Sabbath, January 30, 2016
“God has made men His stewards. The property which He has placed in their hands is the means that He has provided for the spread of the gospel. To those who prove themselves faithful stewards He will commit greater trusts. Saith the Lord, ‘Them that honor Me I will honor.’ 1 Samuel 2:30. ‘God loveth a cheerful giver,’ and when His people, with grateful hearts, bring their gifts and offerings to Him, ‘not grudgingly, or of necessity,’ His blessing will attend them, as He has promised. ‘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.’ Malachi 3:10.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 529.
Source of all
1. To whom does the earth and everything in it belong? In His great love and generosity, what privilege has He given to man?
Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
Psalm 24:1; 8:6-8 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein…. 8:6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
“Although now almost wholly in the possession of wicked men, all the world, with its riches and treasures, belongs to God. ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.’ ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of hosts.’ ‘Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof.’ O that Christians might realize more and still more fully that it is their privilege and their duty, while cherishing right principles, to take advantage of every heaven-sent opportunity for advancing God’s kingdom in this world.” –Christian Service, p. 168.
“ ‘He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.’ Acts 17:25. The Lord declares, ‘Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.’ Psalm 50:10. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.’ Haggai 2:8. And it is God who gives men power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525.
The tithe reserved for the Lord’s work
2. From the beginning, what part of His people’s income has God reserved as sacred for Himself? For what purpose was the tithe used in the time of ancient Israel?
Leviticus 27:30, 32 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord…. 32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.
Numbers 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
“In the Hebrew economy one tenth of the income of the people was set apart to support the public worship of God.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525.
“God’s plan in the tithing system is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. All may take hold of it in faith and courage, for it is divine in its origin. In it are combined simplicity and utility, and it does not require depth of learning to understand and execute it. All may feel that they can act a part in carrying forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and youth may become a treasurer for the Lord and may be an agent to meet the demands upon the treasury. Says the apostle: ‘Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 388, 389.
“As an acknowledgment that all things came from Him, the Lord directed that a portion of His bounty should be returned to Him in gifts and offerings to sustain His worship.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525.
The tithing system confirmed
3. How did Jesus and the apostles confirm the principle of returning tithes and offerings to the Lord?
Matthew 23:23 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.
Hebrews 7:1, 2, 4, 8 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all… 4Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils…. 8And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
“In these words Christ again condemns the abuse of sacred obligation. The obligation itself He does not set aside. The tithing system was ordained by God, and it had been observed from the earliest times. Abraham, the father of the faithful, paid tithes of all that he possessed….
“All that God commands is of consequence. Christ recognized the payment of tithes as a duty; but He showed that this could not excuse the neglect of other duties. The Pharisees were very exact in tithing garden herbs, such as mint, anise, and rue; this cost them little, and it gave them a reputation for exactness and sanctity. At the same time their useless restrictions oppressed the people and destroyed respect for the sacred system of God’s own appointing. They occupied men’s minds with trifling distinctions, and turned their attention from essential truths. The weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and truth, were neglected. ‘These,’ Christ said, ‘ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 616, 617.
Support for the gospel ministry
4. What is necessary in the New Testament period to support the preaching of the gospel?
1 Corinthians 9:13, 14 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
2 Corinthians 11:8, 9 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
“The apostle here referred to the Lord’s plan for the maintenance of the priests who ministered in the temple. Those who were set apart to this holy office were supported by their brethren, to whom they ministered spiritual blessings. ‘Verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.’ Hebrews 7:5. The tribe of Levi was chosen by the Lord for the sacred offices pertaining to the temple and the priesthood. Of the priest it was said, ‘The Lord thy God hath chosen him … to stand to minister in the name of the Lord.’ Deuteronomy 18:5. One tenth of all the increase was claimed by the Lord as His own, and to withhold the tithe was regarded by Him as robbery.
“It was to this plan for the support of the ministry that Paul referred when he said, ‘Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ And later, in writing to Timothy, the apostle said, ‘The laborer is worthy of his reward.’ 1 Timothy 5:18.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 336.
First fruits and offerings
5. What is taught in the Scriptures concerning giving to God first fruits and offerings?
Proverbs 3:9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.
Psalm 96:8 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
“Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, ‘Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.’ This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in regard to gifts present a principle that applies also to tithing. ‘Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.’ Parents and children are here included.” –The Adventist Home, p. 389.
“It is God who blesses men with property, and He does this that they may be able to give toward the advancement of His cause. He sends the sunshine and the rain. He causes vegetation to flourish. He gives health and the ability to acquire means. All our blessings come from His bountiful hand. In turn, He would have men and women show their gratitude by returning Him a portion in tithes and offerings–in thank offerings, in freewill offerings, in trespass offerings. Should means flow into the treasury in accordance with this divinely appointed plan–a tenth of all the increase, and liberal offerings–there would be an abundance for the advancement of the Lord’s work.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 75.
Promises of blessings
6. What great blessings are promised to those who faithfully return to the Lord the tithe and offerings? What happened when people joyfully gave their first fruits, tithe, and offerings to the Lord?
Malachi 3:10-12 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. 11And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
“The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. On condition of their obedience God made them this promise: ‘I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field…. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.’ Malachi 3:11.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 527.
7. What is the foundation of the divine principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive? What will happen to those who sow abundantly?
Acts 20:35 I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
2 Corinthians 9:6, 7 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
“Those who realize their dependence upon God will feel that they must be honest with their fellow men, and, above all, they must be honest with God, from whom come all the blessings of life. The evasion of the positive commands of God concerning tithes and offerings is registered in the books of heaven as robbery toward Him.” –Child Guidance, p. 152.
“This is not a request of man; it is one of God’s ordinances, whereby His work may be sustained and carried on in the world. God help us to repent. ‘Return unto Me,’ He says, ‘and I will return unto You.’ Men who have a desire to do their duty, have it all laid down in clear lines in this chapter. No one can excuse himself from paying his tithes and offerings to the Lord.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 307.
God gives continually
8. Following the heavenly principle of giving, what other great gift has the Lord given in addition to life and material goods?
2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
“It should be kept before the young and tender minds that God is constantly giving His blessing to His dependent children, in the sunshine and showers, which cause vegetation to flourish, and the earth to yield her bounties for the service of man. These blessings are not bestowed upon us to encourage our selfish natures, by retaining the treasures of God’s bounty, and fixing our affections on them, but that we may render back to the Giver, gifts and offerings. This is the least expression of gratitude and love that we can return to our benevolent Creator.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 140.
For additional study
2 Chronicles 31:10
“In many cases God tests man with blessings, and if unfaithfulness is manifested in rendering to Him tithes and offerings, His blessing is withdrawn. ‘He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly.’ By the mercies of Christ and the riches of His goodness, and for the honor of truth and religion, we beseech you who are followers of Christ to dedicate yourselves and your property anew to God. In view of the love and compassion of Christ, which brought Him from the royal courts to suffer self-denial, humiliation, and death, let each ask himself the question, ‘How much do I owe my Lord?’ and then let your grateful offerings be in accordance with your appreciation of the great gift of heaven in God’s dear Son.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 484.
“The only means which God has ordained to advance His cause is to bless men with property. He gives them the sunshine and the rain; He causes vegetation to flourish; He gives health, and ability to acquire means. All our blessings come from His bountiful hand. In turn He would have men and women show their gratitude by returning Him a portion in tithes and offerings–in thank offerings, in freewill offerings, in trespass offerings.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 150.