What’s the Use Anyway?

Dear Friends;

May God the Father, and Jesus our Lord be blessed, and may the Lord sanctify you and give you a heart to understand His Will.

Yes, what’s the use of serving God? What’s the use of enduring suffering and injustice for His name, while others seem to have it easy. While others, who do not fear Him, actually prosper?

There is nothing new under the sun, and neither are these questions. Look at what the Jews used to say in the times of Malachi.

Malachi 3:14,15 – “It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping his requirements and walking mournfully before the Lord of Armies? 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.”

Do not fall into that sin. It is a death trap! While many of the Jews were speaking and thinking that way, a few did the opposite…

Malachi 3:16At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another.

And God took notice

Malachi 3:16The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord and had high regard for his name.

Friends; think very carefully about what you are thinking and harboring in your heart. The Lord may seem quiet at times, but He takes notice and listens.

Malachi 3:17 “They will be mine,” says the Lord of Armies, “my own possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.

In His Name. AMEN.

What is my tithe worth? (Part 1 of 4)

Glass of waterLet’s get something out of the way right now: We are not against giving…there is simply no Christian lifestyle without giving. Nevertheless, the question raised in the title of this series regarding our tithe is a legitimate one (please click here to read the introduction to this series). Think about the last time you selected a gift for a loved one. Chances are, one of the major reasons you made that particular choice is the fact that you knew it would be of great value to your loved one. You made that choice because you knew just how much it would please that person. Therefore, when it comes to offering our tithe to God, wouldn’t it be nice to know just how much God values it? Is He always pleased? Is there such a case where we might be better off not tithing at all?

Now, Malachi 3:8-10 is arguably the most cited verse when it comes to speaking of the value of our tithe. But after a meaningful study with a friend, we are now coming to the conclusion that it is probably Jesus Himself, our Lord, who gave the most specific and detailed information we could ever need regarding the practice of tithing.

But first, picture the following: You are “very, very” thirsty; you are dehydrated! Now suppose a loved one, aware of your need, is about to bring you one of the following: 1) A perfectly clean glass filled with truly fresh and cold water, 2) a glass that is somewhat, and perhaps even quite dirty on the outside, but filled with truly fresh and cold water, 3) a perfectly clean glass, but filled with truly filthy sewage water, and 4) nothing, absolutely nothing! What would be your order of preference? Please keep your selection in mind, and we shall return to it later in the series.

In this series, we focus primarily on the context of Matthew 23:23, starting from verse 16 and ending in verse 28. But specifically, we will discuss verses 24 to 28. The reason for looking at the context is two-fold. First, it is to highlight what we believe are further evidences that verse 23 was translated incorrectly, as we concluded in the primer to this series. Essentially based on our study, we believe that in the conclusion of that verse, Jesus was simply emphasizing that the scribes and Pharisees should not be neglecting the weightier matters of the Law. We do not believe, as opposed to what most English translations imply, that Jesus stated “…and make sure you tithe” as well, although it is understood that tithing was part of the Law. Second, it is to lay our reasoning for believing that there is such thing as an abominable tithe, and that Jesus Himself spoke of it. This discussion will touch upon both aspects simultaneously.

Matthew 23:23 [KJV] – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Verses 24 to 27 of Matthew 23 are – without a doubt – figures of speech. And we believe our Lord stated them to emphasize what He said in verse 23, by giving very graphic and vivid imageries pertaining to the seriousness of what He was accusing the scribes and the Pharisees of: That while they were strictly observing the practice of tithing, they were neglecting the weightier matters of the Law. Frankly, just by reading verse 23, I could not determine just how much heavier (i.e. more important) the other matters of the Law are. Was Jesus speaking of a 50 lbs. versus 75 lbs. type of relationship or was He speaking of 1 lb. versus 10,000 lbs. type of scenario? Well, no need to guess, as He answers us very clearly in the next verse.

Tithe Worth_part 1

Measuring the scale of uncleanness

In verse 24, Jesus states:

Matthew 23:24 – Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

This verse provides a scale ranging from a gnat (a type of mosquito) to a camel. The gnat was essentially the smallest unclean animal while the camel was one – if not the – largest unclean animal (Hey, I got this last piece of information from the Amplified Bible:)). Now, no one can literally swallow a camel, so

obviously, it is a figure of speech (a metaphor?). And we can definitely agree that this is very disturbing imagery! According to Jesus, their religious and meticulous observance of the practice of tithing was equivalent of them purifying themselves of the smallest unclean thing that existed…a mosquito. On the other hand, them neglecting the weightier matters of the Law was equivalent to them “swallowing” an entire camel, the largest unclean animal! Could our Lord be more graphic? This is not a 50 lbs. versus 75 lbs. type of scenario…it is a 1 ounce to a million pound type of case Jesus was speaking of. Next to a camel, you can’t really see a mosquito…so small and insignificant it is. By giving this imagery, our Lord was showing to the scribes and the Pharisees just how far off they were in their thinking and behavior!

This verse alone should give all of us “serious” pause as to how we – each of us – perceive our own tithing! Do we see our tithing the same way our Lord does? How does our diligence to observe the weightier  (now we know how truly heavier) matters of the Law  judgment mercy and faith  compare to our diligence toward tithing? Do we perhaps, as the scribes and Pharisees of old, have a false sense of confidence in our spiritual standing, or do we see ourselves to be much better than they ever were? Our Lord Jesus tells us plainly that there are matters that are far, far, far more important in our Father’s eyes. Do we see those matters the same way our Father sees them? Perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider how we measure our Christian walk. To God be the Glory…majesty without end!

What is my tithe worth? (An Introduction)

Balance scaleThis is the introduction to a short series on the subject of tithing. Now, just by the title, some of you may already be thinking… “enough of this subject already”! But please bear with us for a moment. Yes, it is a widely debated topic in the Christian community and it is a very sensitive one too. And indeed, we were very mindful of and sensitive to these realities as we approached this topic. Undoubtedly the one question most debates attempt to answer is whether or not we should be tithing today, and there are – readily available – plenty of views on the subject and well documented research to support each of them.

Therefore, the obvious question is…why writing another series on the subject if so much is already available? Our hope is that the perspective we adopted in this series will increase to some extent our knowledge on the subject. It did for us, but ultimately you will be the judge. We believe that the perspective we adopted here may differentiate itself from many of the good discussions on two fronts: First, it approaches the subject by focusing “exclusively” on what our Lord Jesus-Christ Himself said about it.  For instance, Malachi 3:8-10 – a hall of fame passage of scriptures on the subject – has not been used. Second, this perspective led us to the potentially controversial conclusion that the debate over “whether or not we should be tithing” is the wrong debate to begin with.

NOTE: Please note that this series states “our” belief, a belief we reached based on what we studied. It is not a guarantee for the truth, and we encourage you to challenge this view we are about to present. Therefore, although the language in the article is very assertive, it is only an assertion of our belief, not of the truth. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to do your own study and tell us whether you reach a different conclusion.

But before delving into the four articles which make up this series, we saw it fit to state right away – in no particular order – some of the main conclusions we have reached in this study. The first is that Jesus-Christ is arguably the One who gave the largest and most specific details on the subject. This was a surprise to us. The second is that we strongly believe that Jesus-Christ has been misquoted in most English translations both in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. However, the implications – which we believe are very severe as we shall illustrate – may not be that obvious from a simple casual reading of those passages. We did touch upon this translation issue in our previous article, and here we are bringing what we believe are further evidence which support this claim. The third is that tithing is – from a spiritual perspective – absolutely nowhere as important as most of us may have been led to believe. Tithing is actually an icing on a cake, but it is “never” the cake itself. The fourth is that a logical deduction from the third conclusion is that to focus on the question of whether or not we should be tithing today is to focus on the wrong question. The fifth is that it follows from this previous point that a significantly more important question is whether it is good to tithe. And to that question – it may surprise some – we came to the conclusion that the answer is…it depends! And it turns out that our Lord Himself is very clear regarding why the answer is…it depends!. Lastly, we also concluded that there is such a thing as a tithe that is truly abominable; the kind of tithe that one would be better off not giving at all. And we believe that because of a lack of proper education on the subject, we offer such despicable tithe more often than we would dare to imagine.

As a last note, we would recommend that you read our previous articles on the subject (if you have not done so), which were written to serve as primers to this series: “Five facts about tithing…and Jesus!” And “Tithing: When we misquote our Lord Jesus-Christ”. Ok…ready? Please click here for Part 1.