The Question: You girls wanna weigh in on this? Have you heard of full-tithe prayer, partial-tithe prayer or non-tithe prayer? Sounds like one gets from prayer what he/she pays for—-according to some folks.
Yesterday I asked if one tithes on gross income or net income. According to some it depends on how much of your prayer you wish answered. Could be true I suppose.
The problem with this belief is it again embraces the mindset that God is some cosmic killjoy looking for mandatory obedience by golly or else. I’ve heard some preachers insist that if you didn’t pay your tithes, you would get a flat tire or unexpected bill the next week. This teaching perpetuates the mindset that God is after your money and He’s going to get it one way or another.
Unfortunately, this shows we still have no understanding of the new covenant under Christ. The law in the Old Testament was in place to exact obedience through external punishment. Minor infractions resulted in uncleanness and the sacrifice of many animals. Major sins brought the death penalty, often in ways calculated to bring optimum pain and humiliation (the sin of adultery comes to mind).
Then Jesus comes on the scene with a new covenant, the law of love. Did God change? No. But Jesus fulfilled the Law through His sinless life and initiated a change in the relationship between God and man. No longer did God have to rely on external circumstances (the threats of being unclean, offering animal sacrifices, being stoned to death) to exact obedience and right behavior from His people. Instead, we now have the Holy Spirit to reveal the Scriptures to all of us, and to convict us of sin. The playing field has moved from the external circumstances mandating a heart-change, to internal motivation. Prime example: Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery and told her to go and sin no more. In a tension-filled moment, He saved her life by turning the judgmental stares of those ready to stone her onto themselves. Why? Because His coming ushered in a new way of doing things.
The reality is God is after your heart. These are actual reasons for hindered prayer in scripture:
Wrong motives: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).
Dishonoring your wife: “…showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Unconfessed sin: “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18)
Doubt: “…who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7).
There may be a few others, but notice that all have to do with the heart. Nowhere here does it say that God will only listen to part of your prayer if you bring in part of your tithes. If God only answers part of your prayer and you’re partial-tithing, it’s because of your motives and not your actions. He weighs your heart.
Let’s look at the “tithing chapter” that most refer to when discussing this issue. Malachi 3 (NKJV):
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 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.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
12 “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
Notice that God doesn’t say here that He’s destroying the fruit of the ground or robbing the people. Their lack of tithing put them under a curse, but it doesn’t say that He cursed them. Rather, their sinful motives (Malachi also talks about how the priests were offering imperfect sacrifices–blind and lame animals–on the altar) were putting them back under the curse that the Law was supposed to shield them from until Jesus came and brought in the new covenant. God wanted to bless them, but couldn’t do so because His priests were corrupt.
James says that religion that is acceptable to God is to look after orphans and widows, and to keep our hearts pure. The purpose of tithing in a practical sense is to equip the church to help those in need and to further the testimony of Jesus. That is the true tragedy of not tithing–we miss that opportunity to be a blessing.