What You Don't Know About Your Income
Can you say, "What I earn is MINE
By Herbert W. Armstrong
WHAT you earn is not yours! There are two prior claims to it. The man who says, "What I do with the money I earn with my own labor is nobody's business I produced it it belongs to me" is mistaken.
What you earn by work performed or investments made is not yours not any of it that is, not UNTIL .. . !
What Most Men Don't Know
There are two prior claims on your income.
The first is GOD'S claim. God Almighty the Creator claims it all every dollar every cent! Your Maker tells you it all belongs to Him, not you.
But didn't you earn it? Didn't you produce it?
Not exactly. Everything produced money, and all that money can buy comes out of the earth. You didn't produce that! God created that. You merely applied certain energy in physical action and in thinking to what God had created and owned. And God created even, that energy you expended He created your thinking processes. He not only created, originally, but He sustains what He created, including force and energy.
So, after all, it was GOD'S LABOR of creating and sustaining that really produced - all God's claim to its ownership is valid. It is prior to yours.
God Almighty says, in His written Word: "The earth is the Eternal's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." (Psalm 24:1-2). This is repeated in I Corinthians 10:26.
"Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is MINE," claims God (Job 41:11).
"Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the ETERNAL'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is." (Deut 10:14). "All the earth is MINE," (Ex. 19:5).
"If I were hungry," says God, (Ps. 50:12), "I would not tell thee: for the world is MINE, and the fulness thereof." "For every beast of the forest is MINE, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (verse 10).
Yes, even the money even the gold and silver: 'The silver is MINE, and the gold is MINE, saith the ETERNAL of hosts." (Hag. 2:8).
DARE any man deny this claim of God? These same words of God are the words by which every man shall be JUDGED at last. If any man deny God's claim, the decision will be rendered against him, in the judgment! God's claim STANDS! Admit, then, your income BELONGS TO GOD! It's HIS to do with as HE wills.
How the Law Regulates It
However, God is a God of love. He knows your need. God is concerned about you. He is not selfish. He has your interest and welfare in mind. Therefore God has made A LAW respecting that portion of HIS WEALTH which your thinking, and your labor has extracted and worked upon.
Get this fixed thoroughly in your mind. Your, wages, your salary, your profit, your income BELONGS TO GOD, not to you. Probably you never realized this before. This may seem like a new idea to you. But it is not an idea it is a fact.
GOD IS THE OWNER OF WHAT YOU WORK ON AND HAVE A PART IN PRODUCING. You could produce nothing apart from God's matter which He created apart from the use of laws of force and energy which God set in motion and sustains.
Therefore GOD HAS A RIGHT to take, or dispose of what you regard as your income AS HE WILLS. He OWNS it. It is not yours, it is His!
So God, the rightful OWNER of your income has MADE A LAW respecting its disposal and its use. By virtue of being creator and Sustainer of the earth and all in it, God is supreme RULER and LAW GIVES.
God's LAW respecting what you earn is in fact a DEAL He has made with you. He allows you to work on HIS EARTH, to use a part of the earth or what is in it or on it, and of its forces and energies, and to extract from it food, materials, supplies, metals, wood, oils, coal, or whatever or to work on or with that which others have extracted from the earth, in manufacturing, distributing, selling, buying, investing whatever may be your occupation or job or profession and so, whether you have realized it or not YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD.
The farmer or gardener may plant seed, plow, and expend his labor in raising food. But WHO supplied the SOIL? WHO created the living process that makes the seed sprout and grow? Who sends the rain, or provides water for irrigation? Who set the sun in the sky and causes it to shine and warm the earth? Who causes the plant to drink out of the soil the minerals, vitamins, and good elements, and to grow into the vegetable, the grain, or the fruit? Did YOU perform this part of the business of raising the food you eat?
I think when we sit down and really THINK, we shall see that God supplies about NINE parts of everything man makes or produces, and man's thinking, planning, and working supplies only about ONE part. But God does not take nine-tenths of the proceeds, or the income. He doesn't take even eight-tenths, or seven, or even three or two tenths. God is GENEROUS. God has reserved for His use only one little tiny tenth of what is produced out of His earth thru His forces and energies!
God takes only ONE tenth. And after you have been honest in PAYING God's tenth to God's chosen representative, then AND NOT UNTIL THEN God has decreed that the other NINE tenths becomes legally YOURS!
THAT'S GOD'S LAW! Not a penny of what you earn, or a penny's worth of the value of what you produce, is YOURS it ALL belongs to God to do with as HE directs. But God has legally directed that after you have honestly paid Him the one little small tenth He requires for His use, then the other NINE tenths He gives to YOU. Then, and not until then, you can rightfully claim OWNERSHIP over that nine tenths. Then and thereafter it is YOURS to do with as YOU decide.
When we get our thinking straight when we get UNDERSTANDING when we stop to realize HOW MUCH of what we have was provided by GOD then we realize how LOVING, how GENEROUS, Is God - how solicitous for our welfare God is.
The CURSES and BLESSINGS
But that's only part of the story.
What does God want with that first TENTH? How does He use it? He requires that small fraction of what is produced out of HIS earth for the purpose of disseminating to the people HIS MESSAGE of THE WAY OF LIFE that will free them from fears and worries, give them peace of mind and happiness, give them joy and success and LIFE ETERNAL!
Yes, even this tenth which God withholds for His use is expended for HUMAN GOOD! For proclaiming His GOSPEL of Peace, and happiness and joy and salvation! For letting people know God will heal them when they are sick - that God will deliver them from every trouble - supply their every need! Give them Eternal Life!
THIS UNHAPPY WORLD IS STARVING FOR THAT KNOWLEDGE! THIS WORLD IS UNDER A CURSE because it has robbed God of ALL His money and His wealth, and thereby withheld from itself the knowledge of WHY it is in chaos - WHY it is at war - WHY there is no peace - WHY it finds life empty and fruitless, full of suffering and unhappiness, frustration and death!
All of God's laws are for MAN'S GOOD
Obedience to God's laws brings BLESSINGS! When we violate His laws, we bring CURSES upon ourselves!
How to HAVE MORE
In many previous articles in The PLAIN TRUTH and The GOOD NEWS, I have published and expounded the Scriptures in which God makes it a LAW that the first tenth of every person's income be paid to GOD thru His own called and chosen ministers. That law has always been in force and effect, and we find Abraham, 400 years before Moses, paying his tithe to God's high priest. That law continued thru the Levitical Priesthood of the Law of Moses, during which time God directed tithes to be paid to His ministers, the Levites. In Hebrews 7, God shows us that His tithes today are to be paid to the true ministers of Christ for the preaching and publishing of the Gospel. In I Cor. 9, we find that God has ORDAINED that the New Testament ministry of Christ is to be financed exactly as the Levitical ministry of the Old Covenant - by the TITHES and OFFERINGS of the people.
In the present article I want to show you more about the BLESSINGS for being honest in money matters with God, and the CURSES for neglect or disobedience.
God Is Your PARTNER
I read a book about a man who said he decided to make God his business partner, by GIVING God a tenth of what he earned. He prospered, and gave two tenths. His business grew still more prosperous and he gave three, four, then finally NINE tenths of all profits to God. Still there was far more left for the man himself than ever before.
This man made one big mistake. We don't make God our business partner - on the contrary, it is GOD who has from the beginning made every human HIS partner in whatever we do to earn or produce! And we are not GIVING God anything when we tithe!
We PAY tithes. Never say you GIVE tithes They are NOT YOURS to give. The tithe BELONGS to God. It never was yours! You PAY your tithes - or rather God's tithes. They belong to Him, and YOU ARE STEALING when you take them.
Remember, EVERYTHING belongs to God - not just one tenth, but all. God does not give you ANY part of what is produced UNTIL you have honestly paid Him HIS tithe - HIS PART of the partnership. If you fail to PAY this first tenth of every dime or every dollar you earn, then NONE of what you received and handled belonged to you - you actually ROBBED GOD of it ALL.
I want you to understand that. If you neglect to pay that first tenth to God, as He directs, through His ministry, then you are guilty of STEALING every dime and every dollar you have thought you earned. NONE of it was yours! You did not steal just that one tenth you neglected to pay. You stole THE WHOLE TEN TENTHS! It is DISHONESTY. It is STEALING. So says GOD ALMIGHTY, in Malachi 3:8-12.
You see, NONE of what is produced from GOD'S earth ever becomes YOURS until you have honestly paid over GOD'S required tenth.
God is your PARTNER - He owns the earth, and its forces and energies. He permits you, working as His partner, to labor on HIS earth, and utilize HIS forces and energies and powers, under the PARTNERSHIP agreement that HE gets the first tenth, and then you are given the other nine-tenths. When a man neglects that tithe, he steals from his PARTNER! Then God will not continue adding HIS part which blesses your efforts and causes them to produce more. Notice this!
CURSE - or BLESSING?
Yes, NOTICE! UNDERSTAND IT! Understand why many of you have been having such a hard time financially. See how you can begin to PROSPER!
God in His word thru Malachi says: "Will a man ROB GOD? Yet you 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." (Mal. 3:8-9.)
Understand this. Whatever is produced, is produced out of GOD'S earth. Do you realize God adds HIS part to this partnership? It is God who sends the rain, the sunshine. God has a thousand ways of making what you do, PAY OFF bigger. When you work diligently in this partnership to produce all you can, and are honest with your Senior Partner, God, in paying HIS PORTION of the proceeds, then God works with you, blesses your effort, causes the partnership to produce and earn more. He promises, repeatedly in the Bible, to PROSPER the tither. The tither has FAR MORE, retaining his honest nine tenths, than the man who cheats God and robs himself of God's blessing in this partnership production. It's a blessing, or a curse, depending on YOU!
One Man's Experience
Let me tell you one actual experience. I was intimately acquainted with a large-scale vegetable farmer in Oregon. One day when I saw him, the Santiam river had overflowed its banks in the most destructive flood in years. Most of his year's crop, already planted and growing, was flooded.
1 was horror-struck. But he seemed not at all perturbed.
"I'm thinking of two promises God has made me," he said, simply. "One, that ALL things work together for good to those who love the Eternal. The other, God has promised to protect and prosper the tither. I love the Eternal, I serve Him and keep His commandments, and I am honest and faithful in paying Him His tithe. Now I can't see, right now, how this apparent calamity can work for my good, - but I know it will, because God said so, and so I'm THANKING HIM and praising Him, instead of grumbling
Well, the waters went down, and to everybody's astonishment this man's crops were not harmed at all except one patch of late vegetables which it was not too late in the season to re-plant. That meant merely a little extra work.
But the astonishing thing was this: His land and his neighbor's land were identical, joining on to each other, without even a fence. His neighbor neglected to tithe. Both farms were equally flooded. But the tithepayer's crop was unharmed, and the neighbor's was destroyed - too late to re-plant! So many other farmers had their crops destroyed that spring that there was a rise in price on the market, and my friend got a far larger profit that year then he had formerly! It enabled him to greatly enlarge his operations and make more money every year thereafter!
Yes, GOD WAS HIS PARTNER! And God was WORKING right along with the partner who was faithful, trustworthy, and honest with Him. But God didn't help the other non-tithing farmers that year. GOD PROSPERED THIS TITHER, and today I understand he is making a net income in excess of $100,000 per year!
Another incident in the experience of this same farmer. The preceding winter, in the off-laying season, this farmer and wife decided to tithe not only money, but even eggs. One day they brought us a very few eggs one tenth of all they had. A few days later they returned to our home with many more eggs. The hens had started a wild laying spree the very next day after they began tithing eggs! That may sound impossible, but it happened!
Why don't YOU put God to the test? He is no respecter of persons. He will prosper you the same as anybody else.
How You Can Prosper
Let us continue with what God says about this CURSE, and BLESSING, in Malachi.
Verse 10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH, saith the Eternal 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 (crop-destroying insects, or other causes of destruction to what we are producing) 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."
That's GOD'S PROMISE! Be honest in your partnership with Him, and then He, your silent but all-powerful Partner, will prevent mishap, accident, destruction will preserve and prosper whatever you do will POUR YOU OUT A BLESSING so big you won't find room to contain it!
"But I can't afford to tithe," complains one man.
Can you afford to STEAL to be a THIEF to ROB GOD? Not a penny of income becomes actually YOURS until God's first tenth of what He permits you to handle has been paid Him. PAY HIM FIRST! His tenth is NOT YOURS you have no right to use it, or any part of it until His is paid. You are under a CURSE if you neglect to tithe. Yes, most people are under that financial CURSE.
But be HONEST with God, watch Him pour out a financial BLESSING! That's the quickest way to get debts paid. You can't afford NOT to tithe!
The Spiritual Blessing
But the biggest blessing of all is the - SPIRITUAL blessing.
Jesus says "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." That, too, is A LAW. It always works. It is inexorable!
If your treasure is in this world's amusements and pleasures if your money pardon me, GOD'S MONEY is being spent on yourself, your own selfish desires, or even your needs, and not even the full first tithe is going into God's work, then your heart and your whole life and interest will be in these selfish pursuits and material things, and you will lose out entirely with God.
One thing I have noticed in nearly a quarter century in Christ's ministry. Absolutely the only people who are close to God, who are growing in grace and knowledge of Christ, who are developing spiritually, whose HEARTS are in the things and the work of God, have been those who faithfully paid God's tithes, and who also gave with reasonable generosity offerings beside. In every case, those who started out the Christian life but neglected to tithe and give regular offerings have gone backward spiritually, drifted further and further from God. Often they themselves do not realize it UNTIL TOO LATE.
If God has not got your pocket-book converted, and your check-book too, then He has not got YOU and you have not got the salvation you think you have! But if your TREASURE all of God's first tenth of income, and offerings beside go into God's work regularly, then your heart is in God's work and the things of God, and you will grow and develop spiritually.
After all, can a thief who continues to rob and steal and from his GOD at that! be a converted and spiritual Christian?
This isn't meant to give offense. The vast majority of people NEVER KNEW these facts. The times of this IGNORANCE God has winked at, but now COMMANDS ALL YOU WHO KNOW THIS TRUTH to repent, and begin to pay God's tithe regularly!
The shocking facts are that out of some 20,000 co-workers who provide the expenses of this great work of God, there are fewer than 500 that are full and regular tithe-payers! The other 19,500 send in only occasional and usually small offerings.
The Second Prior Claim
Harry Truman, by virtue of MAN- made laws Congress has passed, is able forcibly to extract from your incomes not one tenth, but an average of virtually ONE-THIRD, a vast amount of which is mis-spent. Jesus said we are to pay taxes - render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's be subject to the powers that be. Mr. Truman, therefore, has a PRIOR right to one third of your income and in the case of salary or wages, the government takes it out BEFORE you get your pay.
God also has a PRIOR RIGHT to the first tenth of your income even before the federal government comes in for what it levies. The difference is that the Federal government collects by FORCE and God, with the purpose of building CHARACTER, expects you to be honest and faithful and attend to it yourself. Be honest with God, first of all and HE WILL PROSPER YOU SO YOU'LL BE ABLE TO PAY THE HEAVY TAXES AND ALL OTHER EXPENSES!
The United States government collects from the people more than 50 BILLIONS a year. Yet fewer than 500 out of America's 155,000,000 people pay God's first tenth into this great work of God, and it must function on an infinitesimal fraction of that spent on armaments, destruction, crooked politics, etc., besides the just requirements of honest government! What are YOU going to do about it?