8“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. (Mal. 3:8-10)
Do we rob God if we don’t give tithes? This word from God in Malachi was directed to the Jewish people, who, in the old covenant, were obligated to pay tithes to finance the Levites, the priesthood and temple service. But is this a word for us today who live in the new covenant? Do we rob God if we don’t pay tithes today?
Note that the Scripture we just read said that robbing God was not only about paying tithes, but also about offerings. Most people who preach against robbing God based on this word normally only mention tithes, and tend to leave out the offerings, which were to be given in addition to the tithes.
I heard about a preacher in the United States who tried to calculate how many percent of the total income one was obligated to give in the old covenant when not only giving tithes but also all the offerings that were prescribed in the law of Moses. This expert concluded that it would add up to about 33 % of the total income. I don’t know whether this calculation is correct or not, but at least it gives us an idea of how much people were obligated to give under the old covenant.
If correct, this would lead us to the following conclusion: If we preach that not giving tithes is robbing God, but fail to give a total of at least 33 % of our income to God’s work, we are actually robbing God ourselves!
But (thank God) we now live in the new covenant. Today there is no Jewish temple, no Levites, nor Priests to finance as in the old covenant (although we of course have churches, pastors and ministries to support). What’s the deal today? Do we rob God if we don’t pay tithes, and offerings on top of the tithes?
The good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus died on the cross He “paid it all”. He took the punishment for all our guilt and shame. He paid the price for what we did wrong, for what we did not do but should have done, and for what we did do but should not have done. When Jesus poured out His own blood for our sins He also opened a new and living way to God. Heaven is not opened over us because of our tithes or offerings, but because of the finished work of Jesus.
If neglecting to pay tithes in the old covenant one was “cursed with a curse”, but Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law and instead we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him! We cannot steal from God today because the price for God’s blessings has already been paid in full by Jesus! The finished work of Jesus cannot be reversed if we don’t give tithes.
In the new covenant we give what we decide in our hearts, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. If you can’t give 10 % cheerfully it is better that you give 5 % with joy rather than 10 % reluctantly. God looks more at our hearts than the exact percentage. But if you are able to give 20 %, or even more, cheerfully – be my guest!
My point is: Giving is something personal between us and God. We are free. But how we manage our finances is important. Our level of giving is an indication of how important God is to us. So let us prioritize God and His kingdom with our money by giving generously to “every good work”. 10 % can be a good starting point, but it should never be a must. My advice is: Talk to God about it. Bring Jesus into the midst of your finances and then give as you feel led by Him.