TITHING, THE ROAD TO PROSPERITY
AS YE abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.”
“Honor Jehovah with thy substance,
And with the first-fruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty,
And thy vats shall overflow with new wine.”
Under the Mosaic law a tithe (or tenth) was required as the Lord’s portion. Throughout the Old Testament the tithe or tenth is mentioned as a reasonable and just return to the Lord by way of acknowledging Him as the source of supply. After Jacob had seen the vision of the ladder with angels ascending and descending on it he set up a pillar and made a vow to the Lord, saying, “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” In the 3d chapter of Malachi we find God’s blessing directly connected with faithfulness in giving to the Lord’s treasury, but gifts should be made because it is right and because one loves to give, not from a sense of duty or for the sake of reward.
That there will be a reward following the giving we are also assured by Jesus in a direct promise “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give unto your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”
Promises of spiritual benefits and increase of God’s bounty through the keeping of this divine law of giving and receiving, abound in all the Scriptures. “There is that scattereth, and increaseth yet more;
And there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth only to want.
The liberal soul shall be made fat;
And he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”
“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed;
For he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
“He that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
“Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters.”
We are living now under larger and fuller blessings from God than man has ever known. It is meet therefore that we give accordingly and remember the law of the tithe, for if a tenth was required under the law in those olden times, it is certainly no less fitting that we should give it cheerfully now. One of the greatest incentives to generous giving is a keen appreciation of the blessings secured to us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?” “Freely ye received, freely give.” True giving is the love and generosity of the Spirit-quickened heart responding to the love and generosity of the Father’s heart.
In his second letter Paul made a stirring appeal to the Corinthians for a generous gift to their poorer brethren in Jerusalem. He suggests some principles of giving that are always applicable, for giving is a grace that adds to the spiritual growth of all men in all times. Without giving the soul shrivels, but when giving is practiced as a part of Christian living, the soul expands and becomes Godlike in the grace of liberality and generosity. No restoration to the likeness of God can be complete unless mind, heart, and soul are daily opening out into that large, free, bestowing spirit which so characterizes our God and Father. Therefore it is not surprising that Paul classes the grace of giving with faith, knowledge, and love.
A very simple yet practical plan for exercising this grace of giving had been suggested by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church. “Upon the first day of the week,” he said, “let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper”; that is, each member was asked to contribute to the establishing of a treasury. This was to be the Lord’s storehouse, into which each one was to put his offerings regularly and in proportion to his means. In adopting this plan the offerer became a steward of the Lord’s goods and entered upon a course of training and discipline needed to make a good steward, for it takes wisdom to know how rightly to dispense the bounty of God. Perhaps no simpler way to begin one’s growth in the grace of giving can be suggested for our own day. Those who have followed this method have usually found that they had more money to give than they had thought possible.
In order that the plan of giving may be successful there are several things that must be observed. First there must be a willing mind. “If the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not.” “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Secondly, the giving must be done in faith, and there must be no withholding because the offering seems small. Many of the instances of giving that are recorded in the Bible as worthy of special mention, commendation, and blessing are instances where the gift itself was small. The widow who fed Elijah in his time of famine gave him a cake made with her last handful of meal. For her faith and her generous spirit she was rewarded with a plentiful daily supply of food for herself and her sons, as well as for Elijah. “The jar of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail.”
This same truth is set forth beautifully in the New Testament, where it is clearly shown that not the amount of the offering but the spirit in which it is given determines its value and power. “And he [Jesus] sat down over against the treasury, and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
This poor widow exemplified what it is to give in faith; and were ever two mites so great a gift as when they brought forth such praise from the Master Himself! The results of giving in faith are just as sure in this age as in the time of Jesus, for the law is unfailing in all ages.
A third requisite for keeping the law of giving and receiving is that the offering shall be a just and fair proportion of all that one receives. The amount was settled by Paul and the measure he gave was: “as he may prosper.” There is a certain definiteness about this, and yet it admits of freedom for the giver to exercise his individual faith, judgment, and will.
The question of wise distribution is closely related to the matter of filling God’s treasury. To whom shall we give and when are questions quite important. There are several truths that may be considered in this connection, but then each individual finds it necessary to trust to the Spirit of wisdom manifest in his own heart, since there are no rules or precedents that one can follow in detail. This is as it should be, for it keeps the individual judgment, faith, love, sympathy, and will alive and active. Yet a careful study of the underlying laws of spiritual giving will help one to exercise these divine faculties as they should be exercised. If we follow the Spirit of wisdom we shall not give to anything that is contrary to the teaching of Jesus, but spend every penny in the furtherance of the good news of life that He proclaims and in the promotion of the brotherhood of man that it is His mission to establish on earth among all those who become sons through Him.
True spiritual giving rewards with a double joy: first that which comes with the laying of the gift upon the altar or in the Lord’s treasury; then the joy of sharing our part of God’s bounty with others. One of the blessings is the satisfying knowledge that we are meeting the law and paying our debt of love and justice to the Lord. The other is the joy of sharing the Lord’s bounty. Justice comes first; then generosity.
Even the so-called heathen recognize giving as a part of worship, for we find them coming with offerings when they worship their idols. All ages and all religious dispensations have stressed giving as a vital part of their worship. In this age, when we have so much, more is required of us, even to the giving of ourselves with all that we are and have. This privilege carries immeasurable benefits with it, for it looses us from the personal life, unifies us with the universal, and so opens our inner and outer life to the inflow and the outflow of the life, love, bounty and grace of God. This is the blessed result of faithful obedience to the law and exercise of the grace of giving.
The people were amazed when the prophet Malachi told them that they had been robbing God and desired to know wherein they had failed when they thought they had been serving the Lord so faithfully. People are as much amazed today to learn that they have been untrue to God’s law, for the message of Malachi is for us quite as much as for the ancients. The Spirit of God gave this message through the prophet: “Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, saith Jehovah of hosts. And all nations shall call you happy; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith Jehovah of hosts.”
Study this 3d chapter of Malachi carefully if you would know the happy solution of the problem of giving and receiving. See how practical it is for people in every walk of life and for nations as well. It offers the solution to the problems of the farmer. It sets forth clearly a law of prosperity for all classes of people; for those who need protection for their crops from frosts, droughts, floods; for those who would escape the plagues, pestilences, and manifold things that would destroy their supply and support. It is a simple law but so effective: simply give a tithe or tenth or the “first-fruits” or their equivalent to the Lord. God should not be expected to meet all man’s requirements in the matter of giving this protection and increase unless man fulfills the requirements of God. The act of giving complies with the divine law, because it involves the recognition of God as the giver of all increase; and unless we have a recognition of the source of our supply we have no assurance of continuing in its use.
Many people have doubts as to whether it will really do any good to ask the Lord for protection and for plenty in regard to crops or other supply. Many who are employed in cities or who are in business think it strange that they should believe in omnipresent prosperity. Thus unbelief is present with them at the very time when an unwavering faith is most necessary. There is a psychological reason why people should obey spiritual law. When a person obeys the law of God along any line, his faith immediately becomes strengthened in proportion and his doubts disappear. When anyone puts God first in his finances, not only in thought but in every act, by releasing his first fruits (a tenth part of his increase or income) to the Lord, his faith in omnipresent supply becomes a hundredfold stronger and he prospers accordingly. Obeying this law gives him an inner knowing that he is building his finances on a sure foundation that will not fail him.
Everything in the universe belongs to God, and though all things are for the use and enjoyment of man, he can possess nothing selfishly. When man learns that a higher law than human custom and desire is working in the earth to bring about justice, righteousness, and equalization, he will begin to obey that law by tithing, loving his neighbor, and doing unto others as he would have them do unto him. Then man will reach the end of all the troubles brought upon himself by his selfishness and greed, and will become healthy, prosperous, and happy.
The pastor of a small church in Georgia suggested to his congregation, composed largely of cotton farmers, that they dedicate a tenth part of their land to the Lord and ask Him for protection against the ravages of the boll weevil, which had devastated the crops in that vicinity for several years. Seven farmers in the congregation decided to do this. They took no measures to protect their crop on these dedicated acres, yet the pest did not attack the cotton there. The quality of the fiber was better on those acres than on any that adjoined them. The experiment was so successful in fact that practically all the farmers in that community have decided to follow the plan in the future.
Many experiences such as this are awakening men to respect our relation to the infinite principle of life, everywhere present, that we know as God. This divine element of life that manifests itself as growth and substance resides within the factors that combine to produce cotton, wheat, and all other forms of vegetation. Then certainly if the farmer works in acknowledged sympathy with this life principle, it will work in sympathy with him and for his good. Each contributing in love and understanding to the other, a larger crop will be the result, and a larger measure of prosperity for the farmer. Not only the farmer but the banker, the tradesman, the professional man can work in sympathy and harmony with this principle of growth and increase. The infinite life principle is as responsive in one field as another, and it is everywhere present. Even so-called inanimate objects are filled to the full with this infinite life, and even coined gold is tense with the desire to expand and to grow. The materials handled by the tradesman are made of the same substance that makes the universe and contain within themselves the germ of growth and increase. All men are therefore daily associated with life, and through rendering it the reverent acknowledgment that is its due and through witnessing this acknowledgment by dedicating a part of their increase they are prospered.
The tithe is the equivalent of the increased fertility of the land. If by acknowledging God as the giver of all life the farmer raises two or six or twenty bushels more on his field, that extra portion, which he would not have had otherwise, is the Lord’s portion. In trade the tithe is the equivalent of the increased quality of goods. In professional life the tithe is the increased ability or the increased appreciation. The tithing principle can be applied in all of our industrial and social relationships. In every case where it has been applied and followed for a time, the tither has been. remarkably blessed; quite as much so as in the case of the cotton farmers and their tithe acres.
There are many people who wish to give but seem at a loss as to how to go about it or where to begin. They do not know how much they should give, or when or how often to offer their gifts, and there are a host of related questions. To answer these questions there must be found a definite basis for their giving, a rule to which they can conform. This is where the law of tithing fits beautifully, for it is a basis and a sound one, tested and proved for thousands of years. The tithe may be a tenth part of one’s salary, wage, or allowance, of the net profits of business, or of money received from the sale of goods. It is based on every form of supply, no matter through what channel it may come, for there are many channels through which man is prospered. The tenth should be set apart for the upkeep of some spiritual work or workers. It should be set apart first even before one’s personal expenses are taken out, for in the right relation of things God comes first always. Then everything else follows in divine order and falls into its proper place.
The great promise of prosperity is that if men seek God and His righteousness first, then all shall be added unto them. One of the most practical and sensible ways of seeking God’s kingdom first is to be a tither, to put God first in finances. It is the promise of God, the logical thing to do, and the experience of all who have tried it, that all things necessary to their comfort, welfare, and happiness have been added to them in an overflowing measure. Tithing establishes method in giving and brings into the consciousness a sense of order and fitness that will be manifested in one’s outer life and affairs as increased efficiency and greater prosperity.
Another blessing that follows the practice of tithing is the continual “letting go” of what one receives, which keeps one’s mind open to the good and free from covetousness. Making an occasional large gift and then permitting a lapse of time before another is made will not give this lasting benefit, for one’s mind channel may in the meantime become clogged with material thoughts of fear, lack, or selfishness. When a person tithes he is giving continuously, so that no spirit of grasping, no fear, and no thought of limitations gets a hold on him. There is nothing that keeps a person’s mind so fearless and so free to receive the good constantly coming to him as the practice of tithing. Each day, week, pay day, whenever it is, the tither gives one tenth. When an increase of prosperity comes to him, as come it will and does, his first thought is to give God the thanks and the tenth of the new amount. The free, open mind thus stayed on God is certain to bring forth joy, real satisfaction in living, and true prosperity. Tithing is based on a law that cannot fail, and it is the surest way ever found to demonstrate plenty, for it is God’s own law and way of giving.
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Jehovah’s: it is holy unto Jehovah.”
Let us give as God gives, unreservedly, and with no thought of return, making no mental demands for recompense on those who have received from us. A gift with reservations is not a gift; it is a bribe. There is no promise of increase unless we give freely, let go of the gift entirely, and recognize the universal scope of the law. Then the gift has a chance to go out and to come back multiplied. There is no telling how far the blessing may travel before it comes back, but it is a beautiful and encouraging fact that the longer it is in returning, the more hands it is passing through and the more hearts it is blessing. All these hands and hearts add something to it in substance, and it is increased all the more when it does return.
We must not try to fix the avenues through which our good is to come. There is no reason for thinking that what you give will come back through the one to whom you gave it. All men are one in Christ and form a universal brotherhood. We must put away any personal claim, such as “I gave to you, now you give to me,” and supplant it with “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.” The law will bring each of us just what is his own, the reaping of the seeds he has sown. The return will come, for it cannot escape the law, though it may quite possibly come through a very different channel from what we expect. Trying to fix the channel through which his good must come to him is one of the ways in which the personal man shuts off his own supply.
The spiritual-minded man does not make selfish use of the law but gives because he loves to give.
Because he gives with no thought of reward and no other motive than love, he is thrown more completely into the inevitable operation of the law and his return is all the more certain. He is inevitably enriched and cannot escape it. Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.” He was not merely making a promise but stating a law that never fails to function.
So inexhaustible is the bounty of the Giver of all good that to him who has eyes to see it and faith to receive it God is an unfailing source of supply. The munificent Giver withholds nothing from him who comes in the name of a son and heir and lays claim to his portion. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom, and all that the Father has is ours. But we must have the faith and the courage to claim it.
Men who accomplish great things in the industrial world are the ones who have faith in the money-producing power of their ideas. Those who would accomplish great things in the demonstration of spiritual resources must have faith to lay hold of the divine ideas and the courage to speak them into expression. The conception must be followed by the affirmation that the law is instantly fulfilled. Then the supply will follow in manifestation.
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Prosperity by Charles Fillmore
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