Money. Unfortunately, for most people, it is a constant source of worry—especially in these recessionary times.
Nearly everyone is struggling to make ends meet. Yet, at the same time, more people are borrowing more money to finance bigger homes, buy more cars and purchase more luxuries than at any time in mankind’s history.
According to a July 9 www.abcnews.com report, the typical American household now carries an average credit card balance of $8,100—almost three times what it was ten years ago. Citizens are currently spending, on average, up to 20 percent of their incomes paying their debts.
Consumers in other Western nations too have gone on a massive borrowing binge in the last decade.
Financial worries seem to burden us on all sides—and rob us of real happiness and joy! Yet, Jesus Christ said He wants every one of us to truly prosper.
“I am come,” Jesus said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In another place, He inspired the Apostle John to write, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health …” (3 John 2).
If Christ wants everyone to prosper and live abundantly, then why are many of us wracked by debt and weighed down with financial worries?
There is a reason!
What Most Don’t Know
The late Herbert W. Armstrong taught for more than 50 years that the Holy Bible is the foundation of all knowledge—including the knowledge of how to properly manage money. Through much meticulous Bible study and research, Mr. Armstrong learned that the key to financial success is to realize an important biblical fact: Your income is not yours!
“You probably never realized this fact before—but it is a fact,” he wrote on page 8 of his 1959 booklet Ending Your Financial Worries. “God Almighty the living Creator-Ruler of the universe claims it all—every dollar—every pound—every franc—every mark. Your Maker who gives you the very air you breathe tells you it all belongs to Him, not to you!”
Scripture is replete with proof of this vital understanding. Let’s notice several important verses, most of which are referred to in Mr. Armstrong’s booklet.
In Exodus 19:5, God Almighty says: “All the earth is mine” (Amplified Version from this point forward).
Through the inspired pen of Moses, we read, “Behold, the heavens and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth also, with all that is in it and on it” (Deuteronomy 10:14).
Yes, God Almighty owns this Earth and everything that exists or lives upon it! “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. … The world and its fullness are mine,” claims our Maker (Psalm 50:10, 12).
So, according to the Bible, “your” money—“your” income—rightfully belongs to God. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8).
As Mr. Armstrong went on to point out, what we may earn in wages or receive as a return on investments is not really ours—that is, not until two prior claims on our income are satisfied.
One claim is taxes. Jesus said that Christians should “Pay therefore to Caesar the things that are due to Caesar …” (Matthew 22:21). But the first claim is God’s claim. Christ concluded that verse, “and pay to God the things that are due to God.”
Once these two claims are met, God generously gives us that remaining portion of our wealth which we have earned by our thinking and our labors. And, as we shall see, He promises to richly reward and bless us for meeting His terms!
God’s Law Regulates Your Income
Some might consider it unfair to have to comply with God’s claim on our earnings. But why should it seem wrong for God to direct that we give a portion of our income to Him? The governments of this world impose taxes on our income, and we quickly agree with their right to do so, if not with their means or amounts.
God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16). He knows our needs during this time of global economic uncertainty. Indeed, He has your well-being in mind. He is concerned for you; that is why He has made a law regulating your income.
God’s law concerning what you earn, as Mr. Armstrong explained, is, in fact, a deal He has made with you. Consider it: God allows you to work on His Earth, to use a part of its resources, its forces and energies—or to work on or with that which others have extracted from this planet, in manufacturing, distributing, selling, buying, investing—whatever may be your occupation or profession—and so, you are, in all actuality, working in partnership with God!
When we stop and analyze this, we are forced to admit that God truly supplies about 90 percent of everything we make or produce—and our own thinking, planning and working supplies, at best, only about 10 percent. Yet God doesn’t claim 90 percent of the proceeds, or the income. Nor does He claim 50 percent, or even 30 percent or 20 percent.
God is exceptionally generous. He has reserved for His use only ten percent of your income. And after you have been honest in paying God’s claim—His ten percent—to His chosen representative, then God has declared that the other 90 percent becomes legally yours. That’s God’s law!
How to Have More
Throughout the Bible, God makes it a law that the first tenth—or “tithe”—of every individual’s income is to be paid to Him through His chosen servants.
Tithing has always been God’s financial system and continues to be a binding obligation upon New Testament Christians. No other overall financial system is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.
Tithing is such an important topic that we should briefly list the main scriptures one may turn to in explaining it.
In Genesis 14:18-20, we see that Abraham (who was not a Jew, but was the “father of the faithful”; one who feared God and kept His Commandments) tithed 400 years before ancient Israel was commanded to do so.
Leviticus 27:30 and Numbers 18:20-21 spell out the details of tithing and show how the people of Israel were to tithe in support of God’s religious system. Even after Christ’s death, the Apostle Paul called tithing, which was confirmed by Christ, a law (Matthew 23:23; Hebrews 7:4-14).
Today, God uses the tithing system for the express purpose of proclaiming His message of hope—the very message Christ preached—to this unhappy, debt-ridden world!
The organization that sponsors this magazine, the Trumpet, is the very work of God—and it is sponsored, financed and conducted God’s way, as God directs in His Word. This work is funded and supported by a growing number of co-workers who believe in the cause and gladly give of their incomes to support it.
Every week we receive letters from our co-workers telling us how they have been blessed for supporting this work. Those who pay God’s tenth are prosperous—not necessarily wealthy, but their needs are always supplied.
How You Can Prosper in Hard Times
Have you ever wondered why so many are experiencing financial difficulties nowadays, even in this economically advanced age? Today’s problems were foretold centuries ago in a remarkable prophecy!
Notice what God asks through the Prophet Malachi: “Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud me. But you say, ‘In what way do we rob or defraud you?’” And God answers, “You have withheld your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9).
There is a definite cause for every effect. America has been the wealthiest nation on Earth for many years. Tragically, it is starting to slip into a second-rate status. The U.S. economy has already been eclipsed by that of the EU! Soon, national and individual bankruptcy will become a scourge to this nation. Personal and collective debt is already at an all-time high, and financial troubles are wrecking families. Families that should have a minimum of three to six months’ income in savings in case of emergency instead have virtually no savings—and are plunging even deeper into debt.
And at the root of it all is the fact that people are robbing God!
How can you turn things around and begin to prosper in these increasingly difficult times?
Continuing in Malachi 3: “Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer [insects and plagues] for your sakes … neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts” (verses 10-11).
That is God’s promise!
Why not put God to that test? Why not prove Him to see if He doesn’t increase the value of your income in this period of looming recession so that your own 90 percent God gives you will be worth more than your whole income now?
A Spiritual Blessing
God’s system of tithing is a financial law. It is sure to bring financial blessings. More importantly, though, it is guaranteed to yield tremendous spiritual dividends!
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). That, too, is a law. If your treasure is in this world’s entertainments and pleasures—if “your” money—God’s money—is being spent only on yourself and your own needs and selfish desires, then your whole heart and interest is in this world and not in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus also said, “Seek [aim and strive after] first of all [God’s] kingdom” (verse 33), and then all these material needs will be added to you besides. Seek God first and you’ll prosper—even in hard times. Seek His Kingdom with all your heart, and your financial troubles will soon vanish; your life will become happy, full with assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.