“It is more blessed to give than to receive”(Acts 20:35).
All of us need money for our daily lives, and the more material civilization develops, the more urgent our desire for money becomes. Nowadays, the idea that money is everything is deep-seated in our thoughts. Under these circumstances, even Christians cannot avoid the wish for money. However, for Christians who live a life devoted to God, their view of money should be different from that of secular individuals.
The Bible teaches us “not to put our hope in wealth, which is so uncertain but to put our hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”(1 Timothy 6:17).
This means that instead of depending on money, which flows this way or that way like water, we should put our hope in God who is willing to provide us with what we need and should trust in nothing but Him. The older generation, after having gone through the bitterness of World War II and the Korean War, surely know how vain it is and what a threat it can be to one’s life to have too much money. This is not to say that money is evil. Money is not good or evil in itself. It can be good or evil depending on how to get and how to use it. What we should learn about money from the Bible is how we should think of it. We get into trouble when we have a wrong attachment to it and try to get it in the wrong way. We ought to be its master not a slave to it. But there are so many people who are enslaved by it rather than control it with good will. A desire to make a lot of money is not evil in itself but too much attachment to it is likely to make us commit sins. The Bible teaches us and warns us against it. Now let’s see what the Bible teaches us about money.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager to have money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grieves”(1 Timothy 6:6-10).
The above-mentioned words intend to teach us about the futility of the desire to make too much money and to be rich in this world and about the true value of being self-sufficient. They also warn us that a great love of money is the root of all evils and is apt to plunge us into the trap of sin. Therefore it is proper to earn money for our daily lives, we should not be greedy for it because of a yearning for luxury, evil pleasure and self-indulgence. When we are greedy for money we are likely to do unjustifiable things and commit sins that will result in our fall into destruction.
The author of Proverbs said; “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, Who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God”(Proverbs 30:8-9).
He who is content with having enough money to live on can live a really safe and happy life.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”(Psalms 24:1).
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine declares the Lord Almighty”(Haggai 2:8).
“For every animal of the forest is mine as is the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine and all that is in it”(Psalms 50:10-12).
The whole world and everything in it belongs to God. He created it and maintained it so there is nothing that doesn’t belong to him. But God entrusted all creation to men and the authority to conquer and rule them. Therefore we human beings are not the owners of the world but only the managers of it appointed by God and there is no other owner of the world but God. There is nothing God cannot use that he wants to use but he had a plan that by entrusting management to men, he would fulfill his will through men. So we have the obligation to make sacrifices and offer donations so that we can help the poor and preach the Gospel.
It is by God’s blessing that we can make money through the wisdom, power and good fortune that he has given us. When we consider how farmers sow seeds and gather a good harvest, we can realize that the good harvest is not the result of the farmer’s efforts and exertion only. It is possible only when God sends light and rain at the right time. The Bible says, “you may say to yourself, my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord, your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant”(Deuteronomy 8:17-18). It is only through the blessings God allows us that we can have vitality and perform every activity for our daily lives.
Therefore we should give thanks to him everyday. Someone may say to himself, It is only through my ability and exertion that I have become wealthy, then why should I not use my wealth at my will? But it is not so. If a man who has wealth and spends it for the satisfaction of his own desires even though he is nothing but a manager of the wealth God has entrusted to him, God will deprive him of the wealth.
God has a plan that the fund for His salvation of mankind should be raised exclusively by tithes and offerings from those to whom he entrusts his wealth. The essential point in this plan is not that he wants his needs to be met but that he would like to make human minds nobler and to give them many blessings. In other words, God wishes, by having men offer tithes and offerings, to get rid of avarice that is the root of all evil from their minds and to make them generous and at the same time to have them experience God’s blessing. As he had men remember by keeping the Sabbath that God is the creator of all things, so he has them remember by offering tithes and offerings that God is the true owner of all things.
Moses wrote about this, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruits from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord“(Leviticus 27:30). Solomon also said, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine“(Proverbs 3:9-10). Therefore it makes sense that men should offer a tenth part of their income, which is a tithe to God first because it is holy to God. Established by God Himself this tradition is very simple and fair.
For example, a man who earns 10,000 won should offer 1000 won and who earns 5000 won should offer 500 won to God. A farmer, after subtracting the cost of farming; the cost of buying seeds, fertilizer, farm hands and agricultural medicines, should offer a tenth part of his net income. A merchant, after subtracting the loss of products, transportation, labor costs, and various taxes, should offer a tenth part of his net income. We should offer a tenth part of our income exactly, be it large or small. God commands us to offer a tenth part of our income exactly-irrespective of being rich or poor and plan to use it as the cost of living for those who have the special task of dedicating their lives to God. In the age of the Old Testament, a tithe was given to Priests and Levites who attended to the sanctuary and in the age of the New Testament, it was used for those who devoted their lives to God.
The apostle Paul says, “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel”(1 Corinthians 9:13-14). Jesus Christ, our Savior also said, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the Law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”(Matthew 23:23). In these words Jesus warned them against their hypocrisy but at the same time emphasized the importance of not neglecting the former lest they should neglect to offer a tithe.
If the Christians had offered tithes exactly, observing Jesus’ words they would have received both material and spiritual blessings in abundance to the effect that evangelism would have spread more widely and the work of salvation would have been accelerated. It is really unfortunate that the churches of today encourage their believers to donate offerings instead of tithes. It should be regarded as an act that deserves a warning from Jesus again. “Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed”(Deuteronomy 16:16-17). “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts”(Psalm 96:8).
As is shown in the words above, we should go to our church with offerings of thankfulness. Moreover, since now is the time when we should preach the news of the end of the world more vigorously, each of us should donate offerings with more ardor and more self-sacrificing spirit. Shouldn’t we who enjoy the pleasure and the privilege of having heard the Gospel, make more sacrifice for those miserable brethren who are still wandering in darkness?
We can express our thanks to God and acknowledge him as the creator and the owner of all things through tithes and offerings. To give is to love and we can elate our love by continuing to give. God promised to bless those who love him and like to give.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this; says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so many blessings that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit, says the Lord Almighty. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty“(Malachi 3:10-12).
We will be cursed when we do not believe in God’s promise and do not acknowledge him as the owner of wealth we are entrusted by him.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me, but you ask, how do we rob you? In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you, because you are robbing me”(Malachi 3:8-9).
We have learned from the history of Israelites that they flourished when they kept the Sabbath faithfully, offered tithes sincerely and served the sanctuary with loyalty i.e when they experienced prosperity, whereas when they didn’t keep the Sabbath day faithfully, did not offer tithes, or neglected their service to the sanctuary-basically when their religion was regressing, their nation became weak or was invaded by other nations with the result that they fell into slavery. Moreover, the Old Testament shows us that as it was with a nation, so it was with an individual.
Abraham offered a tithe to God’s priest and became a Croesus of the east and Abraham’s grand-son, Jacob left his home penniless but after 20 years returned rich with a large family and wealth, which resulted from offering tithes sincerely as he promised to God. The Lord, our God, who blessed Abraham and Jacob, keeps his promises to opens the door of heaven and gives us so many blessings that we cannot find a place to accumulate them in.
John Rockefeller, who donated 5 dollars, a tenth part of the 50 dollars he received as his first wage, became the king of oil, so did Carnegie, the king of steel. H. H. Hide who invented Mentholatum is famous for offering tithes faithfully. Clide Harris was born in a poor family and spent his youth as an apprentice. He later became a Seventh-day Adventist and started to run a small factory making boxes. He offered his tithe faithfully and then his business started developing and expanding year after year. Around the year of 1960, he became the owner of the largest furniture factory in the world, he donated eight million dollars to the church and his factory was worth thirty million dollars. Besides these individuals, there have been so many examples. God is sure to bless those who love him more than wealth and move them to make more offerings in addition to their tithe.
On the other hand, to our regret, we have frequently witnessed how miserable the lives of people who have not performed their duty to God, and depend on their wealth too much instead of God, and become slaves of it ends.
King Solomon said, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”(Proverbs 11:24-25).
We should think over the matter and experience the promise of God by putting it into practice. Even though we donate a little part of our wealth, can we by doing so say we have given in return a ten-thousandth of the immeasurable benediction God allowed us by sending Jesus, his only Son for our salvation and giving us all things on the earth? In any case, God already receives our offerings, be it ever so small, and has great pleasure in blessing us.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Matthew 6:20-21).