REMEMBER: This is a Bible STUDY course. It is not just something for you to read quickly. What we have written is only the OUTLINE to help you to STUDY your BIBLE. The one textbook of this course is YOUR BIBLE! Always have your Bible open before you when you sit down to STUDY with this course.
Bible Study Course Lesson 56
THE GREAT KEY TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY
While apparent prosperity continues, millions tremble on the brink of financial disaster! Sky-high taxes are now one of the greatest causes of public concern. This lesson explains why. It reveals the last and greatest law governing true prosperity! --------------------
EVERYBODY hates taxes! TAXPAYERS are complaining more than ever before. The outcry against the constant rise in taxes is being heard ALL OVER THE WORLD!
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes!
Time was when, if a man owned a piece of real estate, it was his for life. Unless he himself sold it or gave it away, it was safe for his heirs -- something to provide for or add to the livelihood of his sons and grandsons.
But no more!
Now -- even though property may be clear and unencumbered by a mortgage or lien -- the owner must be continually "buying it back" by means of often shockingly high payments in the form of PROPERTY TAXES!
The average American home owner will pay its total market value about once each quarter century at present property tax rates. And if he should get behind in his payments for a year or two, or REFUSE to pay, the property may be SEIZED and SOLD for the taxes!
The property tax hits THE ELDERLY especially hard, gnawing away, like inflation, at that for which they have slaved and saved to provide for their old age.
Then there is the INCOME tax. Probably no form of taxation is hated and feared more than the income tax.
When it was first imposed in the United States, and for many years thereafter, many Americans continued to insist that a tax on INCOME was "unconstitutional." A property tax was tolerable, but an income tax was not -- even after a constitutional amendment made it clearly legal!
What would be "constitutional," however, according to GOD'S system of government and economics? Have you ever thought about that? What does God say about TAXATION?
Taxation and Inflation
In 1969, taxes of all kinds took 37% of all income produced in the United States. That's three hours out of every eight that each American worked for the government!
It's calculated that roughly one dollar in four of all income goes to Washington, D.C. -- not counting the tax bites taken by states, cities and counties. In some other countries, taxes are even higher. The average man in Sweden, for example, is taxed 41% of his earnings. Taxes in Britain exceed 40% of that country's gross national product.
In addition, inflation in the U.S., which was brought on primarily because of long-continued spending of more than people earned, has caused a terrific loss in the buying power of the money left after taxes. Consequently, today's dollar is worth only about 37 cents compared to the dollar of 1939!
Taxes and inflation have eaten up the wage gains of the laborer, farmer, and white collar worker which were made possible by modern technology and exploitation of natural resources.
Take for example, an American earning $10,000 a year. Suppose he gets a 6% raise. His gross income will increase $600 for the entire year. But out of this, he must pay additional income tax, surtax, Social Security tax, state and local taxes -- and "inflation tax" (the increased price of everything he buys during the year because of inflation).
What is the net result? Out of this $600, even at the so-called "acceptable" rate of 4% inflation per year, he will have a mere $99 INCREASE in actual purchasing power for the entire year!
If he had been earning $20,000 and received a 6% raise, he would have gained only $116 in real purchasing power.
The Price Tag of War
The greatest single factor which has put America and Americans in this financial straitjacket of swelling inflation and sky-high taxation is WAR! But obedience to God's ways WOULD HAVE PREVENTED IT ALL!
God gave our ancient forefathers a basic, all-inclusive financial law. Since the government was His, He required of the people one flat 10% "tax" to conduct all its business, and to pay the "salaries" of its administrators.
In ancient Israel, 10% of all increase or income was paid to God. When Israel paid this 10% faithfully, God PROMISED to protect her from other nations, and to fight all her wars FOR HER so that she would never have had to spend any money on defense (Ex. 14:14, 24-25; 23:20-23, 27-28; Deut. 1:30). The cost of defense was included -- in a sense -- in the TITHE (TENTH).
If our nations today would obey God's financial laws and all His commandments, we could STILL claim that promise of protection!
Instead, governments today look to their own resources and manpower for national defense. The staggering cost of the U.S. military machine -- for salaries, equipment, research, interest on borrowed money -- on land, on the sea, in the air and in space, closely approximates a TITHE of its Gross National Product (GNP). And at best, the money spent on defense out of the American national budget is a huge question mark as to its effectiveness!
Reaping the Penalties
How easily the free world could cause the atheistic Communists to go reeling back on their heels -- and without striking a blow ourselves! By paying God's tithe, we could have been assured of total national defense and victory if attacked. We wouldn't have had to fight a single war! Yet wars and preparations for war continue.
Could it be because we have turned our back to God and have been STEALING from Him? (Mal. 3:8-9.)
Whatever amount we have withheld from God, we as a nation are having to pay anyway -- and more so! We are not only paying about 10% of our income for "national defense," but we are being charged EXTRA for many other governmental expenses besides -- sales taxes, inheritance taxes, property taxes, amusement taxes, luxury taxes, gas taxes, school taxes, state taxes, and income taxes!
Just THINK what we could have saved if we had from the beginning acknowledged God as our national financial partner. Thank God the time is coming when we shall!
When God's Government Rules
In the World Tomorrow, "they shall sit every man under HIS vine and under HIS fig tree; and NONE SHAKE MAKE THEM AFRAID ..." (Micah 4:4). Under God's government people will own their property and there will be no OPPRESSIVE taxes, no confiscation!
God's government WILL "tax" its subjects, for without taxes there would be no means of carrying on the duties of a government. The difference is that God's "tax" is far more EQUITABLE. And it is GOOD for YOU!
In God's there are no hidden taxes, no taxes on top of taxes, nor the continual striving and struggling to figure out new ways to extort more money from the populace.
God's "tax" is extremely FAIR, because only those who have "increase" (Deut. 14:22) have to pay. And each must pay the SAME tax rate. God's "tax" does not "soak" the rich OR oppress the poor!
It encourages initiative, gives people incentive to get ahead. We have learned that it is definitely God's will for man to PROSPER. That's why He requires merely a flat 10% of each person's true increase or income!
God's "tax" is called the "TITHE." It is that 10% which He reserves for Himself. And yet, it is actually spent wholly for MAN'S benefit -- in bringing the blessings of God's government to mankind.
When God's TITHE IS faithfully paid to Him, He makes the remaining 90% go FURTHER than the whole 100% did before! Sound incredible? It's true. Those who have faithfully PAID God's tithe have PROVEN it!
When ALL of God's financial laws are being obeyed, including this little-known, ALL-IMPORTANT TITHING LAW, and men strive to follow God's entire way of life, then all of man's dreams of peace and economic security will at last come true!
Tithing is the MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL of God's financial laws -- it is guaranteed to produce results.
Are you applying this fundamental law of the living God in YOUR life?
Are you being blessed financially? If not, the reason may well be that you're not obeying this most vital financial law! Let's learn all about God's tithing law in the Bible.
Tithing in Ancient Times
Many nations once had a knowledge of right, wise and sound financial principles because the Creator of mankind did not leave men ignorant of His laws which assure true prosperity.
Tithing was known even in ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece and Rome (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ea., art. "Tithe"). And "tithe barns" to store the 10% claimed by the state church were used in Britain as late as the 1700's.
Let's notice exactly where the knowledge of tithing came from.
1. What did Jacob promise God he would do with all his increase? Gen. 28:20-22. Was he prospered for his obedience? Gen. 30:43.
2. How did Jacob know of God's tithing law? Gen. 14:18-20; 26:5.
COMMENT: Jacob knew about tithing because his father Isaac, the son of obedient Abraham, taught it to him. Upon leaving his father's house where God's government ruled, and striking out on his own, Jacob formally AFFIRMED his determination to live directly under that government. And obedience to God's tithing law was a SIGN of his submission to God's rule.
Melchizedek, the member of the Godhead who became Jesus Christ (write for the free article which proves the true identity of Melchizedek) was then the Supreme Representative of that government on earth. Jacob voluntarily put himself under His rule.
Centuries later, Melchizedek placed the functions of His government into the hands of the descendants of Levi. What few people understand is that the receiving of tithes was an integral part of the administration of God's government in ancient times -- and will be again in the World Tomorrow.
Since the purpose of God's government is to SERVE the people, His government was more than a mere giving and enforcing of orders. His government includes administration of justice, education, health, defense, and ultimately salvation!
On the people's part, the paying of tithes was their acknowledgment of being under that government's authority.
3. As His right or prerogative for saving the Israelites alive when He slew the firstborn of Egypt, whom did God claim as His own? Ex. 13:2, 12-15. For what tribe did he later exchange all the firstborn? Num. 3:5-10, 39-51.
4. In what way did the Eternal God put the Levites to work "serving" their fellow Israelites? Read Numbers 4, noting especially verses 47 and 49.
5. Were even Moses and Aaron, his brother, of the tribe of Levi? Ex. 2:1-10. Skim through chapter 13 of Leviticus for a few of the many ways in which the priests SERVED the people while being in authority over them.
6. What did the Eternal turn over for the use of the Levites in order that they might be able to exercise the functions of God's government? Num. 18:21, 24. To whom did the Levites themselves pay a tithe of their income (of the tithe the people paid them)? Verses 26-28.
COMMENT: God had set Aaron's family in highest authority over the Levites (verses 2-3, 6), so the priests received a tithe from the income of all the other Levites.
The Cause of Today's High Taxes
1. Is there always a cause for every curse that people suffer? Prov. 26:2.
2. When the people of Israel rejected God's government over them (I Sam. 8:7) and demanded a king like all the heathen nations around them, what did the Eternal solemnly warn them that the consequences of having a human king would be? I Sam. 8:14-17.
COMMENT: What the king would demand was not merely the tithe on which God's government had operated. He would demand MORE! He would demand, first of all, a PROPERTY TAX! All this came to pass exactly as God had warned!
3. What was to be the chief need of HUMAN government that would cause it to require such heavy taxation? Verses 11-12.
COMMENT: Today, war is the world's biggest business. The situation Samuel prophesied literally came true. It happened when ancient Israel as a nation REJECTED God's government, which included His protection (Deut. 1:30). And it has been happening in nation after nation ever since!
Today, the costs of war are far greater than ever before. World War II cost the United States over $380 BILLION! And each year, the U.S. alone spends upwards of $2007 626.1 billion on so-called "defense." World military expenditure in 2005 is estimated to have reached $1,001 billion at constant (2003) prices and exchange rates, or $1,118 billion in current dollars; For 2006, 41% of Your 2006 [US] Taxes go to War.
4. What CAUSES war? James 4:1-3. "Lust" has to do with "self-seeking," or "self-interest."
COMMENT: "Self-interest" is what has led nations to build armaments and to war with one another. It has also caused capital and labor to struggle and fight, each trying to GET more and give less. It has caused individuals to plunge deeply into debt for things they could not and should not afford. It has led Britain and America and many other nations into stupendous debt.
"Self-interest" -- or lust, or greed -- led the ancient Israelites into FAILING to tithe. And just as surely it has led many of YOU to misappropriate and ROB GOD of His tithe!
Such "self-interest" is NOT in your BEST interests. It actually penalizes you!
Everything Belongs to God
"But how can God claim a tenth of my income?" some will demand to know. Here is the answer straight from your Bible.
l . Is God the great Creator? Gen. 1:1. Did He create EVERYTHING? Eph. 3:9. Therefore, does God insist that EVERYTHING is legitimately His? Job 41:11; Ex. 19:5; Psalm 50:10, 12.
2. "But surely OUR LABOR produced most of our wealth," someone else will say. Where does wealth really come from? Take another look at Gen. 27:28.
COMMENT: All wealth comes ultimately from the GROUND. When God blessed our English-speaking peoples, as He promised to Jacob, He did it by giving us rich agricultural lands and mineral wealth. Without that which God created, our human labor and ingenuity would be worth nothing.
3. Does God claim the mineral wealth too, such as silver and gold? Deut. 10:14 and Hag. 2:8.
COMMENT: The entire earth and everything you produce from it belongs to God. He has never given you the whole of what you produce or earn. The FIRST TENTH remains holy to the Eternal. That He has reserved for Himself.
But God is generous. After you have paid God that first tenth which BELONGS to Him, He allows you to keep the remaining NINE tenths. That nine tenths is the wage for your labor, using what He created in the first place -- including your own mind and body, which God GAVE YOU!
In the Garden of Eden, God reserved for Himself just ONE TREE. That remained HIS. He NEVER GAVE that one tree to Adam and Eve. They had no right to eat of its fruit. When they, filled with greed to possess ALL, reached out and took the fruit of that forbidden tree, they SINNED -- they STOLE from God!
Today, the same Satan that deceived Eve will gladly lead you to believe that all of your income -- and all the produce of your farm -- is yours! But don't you believe it!
4. Is the tithe HOLY to God? Lev. 27:30.
COMMENT: God's tithe must not be used for any other than a holy purpose! It belongs in GOD'S House -- to be used by His true ministers and servants!
But suppose a man says, "I have no confidence in the way the tithe will be used." May he therefore refuse to pay the tithe, or stipulate by whom or for what purpose it will be used?
The individual's responsibility is to pay God's tithe to those whom he has PROVEN to be doing God's Work. Deciding how the tithe is to be used or spent is not his responsibility. That is GOD'S responsibility. It is God's tithe and it is up to Him to direct how His servants use the money!
Robbers Should Expect to Be Robbed!
1. How does the Eternal God indict this nation, and in PRINCIPLE all other nations? Mal. 3:8-9. If God didn't own everything, could we "rob" Him?
COMMENT: YOU yourself have no doubt been cheated or robbed at one time or another, and were very indignant about it. And no doubt sometime in your life you, too, have stolen something. We would all have to admit this is true.
But did it ever occur to you that you may be stealing RIGHT NOW? And that THAT may be part of the reason for the financial problems you may be experiencing today?
Are you like the bank robber who was furious because his car was stripped and vandalized while he was inside robbing the bank?
2. Is it the "WHOLE nation" which is guilty of robbing God? Mal. 3:8-10.
COMMENT: Israel, since early times, has consistently failed to pay God's tithe.
But Gentiles are guilty too. ALL nations have robbed God! The only difference is that God does not hold them as responsible as Israel, His chosen people, who were TAUGHT to tithe by God Himself! Most Gentiles today are not as responsible in God's sight because they were never taught about tithing. Nevertheless, anyone who KNOWS BETTER and doesn't tithe is DOUBLY RESPONSIBLE!
You, whatever your nationality or racial origin, have been given this knowledge. Therefore you are held accountable for it. If you will notice verses 1 to 5 of Malachi 3, and all of chapter 4, you will see that this prophecy is for OUR TIME -- for us! -- just before the Second Coming of Christ.
3. Does the Eternal emphasize we are to bring Him ALL the tithes? Mal. 3:10.
COMMENT: Some don't seem to understand that a "tithe" is a FULL TENTH of their INCREASE. "Tithe" is an old English word which simply means a "tenth." Giving an occasional small offering now and then is not tithing!
"But I can't afford to tithe," someone is sure to complain. The truth is you can't afford NOT to! Can you afford to STEAL -- to be a THIEF -- to ROB GOD?
God is the senior partner in your financial affairs. If you neglect to pay Him that which is His, then you are guilty of STEALING it!
Never think you GIVE tithes. You PAY tithes. They were never yours to "give." When a person fails to pay his taxes, he has broken man's law and comes under the penalty. He could be thrown in jail. Even so, those who break God's law, who REFUSE to pay His tithe, come under a severe FINANCIAL and SPIRITUAL penalty -- they come under a financial CURSE as well as the DEATH penalty for disobeying God!
It's just a question of whether or not you will be HONEST with God. What kind of a person would knowingly, deliberately attempt to swindle and cheat the Almighty God?
Tithing Was NOT Done Away!
Let's check the Bible to see if there is any truth to the common teaching that God's tithing law is no longer in effect -- that the New Testament Church has no authority to receive tithes.
1. Did Jesus Christ regard the law of tithing as obsolete or annulled? Matt. 23:23 and Luke 11:42. Notice the last part of each verse.
COMMENT: Isn't that clear enough? Jesus said that spiritual qualities such as judgment, love, mercy and faith were more important than carefully and strictly paying tithes on EVERY LITTLE PLANT that might grow in your garden -- especially when that strictness led to SELF righteousness. But Christ said "NOT to leave the other undone" -- NOT to fail to pay your FULL TITHE as God has commanded! And remember that at the time Christ spoke these words, the people were also being forced to pay ROMAN TAXES!
2. Why did Jesus endorse tithing? Did He previously make it clear that God's ministers are worthy of being recompensed for their labors? Matt. 10:9-10. Also see I Tim. 5:17-18.
3. Are the ministers of the New Testament Church to be supported in exactly the same way the Levites were? I Cor. 9:13-14. Also read the first 10 verses of this chapter, noting especially verses 6 through 10.
4. Now notice how the New Testament ministry received AUTHORITY to take tithes. Does Paul plainly show that the tithe-receiving Levitical Priesthood had been CHANGED to that of Melchisedec? Heb. 7:9-12. Did this therefore involve a CHANGE in WHO was to receive the tithe? Verses 5 and 12.
COMMENT: The New Testament ministers of Christ (Melchisedec) are to be supported by the tithes of God's people so they can devote their full time to the work of CHRIST'S ministry -- just as the Levitical Priesthood did in ancient times.
5. Did Paul receive financial support from the brethren of some congregations? II Cor. 11:8-9 and Phil. 4:15-16.
COMMENT: It cost Paul considerable sums of money to travel often by ship, to eat, to have proper clothing, and to buy books which were laboriously hand-copied on expensive vellum. (Read Acts 16:11; 20:15; 21:2 and II Tim. 4:13.) Sometimes he even had to rent a hall (or house) in which to preach (Acts 28:30-31).
6. Did Paul say he had "power" -- AUTHORITY -- to receive support from the churches? II Thes. 3:8-9 and I Thes. 2:6. Why didn't he always exercise it? I Cor. 9:11-12.
COMMENT: Paul did not always exercise all his authority lest he should cause any of the SPIRITUALLY WEAK brethren to stumble (I Cor. 8:13) -- those who were critical and might have thought HE was "out for the money." For this reason (though he undoubtedly taught them the principle of tithing) he apparently left the tithe to be used mainly by the local officials of the Church in each area (I Tim. 5:17-18).
7. What scripture indicates that Paul was actually referring to the tithe? II Tim. 2:6-7.
COMMENT: The part of your income to be reserved for God is the FIRST tenth. In a tactful, roundabout way, Paul was telling Timothy (and the members of the congregations who would hear this letter read) that the SPIRITUAL "husbandman," or minister over the flock, had a RIGHT to be partaker of their produce ("fruit"). Specifically, Timothy should receive the "first" part -- the FIRST TENTH -- from his congregation's increase!
Understand, therefore, that God's true Church representing God and carrying on His Work, DOES have the prior right to the first tenth -- even before the federal government. And God has commissioned His Church to USE the tithe to preach and publish the Gospel to all nations (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10) -- and to FINISH His Work!!
8. If the law requires that your income tax be withheld before you even see your paycheck, should you honor and respect that law, and IMMEDIATELY pay God's tithe FIRST as far as you are concerned? Notice the principle in Matthew 22:21.
"PROVE Me Now..."
1. Does the Eternal command us to PROVE Him -- to put Him to the test to see if He really will bless us? Mal. 3:10. What does God say HE will do if we tithe? Same verse.
COMMENT: God has a thousand ways of making what you do PAY OFF bigger. If you are a farmer, HE sends the rain and the sunshine when you need it. If you WORK DILIGENTLY, and are faithful in paying Him His portion, He works WITH YOU, blesses your effort, causes your partnership with Him to produce and earn MORE!
Those who faithfully pay God His tenth find that the 90% that is left goes FURTHER than the 100% ever did before! When you begin to rely completely on God, expensive doctor bills are usually eliminated, crop failures are less, business appointments prove successful, and general emergencies that can deplete your savings occur far less frequently.
Hundreds have remarked that there seems to be an unwritten law which cannot be put down in a budget -- a law that causes their money to always stretch far enough when they tithe faithfully! Read the following scriptures in connection with this principle: I Kings 17:8-23; II Kings 4:1-7; 42-44; Matt. 14:17-21; 15:34-38; Heb. 13:8.
At the same time, the tenth which God reserves for Himself is big enough to make people become more conscious of their money -- to make them BUDGET and PLAN -- to make them use it more EFFICIENTLY.
2. Should one pay his debts BEFORE beginning to tithe? Read Matthew 22:21 once again.
COMMENT: To fully answer that question, just ask yourself, "To whom do I OWE the most important debt?" You owe it to GOD! If you begin obeying God, He will help you pay the rest of your creditors. Many are in debt simply BECAUSE they don't tithe!
Whatever you owe God for robbing Him in the past, He is willing to forgive and cancel out. But what God does expect is your OBEDIENCE from the time the knowledge of His way reaches your mind. He holds you strictly accountable from that time on!
An Exercise of Faith
1. Is he that is faithful in little (which certainly would include tithing) also faithful in much? Luke 16:10. Will such be greatly REWARDED? Luke 19:17; Matt. 25:21, 23 and Prov. 28:20.
COMMENT: We learned in Lesson 54 that credit buying tends to tear down faith in God. Tithing BUILDS that faith. The FAITHFUL tither is worshipping God in a tangible, literal way. He learns to look to God in a realistic manner. He learns to RELY on God's promises. His faith is tested, exercised, and strengthened. He learns that God's way really WORKS!
2. Does God speak of the TRYING of our faith as being GOOD for us? I Peter 1:7.
COMMENT: Don't ever give up tithing! PERSEVERE in obeying God even if you're not blessed very much right away. Do your part with ZEAL and FAITH, and quietly and confidently EXPECT GOD TO KEEP HIS PROMISE, regardless of how hard it may seem! God's blessing WILL come in God's own time and in GOD'S own way.
God may cause you to be promoted in your present job, or blessed with a substantial salary increase. He may bless you with a new and better job. He may bless you through a gift, an inheritance, or simply by opening up unusual circumstances whereby you are able to save substantial amounts of money on certain purchases. He may eventually bless you in ALL of these ways!
3. What is the SURE WAY to financial security? Prov. 3:9-10.
COMMENT: God ALWAYS KEEPS His promises! And He will CONTINUE to bless you as you remain FAITHFUL to Him.
Your Attitude Is Important
A few have complained about not being blessed very much, if at all, after beginning to tithe. "I have paid my tithes faithfully for six months -- still I have received no raise in salary," complained one. Or, as another put it, "I tithed for a year, and my income actually went DOWN!"
Are you a tither? Have you ever felt this way? Then consider the following questions carefully.
1. Does Amos 4:4-5 show that HALF-WAY obedience will not win God's favor? May it result in a PLAGUE instead of a blessing? Verses 6-7.
COMMENT: Notice carefully this mixture of "transgression" WITH "tithes," of thanksgiving offerings WITH leaven (typical of sin), of freewill offerings WITH publicity and pride. These are all manifestations of human nature -- what the carnal mind "likes" to do! (Modern translations make these verses much clearer.)
If you are not obeying ALL of God's commandments to the best of your knowledge and ability, you have no right to expect God to bless you. Remember the words of the Apostle James: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
The teaching of God's Word is: OBEY God's laws and you will prosper. It is that simple. Even a non-Christian tither can prosper, if he obeys God to the FULL EXTENT of his knowledge. As a student of this Course, YOUR knowledge of God's way is VERY GREAT!
Consider another factor. Do you obey WILLINGLY -- or do you obey GRUDGINGLY -- only because you HAVE to? Even Satan obeys God -- grudgingly. Did you realize that? After Christ allowed Satan to tempt Him, He gave the Devil a command which was obeyed (Matt. 4:10, 11). But that did NOT put Satan back in God's favor, or make him a recipient of God's blessings.
A true Christian obeys WILLINGLY, cheerfully. He knows that God's ways are best for him and -- best for ALL -- that His laws are the true way of "liberty" (James 2:12). He sees that grudging, resistant obedience -- like Satan's -- is the cause of much wretchedness and unhappiness.
2. Does Luke 18:11-14 clearly show that tithing in a self-righteous manner, and making a show of it, will not suffice either?
3. Did Paul warn against equating material gain with godliness? I Tim. 6:5-6.
COMMENT: Some HAVE tried to selfishly apply the laws of God -- including the law of tithing -- to satisfy their fleshly lusts. Do you obey God ONLY TO RECEIVE material benefits? If this is your attitude, you need to CHANGE IT RIGHT NOW! God is already blessing you, if only by letting you suffer to learn this lesson, but He does WANT TO bless you in EVERY way.
Remember, just because you pay God 10% does not mean He OWES YOU anything, for He has already given you 90%. God doesn't OWE it to you, but He wants to GIVE YOU prosperity and security and HAPPINESS!
Teach Your Children to Tithe
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Children should be taught to live by God's laws. And they ought to be taught how to handle money.
Give your children an allowance regularly. Even though it may be very small, teach them the right use of it. TEACH THEM THE LAW OF TITHING. TELL THEM WHY God commands tithing, and explain how God blesses the tither.
Children should learn God's ways in the home as Jacob did (Gen. 28:20-22). Remember, Jacob TITHED -- and PROSPERED!
How the Tithe Is Figured
God's tithe is figured on your "increase" (Deut. 14:22) -- the amount of your earnings or produce which is ABOVE and BEYOND the expenses involved in producing it. If you work for wages, you tithe on the GROSS amount of your income. If you are a farmer, or in some other way self-employed, you must pay ONE FULL TENTH of your ADJUSTED GROSS income (your income MINUS loss or overhead, if any). You may deduct the cost of hired help, but not your own or your family's labor. Taxes are NOT deductible.
The maximum period over which you may figure your tithe is one year (same verse). If your business or farm shows a net loss at the year's end, you owe NO tithe. However, you cannot deduct the amount of one year's loss from the following year's increase.
Normally, it is best not to wait until the year's end to pay your tithe, but to tithe on each significant amount of income -- each paycheck if you are on salary -- as you receive it.
A wife does not tithe on grocery money given to her by her husband. She is merely handling that money FOR HIM. The Bible says the husband is the head of the wife (I Cor. 11:3). If he is an unbeliever who will not tithe, the wife should not take it upon herself to tithe on any part of his income without his permission. Of course, if she has her own income, then she is obligated to pay a tithe of her increase.
The Blessing of Giving Offerings
Now we need to consider the scriptural teaching concerning OFFERINGS -- that which is GIVEN to God for His Work. Let's learn how it really is "more blessed to GIVE than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
1. Is failure to give offerings regarded as robbing God JUST AS MUCH as failing to tithe? Mal. 3:8, last word.
COMMENT: Of course! For God GIVES YOU many gifts in addition to the income on which the tithe is paid!
2. Were the ancient Israelites ASKED to give freewill offerings for the construction of the Tabernacle? Ex. 25:1-2; 35:29. Was their offering so great that they had to be RESTRAINED from giving any more? Ex. 36:6-7.
3. Did King David and his subjects give extremely generous freewill offerings for the building of God's Temple? I Chron. 29:3-9, 17. Did the nation of Judah continue this practice in Hezekiah's time? II Chron. 31:11-12, 14. And in Ezra's time? Ezra 2:68-69.
4. On what special convocations of God are "freewill offerings" ALWAYS required? Deut. 16:10, 16-17; 12:5-6.
5. Did God begin to bless Judah when the people began to be faithful in offerings? II Chron. 31:10.
COMMENT: One of the many blessings of giving generous offerings today is the reduction in one's income tax since the government allows tithes and offerings as itemized deductions on income tax returns.
In the days of the Apostle Paul, severe famine struck Judea. The Greek-speaking congregations raised up by Paul were called upon to offer food for the relief of their brethren in Palestine.
1. Did Paul instruct each person to contribute as he had been BLESSED by God? I Cor. 16:1-3. Does exactly the same principle govern freewill offerings for God's Work? Deut. 16:17.
COMMENT: "As he is able" does NOT mean "according to what he has left over after apportioning his money for everything else," but AS GOD HAS BLESSED HIM in the first place! Don't wait till last to give God an offering. Do it first, at the same time you apportion out God's tithe.
2. Does God love a "cheerful" giver who gives GENEROUSLY? II Cor. 9:6-7. But does He abhor the covetous? Psalm 10:3.
3. Does even what appears to some as WASTEFUL giving have the paradoxical effect of resulting in greater blessings? Prov. 11:24-25. See also Prov. 13:7.
COMMENT: Notice that it is the "liberal" person to whom this applies. He that "waters" -- who is concerned for the spiritual growth and welfare of others -- shall receive more blessings in return, for he is sharing in the administration of God's Word (I Cor. 3:6).
4. How did Jesus say we should give -- and EXPECT TO receive? Luke 6:38.
5. How did Paul say we should give in Romans 12:8?
COMMENT: The proper translation of the Greek is not "simplicity," but "abundance" or "liberality." Notice here that GIVING is shown to be the MAIN JOB God has given some Christians to do.
6. Is God well-pleased with giving to the point of PERSONAL SACRIFICE? Heb. 13:16. "Communicate" in the Authorized Version means to "share."
7. Will a comparatively small offering, given to God's Work by one who has little to give, be GREATER in God's sight than larger offerings that require no sacrifice? Mark 12:42-44 and Luke 21:2-4.
COMMENT: The basic principle to follow in giving offerings to God is to give LIBERALLY -- sometimes to the point of personal sacrifice -- but ONLY AS GOD HAS BLESSED YOU. God does not expect you to give to the point of denying your family proper food, clothing and shelter.
Freewill offerings are indeed commanded by God, but they must be given WILLINGLY and CHEERFULLY -- from the heart. Whatever you give is strictly up to you, but it should be dictated by your own conscience, ability, and the needs of God's Work.
How God's Work Grows
The amazing growth in the power and effectiveness of God's Church over the years has been possible only through the COMBINED efforts of thousands of Co-Workers whom Jesus Christ has called to help financially support His Work.
In the earlier years of the "Philadelphia" Era of God's Church, only a handful of people could be reached with the gospel. But as the number of dedicated Co-Workers who VOLUNTARILY sent tithes AND OFFERINGS increased, so did the scope and power of God's Work.
This Work of God has continued to grow at the fantastic rate of approximately 30% a year. That means it has DOUBLED in scope and power about every three years!
BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE LEFT TO DO! The really big work is YET TO BE DONE before Christ returns!
Laborers TOGETHER With God
A "Co-Worker" with Christ is one who is helping Christ to do the Work of God. Christ works through human instruments because it is good for our own spiritual growth and development.
1. Does Paul say we are LABORERS WITH God? I Cor. 3:9. Does the degree of our reward depend on our labor? Verse 8. Should all Christians be "fellowhelpers" to the truth? III John 8.
2. Whose names are written in the book of life -- those who are "fellowlaborers" in spreading the gospel? Phil. 4:3. Also see II Cor. 5:9 and II Cor. 6:1.
COMMENT: No human multimillionaire sponsors this Work of God. Only an inner circle of VOLUNTARY Co-Workers is ever told about its financial needs and the details of its growth. They are the ones Christ is USING to get His gospel to the world as a witness before the end comes!
God uses the tenth He claims for Himself for proclaiming to the world His gospel of PEACE, PROSPERITY, joy, happiness and eternal life.
For LACK of this knowledge, the world has been under a CURSE. You few to whom God's TRUTH HAS BEEN REVEALED are in the position of a man who has found a great "treasure hid in a field ACCOUNTABLE for what you do about it! For to whom MUCH is given, of him MUCH IS REQUIRED (Luke 12:48).
The average American Protestant in 1965 contributed to his church less than the price of a pack of cigarettes a day. Over a period of 25 years, contributions to all churches and religious activities in the United States totalled only about ONE PERCENT of income! We can clearly see from our studies that THIS RATE IS only ONE TENTH of the tenth commanded by God!
Why are we telling you this? Not for our sakes, but for YOURS! We say with the Apostle Paul, in all sincerity, "Not because I (or we) desire a gift: but I (we) desire fruit that may abound TO YOUR ACCOUNT" (Phil. 4:17).
We "seek not yours, but YOU
We have expounded the great fundamental financial law of God because you needed to know it. Now you need to OBEY it -- for your OWN good.
THINK! You are our witnesses that in all the time you have worked on this Course, THE PHILADELPHIA REMNANT magazine and all our other literature, we have NEVER ONCE required of you a price.
Many times THE PHILADELPHIA REMNANT MAGAZINE and Bible Study Course have had set backs with costs for computer hardware, personnel and the money to repair servers and technicians. Yet never once have we demanded of you one cent. We're not doing it now, and we NEVER WILL!
But we ARE throwing before you the challenge of God Almighty to PROVE His tithing law. PROVE He will bless you, by paying God that which you OWE Him! See if He won't POUR OUT a RICH BLESSING as He has promised!
Jesus Christ said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye IF YE DO THEM" (John 13:17). And the same Christ inspired James to write: "But be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves ... but a DOER of the work, this man shall be BLESSED in his deed" (James 1:22, 25).
If you have been doing God's Work, if you HAVE gotten behind Christ's end-time Commission, supporting it with your tithes and offerings, you will be blessed beyond measure! But if some of you are still laboring under a CURSE and are NOT being blessed, you had better think over seriously what you have learned in your Bible through this lesson.
For every curse there is a CAUSE!
There is a CAUSE for every EFFECT!
What about you? Are you being blessed? Are you faithfully paying God's TITHE -- which is your commanded DUTY? Are you faithfully supporting His end-time Work with your tithes AND offerings?
Where do you stand with God -- right NOW -- TODAY? Where Is Your Heart?
Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). Do you grasp what this great spiritual truth really means?
There is one vital thing Mr. Herbert Armstrong noticed during his ministry in God's Church. It has been an absolute fact that the ONLY people who are growing and developing spiritually, "growing in grace and knowledge" toward God's Kingdom, are those who really have their HEARTS IN THE WORK OF GOD -- who have been FAITHFULLY paying God's tithes and giving generous offerings!
In every case, those who started out the Christian life, but NEGLECTED to tithe and give regular offerings, have gone BACKWARD spiritually and drifted further and further from God!
What about you? Are YOU really OBEYING all of God's Commandments? Or are you just reading these lessons, letting God's precious truth go IN one eye and OUT the other? Are you merely a spiritual "sponge" absorbing all this knowledge, but doing NOTHING about it?
Two paths -- and only two -- are open before you. One is the path of OBEDIENCE to God -- the path leading to eternal life.
The other path is that of DISOBEDIENCE -- of selfishly robbing God (Mal. 3:8). It doesn't pay. It leads ultimately to Gehenna, unless one repents. It results in ETERNAL DEATH!
The stakes are enormous! We have made the truth as PLAIN as we can. These are the alternatives God sets before us all. And He commands us to "CHOOSE"! (Deut. 30:19.)
May God help you make the RIGHT choice so you can be wonderfully blessed here and now, and ultimately receive eternal life and a HIGH reward in His Kingdom when Christ returns.