I recently went through the process of applying for a new mortgage on another home that my wife and I are buying, and in the process I had to turn over every detail about my financial picture and I mean everything. They wanted to know deposits, where the money came from, where my money was going and I had to turn over all of my bank accounts to them. And in the process, the lady who was processing the loan I'm sure learned a great deal about my life had she wanted to go deeper, she would have learned everything.
Looking at ones register of their checkbook, looking at one's money can determine a great deal about one's values, and what they value in their life. Jesus Christ said "where your money is there your heart is also." This lady came to know a great deal about me.
What does God know about your heart, and about your values and what you hold dear? How dear is your money to you?
On this program, on Beyond Today we're going to look at a subject that tells us something about the most important relationship that we have in life—our relationship with God. We're going to look at tithing—a law that tells us about our heart toward God.
So join us on this special presentation of Beyond Today , as we explore "Tithing - God's Key to Financial Success."
I learned about tithing when I was a young man and to be honest I've tithed virtually all my adult life. But at times as I have explained the principle, the law of God regarding tithing and financial management to people and have studied the subject in the Scriptures, I've certainly brought that question back onto me as to why I tithe?
Why is it that I go through this regiment, this process, this part of our relationship with God that God has regarding tithing? And it comes down to several reasons that I'd like to share with all of you here this afternoon. It has to do with more than just really money and more than the amount. Ultimately when you look into the subject it has to do with one's relationship with God.
Now let's get a quick definition of what we are talking about when we talk about tithing. It's very simple. It's an old English word that it really means 10 percent; 10 percent of one's income, 10 percent of what one has, 10 percent of one's wealth. A tithe is a tithe off of an increase or you could just as well say perhaps tenthing. But the old English is tithing and it's really talking about 10 percent of one's income and it is a teaching that is found within the Bible.
What it really comes down to—as I have learned and thought about it through the years and have refined this and so many different explanations and examinations of the subject, because it is a central teaching of God's way of life and of the Scriptures—I have come down in my own mind to center this upon one person, one personality in the Scriptures that we all know very well as to where I take my cue and what I go back to at times to really refresh myself and my thinking about this matter of tithing.
I tithe because a man named Abraham—who was introduced very early in the Scriptures, a man who was called the father of the faithful—I tithe because Abraham tithed. And I believe that his example sets the tone for a fundamental approach that we might have toward this very important part of God's law, God's teaching and God's work in our lives in bringing us into a relationship with Him.
The story of tithing begins in Genesis 14. And again if you have your Bibles, go ahead and turn there. We'll look briefly at this story that centers around an episode early on in the life of Abraham after he has left his home, gone into what we know today as a land of Israel, Palestine or the Holy Land. And he has set up his home. He has divided into one sense off from his nephew, Lot. And there came a skirmish between some of the cities and some of the peoples and Abraham's nephew, Lot got caught up and captured and was a prisoner of war.
And in Genesis 14 we read of Abraham saddling up his troops and going off to ransom and to bring back his nephew Lot. And in the process, there were spoils of war as there always are anytime there's a skirmish between peoples. And in the story as we see this beginning to develop and come back in Abraham's life, the story picks up here in Genesis 14 verse 17 and 18 as Lot and Abraham come back. And there's one other interesting figure that comes into this and that's told to us here in verse 17—the King of Sodom, who came out to meet Abraham and Lot as he was coming back after the defeat of those who had captured Lot.
And they kind of had a gathering and a parle here at this particular point and then another individual is introduced into the story in verse 18; a mysterious figure by the name of Melchizedek. In verse 18 it says this Melchizedek, who was the king of Salem brought out bread and wine and He was the priest of God Most High. And He blessed him and he said—this Melchizedek pronounced this blessing on Abraham,
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High, (the)Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."
And then at the end of the verse here in verse 20 it says "he gave him a tithe of all." It means Abram gave to this Melchizedek a tithe of what he had. The king of Sodom here said to Abram
"'Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.' But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, ... I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, "I have made Abram rich"—except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me.'"
Now this is a compact story but it's very interesting and there's several lessons for us to learn here in regard to this subject of tithing as it is introduced really into the flow of the Bible, and to the story of the Bible through the example of Abraham giving a tithe to this individual by the name of Melchizedek. Because right here we begin to see the character of the man Abraham; who is also going to become, as we know from the story later on, the father of the faithful. Here we really learn a lesson about where one's true heart is, because Jesus Christ was going to ultimately make a statement later on and He said where you treasure is there your heart will be also. And so with this example of Abraham, we begin to see exactly what it is that we are talking about in regard to this.
He gave a, to Melchizedek, a tithe of the spoils of the battle. And this individual here, this King of Sodom kind of said you know, Abraham—they begin to try to negotiate with Abraham in this story—and he said to him, leave the goods and you bring the people. You take the goods and I'll take the people. And you have to imagine, perhaps that this king of Sodom was kind of a Godfather type character. I can almost hear him saying here in the background, "Leave the guns. Bring the cannolis."
But this is an individual Abraham didn't want to have anything to do with. Not at all. He said, I've raised my hand to God. I've made a compact and an oath with God and a promise there. Because between Abraham and God there was a divine relationship, accord if you will, that was not going to be severed. And Abraham was not going to partner with anyone else. He wasn't going to owe any other man. He was going to owe his complete devotion, his entire relationship with God. God was Abraham's partner in every detail of his life. And so he was going to avoid the entanglements that came with this particular relationship that would have, in terms of a financial dealing with a man, because his partner in his relationship, ultimately, was with God.
And you also see in this story that Abraham took care of his men. So we see Abraham tithing here to this individual called Melchizedek. It's really a story of character and obedience. He wanted to be owned by God. Not any other man. Not any other individual. And in this character, Melchizedek, Abraham saw the God whom he had left home to follow. Abraham had left all that he had and really, when you understand the whole story, this Melchizedek was a manifestation of Jesus Christ before His human conception and birth. He's presented here as the king of Salem and the priest of the Most High God.
We're going to come back to this character of Melchizedek in a few moments here at the end of the program.
But we see Abraham is giving a tithe, a 10 percent of what he has as an act of worship. It's hard for a modern mind to really think about giving 10 percent as an act of worship, but that's exactly what it is. And that's what Abraham was doing here.
And in this act of worship, God learns something about Abraham, just as He learns something about you and I when we order our financial affairs and our heart around the treasure of our lives and get God in the right perspective there. God truly learns where our heart resides.
Now, because this is such a key subject, we have developed a booklet that thoroughly explains tithing as God intended it to be. This booklet, What the Bible Teaches About Tithing unlocks this vital key of financial management.
This booklet explains God's basic law on tithing with a clear explanation of Scripture and why tithing should be a foundational part of your financial plan. If you are struggling financially, never able to get out of debt and on sound footing then you should examine what God says and put Him to the test.
God says in Malachi "prove me now here with." Tithing is something that you must prove God on. And when you do, you're on your way to financial stability and most importantly building a relationship with God that is based on faith.
To request it, call 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv.
I also want to tell you about a very important event that you're going to want to mark on your calendar. The United Church of God is sponsoring a series of Kingdom of God Bible seminars. These are being held in major cities across the United States, and in Canada, Australia and around the world. At these seminars, you will hear in depth presentations about the central Bible teaching of the Kingdom of God.
Each seminar is different. If you attended the last one you're not going to want to miss the next in the series. Go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar " link to find a seminar near you and register to attend.
There's another purpose that God has for tithing. It's really to support the work that He is doing on this earth. God has a practical side. He has not left the most important work on earth, the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom, without a means to be financed.
This is also something that I learned very early in life. My mother taught me about tithing and she taught me to put aside a small portion, 10 percent out of the allowance that I would get. And when I began getting a small check for the jobs and chores that I would do, I put that money aside and learned that very early on in life. And I also learned that where that tithe was to go, in terms of supporting the work of God. That's a very practical reason. Therefore another reason really, that I tithe and following the example of Abraham, is to support the work of God.
Tithing really defines a Christian way of giving to God what He says is His, to be used for the support of the most important work on the face of the earth and the most important work through the ages.
We see it embedded within the various laws within the Scripture. There is stated in the Old Testament the law of tithing in Leviticus 27:30, where it says, "… all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord."
You look at that and you learn that what God says is His. That first 10 percent is holy. And that again begins to redefine how we look at physical things. How we look at what we have even in our own wherewithal to deal with and to parcel out and to spend on those things that we realize, when God says that 10 percent is His and the first 10 percent and it's a holy matter, that redefines, not just the tithe, but it redefines a way of life.
Now we see that God gave this here to the Levites in Numbers 18:21. He apportioned that to the Levites in the Old Testament who had the responsibly of doing the work of God within the temple, the tabernacle that was set up in that system. They were a group that also were set apart, holy and belonged to God.
Today, God's command to tithe is really a means by which Jesus Christ does His work through the spiritual body of the Church. The Church has a divine commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
You know, virtually every religious organization, no matter what their particular beliefs when they set themselves up, they have to be funded by money in some way. You can say Christian giving. You can say giving. You can say partnering. You can use all kinds of phrases but in the reality when you come back down to it, it's what God says in the Bible that is really the most efficient, the most effective, most practical and the most correct. And that is a system of tithing that God placed within the Scriptures. It is His way and it really is the best way. Because there are expenses to that particular responsibly but God is very specific in the Scriptures as to how to do it. And I've noticed at some times, with a little bit of amusement over the years, how various organizations will work around that but all come back to recognizing that whatever work they may be involved in doing as they feel committed to do so, it has to require a commitment.
What I've learned is that it is a folly to abandon this true way of God and to try to substitute another way. Tithing helps us when we get that in perspective to develop some very, very good habits of stewardship, of selflessness. Understanding that what we have been given is ours to make certain decisions on and to work with, but what we do with God's then determines the other 90 percent that we have allotted to us or yes, I understand, a little bit less because of taxation in our systems today. But whatever we have left over, then it's going to make us better stewards with exercising a bit more patience, in terms of how we accumulate our money and how we use it and wisdom in how we spend it. And the priorities that we place upon what we have left for our discretionary use as well. All of this really, develops what is an important ethic, a godly ethic, toward money, wealth and whatever form and shape that it comes to us.
And I've come to understand that this really is the most important matter for us to develop. It is that ethic toward money and it is based upon a living law. It teaches us to live within our means. You know you can make a lifetime study of economic theory and how nations work and how incomes or wealth is generated and how it is managed, and no matter what it comes down to you find that there are many different systems that human beings have tried to govern themselves by over the years.
And as we watch what is taking place in our world today, especially in the United States and in Europe, with one crisis after another, especially since 2008 beginning to unfold over us. We see an economic crisis that began in 2008—a subprime housing crisis where people had made certain decisions with money and got in over their head, in regard to housing and other decisions there.
We see in Europe today a problem that is continuing to develop that is threatening to reshape the global economy. Leaders meet. They try to come up with solutions to solve an economic crisis and one summit, one meeting, one theory after another crumbles and folds and it patches together something that gets us on for another five years, another 10 years, maybe another 40 years. But the cyclical nature of economic history teaches us that at some point things are going to rise and they're going to crash. Things are going to rise and they're going to crash.
And when you really look at it, and you come back down to it, what you're looking at is a world of differing economies under various nations, under various forms of governance that are not founded upon some of the most basic spiritual principles of economic theory that we find in God's Word. And tithing is one of those principles, one of those laws that govern the economic affairs of people and nations and whole systems.
And when that is not in place, so many other matters are layered on top of it to create problems that cause us to have the economic ups and downs and the cycles that we see in our history or even in our personal lives—which many of us have gone through and many people have—of bankruptcy, of insolvency, of having a lot of money and having very little money. God's systems, God's ways, produce a system that has a balance and an evenness to it that avoids the extremes of debt. That avoids the extremes of indenture, slavery, economic slavery and servitude and the problems of rises and falls of economies that we look at throughout history. The various matters that we are dealing with and seeing in the headlines of our own time show us that.
Understanding how God teaches us individually, to put Him first and to pay Him what He claims as His, teaches us a very important lesson that He wants impressed upon us to not get caught up in greed. Not get caught up in a way of life that avoids giving to others. God wants us to be liberal with the physical aspects of our life but first to be liberal toward Him.
We are in a time of seemingly unsolvable world financial crisis that begs for solutions. And it seems the wise of our world meet and meet without coming up with any workable solutions that guarantee an economic security. And there's real fear among people today. Some feel that it will work out. Others wonder if in their own lifetime things will ever be the same again.
When we develop a relationship with God that has as one of those fundamental keys this law of tithing, we're then getting ourselves set in our framework and our mental framework toward a way toward God that looks to Him as the Creator, the giver of all. And it forms a very highly integrated way of life that involves many elements that define our worship and our relationship with God.
Tithing is really a means of walking in the steps of our faithful, spiritual father, Abraham. And we're told in the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament, that we are the spiritual children of Abraham. If we are Christ's, we are told, then we are of the seed of Abraham. His heart was fully with God and he showed it by giving a tenth of his treasure. He showed a lot of others things as well but this is one very important part. The question for us is: Is our heart in the same place as that of Abraham's?
Now, when you go online today, to get this booklet on tithing, we're also going to give you a subscription to the Good News magazine . The Good News contains articles on how to have a better marriage, prayer, managing your personal finances, discovering God's purpose revealed in the Bible and how to make sense of an increasingly confusing world.
The Good News is an extension of what you see here on Beyond Today . You will come to treasure this magazine as a regular source of information about today's world and motivation to live the gospel of the Kingdom of God
Request your free copy by calling 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv.
I said that we would come back to this story of Melchizedek and Abraham because there's another episode that tells us a little bit more about this and especially in this law of tithing. And it's in the book of Hebrews 7 where the writer, the apostle Paul, brings out this fact of this Melchizedek once again.
And I mentioned that understanding who this Melchizedek figure was is very important. He was a manifestation of Jesus Christ at that time before His human conception and birth. And we find that He is referenced again here in Hebrews 7:1 where it says that this
"Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God," met "Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also (the) king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace.'"
We're not going to get into the whole story and the explanation for Melchizedek. That would take a whole other program and time as well, but what we find once again here is that it's recognized that Abraham paid his tithes to this individual Melchizedek. And in this we see it mentioned several times as you go down through chapter 7 of Hebrews and verse 4, "consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils."
And then it goes into really an explanation to show how this matter of tithing is then handed over in the New Testament and for our purposes today, to a priesthood that is after the order of Melchizedek.
And the writer is basically showing here that Levi received tithes. Abraham paid those. The Levi even paid those in advance through Abraham but there is a different priesthood. There has been a change that takes place in verse 11. Shows that there is a changeover of another priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek and not according to the order of Aaron. So what he is showing here once again, Abraham gave his tithes to Melchizedek—this one whom he recognized as God. And today the Church being the spiritual body, a community without borders, a spiritual organism receives that, those tithes, that blessing that also are used then to carry on the work of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
What is interesting to note is you find the story, what brought up once again within the context of the book of Hebrews, which is a very important chapter about faith. It also talks about the Sabbath. It talks about the law of God. It talks about Jesus Christ as our High Priest. Many examples of faith are brought out here as well. And that is what is fascinating to consider that even tithing gets its billing here within this story in the book of Hebrews in chapter 7, to talk once again within the context of faith. And a practical demonstration, an aspect of our life that shows where our heart is and our relationship with God just as Abraham did that.
Tithing is a key to define a very deep faith and reverence toward God. That's what we are seeing when we look at the story here of Abraham who tithed to Melchizedek and set the example as the father of the faithful.
There's a larger lesson that is drawn here from all of this. I have sat and talked with people many, many times over the years and taught them these principles out of the Scriptures and helped them gain a measure of basic financial stability based upon God's Word. I'm not a financial analyst. I'm not a financial expert in terms of budgeting or finance in that particular way, although I do know a little bit about what God says as a fundamental principle within His Word. And I know what works because it has worked in my life and I see that it indeed works within the lives of individuals who step out and put God to the test.
Tithing is not a means of getting something from God. Tithing is not a bargain that we make with God. It's not a form of an insurance policy that we make where we give God something, we expect anything in return. We have analysts, and stockbrokers and financial planners to help us advise on what we do with our money in that particular way.
Tithing is something that defines a very deep personal relationship with God and it works. And when we get that part right, then we are on the way toward a financial stability in our life when we apply other fundamental principles and other fundamental laws that define financial stability. Then we're on our way toward a better life, but most importantly we're on our way toward a deeply personal life of worship toward God.
Tithing represents God's claim on our total life.
Now remember our free literature, the offers that we've made today. Our booklet, What the Bible Teaches About Tithing— free of charge. And also the Good News magazine. Both of these are absolutely free. There is no follow-up from any of us that will ever come to request money. That may seem strange on a program where we're talking about tithing. But it illustrates that what I have been talking about today.
We are able to provide our literature free because the faithful generosity of others makes it possible. Because others in faith practice tithing and giving as a way of life, we can do this program and give you this literature.
So call 1-888-886-8632. 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv. A nd don't forget to sign up for the Kingdom of God seminars through the link that you'll find on the Beyond Today site.
I tithe also because it is both a law and a blessing, and a barometer, and a guide, and a privilege and an honor. I tithe because it finances God's work on earth today. I tithe because Abraham, the father of the faithful tithed and I want to follow in his footsteps.
Why do you tithe? That is the first question to ask and for all of us to answer.
That's our program today. I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.