Back to Bethel: Tithes And Offerings (ZT Fomum)
A tithe is 10%. An offering is whatever you give in addition to the 10%. If you belong to a local church, and do not give your tithes, you are bringing a curse upon yourself. When God wages war on your economy, then you are in trouble.
BANKING IN HEAVEN
Today I was meditating from Luke 12. The key thought that came through is this – my key possession is what has already been sent to heaven. It is that which I have already invested into the service of the Lord, coming from my income. That is all that I own. It is in heaven. Whatever is here is exposed. Anything can happen to it.
There are accidents, inflation, etc., which can take it away at any time. With a mighty wind, a house could be brought to nought. Two years ago, the Lord told me that he who invests on earth has lost his capital. Nobody can say that what he has on earth is his own. The Lord told one man,
“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).
I entitled my meditation, “Rich Towards God.” My riches with God consist in what I have already sent to heaven. I understand it very well. I was in Uganda for six years. For most of that time, I taught in the University. My dear wife was also teaching in a High School there. We were allowed to send a third of our salary into an account back home. That is what we did.
For some time things were very calm. Then Idi Amin took over and everything changed. He made sure that no foreigner took money out of Uganda. So there were expatriates who left millions in Uganda. I learnt then, that the only money you have is what you have sent into your bank account at home. What you have in the country where you are an exile does not belong to you. You could be declared undesired and given twenty-four hours to quit.
Cameroon is not home. France is not home. Your country is not home. We are pilgrims here. Heaven is our home. The only money we truly have, is that which has been sent to heaven. What you have with you here does not belong to you. Anything can happen to it, and anything can happen to you. You cannot take it when you are going. You cannot change it into Travellers’ Cheques and say that you will carry it along. You cannot carry it as an International Money Order. You cannot carry it in gold. When the whistle blows, that is all.
HOW MUCH IS IN YOUR HEAVENLY ACCOUNT?
What you invest in the Lord Jesus now, in the cause of the gospel, is converted into the currency of heaven. I want you to be honest to yourself. How much money is in your account in heaven, as your constant investment into the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? How much is there? How much have you put in this year? How much do you invest each month by giving for the gospel? Or, do you invest it here? Are you being wise? Be honest. Let me be repetitive – How much have you sent to heaven this year by investing into the cause of the gospel? That is all that is your money. The rest is not yours. It belongs to thieves, inflation, accidents, etc..
If you are trying to build your kingdom in this world and you do not think about God’s Kingdom, God will put holes into your pockets, so that your kingdom collapses. It will not lead to your blessing. The one who does not give the required ten percent to God is a thief in the church. He has the courage to steal from God. Even the pagans fear God enough. But you have people in the church who are hardened enough to steal from Him. Afterwards they say, “God, bless me.” It is absolute hypocrisy.
TITHES AND OFFERINGS
In Malachi 3: 8-10 we read,
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
A tithe is 10%. An offering is whatever you give in addition to the 10%. 10% is the law. After it, you give according to the willingness of your heart. You give as you want, as a token of your love for the Lord. The tithe is not love for the Lord. It is the law. When it comes to paying a tax, is your opinion sought? The tithe is God’s tax. After the tax, you show that you love Him by adding an offering to the tithe. If you do not give tithes and offerings, you are not serious.
If you belong to a local church, and do not give your tithes, you are bringing a curse upon yourself. Do you expect to be prayed for, when in problems? In the first place, the problems may be there as a result of your refusal to give your tithes. The Bible says, “You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me.” When you steal from God, He sends a curse on you. Before you have repented from robbing God, will any amount of prayer help you?
When God wages war on your economy, then you are in trouble. Your electricity or telephone bills may be increased. There may be more and more illnesses so that your medical bills are increased. You may be two months out of work. Your promotion may be retarded. Your wife or husband may become more extravagant. Thieves may visit you.
GOD IS NOT BANKRUPT
When a man steals from God, he has only stolen from himself. We must understand that we obey the scriptures for our blessing. We disobey the scriptures to our own destruction. God is not the sufferer. How can He suffer? He is immensely rich. All the cattle, all the gold are His. It is the one who gives to Him that receives the blessing. First of all, God says,
“I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit” (Malachi 3: 11).
I have found out that when believers steal from God, they even find that their children turn abnormal. They may go in for the drug and other heart-breaking practices. The parents wanted to break God’s heart, so God breaks their hearts through their children. Do not declare war with God, because you know the Winner already.
I am speaking to those who love the Lord and who beg to give to Him. They beg to give. They count it a privilege to give. To them, it is not burdensome. It is a privilege. They are not manipulating to give the minimum possible. I was in Uganda some time ago and a brother invited me and said, “Brother Zach, this 10%, is it on the gross or on the net of my salary? Is it with the taxes or when the taxes have been cut?” I looked at him and said, “You are very poor. Something is wrong in your heart. You are afraid lest God should have a few shillings more. If God were to calculate similarly in blessing you, where would you be?”
This brother had not learnt to give. Those who give, beg to do so. After they have given, their only cry is that they do not have more to give. If they had more, they would give more. Giving expresses gratitude. It is seeing the lost, and refusing to hold back from them.
THE GIVING OF THE ASSEMBLY
The financial goals of the assembly must be very clear. People will not sacrificially give when they do not know into what they are investing. The leaders of the assembly, must state what they will invest the money of the assembly into, and let the people know. It is impossible to give sacrificially where there is no motivation. There must be very clear and defined motivation, for people to be able to give sacrificially.
The assembly in the city of Yaounde has as goal to invest 75% of her revenue into taking the gospel to the other nations. They have done this for the last two years. They make the financial goal and determine to invest 75% of their income into other lands. The remaining 25% is used to take care of the poor in the assembly, and the practical needs of the assembly. The members of the assembly who give know where their money is going to. It is no secret. It is clear.
I do not know whether we expect God to throw down some money from heaven, so that we use it for the gospel. It has to come through what we earn and invest. The person who waits to give only when he will have a large income will never give. If you have 100 frs and cannot give 10frs to the Lord, then there is a problem in your heart. When you will have 1000frs, you will not be able to give 100frs. The person who can give one franc from 10 francs, will also give 1000 francs and more when he has 10 000 francs. Giving is the overflow of a relationship.
Some years ago, the Lord told my wife and me to increase our giving from 30 to 40%. It was in a prophetic message which the Lord gave me. Then He asked me, “How much of your world’s possessions did I have?” I took a careful look at how much of this world’s possessions the Lord had. Yet He was the Lord of glory.
My wife is a wonderful woman. If I went round the world, I would come back again and choose her. For one thing, when God has told us to do something, she has never said, “No.” Recently in the tract production, there were no funds, and we needed money urgently to produce the tracts. I felt in my spirit that, as the leader, I had to make an extra sacrifice. We had a new carpet that was two weeks old. We sold it. I had brought a brand new suit from the US which I had never worn. I sold it. I also had some new shirts, which I sold. I had bought a handbag for my wife which she had not yet used. I sold it.
From those sales, we had an extra offering for the ministry. In the next two months, we received forty times what we had given to the ministry. I remember our daughter saying, “Is there not more to give?” This is because we had gotten all of them involved in the giving. When the carpet went, one of the elders said, “It is good. Each time when I came to your house and had to remove my shoes, I was bothered. Now there is no bother.” I am not saying people should not have carpets. But ours went away to this brother’s joy.
The Lord asked, “How many of your world’s possessions did I have?” What did He hold back? To what indulgence did He give Himself? Where did He contradict His message? Where did He keep treasures on the earth?
What if somebody should say from hell on that day,
“Because you did not sacrifice, the gospel did not reach me, and that is why I am here. Had you sacrificed, the gospel would have reached me. I would have believed. Had you deprived yourself of some luxury, and invested the money into the gospel enterprise, the gospel would have reached me, and I would not be in hell.” How would you take it? My prayer is, “Lord, teach us the value of a soul.”