By Evan Pyle


Have you ever noticed that many Christians who have not yet submitted their lives to God's will try to solve their problems by becoming more "spiritual"? We love to hide our carnal thinking behind lots of religious-sounding talk. But faith doesn't waste its time with fancy talk. Faith acts. This other, so-called faith loves to talk-talk-talk, but fails to act in submission to God's word. My goal for this study is to strip away some of the fancy reasoning and excuses surrounding tithing, replacing it with God's practical and simple solution.

I believe we have underestimated the true value of money. Does that surprise you? Most people would say that we have far overestimated the value of money. Many Christians are uncomfortable giving their attention to money, thinking it carnal and unspiritual. But stop and think about it: money represents, in a very real way, our time, efforts, talents, education, and even our family heritage. How is this so? We earn money by investing time in our work. Some work is possible only because of our education. Faithful application of our talent and energy has a bearing on our success. Money, property, skills or a business may have come to us from our family or by inheritance. So you see, money does represent much of who we are. Because we have underestimated its true value, we have failed to take money matters as seriously as we ought. It is critically important to handle our finances in line with God's will.

Matthew 6:24:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Mammon means, literally, wealth or profit. But in the context Jesus is using this word to describe an evil force that grips men and keeps them from serving God. Its effects are easy to see in the world, with so many people in financial bondage, whether in debt or devoting energy that belongs to the Lord to the acquisition of material things. As Christians who desire to please God, we must acknowledge the claim of either God or mammon on our lives.

Colossians 3:5, emphasis added:
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Matthew tells us to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." When we do, "all these things will be added" to us (Matt. 6:33). This means that when we have acknowledged God and not mammon as the one we love and serve - when we put God first - then our material need will be met.

When we are pursuing material things, something will always be out of reach. But when we seek God, these other things will, in effect, pursue us. The biblical solution is to put God first in our finances. When we fail to acknowledge God first in our finances, we begin treating his claims on our lives as secondary and our giving becomes more like tipping a waiter or a valet.

Proverbs 3:9:
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

When we step out in faith to truly honor God with our first fruits we are putting "wheels" (visible proof) to our profession that we seek the kingdom of God first. As we practice this biblical precept the rule of mammon over our lives is broken.


In order to understand how it is that Jesus is our high priest today, we need to go back and examine that mysterious Bible figure, Melchizedek.

Genesis 14:17-18:
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

Two people went out to meet Abraham after his victorious battle against an alliance of local kings. Both of these men made Abraham a specific offer. Melchizedek offered bread and wine, an obvious picture of the coming Messiah and the redemption that faith in his blood brings to lost mankind. The king of Sodom, on the other hand, offered the spoils of battle to Abraham. Like Abraham, God's children today face the choice between the riches of Christ and the allure of the world's goods. Abraham rejected Sodom's offer in the strongest of terms.

Genesis 14:23:
That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

Notice that Melchizedek first delivered a blessing to Abraham; then Abraham responded by giving Melchizedek tithes of all.

Genesis 14:19-20:
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

"Tithe" simply means a tenth. Today, we would say 10%. I have heard the reasoning that the tithe is no longer valid in this age of grace, because Jesus fulfilled the law and we are no longer under the law. While it is true that we are no longer under the law, the tithe was before, and therefore remains after, the law. The law of Moses came 400-plus years after Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. So the tithe is valid today in this age of grace, though it is not a rule of law we are commanded to follow. It is a principle of life practiced by those who put God first in their finances.

Besides carrying the bread and wine as a picture of Messiah, Melchizedek was himself a picture of Christ to come. He was priest of the most high God, yet did not descend from the priestly line which comes from Aaron, who came centuries later. Jesus was called a high priest after Melchizedek, thus fulfilling the prophecies concerning himself as the high priest of God, though he did not count Aaron in his human genealogy (Heb. 6:20-7:28). Just as Melchizedek first blessed Abraham, the Lord first blesses us. When we give of our tithes and offerings, we are responding to God's blessing, just as Abraham responded to Melchizedek's blessing with a tithe of all. Never do we "give to get." We do not give expecting God to respond to us. This is a grievous error that has crept in to the church. God has acted first in all things through Christ. Our Christian life is a response to what Jesus has done for us by sacrificing his life for our salvation.

Acts 3:26:
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

1 John 4:19:
We love him, because he first loved us.

According to God's instruction to Moses, the priests came from the tribe of Levi, not from the tribe of Judah, from which Jesus (on Mary's side) descended. God commanded the Levites to receive tithes from the rest of the tribes of Israel. Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through his grandfather Abraham.

Hebrews 7:9-10:
And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

This proves that Melchizedek was of a greater priesthood, which priesthood is Jesus Christ, in whom the Father summed up all things in heaven and on earth. While Israel paid its tithe to Levi, the church pays her tithe to the great high priest, Jesus the son of God. I know it appears we are merely giving money to this church or that ministry, but in the spiritual reality we are tithing to our high priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).

When we set aside and offer our first tenth to Jesus, we honor him and acknowledge him as our high priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and is able to comfort us in all our afflictions. We acknowledge that he has offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins, and receives our sacrifices to him.

Hebrews 13:15-16:
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

To "communicate," in Bible language, means to give tithes and offerings. I have often been at church services where the pastor said, "Let us now worship the Lord with our tithes and offerings." In my darker, irreligious past, I used to scoff at this as so much drivel. I thought, "What are you going to do, toss the money into the air and hope God grabs it?" God forgive my irreverence! I didn't understand Jesus' role as my high priest. I had trivialized the importance of money. I didn't realize that when you give your money, you are giving your self. To offer yourself to God is worship and is well pleasing to him.

Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Under the law, the people brought sacrifices to the temple. This was how they worshipped God. Today, we present our sacrifice, a living sacrifice, to the Lord. According to Romans, we present our bodies, meaning everything we are. And remember, who we are, in many ways, is represented by money. Our offering is holy to the Lord because it represents who we are; it represents a living sacrifice.

Our giving brings glory to the Lord:

Psalm 96:8-9:
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Another amazing fact of our financial giving is that God keeps a record. We have erroneously thought that money is somehow beneath the Creator of heaven and earth. Surely he has more important things to mind. Yet Numbers 7 gives an exact accounting of what each person gave toward the building of the tabernacle. God is economical in his word. Why was it important to him to use such a large chapter to record these details? The record is given because it is important to God. Do you know that Jesus paid attention to what people gave in tithes and offerings?

Mark 12:41-44:
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.
42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
43 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:
44 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.

Jesus' ministry on earth lasted but a few short years. It is tempting to think of him frantically running around in an attempt to fulfill all the prophecies concerning him. Yet, here in Mark, we find Jesus sitting in the temple and simply observing people as they cast money into the offering plate. I imagine the Lord leaning against the wall in an inconspicuous spot and just watching. Jesus understands the true value of money and watches what we are doing with ours.

Another fact concerning tithes and offerings is that they prove God and test our faith and faithfulness.

Malachi 3:10:
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.

Have we really proved God in our giving? Not only will God prove himself faithful in all things, but we will prove to ourselves that mammon is not our god. We prove that we are indeed seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The spiritual things of the Book are practical, aren't they?


2 Corinthians 8:7, emphasis added:
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

The grace Paul is speaking of here is financial giving. Don't you find it interesting that giving is called a grace? The word grace appears in this chapter seven times, always referring to financial giving. Verse nine explains the grace of giving that comes to all who believe through Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:9:
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

As part of the divine exchange, Jesus broke the poverty curse that came through the law.

Deuteronomy 28:15, 31, 33, 38:
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway.

38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

Since not one person fully kept the law, this poverty curse passed upon all. Jesus broke this curse by fulfilling the law. He then exchanged his nature for ours. He took our sins and gave us his righteousness. Jesus was rich, but he became poor in order that we, through his grace, though being poor might be made rich with his riches. Jesus exhausted the poverty curse of the broken law so that in return, through grace, we might receive the wealth of the kingdom of God. I long for, and hunger after, this grace in my life. But how is this grace received? Grace is received through faith alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Walking in obedience to God's word by faithful giving of tithes and offerings can be evidence of faith in God's promise, or it can be a religious exercise carried out to keep us "right" with God. Worse yet, giving is too often done so God will bless us financially. We have all heard this type of teaching in the so-called "prosperity gospel." This kind of thinking conflicts with biblical truth. The principle of tithing, first seen with Abraham and Melchizedek, shows the high priest (a picture of Jesus, our high priest) first blessing Abraham (a picture of the believer) and then Abraham (that's us) responding with the tithe. God does not owe us a blessing when we give our tithes and offerings. God will be indebted to no man. He is the first cause of all things and is not in the business of responding to people who "push the right button," so to speak. When we give rightly, we are responding to God, who blessed us first. In much of the prosperity gospel, God is reduced to a set of principles which, when properly "operated," produces the desired results. When people fail to get the expected results they blame God when they should be blaming themselves.

James 4:3:
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

The prosperity that Jesus brought us by his grace is the wealth of the kingdom of God: his righteousness, wisdom, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). The law's standard was give or be cursed. Jesus' standard is give and you shall receive. "Give and it shall be given unto you," says Jesus in Luke 6:38. The Holy Spirit's standard in the age of grace is "all sufficiency in all things" so we can "abound to every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8).

The standard of grace is always a higher standard and it requires more of us than tithes and offerings. It demands self-sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5, emphasis added:
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

The higher standard demanded by grace is to first give ourselves. It is self-sacrifice, a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Though some may have pictured the Christian life in the age of grace as "easy street," it is not true. God is requiring something greater than our tithes and offerings. He wants us: heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing exists for which he has not made provision, and nothing exists for which he does not accept responsibility. But we must meet the Lord on his terms, not ours. This is not "let's make a deal." His requirement is nothing less than a living sacrifice.

Some would say that Paul, with his impeccable background and first-class education, had a lot to lose by converting to Christianity. But Paul correctly estimated the value of his background and education in comparison to the life of Christ. In Philippians, Paul says that he counted them as dung compared to Christ. When we correctly value Jesus' sacrifice for us compared to all that is valued by the world, we will begin to grasp the fullness of God's provision and begin to walk in faith. It is time to quit having a foot in both realms. It is time to acknowledge the claims of either God or mammon on our lives and live accordingly.

Christians are to abound in this grace.

2 Corinthians 8:7:
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

Financial giving with the right motives demonstrates our love. It is proof that we love in action as well as in words. When we give, it is no longer the talk of love on our lips, but the action of love from our substance.

2 Corinthians 8:24:
Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

1 John 3:16-20:
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

Do you see the truth expressed here? Have you ever felt condemned, wondering whether you are accepted with God? The Bible says that when we love in deed and in truth we assure our hearts before God. We know we are of the truth and God shows us that we are not condemned. Our generosity sets our heart at ease and gives us that good feeling of being in God's love. In this sense, the sense of love, God does respond to our giving, for God loves a cheerful giver. I want to be loved of God in this grace of giving.

2 Corinthians 9:7:
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.


o Sow wisely. Don't cast your pearls before swine. To grow, seed needs good soil. It needs care and cultivation. Give to churches and ministries that are offering the unadulterated bread of life. If the work is of Jesus, the true vine, the work will bear Jesus' kind of fruit. The work will be scriptural, not merely religious or man-pleasing.

o Sow bountifully. Give from your abundance. (2 Cor. 9:6)

o Give where finances are stewarded responsibly.

o Give prayerfully.

o Never give in to emotional appeals for money or pressure tactics of any kind. This is always wrong. Anybody employing these tactics should not receive a penny of our gifts.

o Give in proportion to your faith, not beyond your faith.


Though religion has done much to confuse the subject of tithes and offerings, the Bible remains clear. With a biblical and spiritual perspective to guide our giving we can operate at a higher level than "giving to get." At its best, our financial giving is worship and the kind of self-sacrifice with which God is well-pleased. It gives proof to our love, demonstrating that our love goes beyond words by loving in deed and in truth. I challenge you to walk fully in this grace of giving.



From the June 2009 issue of The Vine & Branches