“A MAGIC FORMULA FOR PORPSERITY” IS THE 4TH lesson in a 9-part teaching series entitled “A Pastor Rebukes a Non-Tither.” This series is inspired by a letter a pastor wrote to his church member (one of our YouTube subscribers). In each lesson we address a point and/or argument the pastor makes for explaining why he believes Christians should tithe.
In this lesson, we examine the idea of the tithe as a magic formula and explore whether the tithe is THE way God’s people receive blessings.
Here is the exact quote from the pastor’s letter:
“It is not a magic formula. It is a principle that God has enacted as a way to teach His people to receive the benefits of His blessings.”
Let’s take a closer look at this statement and break it down from a biblical perspective.
A Magic Formula
The pastor is correct in stating that the tithe “is not a magic formula.” However, some preachers promote tithing in a way that makes it seem like it is a magic formula for obtaining health, wealth and prosperity.
Magic is defined as “the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or forces of nature (dictionary.reference.com).”
As this definition of magic relates to tithing Christians are being led to believe that their so-called tithe will MOVE God to act on their behalf. This is magic dressed up as Christianity, and it does not work. If tithing really was a magic formula then tithers would be the healthiest and most prosperous folk on the planet, but this, of course, is not the case. In fact those with the least amount of money tithe the most.
So, the pastor is right on point about tithing not being a magic formula.
Is Tithing a Principle?
The pastor states that the tithe “is a principle that God has enacted as a way to teach His people to receive the benefits of His blessings.”
First, tithing is not a principle per se. Biblical tithing is a religious ritual; a ceremonial practice. However, there is a principle behind biblical tithing. The primary principle behind the practice of biblical tithing was to revere God.
Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always (Deuteronomy 14:23, NIV).
We see that God chose the practice of tithing as way for ancient Israel to demonstrate the principle of reverence. In this instance reverence for God is the principle and tithing is how ancient Israel was instructed to practice that principle.
Who was God Teaching?
The pastor emphasizes that God enacted tithing “to teach His people.” Here we must identify the people. The most common mistake Christians make with the Bible is that they think everything in the scriptures pertains to them. But this is not the case. The Bible makes it clear that you must rightly divide the word of truth.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV).
The NIV states “correctly handles the word of truth.” If we apply this wisdom to our understanding of the Bible then correctly handling the Bible involves placing scripture in the proper context. As stated in the previous section, God was teaching ancient Israel the importance of reverence, and God required that they tithe as a way of doing that.
God was not addressing Christians in any way. It is through the Mosaic Law that God dealt with His people; His people being ancient Israel. The Mosaic Law is described as a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24).
Who was being schooled through the Law?
The pastor is correct in that the God was teaching His people. But in this instance, it is not Christians who were being taught.
Receiving God’s Blessings
Finally, the pastor suggests that tithing is the way that God’s people receive blessings. Part of the tithing hoax within the Christian church is that tithing produces blessings. But scripture is clear that tithing alone does not result in blessings. The tithe became a commandment under the Mosaic Law. Under the Law ancient Israel had to follow ALL the commandments of the Law to receive God’s blessings.
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: (Deuteronomy 28: 1-2, NIV).
Verses 3 – 14 lists all the blessings the Lord promised ancient Israel if it kept ALL the commandments, not just the tithe commandment. Even if Christians were required to tithe, as a Christian you would not only have to tithe according to the Mosaic Law but also follow all 613 commandments of the Law.
Under the Mosaic Law (Old Covenant) tithing alone will NOT yield blessings.