. All things that He reveals to us has eternal purpose.
Why Tithe - Anciently
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house..."
First and foremost, we tithe because Heavenly Father asked us to do so. He needs "meat in mine house." Of course, the Lord does not need meat to eat, and the house he was speaking of is the Temple at Jerusalem in the reference in the book of Malachi.
The priests did not work while serving in the Temple and needed people to give a tenth of their products to the Temple to continue the rites of sacrifice in similitude of the sacrifice that the Savior would allow of his life. There were several types of sacrifices performed--the foremost to atone for the sins of the people. There also were the individual sacrifices for each patron of the Temple.
Because cultural separation makes such ordinances seem cruel in today's society, I will not bother to detail them here, but tithing funded the ordinances of the Temple in Jerusalem. Temple worship was a large part of Jewish culture and religious life in ancient times. The idea of the Temple was to point the chosen people to God and His eventual glorious triumph over death and hell and their deliverance from the bondage of all their enemies.
The Lord wanted them to remember to support the Temple ordinances through tithing so that he could keep them in remembrance of his covenant to them.
Why Tithe - Today
"...all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed..."
The Lord expects the same devotion today for the same reason. While all who are reading this may not worship in temples, most Christian organization use tithing for the same purposes as in ancient Judah I assume. God gives us everything and asks in return that we return a tenth of what he allowed us to have.
We could reason that God gives us nothing because we work diligently for our support and give it as an offering! However, God created the earth and all the souls on it, who in turn, participated in the development of societies that offer employment to people like us.
He, God, also set the seasons and earth in motion and created the laws that allow gravity on Earth to hold so that we may walk and breathe air. He placed the Earth next to a star so that we may have warmth and light. He even prevailed upon the hearts of nations so that where many of us live there is relative peace. For all that, he asks for a tenth of our increase.
Tithing helps to run The Church of Jesus Christ. Temples of the Lord dot the planet in a way unprecedented in the history of God's church. These temples perform ordinances and use all sorts of products and services that cost money. The Lord needs "meat in mine house" still. We call this "meat" electricity, water, laundering, food service, central heating and air-conditioning and more. The Lord wants us to bring our increase to keep the temples going.
He wants us to keep our churches going. Many Christians tithe to pay for the electricity, water, laundering, food service, central heating and air-conditioning and more in their churches. All these houses of worship need to have upkeep so that the Lord can use the ministers to point the people towards the great sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth. We tithe to show our support for the Lord's servants who service our spiritual needs outside of home life. The church is an anchor of support for family teachings about Christ and needs support from Christians to keep it running.
The politics of tithing is not the question. What the leaders of churches do with the money after we give it to them matters, but it is a subject to leave to the Lord. We give freely and willingly with hearts pure in devotion for the upkeep of the temple or house of worship so that there "might be meat in mine house."
"...prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven..."
This tithing relationship with God is not one sided in nature. God expects us to show our devotion by giving back a tenth or ten percent of what He gives us annually. In return, He challenges us to test Him. He challenges us to let Him prove to us He is faithful in our support.
He first tells us that He will open the windows of heaven--revelation! He will reveal Himself unto us if we pay tithing! Now the Lord is no fool, and cannot be deceived. We must not disobey all the other commandments we know thinking that if we obey tithing, it covers us for the rest. In addition to being a decent Christian, meaning following the life of service Christ exemplified, God will reveal things of importance to our lives and the lives of people for whom we have responsibility.
Call upon the Lord and he will speak to us in prayer, through scriptures, through the minister or bishop, by a sign on the road or a man on the street! He will speak to us in a way that will be apparent to us because He promises to do so--"Prove me now" He demands.
Now it makes more sense when Jesus teaches "...this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at [our] hands, that there may be a house built unto me for the salvation of Zion..." Doctrine & Covenants 97:12 He does not want these houses because He likes to have buildings dedicated to Him. He wants them so that He can come unto us while we are in them in the attitude of worshiping so that He can reveal His will to us individually--and we hear it.
The psychology behind it is brilliant. God is so selfless that He gives us things, asks for a tenth of it back and have us build sanctuaries only so He can give us more things!
"Pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
There are multiple ways to view the blessing that the Lord will pour out to us for paying tithing. I remember as a young man I had a choice to pay my tithing or pay for a two-week mission trip with church. I knew that the mission trip was important and that I could learn much in benefiting me to be a teacher of the Gospel. I did not see a problem with paying tithing late instead of on time--it was about $50 or so that I needed to pay for the mission trip. I had the same amount to pay in tithing--and I was already paying it late!
I decided ultimately not to make the Lord wait. I would just give up on going on the mission trip. In the mail came the blessing that God promises for paying tithing--at least for that time. I received a check for $593 --10 times more than what I needed for the mission trip!
People, this may have been a coincidence, but I counted it as confirmation of tithe paying. I have had experience after experience over the last 20 years paying tithing with the same outcome in blessings. I have proven Him, and He is true. God delivers on time!
He wants to bless us. Anytime we service Him by working in our churches and paying our offerings He blesses us for our sacrifice. King Benjamin summed it up nicely when He said while giving a speech from a tower in the Temple at Zarahemla about God, "he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever...." Mosiah 2: 24
God gives us all, asks for a tenth back, then gives it back to us with so much more we are not able to see all of the blessings at once! The blessings are not always valued monetarily or in wealth. I was not able to see it then, but the other benefit that I received from going on that mission trip changed my life and still has an impact on my relationships with God and others. I am still receiving blessing just from that one instance of tithing. Think about them all put together! I honestly cannot mentally wrap my thoughts around the many blessings--I do not have room enough to receive them all as they keep on coming.
"And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake"
I have had health problems that started the last few months on my mission in South Africa. When I began my mission, I was a slim trim and hot body. It is true. When I returned to the States, I weighed almost 300 pounds! I was a pretty muscled guy before I left at about 200 or so and six feet. I packed on the weight like crazy and showed no signs of stopping until my symptoms for Diabetes started the last three months of missionary service. I blamed my companion for it, who actually saved my life I believe because he forced us to eat healthily those last few months. It was too late by then for me. Burkley Probst saved my life by literally forcing my tubby self to eat right.
When I returned home, my mother noticed the symptoms and had me tested for the disease. Since that discovery, my life has been an uphill battle with complications and more diseases and disorders.
How is this a good thing you might wonder?
The devourer or plague bringer had no power to take my life in my weakness. I could have gone on eating unhealthy foods destroying my life. God sent an angel, in the form of my brother and companion in Christ, Burkley Probst to rescue me from myself and for my sake because I paid tithing. I am alive because I started eating right when I did. It also helped that Burkley was an accomplished wrestler.
Humor aside, many times before and since then I have seen where God rebuked the devourer in my life and the lives of my family members. Now, this does not mean there I am free of sorrow or death. We must pass through those things to show ourselves approved of the kingdom as we do so in faith. Paying tithing did not stop death from claiming my 21-month old Zipporah in 2010, but the blessings of heaven rained down upon me from paying tithing providing needed revelation from God to comfort me.
God said to prove him, challenge his word. I have, and still, see that He is faithful--and ever will be.
"...he Shall Not Destroy the Fruits of Your Ground; Neither Shall Your Vine Cast Her Fruit Before the Time in the Field.."
Malachi spoke to the people of their food supply. In other words, if they pay tithing, they will not go hungry. It did not mean that they would always have a buffet. It did not mean that crops would all succeed each time. If they made sure meat was in the Lord's house or temple, they would be blessed not to go without food because the devourer would not destroy their fruits--in my mind, that means the people would learn and cultivate the skills to prevent such things using science and learn how to store food.
The same promises are given to us if we pay tithing. Our fruit may be careers or education or actual food! God will not allow our works to be destroyed if we pay tithing because he will reveal to us how to preserve our fruit--our careers. He will help us gain education and reach our goals--as we listen to his guidance in prayer. He will not allow the devourer to take away our reward before we receive it--remember the stock market crash? Tithe-payers were covered in that. I am confident those tithe payers with investments were warned to move their money, given some other option to retain income or regain their losses. And those that still lost everything kept knowledge to earn it back. God works for his people if they are willing to listen.
"..all Nations Shall Call You Blessed..."
"Hearken unto me," King Benjamin said, "and open your ears that ye may hear, and you hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfold to your view." Mosiah 2:9 God never intended that his mysteries remain so for ever. They are only mysteries to those of us who are not willing to prove otherwise by keeping Gods laws.
Paul taught in humility that it was "this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." Ephesians 3:8-9
God wants us to know him. He wants us to know how He works personally, so He challenges us to "prove me now herewith" tithing. He also wants us to trust him with other things to grow in faith until we have a full knowledge of him and Jesus Christ--an understanding of all his mysteries.
People will wonder why we are so happy all the time. Though we know that happiness is fleeting, to the world, we will appear to have it all. Our relationships will go better. Our family will be happier--not from paying tithing as an act, but the blessings that come from doing so. We may find it easier to endure temptation and hardship. We will find it simpler to be more humble and accepting of circumstances. We will be free of hate and avarice.
We will be a blessed nation in the eyes of the world. Christianity is the force that has shaped the world today. Now that the world has its form it wants to shed off the Christians who help build it.
Tithe, and be blessed. May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another. May He help us claim the blessings that so readily He waits to bestow upon us. Have faith in him and pay tithing at your church, ten percent of your income. You will see the heavens move on your behalf, for "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God..." Luke 8:10
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