Misusing Malachi 3:8-10

Q. On more than one occasion, by more than one spirit filled minister, I have heard the teaching that if we as Christians don’t give 10% of what we get to the Church then we are ‘stealing from God’. The only scripture they offer to support that statement is in Mal.3 where the priests were actually stealing the tithes to use for themselves. I have totally rejected this teaching with my comment; “You’re saying then that Jesus’ sacrifice is not enough, and we must buy our way into Heaven?”

A. Tithing and Salvation are not connected. No matter how much you give you can’t buy your way into heaven, nor is tithing ever presented that way in the Bible.

It seems clear to me that when God said the Israelites were robbing from Him by not bringing the full tithe into the storehouse that’s exactly what He meant (Malachi 3:8-10). It wasn’t that the priests were stealing the tithes, it was that the people weren’t bringing them. Tithing was required by law and by not doing so the people were breaking the law, in effect stealing from God.

But pastors who quote Malachi 3:8-10 in an effort to get more money from their congregations today are misusing the passage. In the Old Testament people tithed out of obedience, but in the New Testament we do it out of gratitude.

Paul said whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously, but we are to decide in our own heart what to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Jesus said with the measure we use in giving to the needs of others it will be measured to us (Luke 6:38). In other words, our generosity toward others will determine His generosity toward us.

We are not under the Law but under Grace. No other group in the history of mankind has been or will be as blessed as we are, and our generosity is one of the ways we can express our gratitude for that.

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