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Much of the national news is devoted to the rollercoaster ride of the “leading economic indicators”—and whether they are moving up or down. Unemployment, inflation, recession, interest rates, bull or bear markets, stocks, housing starts, auto sales, layoffs, hires, available energy, and fuel prices are all household words dominating the news.
What about you? If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you spend a lot of time thinking and talking about money. You probably wrestle with financial difficulties daily. Sometimes you feel that you are winning the battle, only to learn that you are either treading water or falling behind.
Many today find it almost impossible to “get ahead.” For most, the “money struggle” is constant, and the pressure can seem unbearable. Just the stress of these problems can drive away the happiness and peace that everyone seeks but few find.
Yet all of this is unnecessary if you have God’s key to financial prosperity.
Your house belongs to you, right? So does your car, doesn’t it? You bought the clothes on your back with your money, didn’t you? Haven’t you heard yourself say, “I earned my money, it’s mine”? Isn’t it true that “what’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine”? Not so fast!
Certainly we would all agree that before we have fully paid off the things that we have purchased, they are not truly ours. Banks and other lenders hold liens against houses, cars, boats and other expensive things that people buy on credit. Everyone understands this. But have you ever considered whether you really own everything that you think you do? Do you really have title to the things you own “free and clear”?
We must consider whether others could lay claim to what is “ours.”
Most are familiar with the phrase, “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.” Indeed, death is certain. Of course, everyone also recognizes that the government is entitled to a certain percentage of one’s income. Few dispute this, though most seek to get around taxes in as many ways as possible. No one wants to give the government a penny more than “its fair share.” Most feel that less than “its share” would be better.
Have you stopped to consider whether God instructs us to pay taxes? He does! These scriptures prove it. Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…Wherefore you must needs be subject…for conscience sake. For this cause pay you tribute [Greek: taxes or assessment] also…Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due” (Rom. 13:1, 5-7).
Christ was asked if He felt that taxes should be paid—with the question actually directed to Him for the purpose of tempting Him into giving a wrong answer. Notice that those who questioned Him said, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?”
Christ asked to be given a penny for the purpose of illustration. He then answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:14-17). Christ taught that there are things that belong to man’s government and things that belong to God.
We will momentarily address what belongs to God. However, what belongs to the government are taxes! In some countries this includes city, state and federal taxes. Woe to those caught not paying them! Interest, penalties and even prison can be the result for those guilty of tax evasion. In doing this, people have disobeyed not only the laws of the land, but also God’s plain instruction.
So then, taxes are an undisputed fact of life for most people on Earth. The fact that you earned the money you have does not negate the fact that human governments have a prior right to take a certain percentage of it to ensure their own operation. No government can function without tax revenue.
This is one way that what is yours is not always entirely yours.
Despite the fact that governments can legally collect taxes for themselves from the taxpayers of a country, no one would suggest that they own everything else that a taxpayer has. All that is left belongs to the taxpayer—or does it?
Now for a basic question. Look around you and ask yourself: Where do we get the things that we have? Where did they actually come from?
God says, “…for all the earth is Mine” (Ex. 19:5). Have you ever considered this? The Bible also states, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s your God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10:14) and “whatsoever is under the whole heaven is Mine” (Job 41:11).
In the Psalms, King David was inspired to write, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (24:1). Paul recorded the same statement in I Corinthians 10:26.
God says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills…If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof” (Psa. 50:10, 12). Finally, the prophet Haggai said, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of hosts” (2:8).
In a sense, God is saying that all money is His. (Remember, the value of money is generally attached in some way to gold and silver.) God owns absolutely everything there is to own. Human beings are “squatters” on His land and “renters” in homes that belong to Him. This is what these verses say! Make no mistake—what you think is yours is not! Everything that you think you own is actually owned by God. You are merely its temporary custodian.
People may manufacture products from natural resources, which come from the earth, but it is God who makes both the natural resources and the earth in which they are found. Men may own mining or timber rights, but it is ultimately God who owns the mine and created the timber, which grew because of the elements found in the soil of the Earth—which He created and owns!
Any time He wishes, God can take back all that is His. After all, it is His! This includes your income. While you may have “earned it,” God owns it.
We have seen Christ said that, in addition to taxes belonging to Caesar, there are also “things that are God’s”—or things that belong to God. What are these things? We have read that God owns everything. And Christ said, “Render…to God the things that are God’s.” Render means give. Since the heavens and the Earth (or the land on which we live) cannot be “rendered” back to God by human beings, to what is this referring?
We have proven that our entire income (salary, wages, interest earned, investments, bonuses, commissions and any other kind of financial increase) actually belongs to God.
What of a farmer and the produce from his field? What is the process whereby things grow? The farmer does his part—tilling, planting, fertilizing, watering, etc.—but so does God in that He sends rain and sunshine and provides the very soil in which the fruit, vegetables or grains take root and grow.
Who did most of the work? In truth, the farmer did little more than a fraction of the work while God did the greater part. As a matter of fact, the farmer is far more dependent on God’s effort than God is on the farmer’s. Without God’s contributions, the farmer would produce nothing and would not even be alive because no one would be able to produce the food necessary for all human beings to survive.
Think of it this way. You formed a partnership with God—whether you knew it or not—the day you took a chosen profession, job or vocation. You are using materials that belong to God in order to invest, sell, distribute or produce goods or services whereby you can earn a living—you have become a partner with God! There is no other way to view or understand this. Admit to yourself that, without God’s role and help in earning a living, it would be impossible to produce anything! God knows this and has chosen to make a special arrangement with you. His Word describes it.
God lays prior claim to the first 10 percent of everything that people earn as income. This is called the tithe, and it means “tenth.” You may be familiar with the term. To tithe, or to be a tithepayer, means the same as to “tenth” or to be a “tenthpayer.”
The King James Version of the Bible was translated over 400 years ago—in 1611. At that time, the word tithe was commonly used to mean tenth. People have long understood that to tithe is to pay a tenth of one’s income. We will thoroughly explore to whom this tenth was paid in the Old Testament, and to whom it is paid today.
There are small and large points within God’s Law. Some commands carry more weight than others. When speaking of some lesser points within God’s Law, Christ said in Matthew 5:19 that, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Let us now examine an important verse about tithing. Christ said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these [the weightier matters] ought you to have done, and not to leave the other [tithing conscientiously] undone” (Matt. 23:23). God also inspired Luke to record the same account—and to repeat the same command (11:42).
Love, mercy and faith are indeed weighty matters within the overall Law of God. Christ acknowledges this. However, He also explains that tithing should not be something that people “leave undone.” The argument is often raised that tithing is not important—that it is least among God’s laws. This verse does not actually say that it is “least” among God’s commands. Matthew 5:19 merely means that, if it were, it is still required to be kept today by all who value the commands of God!
Any who are learning the truth of God’s tithing laws must pay His tithe—once it is clear where His chosen representatives are working! Tithing is the manner in which He finances the Work His true servants perform. Only after God’s tithe has been paid does God give the rest of one’s income back to the tithepayer. God’s generosity and love for those who are His children is why He gives nine-tenths of what He owns to the one faithful in tithe-paying. In other words, we are not giving God one-tenth of what is ours. God is giving us nine-tenths of what is His!
God created all things (Gen. 1:1). He worked for six days, perfecting every detail of His Creation. He designed, made, maintained and nourished everything He made. This includes not only all the materials and riches in the world, but also all mankind and animals.
Everything you take for granted as yours really belongs to God! But, through His mercy, He has allowed man to use His planet and its resources. He has allowed us to be His stewards, and all will one day give account of how we managed what was not ours—but His! In return, God asks that we be honorable stewards—and not steal from Him. Yet many routinely do.
Notice: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed…for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove Me now…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” (Mal. 3:8-10).
God only asks for 10 percent of what one makes (plus some “offerings”)—and lets you keep the remaining 90 percent, although that still belongs to Him! God challenges skeptics to “prove” His promise of wonderfully blessing the tithepayer.
Some may argue, “But I can’t afford to tithe.”
But God says otherwise. You cannot afford NOT to tithe! God blesses generous givers (Prov. 11:25; 22:9; II Cor. 9:7), and no one else has the power to give as God does. While many seek ways to stretch their income, the most unlikely way is the only method to do so.
By simply giving back to God a small portion of what is actually His, God agrees to bless you more than you can ever hope! (To learn more about God’s guidelines for money management and His promises to you, read our booklet Taking Charge of Your Finances for free.)
Thousands are learning that God’s tithing system WORKS. This system is effective and has been in force for millennia. Let God’s promise work for you today. Do not wait until financial ruin strikes—apply the principles found in this important booklet, turn the tide of debt, take charge of your finances, and find true economic success!