“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:8-11.
I have studied out what to do with tithes fairly deeply twice in my life. The result of my first investigation was that the Bible and Ellen White’s writings both agree that tithe is only for the physical support of the ministers of the truth – Levites in Israel’s time, and pastors/evangelists/Bible teachers in the Christian era.
But in my second investigation, several things were found that I had either not seen earlier, or had not considered deeply. There is one place in the Bible where the tithe can be used to have a big party (Deuteronomy 14:23-29)!!! The only way I can understand that currently, is that this is a special tithe, and not the 10% that God commands. Any insights into this would be very appreciated in the comments.
Probably around 95% of Ellen White’s writings regarding use of tithes are clear that they are to be used for the above named people, but there are a few instances where she says they can be used for printing truth-filled literature, helping support the upkeep of poor churches, paying pastor’s wives, and even one place, that is quoted at length below, where she talks about sending her own tithe, and others’, directly to poor ministers, and not to the SDA Church.
The following quotes from “Testimonies” are from the 30+ volume Testimony For the Church series.
I saw that many who profess to be keeping the commandments of God are appropriating to their own use the means which the Lord has intrusted to them, and which should come into his treasury. They rob God in tithes and in offerings. They dissemble, and withhold from God to their own hurt. They bring leanness and poverty upon themselves, and darkness upon the church, because of their covetousness, and in dissembling, in robbing God in tithes and in offerings. Testimony 23
But when they robbed God in tithes and offerings they were made to realize that they were not only robbing him but themselves; for God limited his blessings to them, just in proportion as they limited their offerings to him.
The poor man makes a sacrifice of his little which he really feels. He really denies himself of some things that he needs for his own comfort, while the wealthy man who gives of his abundance, and feels not want, and denies himself nothing that he really needs. Therefore, there is a sacredness in the poor man’s offering that is not found in the rich man’s gift; for the rich give of their abundance.
The tithing system reaches back beyond the days of Moses. Men were required to offer to God gifts for religious purposes before the definite system was given to Moses, even as far back as the days of Adam.
As to the amount required, God has specified one-tenth of the increase. This is left to the conscience and benevolence of men, whose judgment in this tithing system should have free play. And while it is left free to the conscience, a plan has been laid out definite enough for all. No compulsion is required.
God called for men in the Mosaic dispensation to give the tenth of all their increase. He committed to their trust the things of this life, talents to be improved and returned to him again. He has required a tenth, and this he claims as the very least that man should return to him. He says, I give you nine-tenths, while I require one-tenth; that is mine. When men withhold the one-tenth they rob God. Sin offerings, peace offerings, and thank offerings, were also required in addition to the tenth of the increase.
If all who profess the truth will come up to the claims of God, in giving the tenth, which God says is his, the treasury will be abundantly supplied with means to carry forward the great work of the salvation of man.
God gives man nine-tenths, while he has claimed one-tenth for sacred purposes, as he has given man six days for his own work, and has reserved and set apart the seventh day to himself. For, like the Sabbath, a tenth of the increase is sacred. God has reserved it for himself. He will carry forward his work upon the earth with the increase of means he has intrusted to man.
Whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out his plan in systematic benevolence, and in gifts and offerings, there has been a standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed his requirements. Testimony 24
Some have felt under sacred obligations to their children. They must give them each a portion, but feel themselves unable to raise means to aid the cause of God. They make the excuse that they have a duty to do to their children. This may be right, but their first duty belongs to God. Render unto Casar the things that are Casar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Rob not God by withholding from him your tithes and offerings. It is the first, sacred duty, to render to God a suitable proportion. Let no one throw in their claims and lead you to rob God. Let not your children steal your offering from God’s altar for their own benefit. Testimony 6
God has led along those who would not shun responsibility, and has laid burdens upon them, and has through them laid out a plan for systematic benevolence to present to his people. In this all can engage, and work in harmony. This system has liberally sustained preachers and the cause. It has been carried out. It has worked like magic. Testimony 9
This system is so arranged that men may give something from their wages every day, and lay by for their Lord a portion of the profits of every investment. Testimony 25
Of all our income we should make the first appropriation to God.
Institutions that are God’s instruments to carry forward his work on earth must be sustained. Churches must be erected, schools established, and publishing houses furnished with facilities for doing a great work in the publication of the truth to be sent to all parts of the world. These institutions are ordained of God, and should be sustained by tithes and liberal offerings. Testimony 29
The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the use of the Levites, the tribe that had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary. Review and Herald Vol.3
But the tithe was set apart for the support of those who ministered in the sanctuary. It was to be given from the firstfruits of all the increase, and, with gifts and offerings, it provided ample means for supporting the ministry of the gospel for that time. Review and Herald Vol.5
The following is from Ministry magazine regarding 4 unusual statements of Ellen White regarding the use of tithe. The most important one is the “Watson” letter, where Ellen White reproved a conference president for getting upset that people in his conference were sending tithe to help ministers working in the southern part of America.
“A more detailed statement on special use of tithe is found in a letter Ellen White wrote on January 22, 1905, to G. F. Watson, president of the Colorado Conference. While reproving Watson’s critical attitude against sending tithe to support the work in the South, she said:
“It has been presented to me for years that my tithe was to be appropriated by myself to aid the white and colored ministers who were neglected and did not receive sufficient properly to support their families. When my attention was called to aged ministers, white or black, it was my special duty to investigate into their necessities and supply their needs. This was to be my special work, and I have done this in a number of cases. No man should give notoriety to the fact that in special cases the tithe is used in that way.
“In regard to the colored work in the South, that field has been and is still being robbed [in 1905] of the means that should come to the workers in that field. If there have been cases where our sisters have appropriated their tithe to the support of the ministers working for the colored people in the South, let every man, if he is wise, hold his peace.
“I have myself appropriated my tithe to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this; and as the money is not with held from the Lord’s treasury, it is not a matter that should be commented upon, for it will necessitate my making known these matters, which I do not desire to do, because it is not best.
“Some cases have been kept be fore me for years, and I have supplied their needs from the tithe, as God has instructed me to do. And if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed, I shall say, Yes, I will; and I have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help do a work that is being left undone, and if this matter is given publicity, it will create a knowledge which would better be left as it is. I do not care to give publicity to this work which the Lord has appointed me to do, and others to do.
“I send this matter to you so that you shall not make a mistake. Circumstances alter cases. I would not advise that anyone should make a practice of gathering up tithe money. But for years there have now and then been persons who have lost confidence in the appropriation of the tithe who have placed their tithe in my hands, and said that if I did not take it they would themselves appropriate it to the families of the most needy ministers they could find. I have taken the money, given a receipt for it, and told them how it was appropriated.”
Ministry Magazine: “Ellen G. White and Tithe”
Personally, knowing that the SDA Church officially supports abortion, I cannot in good conscience send them any money, especially God’s money, as that would make me guilty in supporting the killing of “the least of these my brethren”. So I find needy pastors and evangelists here and there, and directly send them tithes and offerings. May our leaders repent, and may we all give back to God at least the 10% of what he has so lovingly given to us, and test to see if He will do as he says: ” 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.”