“Honor The Lord With Thy Substance”

Question:

“Please explain about the firstfruits offerings and tithe paying.” {2SC10: 8.2.6}

Answer:

Solomon admonishes: “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” (Prov. 3:9.) {2SC10: 9.1.1}

“Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me.” (Ex. 22:29.) {2SC10: 9.1.2}

“And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep;…the firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep shalt thou give Him.” (Deut. 18:3,4.) {2SC10: 9.1.3}

“That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His name there.” (Deut. 26:2.) {2SC10: 9.1.4}

“As it is written in the law:…to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the Lord.” (Neh. 10:34, 35.) {2SC10: 9.1.5}

From these scriptures we are not, however, to draw the erroneous conclusion that all of the firstfruits are demanded by the Lord. God requires only an offering of the first of the firstfruits, as is proved by the fact of the wavesheaf, presented to the Lord before the individual could harvest his crop of firstfruits (Lev. 23:10); that is, besides the tithe, we owe an offering, and should not hold back God’s portion but pay it at once, before we appropriate to ourselves any of our increase. {2SC10: 9.1.6}

“Elders of churches, do your duty. Labor from home to home, that the flock of God shall not be remiss in this great matter, which involves such a blessing or such a curse….Every man who bears the message of truth to our churches, must do his duty by warning, educating, rebuking. Any neglect of duty which is a robbery toward God, means a curse upon the delinquent.” — “Testimonies to Ministers,” pp. 306, 307. {2SC10: 9.1.7}

“Let the church appoint pastors and elders who are devoted to the Lord Jesus, and let these men see that officers are chosen who will attend faithfully to the work of gathering in the tithe. If the pastors show that they are not fitted for their charge, if they fail to set before the church the importance of returning to God His own, if they do not see to it that the officers under them are faithful, and that the tithes are brought in they are in peril. They are neglecting a matter which involves a blessing or a curse to the church. They should be relieved of their responsibility, and other men should be tested and tried. The Lord’s messengers should see that His requirements are faithfully discharged by the members of the church.” — Supplement to “Review and Herald,” Dec. 1, 1866. {2SC10: 9.1.8}

“Those who go forth as ministers have a solemn responsibility evolving upon them which is strangely neglected…There is great need of instruction concerning the obligations and duties to God, especially in regard to paying an honest tithe.” — “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 9, p. 250. {2SC10: 9.2.1}

In harmony with the above urgent command, we as ministers of the Gospel, and as reformers, who must “build the old waste places,…raise up the foundations of many generations, and…be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isa. 58:12), are duty bound, especially for the benefit of those who do not own Sister White’s writings, to quote the following instructions from the “Testimonies for the Church”: {2SC10: 9.2.2}

“God’s requirements come first. We are not doing His will if we consecrate to Him what is left of our income after all our imaginary wants have been supplied. Before any part of our earnings is consumed, we should take out and present to Him that portion which He claims. In the old dispensation, an offering of gratitude was kept continually burning upon the altar, thus showing man’s endless obligation to God. If we have prosperity in our secular business, it is because God blesses us. A part of this income is to be devoted to the poor, and a large portion to be applied to the cause of God. When that which God claims is rendered to Him, the remainder will be sanctified and blessed to our own use. But when a man robs God by withholding that which He requires, His curse rests upon the whole.” (Vol. 4, p. 477.) {2SC10: 9.2.3}

“Paul lays down a rule for giving to God’s cause, and tells us what the result will be both in regard to ourselves and to God. ‘Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.’ ‘This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.’ ‘God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (…Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God,” (Vol. 5, p. 735.) {2SC10: 9.2.4}

“The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the use of the Levites, the tribe that had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary. But this was by no means the limit of the contributions for religious purposes. The tabernacle, as afterward the temple, was erected wholly by free-will offerings; and to provide for necessary repairs, and other expenses, Moses directed that as often as the people were numbered, each should contribute a half shekel for ‘the service of the tabernacle.’ In the time of Nehemiah a contribution was made yearly for this purpose. From time to time, sin-offerings and thank-offerings were brought to God. These were presented in great numbers at the annual feasts. And the most liberal provision was made for the poor.” — “Patriarchs and Prophets,” p. 526. {2SC10: 9.2.5}

“The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one-fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. On condition of their obedience, God made them this promise: ‘I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field….And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts’.” — Id., p. 527. {2SC10: 10.1.1}

“He has given His people a plan for raising sums sufficient to make the enterprise self-sustaining. God’s plan in the tithing system is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. All may take hold of it in faith and courage, for it is divine in its origin. In it are combined simplicity and utility, and it does not require depth of learning to understand and execute it. All may feel that they can act a part in carrying forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and youth may become a treasurer for the Lord, and may be an agent to meet the demands upon the treasury. Says the apostle, ‘Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.’ {2SC10: 10.1.2}

“Great objects are accomplished by this system. If one and all would accept it, each would be made a vigilant and faithful treasurer far God; and there would be no want of means with which to carry forward the great work of sounding the last message of warning to the world. The treasury will be full if all adopt this system, and the contributors will not be left the poorer. Through every investment made, they will become more wedded to the cause of present truth. They will be ‘laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life’.” — Vol. 3, pp. 388, 389. {2SC10: 10.1.3}

“There has been a neglect in the churches of keeping up the plan of systematic benevolence, and the result has been an impoverished treasury and a backslidden church.” — Vol. 3, p. 409. {2SC10: 10.1.4}

“Whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out His plan in systematic benevolence and in gifts and offerings, they have realized the standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed His requirements. When they acknowledged the claims of God, and complied with His requirements, honoring Him with their substance, their barns were filled with plenty. But when they robbed God in tithes and in offerings, they were made to realize that they were not only robbing Him but themselves; for He limited His blessings to them, just in proportion as they limited their offerings to Him.” — Vol. 3, p. 395. {2SC10: 10.1.5}

“Systematic benevolence looks to you as needless; you overlook the fact that it originated with God, whose wisdom is unerring. This plan He ordained to save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry. This system was to cause the burden to rest lightly, yet with due weight, upon all. The salvation of man cost a dear price, even the life of the Lord of glory, which He freely gave to lift man from degradation, and to exalt him to become heir of the world. God has so ordained that man shall aid his fellowman in the great work of redemption.” — Vol. 1, p. 545. {2SC10: 10.2.1}

“Until all shall carry out the plan of systematic benevolence, there will be a failure in coming up to the apostolic rule. Those who minister in word and doctrine should be men of discrimination.” — Vol. 3, p. 411. {2SC10: 10.2.2}

“The poor, by following the rule of the apostle and laying by a small sum every week, help to swell the treasury, and their gifts are wholly acceptable to God; for they make just as great, and even greater, sacrifices than their more wealthy brethren. The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things; and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances.” — Vol. 3, p. 412. {2SC10: 10.2.3}

“There must be an awakening among us as a people upon this matter. There are but few men who feel conscience-stricken if they neglect their duty in beneficence. But few feel remorse of soul because they are daily robbing God….There are many neglected vows and unpaid pledges, and yet how few trouble their minds over the matter; how few feel the guilt of this violation of duty. We must have new and deeper convictions on this subject. The conscience must be aroused, and the matter receive earnest attention; for an account must be rendered to God in the last day, and His claims must be settled.” — Vol. 4, p. 468. {2SC10: 10.2.4}

“Of all our income we should make the first appropriation to God. In the system of beneficence enjoined upon the Jews, they were required either to bring to the Lord the first-fruits of all His gifts, whether in the increase of their flocks or herds, or in the produce of their fields, orchards, or vineyards, or they were to redeem it by substituting an equivalent. How changed the order of things in our day! The Lord’s requirements and claims, if they receive any attention, are left till the last….The majority of professed Christians part with their means with great reluctance. Many of them do not give one-twentieth of their income to God, and many give far less than that; while there is a large class who rob God of the little tithe, and others who will give only the tithe. If all the tithes of our people flowed into the treasury of the Lord as they should, such blessings would be received that gifts and offerings for sacred purposes would be multiplied tenfold, and thus the channel between God and man would be kept open.” — Id., p. 474. {2SC10: 10.2.5}

“Nothing but utter inability to pay can excuse one in neglecting to meet promptly his obligations to the Lord. Indifference in this matter shows that you are in blindness and deception, and are unworthy of the Christian name….Let every one review his past life and see if any unpaid, unredeemed pledges have been neglected, and then make extra exertions to pay the ‘uttermost farthing;’ for we must all meet and abide the final issue of a tribunal where nothing will stand the test but integrity and veracity.” — Id., p. 476. {2SC10: 11.1.1}

“Now God requires, not less, but greater gifts than at any other period of the world. The principle laid down by Christ is that the gifts and offerings should be in proportion to the light and blessings enjoyed. He has said, ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required’.” — Vol. 3, p. 392. {2SC10: 11.1.2}

“Sin offerings, peace offerings, and thank offerings were also required in addition to the tenth of the increase….A promise is here given, that, if all the tithes are brought into the store-house, a blessing from God will be poured upon the obedient….No less than one-third of their income was devoted to sacred and religious purposes.” — Vol. 3, p. 394, 395. {2SC10: 11.1.3}

“When we speak of the tithe as the standard of the Jewish contributions to religious purposes, we do not speak understandingly. The Lord kept His claims paramount, and in almost every article they were reminded of the Giver by being required to make returns to Him. They were required to pay a ransom for their firstborn son, for the firstfruits of their flocks, and for the first gathering of the harvest. They were required to leave the corners of their harvest-fields for the destitute….Then there were the sacrificial offerings, the trespass-offerings, the sin offerings, and the remission of all debts every seventh year. There were also numerous expenses for hospitalities and gifts to the poor, and there were assessments upon their property.” — Vol. 4, p. 467. {2SC10: 11.1.4}

“There are but few who consider the binding claims that God has upon them to make it their first business to meet the necessities of His cause, and let their own desires be served last. There are but few who invest in God’s cause in proportion to their means.” — Vol. 3, p. 398. {2SC10: 11.2.1}

“The Lord will withdraw His blessing where selfish interests are indulged in any phase of the work; but He will put His people in possession of good throughout the whole world, if they will use it for the uplifting of humanity. The experience of apostolic days will come to us when we whole-heartedly accept God’s principle of benevolence, — consent in all things to obey the leadings of His Holy Spirit.” — Vol. 7, p. 146. {2SC10: 11.2.2}

“A flood of light is shining from the word of God, and there must be an awakening to neglected opportunities. When all are faithful in giving back to God His own in tithes and offerings, the way will be opened for the world to hear the message for this time. If the hearts of God’s people were filled with love for Christ; if every church-member were thoroughly imbued with the Spirit of self-sacrifice; if all manifested thorough earnestness, there would be no lack of funds for home or foreign missions. Our resources would be multiplied; a thousand doors of usefulness would be opened, and we should be invited to enter. Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would, ere this, have come to the earth, and the saints would have received their welcome into the city of God.” — Vol. 6, p. 450. {2SC10: 11.2.3}

“All things are ready, but the church is apparently upon the enchanted ground. When they shall arouse, and lay their prayers, their wealth, and all their energies and resources, at the feet of Jesus, the cause of truth will triumph. Angels are amazed that Christians do so little, when such an example has been given them by Jesus, who even withheld not Himself from death, — a shameful death.” — Vol. 4, p. 475. {2SC10: 11.2.4}

“It is time for us to heed the teaching of God’s word. All His injunctions are given for our good, to convert the soul from sin to righteousness. Every convert to the truth should be instructed in regard to the Lord’s requirement for tithes and offerings….Those who are truly converted are called to do a work that requires money and consecration. The obligation that binds us to place our names on the church roll holds us responsible to work for God to the utmost of our ability. He calls for undivided service, for the entire devotion of heart, soul, mind, and strength….This is as true in temporal as in spiritual things. The Lord does not come to this world with gold and silver to advance His work. He supplies men with resources, that by their gifts and offerings they may keep His work advancing. The one purpose above all others for which God’s gifts should be used is the sustaining of workers in the great harvest-field. And if men, and women as well, will become channels of blessing to other souls, the Lord will keep the channels supplied. It is not returning to God His own that makes men poor; it is withholding that tends to poverty.” — Vol. 6, p. 447, 449. {2SC10: 11.2.5}

“Some have been dissatisfied, and have said, ‘I will not longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.’ But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right.” — Vol. 9, p. 249. {2SC10: 12.1.1}

“The last years of probation are fast closing. The great day of the Lord is at hand. We should now make every effort to arouse our people. Let the words of the Lord by the prophet Malachi be brought home to every soul.” — Vol. 6, p. 446. {2SC10: 12.1.2}

“Prayer offered ever so often and ever so earnestly will never be accepted by God in the place of our tithe. Prayer will not pay our debts to God.” — “Messages to Young People,” p. 248. {2SC10: 12.1.3}

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