Welfare and the Bible (6)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour pout for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; now will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:10-12).

When an individual tithes a tenth of his income, he is saying, “This money doesn’t belong to me.” He is right. A tenth of our income belongs to God, and should be paid to the church we are a member of.

God doesn’t need our tithe; in fact, He doesn’t need anything. But He commands us to pay the tithe. This is His means of paying for ministers of the gospel, and much, much more.

When a church has more than 10 tithing members earning a full-time salary, it means there should probably be money for other needs. And within a church and any community, there are lots of these, and the Bible makes many references to our attitude towards them.

Paul encourages us,

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Gal.6:9-10).

Some of these will be the care of the church’s widows (when their family is unable or unwilling to support them, and they cannot work), and others who are poor. The goal of this is that the church should have the capacity to be essentially self-supporting, and not dependent on government welfare.

This requires a major shift in mentality for Christians, with major implications for the church and the nations in the long-term. It will mean the church becomes more influential in national affairs, and thus there will be less pressure on the tax-payer to fund all manner of dubious and expensive government schemes.

Less tax means more money left in the hands of individuals and families. Less tax means people have more disposable income beyond the tithe, to use at their discretion. They may decide that some of this will go towards the cause of the needy, which the Bible speaks much about.

What if the tithes paid to the church, and other private means, supported 2-3% of a nation? What if welfare shifted over time, away from being a government responsibility, with all its corruption, abuses and inefficiency, to an individual, family and church responsibility?

When the church is empowered by the tithe, this gives the church enormous social power. As the church grows numerically, this increases. And it is far better that the church has this power, than the State.

Why?

According to scripture, the State has the power of the sword. It can legitimately bring negative sanctions against people for criminal activity, but it is not empowered by God to bring positive ones, especially with money. Like Rome of old, this is the first step towards the blasphemous, confiscatory Saviour State, with bread and circuses and the chronic abuse of power.

The expansionist, authoritarian and atheistic State is always abusive, especially of God’s people. But when God’s people are obedient with their tithe, the poor find their security in God and His church, and are guarded against dangerous expansionism in government.

We have an example of how this can operate, in Geneva under Calvin. Rushdoony writes that

Calvin moved to a full ministry of human needs. Deacons were assigned to these duties: hospitals were an important area. A hospital then was housing for pilgrims, orphans, the elderly poor, the sick and others. Poor relief included those in and out of hospitals alike. Jobs were created for the healthy poor, who had to work to receive aid.[1]

Because of the level of stress arising through sectarian persecution in France, it is estimated that some 60,000 refugees passed through Geneva from 1550-1560. Calvin was especially interested in the welfare of these people, such that he left part of his inheritance for poor immigrants. His guiding principles for welfare, were:

  • It was only for the truly disadvantaged.
  • Moral prerequisites accompanied assistance.
  • Private or religious charity was the vehicle for aid.
  • Ordained officers managed and brought accountability.
  • Theological underpinnings were normal.
  • A productive work ethic was sought.
  • Assistance was temporary.[2]

Conclusion:

Tithing is God’s way of providing for ministers of the Gospel, but it has lots of other legitimate uses too. When church members are faithfully paying their tithes, they are contributing to gaining and maintaining godly leadership of the church

But more than that, they are taking a long-term view of the church’s role in the community. Not only are they saying, “We want to be well led,” they are also saying, “We want Christian views to be paramount in society.”

The tithe is a measure of Christian obedience. Do you want to be obedient to God?

 

 

 

 

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “In His Service,” 2009, p.152.

[2] David Hall, “The Legacy of John Calvin,” 2008, p.17.

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