TO THE POOR OR TO THE LORD?
Who should I give my tithe to, to the poor or to the lord? This is one of the major talking points with the recent new wave of teachings on tithing. And I am trying to find which scripture exactly supports that. I know of the scripture in Nehemiah 10:37-38 which says,
‘to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.
For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.’
Here it is implied that a tenth of the tithes should be brought to the lord so that the house of the lord will not be neglected, but what I haven’t found so far is where the remaining 90% should be administered to the poor. However, I love that scripture that says whatever you give to the poor you lend to the lord!
‘He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.’ (proverbs 19:17)
Now lending to the lord is good business, because whatever you learn is paid back in multiple folds. Every seed returns in a multiplied form and not in its original form. There is another scripture in Proverbs 14:31 that equates oppressing the poor as the same as reproaching the lord.
‘He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honours Him has mercy on the needy.’ (Proverbs 14:31)
In other words, one way to prove that we honour the lord is by showing mercy to the needy. How else do we show mercy to the needy other than by giving? Giving to the poor definitely is one of the ways of giving to the lord! And really it is the same heavily criticised prosperity gospel that brought the church to the awareness of ‘sowing this seed into your life’. It is this same move of God that opened our eyes to the blessings of giving to the poor, the less privilege among the brethren. Yes it has been practised a little here and there but the charismatic prosperity gospel brought this message to the fore and to the consciousness of the church! There is blessing in giving to the poor, and anyone who hasn’t subscribed to that covenant term should start doing now! This scripture should encourage you.
‘Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard.’(Proverbs 21:13).
Shutting our ears to the needs of the poor amounts to shutting out our financial destiny. In the days of needing help, it is the help that we render to others that will speak for us!
Having said that it is still good to note that when the first man gave his tithe, it was not to the poor it was to the lord!
‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.’ (Genesis 14:18-20)
We know Melchizedek is not poor because he brought bread and wine and was classified as a king.
Hebrews 7:1-17 gives us the new testament implication of this transaction that Melchizedek was a type of the real lord to come, the real High Priest, Jesus. And so whatsoever Abraham gave was to the lord. In verse 8 of this book the bible states that though mortal men, priests, may receive the tithes on behalf of God, but ultimately the tithe is received by God!
Leviticus 27:30, ‘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.’
I can give to the poor, but majorly our tithes are to the lord.
The poor vs the Lord has always been a hot topic, even from the time of Jesus. And the ones who brought up this topic of giving to the lord and giving to the poor, interestingly are his own disciples. So, it is not new that this debate is been championed by people from within the fold and not outside. Now let’s read Matthew 26:7-13
‘There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, to what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.’
Between giving to the poor and giving to the lord, the woman chooses the latter, giving to the lord. And Jesus said what she has done will be talked about forever wherever the gospel is preached, like it is now. Jesus is not here, but his body is here: his church! There is nothing wrong in giving my tithes to the lord, to his church, to the needy, to the poor, to the pastor, and to whatever cause I am so led of God to give to. What is wrong however is creating the impression that giving to the church is wrong or giving to the poor is the only way. After all, when the first man who gave tithe gave he gave by revelation of the lord and not by regulation of the law! No law was regulating the tithe, he gave as inspired by the lord, to the high priest, and ultimately to the lord.
Thank God for the regulation of the law, but now I am under grace. Like it was rightly argued, the tithe is under the law, it should be discarded. We are now under grace, we should not give the tithe! However, we should give much more 20%, 30%, 50%, 70% and as much as we have the capacity to give and has been revealed to our heart. We should give to the lord through his church, which is his body on the earth now, to his servants the priests, and to his people, the less privilege and to other ministries, causes, places and people as revealed to our hearts by the Lord.