I recently heard a quote that stated, “It’s what we don’t know that costs us.” There’s never been a truer statement, but equally as true is the fact that it costs us more when we know but we do not change. I recently shared an article that was part one of “When Man Robs God.” I attempted to bring understanding as to why God instituted the tithe and how God takes it personally when we are not obedient to His command to participate in the tithe.
In this article, I want to share some insight as to what consequences ensue when we choose not to participate in the economic system of God. There are a few facts we must fully accept and understand when moving forward.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”’” Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. ”Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says theLord. “You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the Lord of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.” Haggai 1:2-11
Throughout scripture we see that God’s consequence to our disobedience is famine, famine in every aspect of life: financial, spiritual, relational, etc. In other words, when we are responsible for producing famine in His house, He brings famine to ours. It is in this way that He reminds us that He is the source of our resource and we must remain obedient in our stewardship of what is His. Therefore, even Christ said, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?... Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:25, 31-33
God proves that we are His priority when we learn to make Him ours. Again, God spoke to Malachi and said, concerning the tithe,“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)
So where there is famine as a consequence, there is abundance in obedience. The economy of God is in direct conflict with what has been programmed by the economy of men. Consider the principles of God taught by Christ, “To live you must die, to be great you must serve, to see increase you must give.” (Matthew 16:24-26, Matthew 20:26, Luke 6:38) The benefits of God’s Kingdom are a direct result of our applying the principles, statutes, and commands of His Kingdom, just as we understand that the benefits of any natural kingdom are the result of our compliance or application of the laws of that kingdom. The difference, however, is that one is by faith while the other is by reason. God understands this dilemma with the reasoning of man and the command of His word, so He invites us to “test” Him in this.
Many pastors swing toward one of two extremes when it comes to this topic. They either avoid it or they are driven by fear to compel people to give. They do this because many are simply unaware as to why God designed the system He did and how it should be applied. God does neither. He commands, clearly stating both the consequence of our disobedience and the benefit of our obedience. At the end of the day He is leaving it up to us to choose which we will do. How we choose will determine what consequence we activate and release upon our lives, homes, families, and city. I desire that the people I serve grow in all aspects of God in Christ, that we prosper and see the increase of God in the areas He has given us resource to advance His purposes and will. This doesn’t happen by simply asking for it, but by proving that we are the qualified stewards (managers) of the measure of resource He has given to us. I’ll close this article with a parable that Christ gave as a lesson to this very fact:
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. (Matthew 25:14-29)
My challenge to each of you reading this article is to take God up on His challenge to test Him in the tithe. If you are a business owner, tithe from the increase of your business. If you’re an employee who works for wages, tithe from your wages. Wherever you want to see God bring increase tithe from there and see if He will not open the windows of heaven to fill your house beyond your measure to contain it.