What should we be doing in times of economic uncertainty? When jobs are scarce and savings are being depleted, what does Scripture recommend as the foundation of true financial security? The answer may surprise you—but God promises that His way works!
Much of the world is now suffering from the greatest financial recession since the Great Depression of 1929–39. Millions of people in the United States, Canada and Britain are unemployed. New jobs are very hard to come by. The financial picture certainly looks bleak.
Where are we headed? And what is the only genuine solution for our peoples—and for you, personally, in the years just ahead? Frankly, if we look only at the "around"—the physical circumstances and financial indicators surrounding us—we will be missing the point. For these financial trials and tests are part of a Big Picture—part of the ongoing purpose being worked out by the Creator. As Sir Winston Churchill told a joint session of the U.S. Congress on December 26, 1941, "I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants." Yet, although his words imply a Supreme Power in charge of this working out, Sir Winston himself was not called to understand the very purpose to which he was referring.
We certainly hope that you who are reading this article are!
For if you have proved to yourself that a real God—a supreme personal God with total power and intelligence—truly exists, then you can begin to understand. And if you have proved to yourself that the Holy Bible really is inspired by that great God, then read on! For the God of the Bible clearly shows that if His own people turn away from Him, they will suffer physically and financially as well. We have explained this many times in Tomorrow's World magazine. For the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the U.S. and the British-descended nations are definitely part of the "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel. And so, the inspired word of God clearly prophesied that when these nations would turn away from God "in the latter days," they would suffer enormous punishments. The great wealth that God gave them would be taken away. Individually, these once-blessed peoples would be brought down and greatly humbled in a powerful way they never before experienced.
In an inspired warning to our forefathers—which certainly has a dual application and so does apply to us today—God stated, "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: 'Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks'" (Deuteronomy 28:15–18). This prophecy obviously involves national and individual catastrophe on the peoples who forsake obedience to their Creator!
Later in this same prophecy, God warns, "The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail" (vv. 43–44).
As you know if you have been following the news, until about 20 years ago the United States of America was the world's wealthiest nation and the world's biggest lender. Now, the U.S. is the world's greatest borrower—with a national debt now measured in the trillions of dollars! Nations like China, Japan and Germany now own most of the U.S. debt. If unduly provoked, they could economically destroy America in very short order!
God's word is powerful! And we need to listen. God tells us, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). In more ways than one, we will soon become the "servants" of the very nations to whom we owe untold billions of dollars!
God's inspired word answers, "Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you" (Deuteronomy 28:45).
As our Creator now begins to intervene in the affairs of this world more than ever, as our beloved nations are brought down because of our rebellion against God and His inspired word, will we nationally or individually be genuinely willing to "listen" to our Creator and heed His instructions?
Listen! The God of the Bible wants us to have a good life and reasonable prosperity. God's own Son stated, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The inspired Greek word here translated "abundantly" means a full and plentiful existence. True Christians will certainly not all become millionaires! But our Father in heaven has promised again and again to watch over and "take care" of those who serve and obey Him and His laws.
After describing the natural concern most people have for the basic necessities of food and clothing, Jesus Christ exhorted us, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5). So God will never "forsake" those who truly serve Him.
What is the "mind of God" regarding our financial responsibility to the Creator who gives us life and breath? What does God clearly reveal in His inspired word? After describing the events regarding Israel's exodus from Egypt and the trials and tests and punishments God administered to ancient Israel, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).
One of the primary examples given in the entire Old Testament is the example of Abraham. For Abraham is called "the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11). He is also called three different times, "the friend of God" (James 2:23; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8). Through Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his own son, Abraham is used as an example of God Himself in a way no other man has been in the Bible (Genesis 22).
So we should certainly want to follow Abraham's example!
Though Abraham was truly a great man, an even greater Personage is introduced in Genesis 14:18–20—"Melchizedek," King of Salem. This great Personality is described in the inspired description in Hebrews 7:1–3: "For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually."
As you read this chapter carefully, it becomes obvious that Melchizedek was not a man, but was actually the Personality who became Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament! And God tells us in verse 9, "Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak."
Thispowerful example of Abraham—the "father of the faithful"—paying tithes to Melchizedek ought to make any God-fearing person want to follow the example of the father of the faithful—if that person would want to be truly faithful to his Creator! And, as is indicated in Hebrews 7:9, it is not merely a matter of "giving" a tithe to God—for Levi "paid" tithes through Abraham. The original example tells us that Abraham was aware that God was "possessor of heaven and earth." God is our Creator, our Sustainer and our Provider. He makes it possible for us to breathe the air that we breathe, drink the water that we drink and eat the food that we eat. Most human beings simply do not think about that! But God—through His word—makes it clear that we owe Him a tithe—a "tenth"—of our increase, because He is our ultimate "Landlord" and, our God.
Abraham's wonderful example cannot be refuted by those who would falsely claim that tithing was simply part of the "Law of Moses!" For Moses was not even born when Abraham set us the example of tithing. Later, we find that the patriarch Jacob also indicated that he would give a "tenth"—a tithe—to God (Genesis 28:22).
In Genesis 26:3–5, we find the story of how God spoke to Isaac and described how He had given Abraham awesome blessings of national prosperity and millions of descendants, "because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws. "Certainly tithing was one of these statutes (Leviticus 26:46; 27:30). So Abraham was simply obeying commandments and statutes that God had already revealed long before Moses was ever heard of! And so, Abraham became the "friend of God!"
Near the end of the Old Testament, in the book of Malachi—a sort of "bridge book" that leads right over into the New Testament—God told our forefathers, "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6). God has certain basic commandments and statutes that last forever for human beings. Tithing is certainly one of these. For the inspired instruction continues, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 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'" (vv. 8–10).
Because our human nature is basically selfish, and because God is not "real" to most people, most human beings and evenmost ministers come up with excuses as to why we supposedly do not need to tithe. Why? The Bible answers: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Romans 8:7). Carnal people seem naturally to resent the idea of a powerful God, who has a "law," telling them what to do! So the typical arguments against tithing usually acknowledge that tithing was a law under the Old Testament, but that it is not required in the New Testament. Yet, Jesus Christ Himself clearly explained, "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). Therefore, as should be obvious for all who have eyes to see, Jesus specifically indicates that His true disciples are to obey even the "least" of God's commandments!
But did Jesus Himself clearly indicate that tithing was still to be done?
Yes! He did. Notice His words: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23). Here, Jesus shows that He expects those who practice love, justice, mercy and faith also to practice tithing! Any honest teacher of grammar—if it were any other topic—would agree that Christ is telling us not to leave tithing out! We must not leave tithing "undone"!
"A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but money answers everything" (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
Millions of investors have watched their "nest eggs" shrink in the last couple of years. Whether it is home equity lost, or retirement savings evaporated, the money on which they had counted is now gone.
Billions of people on planet Earth know a poverty that most in the Western nations can barely imagine. According to United Nations statistics, more than two billion human beings earn less than US$2 per day. In the world's 49 least-developed countries, 80 percent of the people subsist on that amount. Yes, even the poorest Americans are still among the wealthiest people on Earth.
On the one hand, Scripture warns God's people against becoming complacent and lukewarm and trusting in their perceived riches (Revelation 3:17). Yet, God does not require poverty of faithful Christians who obey Him. The Apostle John told the brethren, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2). Anciently, King David wrote that prosperity would come to those who delight in God's law (Psalm 1:3).
So, how should Christians respond to economic crisis? One key principle is that if we have the right priorities, we should not fear. Jesus Christ taught us, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:31–33).
Yes, to those who first seek God's Kingdom, all things will be added. Does this mean two luxury cars in every garage, 60-inch flat-panel television sets and hundred-acre ranch estates for every Christian?
No! God assures Christians that if they stay close to Him, they will have everything they need—and, as He gives them more, He will also expect more of them (Matthew 25:14–30). With wealth comes responsibility, and there is wealth that money cannot buy. Notice what happened when the sorcerer Simon approached the apostles, seeking to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit. "And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!'" (Acts 8:18–20).
So, how are you using your money? Scripture reminds us that the true treasure cannot be found by building up our personal riches, or spending lavishly on ourselves. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21).
When you gain some wealth, do you mainly think about the nice "things" it can buy you? Or do you think first about your responsibility as a steward of what God has given you—how you can use your wealth to help your family, your loved ones and your community, and to thank your Creator and support His Work? God is looking at your heart. Are you seeking His treasure?
For the entire Bible shows us that if we honor God with our possessions, "So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9–10). We should all meditate on the inspired teaching of the Apostle Paul, "But this I say: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6–8).
Again, as in so many biblical passages, our Father in heaven is revealing to us that if we are generous in giving to Him and His Work, He will indeed pour out blessings from heaven upon us in many different ways. For the very Creator is able to "make all grace abound" and cause us to "get the breaks," to always have enough to eat, to always have enough to take care of our family—if we truly serve and obey the One who gives us life and breath.
Even though terrible trials and tests remain ahead for our peoples—physically, financially and otherwise—those who truly "walk with God" and obey their Creator will prevail in physical trials, in other personal matters, and will have the divine protection of God in the perilous times to come. It is all a question of how "real" God is to you! Will you be willing to truly see the Big Picture of your Creator intervening in human affairs, guiding the rise and fall of nations, actually supernaturally blessing those who serve and obey Him? It is not "too difficult" to tithe! For God's laws only produce good in the end—since they are backed up by the living Creator!
That is the key! Near the end of the New Testament, the beloved Apostle John wrote, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). Truly—if properly understood and practiced—God's laws and commandments are not "burdensome"! For they draw us closer to a constant acknowledgement of the reality of our Creator. They bring us closer to Him as we actually "walk" with Him in keeping His laws and commandments as a way of life. And then, through faith, we "see" the blessings He pours out on us in so many different ways. No, He will not make us all millionaires. But He will see that we have "enough." He will take care of us. He will watch over us during the perilous times ahead.
Having Jesus Christ living within us through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20) will enable us to obey all of the laws of God. Through Christ in us, we will be developing the very character of God. We will want to give, to help and to serve. And in these "last days," we will want to zealously do our part in getting out Christ's message to a very confused world. Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34).
Then, through Christ in us, our passion will be to become totally involved in generously supporting the Work that Christ is now accomplishing through those who faithfully preach His full Truth. In faith, we will look forward to Christ's return and to hearing those wonderful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).
If we let Christ live His obedient life within us, and if we faithfully support the true Work of God in this age by tithing and also giving offerings—as He commands—we will have God's blessings in every part of our lives. It is just that simple. Never believe the silly arguments that you "can't afford" to tithe! The biblical truth is that you cannot afford not to tithe! For this very act of worship toward your Creator draws you closer to Him, to His way of life, and to the innumerable blessings that He will begin to pour out on you now and forever.