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The Spiritual Means, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

37- The tithes

  

We move to another point which is the tithes...

The tithes also are more ancient than the written law. We hear about our father Jacob when he saw a ladder set up on the earth and its top reached to heaven, that he said: If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, so that I come back to my fathers house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God... And of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You (Gen 28:20-22).

Maybe Jacob took the idea of the tithes from his grandfather Abraham, who offered the tithes to Melchizedek the priest of God Most High: And he gave Him a tithe of all (Gen 14:20).

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Then God commanded the tithes in the law at the time of the Prophet Moses.

He said: You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year (Deut 14:22) And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lords. It is holy to the Lord... (Lev 27:30), You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil (Deut 12:17) and (Deut 14:23), And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord (Lev 27:32). Generally, the tax collector summed up all this in one sentence: I give tithes of all that I possess (Lk 18:12), or the saying of our father Jacob, the father of fathers: And of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You (Gen 28:22).

Even the priest who took the tithes from the people, used to offer its tithe to the Lord, a heave offering to the Lord. And the tithe of the tithes was called heaves (Num 18:26,28).

The one who did not pay the tithes was considered to have robbed God.

That was openly said in the Book of Malachi, when the Lord said: Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings... Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,... And prove 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 (Mal 3:8-10).

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St-Takla.org Image: The widow's mite, engraving by Gustave Dore, Bible Iiilustrations صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: فلسيّ الأرملة، (الأرملة ذات الفلسين) رسم الفنان جوستاف دوريه، من صور لوحات الإنجيل

St-Takla.org Image: The widow's mite, engraving by Gustave Dore, Bible Iiilustrations

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: فلسيّ الأرملة، (الأرملة ذات الفلسين) رسم الفنان جوستاف دوريه، من صور لوحات الإنجيل

What you do not pay in tithes is unrighteous mammon.

Because you have robbed the Lord, were unjust to the church and the poor, the righteous owners of this money... Therefore the Lord said: Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon (Lk 16:9). Those friends are the poor who pray for you, so: They may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Even if you were in need, pay the tithes, taking the widow who put in all her livelihood as a model (Lk 21:4), as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Maybe some will ask here:

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May we give to our relatives from the tithes?!

Yes, give them if they are in need. As the Apostle said: But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8)... Then give them, but do not give to them alone. Lest it is thought that it is just a duty or blood-relation that made you pay. If you paid the whole to them, then you would have withheld the due of the poor who deserve it too or who may be in more need for it than relatives...

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All the money that you receive, set aside its tithe for the Lord...

Whether it was your fixed pay or other additional resources, or unexpected gains. Whether it is cash or in assets that you know their value then you pay the tithe... Set aside the tithe of all, put it separately in a box especially for the Lord. Do not fall in the error where many do fall: as they spend from their income first, then check to see if there was anything left for God or not!! They put the Lords due at the end of the list, or they may even forget it! Or they may consider their other expenses under the title of necessities. As for the Lords due, it is considered as luxuries or left over! As for you, set it aside from your income immediately, just like other official deductions.

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You should know that the tithes are the minimum in giving.

It comes under the Jewish giving and not the Christian. As for Christianity, the Bible says: Give to him who asks you( Mt 5:42). The Bible also says: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Mt 6:19,20). Then you should not be satisfied with paying the tithes, without giving those who are in need while you have what you treasure.

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When you pay the tithes, do not say that you have given God His due!! Or that He has received all His dues.

Then your conscience will relax, and you will close your heart to the requests of the needy! As the Bible says: Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard (Prov 21:13)... Let love be firm in your heart, and do not deal with God, the church or the poor mathematically, without a heart!! And whenever you get a chance to do a merciful deed, do not close your heart, using the excuse that you have already paid the tithes...

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In your giving, elevate yourself above the level of the tax collector...

As the Lord Jesus Christ, to Him is the glory, said: Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees, no doubt, used to pay the tithes. Then you must pay more. Do not be a lawyer taking the law literally. But in your giving, deal with your heart and your love. Do not be neglectful of the poor with your possessions. Remember the Lords saying: If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven (Mt 19:21), and when you hear these words, do not go away sorrowfully like the young man who was first to hear them...

But the tithes are not all Gods sharing in your possessions.

There is also the commandment of the firstlings:


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