I love Pharrell WIlliams’ song “Happy” because just listening to it can change your mood.
I believe that being happy should personify the life of every Christian because, of all people, we truly have something to be happy about! I was reading the other day in the BBE, (a more understandable Bible version replacing archaic terms with ones used in regular life) and as I was reading, I came upon this passage that I had read many times before, but never this way…
Will a man keep back from God what is right? But you have kept back what is mine. But you say, What have we kept back from you? Tenths and offerings. You are cursed with a curse; for you have kept back from me what is mine, even all this nation. Let your tenths come into the store-house so that there may be food in my house, and put me to the test by doing so, says the Lord of armies, and see if I do not make the windows of heaven open and send down such a blessing on you that there is no room for it.
And on your account I will:
1) keep back the locusts from wasting the fruits of your land; and
2) the fruit of your vine will not be dropped on the field before its time, says the Lord of armies and
3) you will be named happy by all nations:
4) for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of armies. Malachi 3:8-12 BBE
What an awesome promise! God says we will be named ”happy.” THAT’S what we should be called! God will do these things for us if we put a tenth of our harvest–or income (which He says belongs to Him anyway)–into the main storehouse (church). Seems like a simple deal, a straight-forward proposal – one of the only promises in scripture where God says, “test me in this”. God says, ”You give Me what’s Mine – the tenth – and I will rebuke devouring & robbery, then make you happy and a land of delight!”
So would anybody NOT want that?
SO…how do we give a tenth of our harvest? What is and is not tithing based on the scripture?
What tithing IS NOT:
– Buying a gift or dinner for someone;
– Giving to a traveling minister or missionary;
– Giving to missions;
– Giving to widows or orphans;
– Giving to a building fund;
What tithing IS:
The “tenth”, “God’s part”; a regular giving of a tenth of the gross, off the top when ever we get paid any income, bonus, profit or gift.
So why is it an “issue?”
In 36 years of being in Christian leadership, I have heard every reason imaginable why people don’t tithe and it usually comes down to one of these three:
1) Making Jesus King- Trusting Him for finances and provision. Some believers have never fully surrendered their trust for finances to Jesus.
2) Stumbling- Sometimes a tithing church member is caused to stumble by a situation in a church involving money. I have actually heard some crazy things taught by pastors over the years and people always get tripped up. For example:
*One pastor expects members to give 20% of their income and asks for their w-2s to verify it.
*Another promises congregants hundred-fold returns and immediate salvation of all unsaved loved ones if they only “sow their seed” into a project.
*Another pronounces curses on those who wouldn’t give.
Even with these examples, the answer to misuse is right use, not avoiding the subject altogether! The truth is, the failures of some leaders telling the truth doesn’t mean all or most leaders are like that. The majority of leaders are servants with a legitimate call to help people. Most would be upset with the idea they would ever hurt people, but they can and do. Good ones admit their mistakes, ask forgiveness, and they deserve to be listened to.
3) Lack of scriptural clarity-Many believers have seen the excesses of the “prosperity gospel” and reacted to unbalanced teachings concerning money. Some have been exposed to unwise and immature pastors who preach personal preferences and excuse things they shouldn’t. The insecurities of too many pastors keep them from admitting: “I don’t know.”
I want to encourage you, if you have been betrayed by weak or bad leadership, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”, instead forgive and get understanding so you can move on! Many times the truth we need to take hold of today is stopped by the falsehood that hurt us yesterday.
The promise God gives us here is clear: “test Me in this”, not someone else. This is God’s idea so we can trust Him in faith and be happy!