When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.  And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. Matthew 8:1-4

In answer to the question “What does Jesus say about tithing?”, to be honest, Jesus doesn’t really talk about money much. His priority was, and still is, always healing and salvation. It wasn’t so much what He said about money as it was what He did. Jesus had just come from a mountain top experience with God. He came straight away down the mountain and immediately met a leper who knew Jesus was capable of bringing him a healing touch from the Father. But what the leper didn’t know was whether or not Jesus was willing. Whether Jesus wanted him to experience wholeness and health for his life. Jesus answered by laying his hand on him and said “I will”. In other words, it was Jesus’ will that the leper experience freedom from his disease. Jesus wants all of us to be clean from whatever plagues us. The leper had faith but he still had questions about the Father’s heart. He had been exposed to religious teachings that taught his leprosy was his fault and suffered much persecution as a result of those religious teachings. One touch from Jesus changed everything for the leper. He was immediately cleansed. After his healing, Jesus gave him clear instruction. He told the leper to tell no one, go find the priest, and offer the gift that Moses was commanded. This was a simple transaction. A simple response to the loving touch of a Fathers hand. A way for the leper to give thanks to Jesus by honoring one of God’s servants.

Jesus knew the Priest had much to learn and would not learn it without walking with Jesus directly. Yet, he instructed the leper to offer a gift to him anyway? If we really look at this, it sets a valuable example for us. None of God’s modern day Pastors are perfect and all have to rely on walking with Jesus daily to bring about any righteousness. But, focusing on the question at hand, it provides another clear example. Jesus didn’t ask the Leper to pay Him a tithe or follow Him directly (like many prophets or pastors do) or to even talk about the healing Jesus provided him. He instructed the leper to go see the Priest and offer the  the gift that Moses was commanded as a testimony to that Priest. In other words, Jesus pointed the leper back to the old testament law and instructed him to follow and honor the Man of God who himself had still much to learn about Jesus. In short, Jesus knew that the man wasn’t ready to follow him so He made a referral and instructed the leper to pay tithes to another ministry that He knew would teach him everything he needed to know about His Father. Jesus “plugged him in”, connected him to the ministry that He knew would be best for him to grow in, and instructed him to tithe to them and serve them.

A third example this provides is that Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law surrounding the tithe or any other area. He came to directly fulfill it. The Leper was given instruction and, if he applied it, the church would be provided for partially though him. The Law of Moses has clear instruction about tithing in the book of Leviticus. “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” Levitucs 27:30-34.  As we know, the word tithe means a tenth of all our increase. Which, if we adapt to modern day commodities, translates to 10% of our money, our time, and any other form of resource the Lord has given us. The Bible clearly states there are no substitutions for this. Yet, so many Christians try to wiggle their way around or completely out of tithing to support ministry. Why? Simple. The sad reality is that society has taught us to love money more than God. It has become an idol of worship for a great many in the church. God is calling all of us to no longer stand tolerant or participate in this type of idolatrous and thieving behavior ourselves. The word of God specifically states in Malachi 3:8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings”. The Holy Spirit of God is turning the money tables in the temple, just as Jesus did while He was on earth, in us this very day. Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. Matthew 21:12. Often times our mission looks like the mission of the gospel. But our truest mission behind closed doors is secretly to gain or own personal wealth. Though the motive is pure in that we need to provide for our own families and God wants us to live wealthy and abundantly so we can bless others, it is out of order when we are putting our own desires for money first. Having that order of priorities in and of itself keeps us living a life of poverty. We must always seek the Kingdom of Heaven (Salvation) and His righteous (allowing the Holy Spirit to order and correct our steps through having a relationship with His Holy Spirit personally and seeking His words written in the Bible) first and look to God the Father as our immediate source for adding additional increase by ordering our steps any further.

We have many examples of Pastors who have made a muck of this by spending money on priorities that do not bring honor to God. These examples provide a Christian with a critical spirit a list of reasons to use to justify why they have chosen not to tithe. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that, understandably, they just don’t want to part with their hard earned money. If we refer to solid examples in the body of Christ to compare to (instead of complaining about those who mess up) and provide a model for what the power of  Christian money can do, we can look to no other than our honorable late Dr. Billy Graham. Billy Graham taught on the reasons Christians avoid tithing like this in a message simply entitled “The Love of Money” that is just as convicting today as it was the day he spoke it. Billy Graham started his ministry preaching in a small church and baptizing poor children in the lake not too far from me. He later went on to preach to millions and start Samaritans Purse. He built libraries and museums where people can learn more about Salvation. He shared the good news of Jesus to over 215 million people through the coarse of his 60 year ministry. In his message he stated that “There is nothing wrong with having wealth”. He taught that it matters more what you do with your wealth. He specifically said that “Money ill gotten and misused breaks happy homes.” In short, misappropriated kingdom money destroys families and works it’s way from the bottom up. Like Jesus, Billy Graham’s priority was salvation and God more than honored that. When he died he was the third richest Pastor in the country with one of the greatest Evangelism legacies known to man. Billy didn’t need to ask for money. Instead he created a place where he could refer people to give freely and be a friend to many, regardless of where they lived. He, like Jesus, pointed us all to being humanitarians who have compassion for our brothers and bring honor to God and one another.

Billy Graham understood the promises of God that were contained in obedience to the Law of Moses. He also understood the power of a church working together globally to support one another in each others common mission of salvation. The gospel of Salvation can not be carried without the direct support of Christians. Billy understood that Bibles, conferences, training, and visual learning materials are all necessary to equip Christians to carry the gospel even further. The Prophet Malachi gave instruction for us to follow in the last Old Testament Book of the Bible. These instructions were spoken to Malachi directly by God and apply to and contain a promise for us all.  “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord 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.” Malachi 3:10   When these instructions, given by the Holy Spirit, are not ignored but followed by God’s people, the church has the power to become a force waiting to be reckoned with in tackling homelessness, social concerns, relationship wellness, and, most importantly world hunger.  Billy Graham had the faith to believe in God’s ability to honor this. His walk serves as evidence that God honors His promises for his people who give to the mission of salvation willingly and freely. But, first, before he was able to accomplish much of anything for the Lord, he had to make way to receive everything God had for him. He had to prepare, be trained, and taught by many.

Because of the critical spirit that is alive and well in the church today, a lot of Pastors won’t teach directly about money because they are afraid of driving the members of their church away. But, especially in this day and age, Pastors have an obligation to teach what the scripture has to say about money if they truly want to see their church experience wholeness financially.  They don’t have a need to dwell on it or even ask for money regularly by passing around offering plates. Providing clear instruction by establishing a resource teaching tool that is available to those they shepherd right from the beginning and providing a way for their congregation to give easily and freely without drawing attention to themselves, however, is wisdom in place I have personally witnessed active in  Club Zion Community Church in Cocoa Beach, FL led by Pastor Keith Capizzi. Pastor Keith was insistent that people be given a simple handout about tithing should they ask for it. He would not allow collection plates and, instead, placed a box in the back of the church so people could discretely give as they came in. Those who did not understand tithing saw the ones who did cheerfully giving as they came in and this sparked curiosity in them. They would grab the handout, get equipped with the truth, and begin cheerfully giving on their own because they made a personal decision and commitment to God themselves. No asking for money at all was ever needed. In time church raised enough money to pay cash for the needs of the spiritually orphaned and widowed in their congregation as well as purchase a larger piece of property for their growing congregation. No borrowing or being slave to the lender was required and the resurrection power of Christ and the promise contained in God’s word regarding giving was made manifest for everyone to witness in their lives. If Pastors have such tools in place,like Pastor Keith, the topic surrounding biblical understanding of tithing and the act of collecting funds can be freely made available and no longer has to serve as a distraction from Salvation in need of being addressed by Pastors personally. Also, by doing this, it silences the critical spirit in believers because it lets them know our churches aren’t about money but what it enables us to do. The purpose of this critical spirit that does not come from time spent with Jesus is simple. It’s mission is to keep God’s money from flowing where it needs to go most, to help Him help his people, freely and abundantly.  This spirit that is born of our own judgment can no longer be given any room and must leave our places of worship immediately. We must replace our criticism by each following Jesus’ instruction to obey the Law of Moses on this so that He can be an abundant blessing in our lives and the loves of others through us freely. We are merely vessels to carry His money in and we aren’t meant to hoard it all for ourselves.  It is our prayer here that this teaching today can be used as a tool that can also be easily shared to help bring freedom to other pulpits in regards to having to continually ask for offerings to further the gospel. It is our hope that this teaching makes the way for other ministries to experience wholeness in Christ for their followers, as well as our own, freeing up valuable time for worshiping our Lord together and preaching the life, death, burial, resurrection, and Salvation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray. Father, we come before you broken people with a broken hearts and a broken land. Your word says if we will humble ourselves, pray to you, turn from our ways, and follow your commands, that you will heal our land. We know that your healing comes through one single touch of your obedient hand and sets us free by the fire of the Holy Spirit immediately. Thank you for coming to touch our hearts today and making us better aware of the need to honor the words in the Bible that you have plainly spoken. We are asking that you help us all to turn from evil today and learn to love you far more than we could ever love money or greed. Help us to no longer make money a high priority or distraction. Help us honor your words spoken as we look to you to honor your words in our lives, too. Help us be willing and cheerful givers who do not concern ourselves with the outcome of obedience but give simply because you say. Help us to share the resources you have given us with others freely.  If we are not able to give today because we think we have nothing to offer, show us what we can use to plant seed into your kingdom directly today. Help us not to compete with each other but work together to care for one another and one another’s sheep. And, Lord, help us turn our eyes off of what others do wrong. We ask for forgiveness in any wrongful or critical judgments we have made or harmful words we have spoken about your chosen people. And, we ask for your grace and mercy in the understanding that we ourselves are also learning and that alone makes us no better or more worthy to carry your truths to others.  Help us all to operate accordingly and move out on your instructions together as one body of believers. Help us keep our eyes focused on you and the positive examples in our lives that your Son and His suffering for our sin has already so lovingly provided. And, Lord help us to follow those examples. We love you, Lord. Help us to follow the instruction you gave the Apostle Peter. Help us all to be busy about showing our love for you by putting our time, money, and other resources towards your greatest priority of feeding your precious sheep spiritually and physically. Help us to focus our efforts, to align them to yours, and to remember that a giving and faithful spirit starts in our own homes and spreads outward from there. Help us to simply believe, as Billy Graham did, that this IS your will for all of us, that you love us and WANT what is best for us, that you WANT our families alive in Christ, free and whole financially, that you want this for your people everywhere. And that you always keep every single one of your promises, to include the promises you make that are contingent on our proper usage and stewardship of your money. Show us your grace in this knowledge that money doesn’t have to be hard when you died on the cross to make the way for this principle active in our lives to be so very easy every single day.  And help us all to protect your pulpits by ensuring that the topic of money never hinders your message of salvation in our lives ever again.  In Jesus Name, Amen

If the Lord has brought you healing or conviction through this word today and you would like to honor Jesus by supporting Samaritan’s Purse as a testimony to the human example of Jesus Christ of Nazareth’s spoken words operating in a well known wealthy Pastor’s life given to us through the late Dr. Billy Graham, I am certain they would be abundantly blessed to receive it. The great thing about Samaritans Purse is they are everywhere and you can select a particular region or project that you feel the Holy Spirit is prompting you to.

To donate to Samaritans Purse directly, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/

To learn more about Pastor Keith Capizzi and Club Zion Community Church in Cocoa Beach, FL visit them at http://czchurch.org/

To gain more insight behind the reasons we criticize others in order to justify holding onto money, here is a powerful message that Dr. Billy Graham delivered on the Holy Spirit inspired topic of intolerance to idolizing money in the church himself.

Notes from the Holy Spirit by Pastor Audra Waters-Leary written for Fusion Churches Sunday Service on 7/1/2018

Dedicated to honoring the sacrifices of Pastor Keith Capizzi and the late Dr. Billy Graham and their service to Jesus by providing all other evangelism efforts for Salvation globally with models that are easily able to be duplicated and closely followed in regards to stewardship and proper use of Kingdom money.

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