March 17, 2004
Conviction versus Compromise, Part 8
By MariaMaria #655 CM/FM 3461 7/03
1. We love you and appreciate your faithfulness to the Lord and the Family. This is the first in a series of three Letters on the financial state of the Family. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that a lot of Homes are struggling financially, WS income is down greatly, and overall in the Family we could be doing a lot more if we had more money. The Lord has given some very good counsel and solutions which I believe you'll be very thankful for, and I'll be sharing it with you in the GNs that follow. But the first subject we're going to talk about is tithing—not because it's the most important or the only solution to your financial problems‚ but because recently we've received quite a few questions about our policy of tithing, so we need to address those before we can get into more of the overall picture.
2. Peter and I and those in WS are very thankful for your tithes and offerings, which make our work and the continued progress of the Family possible. Many of you tithe faithfully and give sacrificially, and we really appreciate it. Please forgive us if we haven't told you recently or often enough how very grateful we are for your giving. We understand that it's a sacrifice for you to tithe and we don't take it lightly. It's never easy to give, but we pray for the Lord's supernatural blessing on you as a result.
3. Recently, as I said, we have been hearing quite a few questions about tithing. It's understandable that some of you would have questions, since it's been several years since we published an in-depth explanation about your tithe and where it goes. Many of you new disciples and younger Family members probably haven't had a chance to read the past Letters in which Dad talks about the tithe, the need to tithe, the scriptural basis for tithing, etc.
4. We understand that you're busy trying to keep up with the New Wine, and it's okay that you haven't had a chance to delve into all the past Letters. However, it's dangerous for you spiritually if you haven't researched the Word and yet you debate the validity and effectiveness of the economic system of the Family, which is based on tithing. And it's even more dangerous if you have partaken of the current debates on the ex–member sites, which are trying to undermine the Family's faith in tithing and the credibility of those who manage the Family's WS money.
5. This uneducated discussion about the tithe is a growing trend in some areas, so Peter and I feel the need to answer some of these questions and give a little up-to-date explanation on WS finances, focusing on tithes and offerings.
6. Before I go further, I want to share with you a talk Peter gave on tithing. Our WS finance man sent him some of the questions that were circulating on tithing, and in the following comments Peter answered both him and you, dear Family. In it he gives a pretty good summary of the history of our tithing and where the money goes, which I pray will help give you more faith to keep giving your tithe cheerfully, or to begin to give your full tithe if you haven't been doing so.
Where Your Tithes Go
—Right Back to You!
7. (Peter:) Over the years, the Family's economic structure has developed to the point that it's an economic system that runs pretty well now. At the very beginning the Family survived almost totally on forsake-alls, with a minimum of provisioning. At TSC and in Los Angeles (and many other early colonies) many people were joining with lots of forsake-all—cars, stereo sets, bank accounts, musical equipment, and the new disciples simply gave everything they had and laid it down at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made to every man according as he had need. And it worked!
8. Then, when colonies began to divide and spread abroad, as the Lord instructed us to do, the new colonies started bringing in their own income, again through forsake-alls, and by that time provisioning began to increase. Then some Homes began selling the lit, and at that time there were lots of Homes that were sending in 80% of their income to the International Office to support the pubs and the administration. (This was before WS existed.) Those Homes were giving in thankfulness for the spiritual feeding, direction, and guidance that they were receiving in return. This was long before Dad ever instituted the tithe.
9. Dad just lived on whatever Jethro would give him, until finally he asked if he could have a budget of $1,000 a month to support him and Mama and their Home. And $1,000 a month for all that Dad was doing, let me tell you, was not much for him to ask! During this time Dad was always on the go, always busy for the Family and the Lord. He wrote multitudes of Letters to the Family on both spiritual and physical matters, he wrote letters to various leaders, and he and Mama traveled, pioneered, and witnessed as they went, all the while living as economically as possible.
10. Look at the way he and Mama camped out in a tent in Cheesequake Park before he went to Europe, because he didn't want to pay for a hotel room. And then while he traveled around Europe and Israel, he and Mama slept on trains or lived in tiny rooms in unheated pensions and boarding houses, often just eating two meals a day, scrimping and saving as much as he could. You can read the stories and even see the pictures in "Now It Can Be Told." And he didn't change in his later years; read "The Ragman" and other Letters and you can see that!
11. So Dad was economical‚ let me tell you! It reminds me of the quote‚ "Anybody who knows me and has lived with me knows that I am probably the most economical‚ saving person that you ever want to know‚ and a horrible penny pincher, as chintzy as they come. I'm almost as bad as my grandfather, who my mother said would squeeze a dollar, when they still had silver dollars that were worth something, so hard that it would make the eagle scream! I am very economical‚ very saving" (ML #702:23‚ Vol.6).
12. Finally‚ the Lord revealed to Dad that for the development of the Family's financial system he should use the plan that worked in the Bible—the tithe—10% of all income. And I mean all income, not just cash income. So rather than asking the rich Homes to give their 80% or the bulk of their income, Dad began the tithe in which every Home was required to give 10% of everything they received, including provisioning and gifts of all kinds. And they did it, God bless them! They didn't bellyache; they simply gave. And the Lord blessed them for it and they prospered and multiplied across the face of the Earth into all six continents, with only Antarctica yet to have any Family members!
13. Eventually it began to get difficult for the Homes to give a cash tithe on the huge amount of provisioned goods they were receiving, and it was almost impossible for WS to collect goods, so Dad and Mama decided to cancel the tithe on goods and only ask the Homes to tithe on cash income.
14. A fairly realistic estimate that I've heard people make today, both office people and field people, of what the Homes actually give to WS from all of their increase, might be closer to 5% of their total income; that is‚ their total income of goods and cash. In other words, many Family Homes abound in provisioned goods, and I would estimate that the provisioned goods of many Homes equal, if not exceed, the value of their actual cash income. So, in only tithing their cash income, they are probably giving much less than a full 10% or 14% of their total income, depending on whether they are a FM or CM Home.
15. We're glad the Lord has made exception and allowed the Homes to do this, but it rubs us the wrong way when people begin to murmur and complain when they're asked to give what might amount to only half of what would be required if they were tithing their total income, especially considering all that they're getting back in return. And imagine how the Lord must feel about it, after all He's done for you, all the many ways He's blessed you, kept you, and provided for you. He's graciously allowed you this exception, and some of you are still complaining about it and downplaying both the physical and spiritual returns. Some don't even seem to realize what their lives would be like without those returns on their tithes.
16. To not want to pay your tithe is like saying, "We don't like to pay taxes." Well, nobody likes to pay taxes. But if people stopped paying taxes to their national, provincial, or local government, they wouldn't have any military to defend them, they wouldn't have any roads, they wouldn't have any traffic lights, they wouldn't have any local organization, they wouldn't have any policemen to protect them, they wouldn't have firemen, and on and on it goes. There are so many goods and services that people have come to expect, and those have to be paid for. That's where people's taxes come into the picture.
17. It's the same with tithes. The tithe isn't exactly a tax—it's money given out of obedience to the Lord's command—but people have to realize that the goods and services of WS, things that they may take for granted, don't just materialize out of thin air. They wouldn't have them if it weren't for their tithes. Every two weeks they go to their mailbox and they know there's going to be a mailing there. They go and it's there. And they know there are going to be pubs for their kids, their JETTs, their teens‚ and themselves, and there are going to be tools for their outreach‚ and counsel on how to follow up and build a local church so that they can support themselves. There's going to be news about the Family. Every mailing has all kinds of stuff in it, and the Family has come to expect it.
18. The Family needs to see and understand clearly what they get for their tithe and the extra 4%. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that what they get is a gazillion times more than the church people get for their tithe or offering. Show me any church that has a bank and offers interest-free loans to people (Home loans, available to Charter members via the FAF). Show me any church that gives each home of their parishioners any money at all for emergencies, let alone the $2,000 HER that goes to CM Homes‚ and says, "If you have a bigger emergency‚ we'll try to help with even more!" Nobody else is doing that! How many churches give their women money when they have babies (the baby bonuses, also available to CMers from the FAF)?
19. And if you're going to go out and start a ministry, or you're going to go out and preach the Gospel, how many churches are going to give you a thousand dollars to help you start?! It'd be a pretty rare church that would do so! Most of them wouldn't give you anything more than their weekly church bulletin. Whereas we give you publications for every age group of the Family. On top of that, we provide tools for you to do the job, to raise income‚ to both preach the Gospel and to support yourself. Show me any church that does one–tenth of that giving back to the members who are giving their tithe. Those churches don't exist.
20. So the fact is, all the money that comes in to WS basically goes back to the Family. It's converted into goods and services. It's not like people in WS are collecting the Family's tithe and sitting around doing nothing. If people can't see that WS is doing things for them, then they're as blind as bats! All they have to do is go to their mailbox once every two weeks and see what's in there! What's in those mailings doesn't just grow on trees. People have to put long‚ long hours into creating those pubs and products, and then it costs quite a bit to print or produce them and mail them to dozens of countries around the world.
21. We're a government. But unlike the governments of the world, we're not rolling around in the lap of luxury. We spend as little as possible on ourselves. The tithe goes back to the Family one hundred percent in goods and services, and in security, with reserves available for emergency bailouts and country evacuations, which have happened a number of times.
22. The Family's 4% also goes back to them in services and benefits. For example, when a woman is pregnant, she gets money. In fact, the baby bonus went from $10 many years ago to about $25, then doubled to $50, later doubled again to $100, and now we've just upped it to $200.The new Homes get help to pioneer. They also get a $2,000 Home Emergency Reserve fund (the HER). The Home Loan fund is a free bank. You can get a loan and it doesn't cost you any interest. And there is the FAF for emergencies.
BREAKDOWN OF THE 14%
(10% Tithe + 1% FAF + 3% Common Pot)
The Tithe: 10% (for CM and FM Family)
1. The 10% tithe goes to WS, and is 10% of all cash income.
2. WS in turn tithes its "tithe" by giving 10% of it to the FAF. Thus 9% of the Family's tithe to WS goes to WS, and 1% WS gives to the Family Aid Fund.
3. The only exception to the 10% tithe is that Family tool seed corn does not need to be tithed. (This exception applies only to Family witnessing tools‚ not to other non-Family distribution tools such as Bibles, balloons, etc.)
4. Cash income to be tithed includes not only income from distribution and outreach, but also windfalls, inheritances, designated gifts, etc.—all cash income (except Family witnessing seed corn, as mentioned above).
The Family Aid Fund: 1%
(for CM Family only)
1. The 1% FAF contribution goes to the Family Aid Fund.
2. In April of 1995 the CM Family voted in the Family Aid Fund 1% by a worldwide Home referendum.
3. WS also tithes 10% of all WS cash income and gives it to the FAF.
4. The FAF is used for:
The Common Pot: 3% (for CM Family only)
1. The 3% Common Pot contribution goes to the local area office and field administration.
2. The practice of CM Homes giving 3% to their local area Common Pot for local area projects and expenses began previous to 1995.
3. In April 1995, with the onset of the Charter, it was put to a Home referendum in each Continental Area and voted in as an official area goal, to be reconfirmed yearly within each Continental Area by a Home referendum.
4. After being voted in for seven consecutive years, at the outset of the boards in February 2002, a worldwide referendum was voted on and passed, making the 3% Common Pot contribution a permanent part of CM Home giving and no longer required to be voted on each year.
5. The Common Pot 3% covers local administrational and other expenses in each Continental Area‚ such as financial help for ABMs, area meetings and projects, special gifts to Homes in cases of emergencies or needy situations‚ some "consider the poor" ministries, proactive media campaigns and persecution-related expenses (mass mailings, media representatives attending seminars, etc.), duping and sending of some CM videos to the Homes, local pubs, some local language tapes‚ CDs and pubs, local video circuits, etc. These funds are also used to finance Home visitation by the area shepherds. Since the implementation of the boards, the monthly VS gifts and National Board chairman gifts come from the Common Pot. These funds are managed by the COs, not WS. But in all cases they have proven to be essential in maintaining the strong area infrastructure which services your Homes.
Brief chronology of the 10% tithe
In 1974 Dad originally asked the Family to tithe 10% of all their income to WS, plus additional offerings. (ML #311A and 315C, Vol.3).
In 1975 Dad made it mandatory for the Homes to tithe 10% of their total lit income (ML #336A and 336B). At that time lit income was nearly synonymous with total income‚ as the majority of all Home income was derived from litnessing.
By 1978 Dad made it clear that total income should be tithed (ML #696 and 697, Vol.5).
In 1988 it was no longer mandatory to tithe on provisioning income (LNF 108).
In 1992 a tithe exemption was given on all non–cash gifts (LNF 153).
In 1998 tool seed corn was made an exception to tithing (FSM 331).
End of text box.
23. We maintain a website that services the Family. It has all the pubs posted, as well as news and photos from the Family worldwide. It has movie ratings, which people really are thankful for. We have a whole GP website just for preaching the Gospel and explaining the Family. Not to mention that we try to produce as many of our publications in as many languages as we can.
24. The Family's tithe, extra 4% and gifts also provide them with music CDs, books and booklets, administrational services‚ the board structure, Service Homes and local services (such as LIMs or Lit-Pics, ABMs, FED resource centers, reporting offices, and some of the local websites, production centers and audio studios), the tool fund, as well as help in financing meetings, VS trips and more! People need to wake up and say, "What the hell's going on here? Why am I complaining about tithing?"
25. Dear Family, you need to realize that if you didn't have to tithe, yes, you'd have a little extra money. You'd have more cash each month. Whatever your ten percent is, you'd have that in your pocket. But let me tell you, that ten percent that you'd be saving isn't going to give you money for emergencies. It isn't going to give you mailings and spiritual food every two weeks to inspire and instruct you and your children and teens‚ giving you valuable counsel for every aspect of your life and service for the Lord! That money isn't going to produce you top-quality tools, magazines, music, and all of that.
26. If you didn't send in your tithe you'd spend that money on something, or you might save a little on the side for a rainy day, but it's not going to do you any good compared to the wonderful good it does you if you give to God. Because when you do, God gives back to you—money, for one thing—but on top of that, God gives you back so many spiritual blessings through the Word‚ through the government of the Family, and through the peace and security of knowing that, "Wow, if I have an emergency I can get some help." And, "Wow, I really want to go pioneer, and I can get an extra boost of a thousand dollars." All of those things are God's blessings.
27. Your ten percent would never give you all of that if you kept it, or if you decided you were going to donate your ten percent to the local church. You're getting a big bang for your buck, in my opinion, and you need to realize it. You shouldn't be complaining about it! You should be praising God for the wonderful blessings that you're getting because you give your tithe. Your tithe helps to keep the Family going and alive and functioning, and without it, it just wouldn't happen.
28. So the next time the Devil tells you, "Man, we've got to give this ten percent, what a drag! We really need that money for our rent," or "We wouldn't have to work so hard if we didn't have to give it," well, that's right, you could have that extra money. But just take ten minutes and think of all the GNs, all the pubs, all the music, all the tools‚ all the meetings and the videos, everything that you've gotten just in the last year, and ask yourself, "Could I have ever gotten all of that any other way? Could I have been blessed in that way if I would have kept my tithe? Would I be willing to give all of that up? Would I be willing to have no more mailings? No more websites? No more music? No more shepherds? No more boards? No more VSs? No more of any of this? Is that worth my tithe to me?"
29. Well‚ if you think your ten percent is worth more than all that, then you're in the wrong place. Your ten percent makes it possible for the Gospel to be preached in all the world, because your ten percent makes it possible for God's Word to get back to you in all of its various forms‚ including tools and messages for the lost.
30. Not only does your ten percent do all that for you, but it supports a lot of missionaries in countries where they wouldn't be otherwise. We have some Homes, for example, that would really find it difficult to exist if they didn't get a missionary gift‚ and might even have to close their Home and lose the opportunity of reaching those needy fields. So your tithes‚ besides all of these blessings that return to you in the form of pubs and services‚ also go to missionaries, so that the Gospel is preached in some countries where it would not be preached by us if you weren't giving.
31. The funds that you send go to help in Africa‚ the Mideast, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia‚ India, etc.! We want to help you see that your tithe really is doing something and going somewhere! And that's not to mention the scores of Homes in the EE region that are getting financial aid, such as Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan! Most of these places would not be getting reached, or not reached as well, if it weren't for the Family's scriptural economic system of giving from each according to his ability unto each according to his need.
32. Let me tell you, the Family is doing something in the world! We have Family Homes in over 100 countries and Family members made up of almost 100 nationalities! And they're not just sitting on their butts! They're getting out and doing the job!—Because you are tithing and giving, and God is blessing it.
33. Besides that‚ your tithe has made it possible for me, and also Mama a few times, to visit certain fields, and we never would have had the funds for those trips had we not received your tithes. And several other members of WS have been able to visit Service Homes and offices in order to strengthen their services for you.
34. For example, in 1996 Gabe and I attended the bellwether meetings in the U.S. Then there was the trip to Russia and the EE in 1997, where Amy, Rebecca, and I were able to visit and strengthen the brethren. Earlier that same year, James, Rebecca, and I went to Japan and Thailand in our "strengthen the structure" trip. In 1999 there was the South America trip‚ where I went with James, Rebecca and Misty to visit every area of South America‚ and we met 80% of the Family there! During that same time Mama met with all the SACRO COs, and then she went on to NACRO to meet the NACRO COs. Later that same year, Matthew, Francis‚ Jenna and I went to Brazil to host a set of meetings on follow-up and to establish the "12 Foundation Stones" course. In 2000, I made a trip to London to meet with our lawyer and the Activated Home there.
35. In 2001, I made another trip to Brazil to attend their national retreat, along with Misty, Jenna‚ and Kayla. Then later that year, Mama and I went to the States again to work on strengthening the COs there. Just recently (May 2003) I once again returned to Brazil, with Misty and Joy, to make the videos for the brethren. We stayed for five weeks. Then we returned again in July for another four weeks to help work out the reinstatement plan for the Brazilian Family.
36. Francis and Lori made a visit to the India Activated Desk in 2000 to help organize things there. They were able to go back again in 2002. In 2002, Francis visited Japan and Thailand's Activated desks. Besides that, our finance man has been able to make trips to all of our reporting offices worldwide in order to help streamline, fine-tune, and update our various reporting procedures. None of this would have been possible without your tithes.
37. Then there are the videos by Mama and me that have gone around. First, in 1998 we made a set of videos, then in 2001 we made another set of videos explaining the board vision [the "Board Vision Training Videos," ML #3406–3411‚ available on the MO site]. In 2002 we made yet another set of videos for the Family, which the GN "Pray, Obey and Prepare" is based on. And more recently we've made an extensive set of videos for Brazil, which you've also benefited from in reading the transcripts or summaries in the GN. These all cost money. The videos have to be duplicated and distributed, VSs and COs have to travel around to show them, sometimes meetings have to be held, and it all costs money. And where does that money come from? Most of it comes from your tithes.
38. We're thankful for that, but we hope you also see that we're not just sitting around on our rear ends in the lap of luxury. We are working; we are working hard, and sometimes it's taken quite a toll on our health. But we're glad to do it! Those of you who have met Mama or me personally or have seen us on video need to understand that we couldn't have met you if it wasn't for your tithes.
39. There's a lot of other behind-the-scenes work that goes on specifically to keep the Family running. For example, Mama and I have now met twice with some academics who have studied the Family, during which time we've been open to their questions and given our honest answers. We've been interviewed, usually one on one, and we've gotten to know these people on a professional as well as a personal basis. We've done this for you, dear Family, so that these academics could see that we are not some sort of freak gurus, but true Christians who love Jesus and want to spread His love to the world.
40. Most of you probably realize we have PR/media teams around the world who spend their time meeting people who are helping the Family, and that translates into protection for you. The PR/media ministry is like your military, in a way; it's protection for you. It's your State Department, if you will. When some bad publicity or persecution happens almost anywhere in the world, our PR teams in that area are on it and doing all they can to alleviate the situation.
41. Our PR/media teams have stood up to protect you. They have also maintained open lines of communication with academics and other professionals, who've responded to their openness, input and information with books and publications about the Family, as well as being willing to stand up for our rights to our religious beliefs and way of life. None of that would be happening if you weren't sending in your tithes and supporting WS.
42. Really, when you think about it all, when you see the overall perspective of what your money is doing, you invest that money every month and you get all kinds of benefits, services and goods in dividends. Plus, on top of the dividends that each Home receives, the investment also runs the machinery of the Family and helps us preach the Gospel to millions and millions every month, and win millions of souls! Do you know how many souls were won this last month?—77,000! The Family has won over a million souls a year for the last six years! To date we've won over 27 million souls! Dividing that by 35 years comes out to about 800,000 souls a year on average! That's 15,000 souls a week! Now that's phenomenal!
43. It's not as if it's the money that wins the souls, of course, but it's the faith you have—the faith to be in the Family‚ to carry on even when it's such a struggle sometimes. Well, where do you get that faith? You get that faith from the Word. And where does the Word come from? It comes from the Lord, but the method He uses to give the Family the unifying Word is World Services, which is the storehouse and production center that gets it to you.
44. And World Services has had its talks about pressing in, about their commitment to excellence, about not wasting time or funds, about dedicating themselves to you. Let me tell you, these brethren of yours work hard! They are not slacking off and they are not living in luxury either.
45. So the next time you feel like complaining about the tithe, just think what's happening because you're giving it. Just think of the change in the world that it's making, and the change in your hearts—and not just yours, but of all the brethren around the world.
46. The Family is one. The Family thinks the same, we believe the same, we have the same goals, the same vision, because we all hear from the Lord via the GNs, and we get a united message. That's what makes us strong and powerful in the spirit, because we're united, because we're one, because we have the vision that the Lord has given. And where does that all come from? Well, the Lord gives it and He has a means to get it to you, and that means is the whole pipeline of publications. Most of you aren't aware of all that goes into the production of the publications and how much work and expense it is. But it happens because you're willing to give, and because we are faithful with your tithe.
47. We're not squandering your tithe. Mama and I are not, as our detractors say‚ living in mansions and luxury. The fact of the matter is, when Mama and I aren't living in our camper‚ when we visit units, we live as they do—normally in a couple of small rooms where we live, work, hold meetings, and take care of business. That's it for our living quarters.
48. We live in the same situation as others in the WS Homes or offices we visit. It's not like we have some glorious mansion. You'd be pretty surprised to see how frugally we live, and how our other WS Homes live too. So we're not squandering your money‚ we're managing it. It's God's money, not our money, and we know that. And we're in the fear of God about it. Please realize that we, to the best of our ability, are managing the money in a way that is benefiting the Lord's work, it is benefiting you, and we are giving it back to you one hundred percent in goods and services.
49. So we should all be praising God together that it's working, and that the Family is growing, and that we're doing the job, we're preaching the Gospel‚ we're doing what the Lord said to do. And He's blessing us abundantly through His Word and through the new weapons He's given us. He's just pouring it on. And He would pour out more if you would really be faithful with your tithes and gifts and offerings. As you give more, you will continue to get all of these services and spiritual blessings I've mentioned‚ but He will also give to you personally, even financially or in local blessings. I know that takes a step of faith. But that's the Lord's promise: "Give and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38).
50. So let's stop complaining about the tithe. Let's stop listening to our enemies when they say, "You shouldn't have to tithe! WS is ripping you off, you deserve to keep your money, blah‚ blah, blah!" And let's start praising the Lord for the blessings He's given us—and understand that the tithe—your tithe—is what makes the Family able to function in a practical way. And because there's a financial structure, and there's leadership‚ and there's a dissemination of information and of God's Word and pubs and tools and music and everything, all of that has allowed us to carry on and to do the job, which wouldn't be happening if you weren't giving.
51. So you are being blessed much more than you realize. And if you take the time to read this and to think about it and pray about it, you'll see that your tithe is making a tremendous difference, and not only that, it's coming back to you in the form of all kinds of blessings. Therefore you should feel happy to give your tithe, and you should give more, in the form of offerings.
52. One other thing: WS doesn't just preach at you field Homes to tithe‚ but we tithe too. We tithe on all of the income that comes in to WS—which is not just your tithe money, but also any gifts or special offerings that come in. Our tithe goes into the FAF that in turn goes back to help you. You, the Family, give 1% of your income to the FAF. WS gives 10% to the FAF.
53. Over the eight years that the FAF has been in place, WS has given more into the FAF than the overall Family has. And that's been difficult for WS to do. If we didn't have to tithe our ten percent (on our total income) to the FAF, that would be money that WS could use for other things, and we could give in other ways. But we feel compelled to practice what we preach. If we're asking you to tithe, we feel we should also tithe. And the Lord has shown us that He has blessed us because we do. As much as we've had to scrimp and scrape to make it through each month many times in WS, we've always made it. I believe that's because we've been tithing and the Lord has blessed it. If we stopped tithing, I think the Lord would also stop some of His blessings.
54. You and your Home probably have a hard time putting aside your ten percent, and some of you might feel like, "It's such a drag to have to give this, and we could really use the money. We could get this or we could do that if we had this extra money, but we have to tithe." I know it's hard. We're not saying that tithing is easy. We know it's not easy, because we're in the same boat! We have to give our tithe to the FAF of all the money that comes in to WS, and we could think, "Wow, if we didn't have to give this money, we could do this, we could do that." It's always a sacrifice to tithe. But the fact is, we're blessed because we do it, and if we don't do it, then the Lord withholds.
55. It's just pretty good practical business sense to tithe, because it's going to keep you afloat as opposed to your keeping that little bit of money and then going under. It just makes sense! Of course, doing it from a giving heart out of faith and obedience is going to reap you even more blessings.
56. You get so many blessings when you tithe—blessings in your life and your Home—so please keep it up! Please keep giving your tithes and offerings! We appreciate it very much! (End of talk from Peter.)
57. (Mama:) I pray that explanation from Peter helps you to see how much we appreciate your faithful giving through tithes and offerings. As Peter said, we really depend on your giving; but not only that, we know you want to obey fully so that you can reap the full blessings from the Lord in return, in the way of finances, protection, fruitfulness, good health, etc., as a result of your giving and obedience to Him. Besides helping to keep the Family going, your giving of tithes and offerings helps keep you going, too!
As you know, the tithe is 10% of total cash income. But for Homes that make less than $1,000, the minimum amount they must send in is $100. (For some poor countries the minimum tithe has been reduced to $50, by CO request, either because of extremely poor conditions or because there's been an extreme currency devaluation, making it nearly impossible to send in $100. This means that all Homes in those countries must send in 10% unless they make less than $500, in which case they should send in $50.)
Some people have asked why we have a minimum tithe and why we just don't go by a straight 10% tithe regardless of income, meaning that a Home that brings in a cash income of $400 wouldn't have to tithe the normal minimum but would instead only tithe $40.
The reasons Dad originally instituted a minimum tithe, which WS has prayed about several times and reconfirmed, even as recent as 2003, are:
1) It's the bare minimum that the pubs and services given to a Home are worth. The reason Dad originally established the minimum tithe years ago and the reason it continues today is simply that WS could not continue to provide the many pubs and services you now receive without sufficient income from you to do so.
"These sums do not represent even as much as the actual costs of these pubs! They're merely the approximate minimum you low tithers must give to show you appreciate and deserve them‚ so we'll feel you're worthy of them and the balance of their cost, which is paid for by the rest of the Family as a subsidy to the poor" (ML #1321:11, Vol.14).
2) It tends to prevent enemies from getting the publications by sending in a fake TRF with a low tithe.
3) We understand that there are situations where it can be hard to meet the minimum tithe of $100. Pioneer Homes may appeal to WS via their CO office for an exemption from the tithe minimum of $100, and tithe only their actual income for the first three months if they are unable to meet the minimum (FSM 331, 1998).
4) Homes facing extreme hardships can appeal to their Reporting Office or their Regional COs for exemptions if unable to cover the tithe minimum; if granted permission, they would only need to tithe their actual income (FSM 331, 1998).
5) Regional COs may appeal to WS to lower the minimum tithe to $50 in extremely poor countries.
In considering the minimum tithe, please keep in mind what Dad once said: "You know‚ you don't have to make $300 a month to give $30—you only have to make $30! (Job 23:12; 1Kg.17:8-16)" (ML #1321:10, Vol.14).
End of text box.
Questions on the Tithe
58. There seems to be quite a hubbub going on these days about tithing. Apparently some of you have tapped into the ex-member sites and read various questions about whether there is a scriptural basis for tithing. Some of these ex–members support their ideas with Bible verses. The main thrust of their arguments is that tithing is an Old Testament practice, one that is not required in the New Testament.
59. While this might seem like a simple doctrinal debate, the underlying spirit of the questions implies that Peter and I are taking advantage of you‚ we're ripping you off, we shouldn't ask you to tithe‚ we should have a better way of supporting WS, we should just receive free-will love offerings, etc. Some of you in the Family are honestly wondering about the validity of these points. I don't know how many of you are involved in these discussions, but even for the sake of a few of you who are wondering or bothered by this‚ it's worth taking the time to address it.
60. From what we read, some say that since the Homes are "struggling to survive," we shouldn't expect you to tithe, we shouldn't make you feel guilty if you don't tithe, and you certainly shouldn't lose your membership for not tithing. Some feel that if we just "used a little business sense" we could have plenty of support for WS, and still have enough to give away. The points being made are that Peter and I aren't handling the Family's money wisely, our requirements for Family membership are not right‚ we're using the Bible to back up unscriptural demands, etc.
61. Of course, I don't know how much actual business experience or even practical experience the people who write these things have. It's possible that they've been directing a worldwide missionary movement for years and years and have found a better way to do it than Dad, Peter, and me, but I think that's rather unlikely. Still‚ since some people in the Family have asked about these ex-members' arguments and wonder if there's merit to them, we prayed about them. Dad gave two talks, which I think you'll find feeding and educational.
We're Not Looking Backward
62. (Dad speaking:) Like I told you when I was there, way back at the beginning of the Family, we're not looking backward at the Old Testament, or even the New Testament, other than as a possible blueprint for how we can operate now, today, in this day and age and in this Time of the End. It doesn't matter if Abram, the father of faith, tithed to Melchizedek, the mysterious high priest, only once; or how often the tithe was given in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; or if Nehemiah's band collected their tithes yearly; or even if Paul had the Galatians take collections weekly! The giving of the tithe is simply an offering to the Lord that the Lord says belongs to Him, and that He uses to take care of His priests and Levites, His ministers, and those who serve you.
63. What does it matter how often it's given if it works?! And what does it matter if the way the Family operates is according to the Old Testament or the New Testament or the Newest Testament of God's living Words of today?! Let me tell you, I'm not about to be dictated to by the examples of the past. I refused to let anyone pour God into a mold when I was there‚ and I refuse to let anyone do so now! We'll look back at the Old Testament and at the New Testament and the way they did it simply as a pattern for what worked, and we'll take from that pattern and ask the Lord about His plan for today, using and patching it into the final church in a way that fits and works today‚ now, as He leads us.
64. It's not that we don't believe the Word of the Old Testament and the New Testament. We do believe it. But the particular operating methods of the Old Testament and the New Testament are simply that—ways of operating. If we can borrow from them, fine; if not, fine; or if we can adapt some of it and it works, fine too.
65. But the bottom line isn't whether they collected tithes yearly or weekly or seasonally or whatever, or whether they didn't collect tithes in the New Testament. The point is that tithing works. It's the spiritual principle that the Lord has confirmed we should follow today‚ and so that's the financial foundation God's Endtime work is built on. We're moving on to the future‚ and we're not going to be bound by the old or the new‚ but by God's grace this Endtime Family is going to operate by whatever method the Lord chooses.
66. The Lord didn't have to set up the Family's financial system based on tithes—He could have chosen some other means to provide for WS and supply the services to the Family that are sponsored through your tithes. But that's the way He's chosen to do it‚ and it works. And God says He blesses those who don't hold back tithes and offerings, and that's true‚ He does—especially those of you who are knowledgeable and accountable. But even those who haven't been instructed with so much abundant Word and firsthand experience of the spiritual principles involved, the Lord blesses them when they give!
67. It's an unfailing spiritual principle that rules in the physical world too, that you never lose by giving! And He says that he that withholds and is selfish rather than giving will lean or move toward poverty. That's true too. It's not always immediate, and there are some in the world who are very wealthy and also very selfish, but their day is coming. These are just simple spiritual principles that are true, they are God's Word, and they work. His plan of tithing was simply God's wisdom on a way to provide for His ministers, which works. Of course, in the Old Testament it was law, but it is also a practical way to operate that works today.
68. Now doesn't that make sense? And it makes "cents" too, because these WS members live on much less than your ten percent, seeing that a good 80% of what comes into WS isn't even used by the "Levites" [those who devote their lives to serving the Family in some way], but it goes back out to the field from whence it came‚ a large portion of which goes to the poor of the field, the poor mission fields. And of the large portion that doesn't go directly to the mission fields, a majority of that is returned to those who gave it in the form of a multitude of publications, in support of translations for your fields, in the CDs and music, in the creation of GP tools, in support of your Activated desks, in getting your Service Centers going, in support of your boards. And yes, the Levites tithe too! To whom? To you, via the Family Aid Fund.
69. So we've found that tithing works pretty well, is pretty practical, and is something that God blesses. The Lord simply blesses giving; there are no two ways about it, it's a spiritual principle of the way He works. And He doesn't bless withholding. So if you are on the withholding end of the spectrum, you're probably moving toward poverty. And if you are on the giving end of the spectrum, you are no doubt surrounded by blessings.
70. If you don't feel like you are, but yet you've been giving, ask the Lord to show you what those blessings are, because you're guaranteed to have them! Blessings don't always come in cash; sometimes they're treasures far more valuable than any amount of money could buy—like health, protection, happiness, love, children, or what have you, that if you didn't have them, you'd really feel it! Or maybe the Lord is pouring out the blessings but you're just not "catching" them‚ or they're somehow being wasted or neglected.
71. So if you're giving all you can but you're not aware of what blessings you're receiving in return‚ take a little time to ask the Lord about it, so you can really appreciate what He's giving you! I'll tell you‚ whatever it is, it's worth it! He doesn't give back fairly—He gives back so far above and beyond what you've given that there's no comparison! That's the way God works and that's the way it is. But if you are trusting in your own arm of the flesh to support yourself‚ well, then your pocketbook nerve is probably bothered by having to give the tithe.
72. The Lord has shown us that the best way to run this Endtime army is to ask for your tithes and offerings to WS, and we've found that His plan works‚ and works very well. We've found that God is true to His Word and He blesses you for it. And that, no doubt‚ is why the Devil is attacking those he can with trials and battles about it‚ because he doesn't want you or the overall work to prosper.
73. In the Old Testament, as I've told you before, it was ten percent giving, because that was about all that God could get out of them.—Just ten percent of their goods, but hardly any of their service. In the New Testament it was 100%, because that's where the Lord gave us His example of giving all and asked us, if we wanted to be His disciples, to forsake all that we had and to take up our cross and follow Him—give Him the service of our lives. But the Newest Testament, the Endtime Church of David, asks 110% plus—meaning 100% of your life and everything you have, your heart, your time, give it all to the Lord and the Lord's work‚ plus ten percent of your income to support your organizational head, plus special offerings. And now, we've added 1% to support your emergency needs and pioneer efforts, and 3% to support your VSs, boards, and local projects.
74. Now I can hear it already, why does WS require the extra 4%?! The 4% was presented to the Family in a worldwide referendum where every CM Home was asked to cast their vote. The FAF 1% was nearly unanimous, and the CP 3% was well over the required 2/3 majority, meaning that by far the vast majority of Homes voted this extra percentage in as a means to provide for additional services such as the Family Aid Fund and its benefits, VS support, local project aid, etc. So though the 4% was initiated by WS and the COs, the Family was asked and the Family agreed and voted it in. That's why we have the 4%!
75. Being in the Family is a privilege, but it costs something to be in it. But that cost is by choice. We are a volunteer effort, and anyone and everyone is welcome to leave whenever they want. Anyone who doesn't want to give the minimum of 14% probably should leave the CM Family; in fact, why are you still around? It's time to gird up the loins of your mind, put your armor on, and head into the battle together unitedly as an army, and if you aren't able to do that, you know where the door is and it's open for you. We don't want you to leave, we love you and need you, but we can't afford to have you if you can't afford to have us. That's the message, it's always been the same; it hasn't changed.
76. So next time the Enemy comes around your way and whispers a financial grudge in your ear, you should know better from years of experience and years of following the Lord.—Or if you're new to the Lord's service and the Family, then please read what I and the Lord have said about it, so you'll have the right foundation of faith underneath you in this area. And maybe you should stop for a moment and ask yourself why you're suddenly being bothered by these financial questions, and ask the Lord about your pocketbook nerve and if it's acting up. (End of message from Dad.)
77. (Mama:) As Dad brought out, we're not bound by the Old Testament way of operating, but we're not bound by the New Testament way of doing things either. We're following the Lord's leading for today, for His Endtime army! The Family has arrived at an economic system that works, simply by following the Lord and the Lord's leading through Dad. Granted, I'm sure each of you feel that your Home could be doing better, and we in WS could certainly use more income to fund the many beneficial projects that are waiting on finances. So we haven't arrived, by any means, and the Lord has given some solutions to the financial difficulties that many Homes are facing, which I'm going to share with you in the next GNs in this series. But the point is, the Lord's system of economics that He has set up for us works, and will work better as we all obey more, give more, and put His solutions into action!
More from Dad
On the Question of Tithing
78. In this next message, Dad goes on to give the scriptural basis for tithing. That's not to say that we're bound by that, as he just finished explaining—we tithe not only because it's in the Bible, but more because it's how the Lord has shown us to live today, and it's a spiritual principle that works! But I think you'll find this next little class from Dad very interesting, and also helpful in explaining tithing to your friends and contacts and those who may ask about it. It also reveals more of the way the Lord looks at finances, and some of the spiritual principles that He judges by.
79. (Dad speaking: ) Some people have been circulating questions about tithing—whether it's scriptural‚ and even if it is‚ if it isn't just an Old Testament practice that doesn't carry over to the New Testament, and why poor little struggling Homes have to give this tithe when they have so many other things they could use these funds for.
80. Now when I say "some people" have been circulating questions, I mean ex-members in this case—and not just ex-members, but enemies who would like to tear down the Family by destroying your faith. So they don't write to Mama and Peter and others of your leadership‚ but they go around sowing their little doubts, murmurs, critical thoughts and skepticisms wherever else they can, in any receptive ear or e–mail box‚ including yours!
81. I don't mind legitimate questions, and neither do Mama or Peter—we welcome them, including those from you who've asked about our financial setup. But the type of questions that are designed to sow doubt and discord and attack the work are an abomination to God and to me. If people have questions, they should ask‚ but they should also ask the right people!
82. If our detractors want to debate about whether our doctrines are scriptural, I'm happy to do so, because it gives me a chance to proclaim the truth and expose their lies! And I would hope that you Family members could do the same thing, after years of Bible study and more than 3,000 Letters at your fingertips, as well as many thousands of other pubs!
83. So let's go over these questions. First of all, is tithing scriptural? Yes‚ it is. And it wasn't just part of the Mosaic Law; it's part of God's original standard, mentioned in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. When Abraham came to Melchizedek, "the priest of the most high God," "he gave him tithes of all" (Gen.14:20). Abraham's grandson Jacob later vowed a vow to the Lord, promising Him that, "of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee" (Gen.28:22).
84. A vow wasn't just some little promise or saying that you'll do something if you can, if it's possible or convenient or not too costly. A vow was a sacred and holy commitment, and if you made one and didn't fulfill it, you could expect God's retribution! So Jacob said, "I will surely give the tenth to Thee"—without fail, without doubt. Jacob was specific about the amount, too—the tenth, or 10 percent. In fact, that's what the Hebrew word translated "tithe" means—the tenth part.
85. Notice too what it says before that, which is a key in understanding the principle of tithing: "Of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth to Thee." Whatever you receive in goods, in income, in blessings, is ultimately from the Lord. The world is His, and you're just His stewards. "The Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psa.24:1). "The cattle upon a thousand hills" are His (Psa.50:10). And if you want to bring it down to the present to include actual money, He also says, "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine‚ saith the Lord of hosts" (Hag.2:8).
86. All that you have and all that you receive are the Lord's anyway, so why shouldn't He ask you to return a measly little ten percent to Him? That's not only God's original standard, that's His minimum.
87. Now, by the time Moses came along, the Jews were pretty rebellious, so the Lord had to repeat Himself to make sure that His people got the point. In Leviticus 27:30 He says‚ "And 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 unto the Lord."
88. In the next book of the law, Numbers‚ He repeats the commandment and explains what the tithe is for: "And‚ behold‚ I have given the children of Levi [full-time workers for the Lord, including the priesthood] all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance‚ for their service [work] which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. The tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit" (Num.18:21, 24).
89. The Levites, the priests and those who devoted themselves to the work of the temple, ministered to the people full-time, and the people were commanded to support them. Well, just as the Levites of old ministered to God's people of old, so Mama, Peter, and World Services minister to you, His people of today, His brides. We'll get into that more a little later, but let's go on to the next book of the law‚ Deuteronomy, where the Lord repeats His commandment and continues to explain the reason for the tithe and its recipients.
90. Deuteronomy 14:22,28,29 says: "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed [all your income], that the field bringeth forth year by year. Thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase And the Levite, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest."
91. Back then folks were generally farmers, so they were commanded to tithe all the increase of their fields, their crops, and to give it to the Lord's representatives, the priests, as well as "the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow." In other words, part of the tithe was also to go to the needy. And if you'll check the pie chart which we publish for you every year, you'll find that's exactly where your tithe goes—to many needy Homes on many mission fields, making it possible for them to stay there and help the truly needy!
92. So that was the Mosaic Law. Did the people obey it? Well, not always, but usually they did‚ as you'll notice in the following verse:
93. "And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil‚ and honey, and of all the increase of the fields; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly" (2Chr.31:5).
94. Why did they obey it? Because God Himself said they would be blessed for doing so, both in the verses I mentioned earlier and in later ones like Proverbs 3:9,10: "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled with plenty‚ and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
95. If you give God what's His, His minimum‚ He gives it back to you and He multiplies it! In fact, He even dares you to test Him along those lines‚ saying: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal.3:10).
96. And if you'll read the two verses before that, you'll find a sober warning about what happens when you don't tithe—you suffer all sorts of judgments and calamities as a result. That sure happened to God's people of old when they didn't tithe, and I'm sure some of you have seen that principle in action too.
97. Those are some verses from the Old Testament on tithing‚ and I think they certainly demonstrate that tithing is scriptural. It wasn't just part of the Mosaic Law and something that passed away when the Law did—it preceded the Law‚ because it was God's standard for His people.
98. Now, let's go on to the New Testament, where tithing isn't really mentioned very much. Do you know why? It's because Jesus expected more. Remember the story of the rich young ruler who came running to Jesus, asking what he needed to do? He'd kept all the commandments, he was faithful with the Mosaic Law, with tithing and all the other commandments, so what did he lack?
99. "And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running‚ and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, 'Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life'? And Jesus said unto him, 'Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother.' And he answered and said unto Him, 'Master, all these have I observed from my youth.' Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, 'One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me'" (Mark 10:17-21).
100. In the New Testament era, Jesus asks 100 percent, "whatever thou hast"—everything you have! "Come, take up the cross, and follow Me!" He doesn't just want your money; He wants your life, your service, your all! "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Mat.22:37-40).
101. He wants you and everything you have in full–time service for Him! If you can't give it for some reason, He still expects your tithe‚ your ten percent. That's the least you can do for Him, returning Him ten percent of what He's given you. But He'd prefer your 100 percent as well as your tithe‚ for which He'll reward you abundantly—a hundredfold! "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands‚ for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Mat.19:29). All this, and Heaven too! Hallelujah!
102. You see‚ whether you give all or not‚ the tithe is still necessary to support the church. Paul explained all this very well when he was speaking to some new Christian believers: "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel" (1Cor.9:7-14).
103. In other words, Paul was reminding them they had an obligation to support him while he preached the Word both to them and to others, and he brought up God's Old Testament plan as a basis for it. And we've followed that same plan throughout our history‚ as have millions of other Christians down throughout history, and it's worked very well. In supporting God's prophets and priests and church with your tithe, you're blessed. For one thing, you get the blessing of God. For another thing, those prophets and priests minister unto you from the "presses which burst forth with New Wine."
104. You Family members have your tithe more than returned to you, as Peter explained earlier in this Letter, and as we've explained in many past Letters. You get over 400 pages of new pubs every month, the HomeArc to research and study the pubs‚ CDs, tapes and videos, new tools to distribute to raise your support, educational materials for your children, services from your boards, answers to questions, and a multitude of services from your offices, LIMs, and production centers, missionary support on needy fields, the benefits of the Family Aid Fund, and the list goes on. Mama and Peter and those in the various offices and units work hard to stretch every possible iota of benefit out of your tithe, and frankly, I'd say you receive more than you give—especially when God's blessings are added on top of it all!
105. Now, what if you don't have much money, if you're struggling financially? Well, I sympathize with you, and I know some of you have a hard time making ends meet, but as I've often explained before, you still need to give your tithe. It's your gift to God, His minimum requirement‚ and if you don't give it, you'll wind up even worse off! But if you do give it‚ you'll be blessed, even if you're practically at the point of death! Remember the story of the widow of Zarephath?
106. "So [Elijah] arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, 'Fetch me, I pray thee‚ a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.' And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, 'Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.' And she said, 'As the Lord thy God liveth‚ I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son‚ that we may eat it‚ and die.' And Elijah said unto her, 'Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.’ And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah" (1Kgs.17:10-16).
107. This dear little widow was getting ready to die, she and her son, but as she gave to the Lord in the form of His prophet, she was saved, sustained, and blessed! God did a miracle for her, even in the midst of famine.
108. And look at the widow in the New Testament who Jesus pointed out as an example. "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living'" (Mark 12:41–44).
109. She gave all that she had, "even all her living." It wasn't much, just two mites, but she gave all she had to God because she loved the Lord, and He took care of her well after that. That's not recorded in the Bible, but that's what really happened, and it's recorded in Heaven. She was blessed and prospered and was never in want again because of her faithfulness, which has served as an example to generations of Christians.
110. If these dear little widows can make such sacrifices, certainly our Homes can do the same. The Lord wouldn't have asked it of them, or of you, unless it was possible. The circumstances may be difficult and the situation may look impossible, but as you're faithful to tithe anyway, God will bless it, and the impossible will become possible. You may not see the answer to the problem yet, but faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb.11:1). If you believe, you'll see.
111. Now I want you to notice something else: The Lord never said you should only give your ten percent if you think it's worth it, or if you're sure that it won't be misused by the priests or the temple. You won't find that in His Word. He just said to give it, because you're ultimately giving it unto Him, and He'll take care of the rest. So you don't need to worry about your tithe funds being misused—that's the Lord's business. And in the Family, I guarantee you they're very well used. As I said, you get more than your money's worth every month just in physical returns here on Earth, not to mention the spiritual rewards and blessings you reap!
112. So what's the bottom line? First, tithing is scriptural. Second, anyone can tithe, no matter how little or how much they have, and they will be blessed in return. He promised, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luk.6:38). You'll reap as you have sown, and if you're faithful to sow your tithe and to send it to His "storehouse," He'll "open the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it!" (Mal.3:10).
113. Prove Him, test Him‚ and see if He won't keep His Word. He's still the same yesterday, today, and forever! "There has not failed one word of all His good promises" (1Kgs.8:56). Hallelujah! (End of message from Dad)
114. (Jesus speaking: ) You in the Family tithe because I asked it of you today, not because I asked it of someone in the past. I have included these examples for your benefit, to show you that it has worked before. But you're not bound to do it just because they did it—you're being asked by Me to do it today! There are many things I've asked you to do which aren't in the Bible at all. This one happens to have Biblical precedent, but don't get stuck on what was or wasn't done in the Bible, because a lot is different today, and I don't require of you half the things that were required of those in the Bible. It's a different era, and the things I ask of you are different in many cases. But tithing is something that I asked of them and I'm also asking of you today, because I know it will work for you. It does work for you, and it not only supports the structure of the Family and makes it possible to get My Word published for you and the world‚ but it also releases special blessings on you, the givers, as you obey. So have faith that it's My will for you today! It is! (End of message from Jesus.)
End of text box.
In Giving, You Receive.
In Withholding‚ You Lack.
115. (Mama: ) Dear Family, when push comes to shove, you'll need to decide for yourselves if you believe Dad's and our approach to Family economics‚ following the counsel the Lord has given us over the years, and if you have the faith that we're doing the right thing. Peter and I aren't trying to explain away some shady business practice, and we're certainly not covering anything up. We have tried to be as open and honest with you as possible regarding the finances.
116. We have full faith in the economic structure that the Lord led Dad to establish, and which they've both confirmed time and again. It's worked for years, and we have no intention of abandoning it. I hope you can see from Peter's talk, as well as the list of benefits you receive and our reports and pie graphs in the GNs, that we're not ripping you off or misusing your money. We in WS are not living in luxury or asking you to sacrifice for our extravagant comfort.
117. Yes, we need your tithes and offerings so the Family can operate. Yes, we do expect you to give a full tithe. Yes, tithing is a requirement for being in the Family, and it will remain so. But we figure that if anyone doesn't believe that what you receive in return in goods, pubs‚ and services is worth your tithe money, then you should probably find another church. We're not trying to pressure you into seeing things our way, but just from a practical angle, we feel that what you receive in return is more than worth the money.
118. On top of that, we are convinced that tithing is one of the ways that you will receive the full blessing of God, while withholding will cause the Lord to withdraw His blessings. We aren't laying a "guilt trip" on you, but we do feel responsible to instruct you in this, not just for WS' sake, so the Family can keep going, but equally for your own sake, so the Lord can bless you.
119. Another reason we are burdened to answer your questions about tithes and offerings is because, as you will read in more detail in the next Letter in this series, "Show Me the Money," if you skimp and fib regarding your tithe, it will sabotage your financial base. I'll talk more about that in a minute, because something came to my attention that made me wonder whether the Family overall has become compromised in the area of tithing fully and honestly. We're at a point in WS where we're having to cut back on some of our regular services, and we're not able to launch many needed initiatives due to lack of money. That's a shame, because the Family has so many needs; there is so much to be done, and it's not the Lord's will for us to be held back and handicapped because of not having sufficient funds.
120. It's not like Peter and I or our co-workers in WS want more money for ourselves or for frivolous‚ less important projects. Genuine needs of the field and the work are suffering from lack of income. But I certainly didn't want to accuse you of not giving your full tithes if that wasn't the case. And there really was no way of knowing for sure, unless we asked the Lord—which we did, as you'll read in the message below. With His confirmation, and some reports and mentions from various individuals and fields that confirmed it, we have good reason to believe that some of you haven't been entirely honest in your tithing. That is serious business‚ as not only will it hurt you, but it's hindering our reaching the lost! (Note: After the COs read an advance copy of this Letter, several concurred that they know of Homes in their area that aren't giving their full tithe.)
121. I pray that now that you've read the Brazil GNs you're more in the fear of the Lord, and perhaps that alone will bring you back to full obedience, including regarding your tithes. It was interesting to note that after just one month of the punishment, the tithes of the Homes in Brazil went up 28.5% over the average tithe of the previous months of 2003. Either the Homes there are now giving over and above, in the form of offerings, or they're giving the tithes that they should have been giving all along, or the Lord is blessing them more abundantly financially because of their obedience. Whatever the case, we know the Lord will bless the Homes in Brazil for their increased giving. We're very thankful, and we're proud of them for their determination to do the right thing. Praise the Lord!
The Connection Between Problems
122. (Jesus speaking: ) The Family's faithfulness with tithing has varied from Home to Home, just as their faithfulness to obey all other areas of the Word has varied. But overall, there has been a drop in conviction‚ a slow, downward slip in faithfulness and full tithing.
123. This should not surprise you‚ because when people become lethargic, dull in spirit, compromised, and distanced from Me, it usually isn't just in one part of their lives or limited to just a certain aspect of their walk with Me, but it's usually across the board in a sweeping effect.
124. The reason for this is that disobedience is usually the result of a lack of fear of Me. When you're walking strongly in fear of Me, you are motivated to obey, your conscience is easily pricked, and you make many, many good decisions each day, the right decisions—decisions of sacrifice‚ of bringing your flesh into subjection, of being the right sample, of denying yourself and putting Me and others first.
125. But when you become dull in the spirit through repeated disobedience, you begin to think that you can get away with it indefinitely. You take on the attitude that all things will continue as they are, that your actions don't really matter or make a difference to the way things go. You lose sight of the big secret of life—that everything good in your life depends on having My blessing‚ and having My blessing depends on your obedience to Me and the Word.
126. When you lose sight of that truth, you lose true wisdom. Then there is only the carnal mind and the blindness and overconfidence that enter your life when you feel that there will never be consequences, that you can do as you please and it will never come back to you in the form of loss, punishment, hardship, problems, sickness‚ accidents, and the many other ways your life can go downhill.
127. Often people don't make the connection between their problems and their wrong decisions, compromises, or disobedience. They think it's somehow just a fluke, or there's no cause-and-effect process in motion. They feel they're in a whirlwind of random events that are not connected or attached to anything they did or brought about. That is ridiculous, but that's the epitome of not feeling accountable, of not taking responsibility for your life and actions.
128. The longer someone is disobedient, the further this problem spreads in their life. The more someone feels they can "get away with" little sins and wrongdoings, the more their heart is set to do evil, because they feel there are no consequences. And pretty soon they sink deeper and deeper into compromise, until they're eventually compromising on things that were previously "untouchables," such as their tithe.
Everything good in your life depends on having My blessing, and having My blessing depends on your obedience to Me and the Word.
129. In earlier years, the Family overall was much more in the fear of Me regarding the tithe, that it was sacrosanct. They were more educated in and accepting of the fact that the tithe belongs to God. They were more knowledgeable of the truth that if they robbed God, they would suffer, things would go wrong, and not just with their finances. Because they were in the fear of Me in this way, they obeyed; they didn't fudge it, or stretch it, or lie regarding their tithes.
130. But now the same compromises and lack of fear of Me that are causing Family members to tone down their convictions in many areas are also deceiving them regarding the giving of tithes and offerings. They don't even realize that they're not giving their full tithes. They've crossed the line or the boundary so many times that now they've become darkened in their understanding and they don't even feel the conviction anymore. They have resisted the conviction of the Spirit for so long that now they're past feeling‚ and the truth has lost its power to change them, to move them to a different pattern of behavior.
131. There was a time in earlier years when many of the brethren who are now not fully tithing would not have considered for a minute doing such a thing; they were much too much in the fear of Me, and they knew that to rob God was a big mistake, a very bad move—not just for their spiritual lives, but also for the well-being of their Home and finances. It just wasn't done.
132. But as I said, the general spirit of compromise, the easygoing‚ do-your–own-thing mentality that has eroded many of the foundation principles of discipleship in the Family, has also worn away the conviction of many about the need to tithe fully and the dangers of not tithing. There has entered into the Family a mocking, critical attitude that has done much to undermine the principle of tithing, which used to be one of the Family's strongest pillars of obedience and faith.
133. This attitude is the natural byproduct of analyzing‚ mulling things over in your natural mind‚ thinking you know better, and voicing those thoughts and opinions, rather than receiving the Word by faith. In that sense, it's the influence of Pan, Arakan, and those who seek to muddy the waters. But any time you choose to think your own thoughts above Mine, you open the door for criticism, folly, mocking, and ungodly attitudes to take over and pervade your thoughts.
134. You should not be surprised that there has been such a shifting of faith in the matter of tithing, as it's an inevitable outgrowth of the general slippage of the standard of discipleship. The brethren can't fall way down in some areas while they soar in others. When compromise enters someone's life or a Home, with time it usually affects almost every aspect of their service to Me.
135. As the Family is strengthened in their discipleship overall, it will naturally improve their conviction and obedience in the area of tithes and offerings. When those who are robbing Me see that their actions don't just slip by, that I am not blind or unaware; when they realize that they are indeed suffering some loss and retribution for their actions, they will repent and return to this cornerstone of the Family economic structure.
136. As the Family continues to be strengthened and to grow in accountability, there will be improvement in all areas. There will be more conviction in every aspect‚ because it's all tied together, it's all related‚ and the root cause for all areas of backsliding is the same—it's a lack of fear of Me. So when the Family comes back to Me, when they are renewed in their fear of Me, then they will fear to disobey.
137. That, too, is part of accountability, having a healthy fear of Me and knowing that you can't get away with sin indefinitely; it will catch up to you. When the Family comes to grips with their sins of robbing God, when they own up to their compromise and lies in this area, they will see the error of their ways and will change right away. It will happen automatically, as it has in Brazil.
138. Just the fact that My Brazilian brides were "caught," that they were punished for their spiritual backsliding, has caused an automatic improvement in their tithing. It's not like Peter had to talk on and on about tithing and robbing God; while he did mention it on the videos, this was a self-correcting problem in their case, because the Family there has been brought back to the fear of Me, and with that comes the fear to disobey. (End of message from Jesus)
139. (Mama:) The Lord is instructing us a lot on this subject of accountability, the concept that we are responsible for the things He has taught us or instructed us about over the years, and He is now holding us accountable for our obedience, or lack of it. By the same token you should then realize that you are building your future today. You are the one who makes things happen in your life—either good things or bad things—according to your decisions and choices. If you're wise, you'll return to the fear of the Lord, which means you'll be afraid to disobey. Not that you need to be afraid of our Husband. He loves you unconditionally, He is slow to anger and has great mercy. He forgives your blunders and mistakes when you ask Him. He's not standing with a big club ready to clobber you when you step out of line.
140. But when there is repeated deliberate disobedience, then He must step in to do something to teach you that that's not the way to go. And your knowing that He will step in, that He will punish you, that as difficult as it is for Him, He will take away some of your blessings in an effort to get you back on track, is a big part of learning to be accountable.
141. This is clearly a theme in the Lord's lessons at this time. I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear about it. We're entering the era of accountability, so please pray desperately that you'll be open to seeing where you've compromised, where you've allowed sin in your life. As you correct the compromises in your walk with the Lord and abandon the disobedience that you've become accustomed to in your life and Home, then we know you'll naturally improve in tithing fully as well.
142. Dear ones, another reason that Peter and I are publishing this GN is because we are praying desperately that WS finances and our worldwide Family finances will improve. There is a tremendous need for more funds if we hope to do everything the Lord is asking of us as a Family. We do need a lot more money, and we pray you'll be convicted to tithe fully, if you haven't been, and also to give offerings. We believe your having these answers from us and Dad and the Lord will help you to overcome any nagging doubts from the Enemy, and that you will begin to give as never before. That's definitely one of the reasons that we are giving you this challenge.
143. Also, however, it's for your own good. We want you to be in a position where the Lord can bless you fully. We want you to feel the Lord's goodness as much as possible in His supply, miracles, unity, protection, health, happiness, open doors‚ fruitfulness, and inspiration. We also want you to see how extremely important it is for you to return to full discipleship, so you can rid your lives and Homes of any compromises and lack of fear of God that could start to permeate everything you do, feel‚ and think unless resisted.
144. Peter and I are praying desperately for you; we're calling on the keys of openness and truth to convict your hearts so you'll get right with the Lord and begin to be cleansed of any ways that you've let the discipleship standard slip in your lives and Homes. Remember, dear friends, that you can't expect to keep those compromises contained to just one area or a few select areas of your life. Eventually it will spread in that "across-the–board sweeping effect" that the Lord talked about, until it overtakes you, and you sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of the Devil's hold.
The keys of the Kingdom have been given to help in all matters, great and small, physical‚ spiritual‚ and financial. So use the keys and see Me supply as never before. As you, My children‚ give unto Me‚ I will give unto you. Call on the keys of the Kingdom and see the miracle-working power of Heaven at your disposal.
145. But that doesn't have to happen! You can be free, your problems can be "self–correcting," if you'll get back to a healthy fear of God which will make you afraid to disobey—not only regarding tithes and offerings, but in every area of your lives!
146. Won't you take time to pray a "whatever it takes" prayer? Ask the Lord to do whatever it takes to get you back to Him without reservation. Give the Lord permission to work in your life as He knows is best. Whatever He has to do will not be nearly as painful as your continuing on in disobedience, making wrong decisions day after day that will eventually come back to haunt you in the form of problems, division, poverty, disillusionment, stagnation, discouragement, and a lot of other bad things.
147. Take control of your future now. Build a good future, a happy life, by doing the right things today—obey the Lord! Use the power of the keys and the new weapons to be all that you can be!
148. We need you, dear Family. We need you strong, spiritually healthy, and full of conviction. We're headed into a wonderful, fruitful time of growth and progress‚ and we want you with us. You can make it! We'll win together! Let's go! Fear God, obey‚ and live!
With much love and faith in you, Mama
A Seed Corn Question
149. P.S. Just as this GN was being worked on, we received a financial question from one of the offices. Someone had written in to ask if they could count the transportation expenses for their witnessing and the cost of the balloons they use in ballooning the same as their "seed corn," meaning they would deduct those expenses from their total income before calculating their tithe. (As you know‚ the witnessing tools you buy from your SC are called "seed corn," and you are not required to tithe on the money you spend for those tools.)
150. Here are excerpts of messages from the Lord received in answer to this question about not tithing transportation and balloon costs.
151. (Jesus speaking: ) The only exception to tithing is on seed corn, and the intent of that exception was for Family witnessing tools, such as videos, tapes‚ CDs, etc. The Family is in the business of getting out the message, the New Wine, and for this New Wine I have allowed an exception. But this exception does not expand to "non–seed" corn or to transportation costs of getting out the message. (End of message.)
You, My Family, and anyone tithing to Me‚ should be looking to see how much you can give to Me, not how little.
152. (Jesus speaking:) "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse"—the Levites, WS—"that there may be meat in My house‚" and then you will get My full blessing. The way to get My full blessing is to give a full blessing and even above that, and by doing so, you will never be able to outgive Me. For I will reward you in ways beyond your means, and I will see that you survive the rough times and come out ahead. The more you give to WS, the Levites, the more I will give to you, and the more you will have and the more you will prosper. It is as simple as that. It's always been that way; it hasn't changed.
153. You do not have to tithe real seed corn—Family witnessing tools—for I have given that exception. My king and queen want to give back to the Family, and I approve of this measure. But the intent of that exception was on Family "seed" corn, not on non-Family tools that do not contain any "seed." You, My Family, and anyone tithing to Me, should be looking to see how much you can give to Me, not how little.
154. I know things get tough on the field sometimes, and it is an act of faith to give, especially when it hurts. I honor that act and count it unto you for righteousness, because it is obedience to Me. And because of your obedience in giving, I will make it up to you in some way that in the end you will see was worth the cost. I am not a cheap God. I do not chintz out on My blessings or on My promises. And My promise is: Give, and it shall be given back to you, pressed down‚ good measure! (End of message.)
For more on tithing, see also:
ML #683‚ "Excommunication," DB7.
ML #702, "The Tithe," DB7.
ML #928, "Tithing and the FN," DB1.
ML #934, "God First‚" DB1.
ML #3049:56-106‚ "Mama's News and Views, Part 2," Lifelines 23.
Treasures, pp 365-366.
The Windows of Heaven!
A dramatization of Malachi 1:6-14; 3:6–12; Nehemiah 10:35-39; 12:44-47; 13:4-13.
(From Treasures‚ pp 764–769)
The sky was dark and gloomy, and turbulent clouds rolled over the dry Judean hills as a man came striding down a rough slope through the tall dry grass, leading a heavily laden donkey behind him. With him was a young lad with a basket in his hand. The man was thin, almost gaunt‚ and he clutched his rough mantle tightly around himself to keep out the wind. As they came around a giant boulder, ahead of them in the darkened valley was a small village. At its edge was a collection of farmhouses huddled together.
In a few moments they arrived at the door of a humble little mud house. A couple of dry trees, their bare branches rattling in the wind, stood in the yard. From inside the house came the sound of voices. Tying his donkey, the man lifted the heavy baskets off its back. Entering the small dwelling, he found a crowd of people dressed in tattered clothing and a young Levite was reading to them from a worn old scroll.
Looking up from his reading, he greeted them: "Malachi! Little Johanan! What a nice surprise! And what is this you have?"
Setting the basket down, Malachi greeted him and answered, "Grain, fruit, dried figs, a side of lamb!—And there's more outside."
"But you already brought your tithe a few weeks ago!" the Levite responded.
"Yes! And this is a freewill offering above that!" Malachi smiled. "We had it to spare and thought you might need it."
"Need it?! My good man!—You're an answer to our prayers!" he exclaimed as he and his young wife went to help bring in the rest of the produce. "Why, you are one of the few families who are faithful to give!"
Outside the house, he whispered gravely to Malachi, "These days, most people give very few freewill gifts!—Let alone faithfully give one-tenth of their goods in a tithe. When the poor, the widows, the orphans and the strangers come to me, I offer them what few crumbs I can, but it's very little. But I can still read to them from God's Word, so they come for that."
Malachi pounded the wall and turned away, shaking his head. "And you're doing such a good job, Eleazar! It's not right that the people don't give to you as they should when you've dedicated your life to serving the Lord and helping others! I mean, are we the Lord's people or are we not? If people truly love Him, why do they not give to His servants as they've been told to?"
"Papa," little Johanan asked, "is everyone supposed to tithe like we do?"
"Yes, they are!" his father answered. "The Lord richly blesses His people, gives them rich harvests and protects them all year round, and He has requested that we, in return‚ give Him a mere one-tenth of all the increase that He has blessed us with.
"The Lord commanded: 'Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase that your fields produce.—A tithe of everything from the land belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord" (Deuteronomy 14:22; Leviticus 27:30).
"If it's God's, then why do we give it to the Levites?" the little lad asked.
"That's how we give it to God‚" Malachi answered, smiling at Eleazar. "Because the Levites are serving God full-time, every day. So the Lord said, 'I give to the Levites all the tithes that the Israelites present to the Lord, in return for the work they do while serving Me!’ (Numbers 18:21‚24). The Lord also said‚ 'Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in the land' (Deuteronomy 12:19). But look at dear Eleazar. He's skinny as a rail. He barely has enough for himself and his wife‚ let alone to give to others!"
"Really ... we manage to ..." Eleazar began to protest humbly.
"Nonsense!" Malachi replied. "How can you keep on serving the Lord if the Lord's people don't help you by giving as they should? We owe it to you! As He said in His Word, 'It is your wages for your work!’ (Numbers 18:21). And you shouldn't be too shy to ask for your wages, should you?"
Eleazar looked intently at Malachi and said, "What a fire and devotion you have for the Lord! One would almost think that you were ... well ... a prophet!"
Malachi laughed, "I'm just a man trying to do good. But tell me, I'm going down to the Temple at Jerusalem. Is there anything I can do for you or get for you there?"
"Why yes, you can!" Eleazar answered. "Would you take my tithe there with you?"
"Certainly! By all means."
They carried the last of the produce inside his house and his wife sorted through it, setting aside one-tenth of everything they had just been given, careful to make sure that they gave the best of everything. They then put it in a small basket on the donkey's back, and Malachi and his son continued down the hills toward Jerusalem.
"Papa, why did they tithe the gift we gave them?" Johanan asked. "They have so little‚ and yet they tithe even that. Why?"
"Because even the servants of God who serve Him full-time are required to tithe" (Numbers 18:25-29), Malachi answered. "So because Eleazar and his wife love the Lord, they faithfully obey and tithe to Him!"
Within a couple of hours they'd arrived in Jerusalem and made their way through the narrow streets to the Temple. Accompanied by his son, Malachi carried the small basket to the storage rooms of the Temple and gave it to the steward; then he walked through the Temple toward the inner court. An aged man with a long white beard met him there.
"My lord, Ezra!" Malachi said reverently. He pulled out a bag of coins from his belt and quietly said, "I have saved up the money as I promised, and here it is: To be dedicated to support the servants of the Lord who work on making copies of His Word."
"Thank you. May God bless you!" the old man replied. "If only more of the Lord's people gave generously as you do! But I'm afraid to say that no copies of the Lord's Word can be made now. Gifts and tithes have been so few that we just can't support the Lord's servants who are needed for this work. Most of our best copiers have gone."
"Gone? Where have they gone to?"
"Most have gone to work on farms to support themselves and have enough to eat," the old man replied (Nehemiah 13:10).
Exasperated, Malachi questioned, "But when Nehemiah was here as Governor of Judah, didn't the people promise that they would faithfully tithe and give gifts to support the Lord's work and His servants?"
Ezra answered, "Not only that‚ but they signed a written statement that they would not neglect to help the Lord's work. But in the years since Nehemiah has been gone, the people have forgotten their promises. In fact, the storerooms are practically empty" (Nehemiah 9:38; 10:28-29, 35-39).
In a tired voice, the ancient patriarch sighed, "And now, if you will excuse me, I am very weary." As Ezra retired to his chamber‚ Malachi strode sadly toward the outer courts of the Temple, his son at his side.
"How can we reproduce the Word of God if people do not support the Lord's workers?" he asked his tiny son.
Thinking a minute, little Johanan said, "Maybe you should remind people to give."
"Maybe I should!" Malachi replied.
Coming to the outer courts where people were milling about, Malachi saw one of the rich nobles of Jerusalem bringing in his tithe. Malachi looked at the produce and knew it could be nowhere near one-tenth of his increase. Looking closer, he could barely believe what he saw. The fruit was the worst of the harvest: Bug-eaten and small.
He saw others leading in cattle and rams to be sacrificed. To his shock he saw that most of the animals being brought in were either blind or crippled or diseased! Instead of offering the best of their herds and produce to the Lord in thankfulness for His blessing‚ people were trying to get by by giving Him their off-scouring and refuse.
Malachi stood there, tears welling up in his eyes. Then suddenly the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him and he leapt up on the Temple steps and cried out‚ "Thus saith the Lord: 'When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them to Me, should I accept them? Try offering them to your Governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept it?" (Malachi 1:8).
Turning toward the rich nobleman‚ Malachi continued‚ "The Lord commanded His people, 'Bring all your tithes so that the Levites, the fatherless and the widows may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands" (Deut.14:28–29). (See also 1Corinthians 16:2.)
"How can I tithe?" a fat merchant complained. "I already have to pay taxes to the government! The 'King's tax' takes up the money I would have given to the Lord!"
"One-tenth of your increase belongs to God!" Malachi shouted. "You owe it to the King of kings, and must pay it even before the 'King's tax'! If you would pay God's tithe first, He would bless you and see to it that you have enough for your tax and plenty left over for yourself!"
A farmer protested‚ "How can I give? The locusts and other pests have eaten the produce of my land and fruit trees! There's barely enough to feed my family! How could I spare to give one-tenth of it to God?"
"Don't you see?" Malachi demanded, "your lack of giving is what brought these problems upon you in the first place! God would bless you and prevent the pests from devouring your crops if you would honor Him and pay Him His tithe!" (Malachi 3:11).
Many of the people were visibly moved at these words, but others were still grumbling among themselves. How easy it would be for them to receive God's blessing, yet by selfishly withholding and not paying God His 10%, they were not only missing God's blessing, but they were robbing Him as well!
Tears streaming down his face, Malachi prophesied, "Thus saith the Lord, 'Will a man rob God?—Yet you do rob Me!'"
"Rob God!?" a devout noblewoman retorted, "how do we rob God?" (Malachi 3:8).
"In tithes and offerings!" the Lord's answer rang out above the crowd. "Do you wonder why your land is under a curse, why you are not as blessed as you could be? It is because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storeroom, that there may be food in My house!" (Malachi 3:9-10).
Then, raising his hands upward to the heavens to where beautiful rays of golden sunlight were streaming down through a break in the dark clouds, Malachi prophesied, "'Test Me in this‚' says the Lord. 'Test Me! Give your tithes and gifts and see if I will not throw open the windows of Heaven and pour out so many blessings upon you that you will not have room enough to contain them!" (Malachi 3:10).
It was a beautiful promise! And several of the people in the crowd were moved to tears and resolved to begin tithing.
It was not long afterwards that Nehemiah‚ the Governor of Judah, returned. Discovering how the Lord's work had suffered in his absence‚ he set the example by tithing himself, then publicly urged the people to do so also and give to help support the servants of the Lord! Then all the people of Judah began giving their tithes faithfully once again, and continued to do so all the days of Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 13:6–12; 12:47).
Copyright © 2003 by The Family
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