Certainly you can, but it depends on what you mean by advancing the work of God. If you mean that you intended to support your local church with that money, then using that money for any random project may be wrong. Anything that is dedicated to the house of the Lord has to be presented to God by the leaders within that house. Let me show you a few scriptures:
1 Chronicles 26:
27 Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD.
28 And all that Samuel the seer, and Saul the son of Kish, and Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah, had dedicated; and whosoever had dedicated any thing, it was under the hand of Shelomith, and of his brethren.
That entire chapter reveals how gatekeepers were assigned over the affairs of the people. Among these gatekeepers were officials who handled money that was dedicated for specific things. This simply means that you could dedicate money to build a house for the people, buy chariots, build wells, and so on. My point is, there were officials who were assigned to receive any money that was dedicated for certain things.
For instance, if I’m the person that collects the money dedicated for celebrations among the people, all contributions regarding celebrations must be deposited with me. Any attempt to use your contribution to celebrate someone directly may be a violation of the system.
Having understood that, when it comes to profit made from victory in battles, it was dedicated to the house of the Lord. And if you check the name of people who were assigned to receive anything that was dedicated to the house of the Lord, they were leaders of the church. They would receive it and dedicate it to God on your behalf. When it comes to presenting things in God’s house, people who were not assigned the task were not allowed to dedicate things to God directly. So those men would receive your contribution, and dedicate it to God.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
As we all know, tithe is the ten percent of our income that is dedicated to God through His house. Malachi specifically tells us that the tithe should be brought into God’s storehouse so that there can be meat in His house. But just because the purpose of tithe is well spelt out doesn’t mean the tither should go on and feed people with their tithe. The tithe is expected to go through specific people who would in turn dedicate it to God.
So Hebrews 7:8 reveals that although it is men that receive the tithe, but God takes record that we gave the tithe. This means that if these designated men do not receive the tithe on behalf of God and the church, there’d be no record with God that you gave the tithe.
I know that people have said that it’s okay to use your tithe to enjoy yourself or help those in need, the truth is, many of them don’t have a full understanding of what they are saying. The tithe may be used to help the poor, but certainly not by the tither. That’s the job of the priest.
For the sake of clarity, let me show you the three types of tithes that were practiced in the Old Testament:
– Levitical or Sacred Tithe:
The Levitical tithe was considered a sacred tithe. It was the first tenth of the harvest and was consecrated to God. It was given to the Levites, a tribe that was set aside to be priests and caretakers of the tabernacle and its furnishings. They were not allowed to own land, so this tithe made provision for them. Deuteronomy 14:27 states, ”And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.”
As Christians, we’re no longer obligated to practice tithing because every believer in Christ, including pastors, are blessed with all spiritual blessings. Which means we all have equal opportunity to be materially prosperous if we know how to commit our resources to the kingdom. I’d continue to tell those who follow me that I’m not blessed because people sow seeds into my life, I’m blessed because of the biblical principles I practice. One of the reasons why my books have remained free is to prove to the world that we don’t depend on their pockets. We receive divine ideas to make investments just like every normal Christian, and couple with our kingdom sacrifices, God blesses the works of our hands. This is the testimony of many pastors you see prospering out there.
In the Old Testament, the Levites lived on tithes because they were not allowed to have an allocation of land. In the New Testament, pastors are blessed with all spiritual blessings like every other Christian. Which means they can have whatever a normal Christian has. It’s why you’d see pastors single-handedly building churches and doing many great things. They no longer need tithes to do that. I lead a fellowship were we don’t take offerings. After a few years, they had to plead with me to start taking offerings for their own good. They weren’t giving offerings, yet I was prospering more and more.
Because of the value that pastors add to people and society, they tend to have gift of valuable people over time. The bible speaks of highly esteemed people who walked with Jesus and contributed to his necessity during his earthly ministry(Read Luke 8:1-3). Anybody who contributes value tends to have the gift of people who would sacrifice anything for their purpose. I have people who constantly make sacrifices for me, not because I coerced them into it, but because they want to contribute to what has transformed their lives.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a committed tither. As a matter of fact, my tithe is currently thirty percent of all my income. We may not be obligated to tithe, but the principle still works. It helps me maintain my commitment to the church of God. The more I give to the kingdom, the more open doors I experience.
– Feast Tithe
The feast tithe was used to fund trips to Jerusalem and religious festivals. Unlike the Levitical tithe, this tithe was kept as a type of savings. Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem for certain occasions, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, which was a week-long fall festival commemorating the 40-year journey of the Israelites in the wilderness. The week-long journey costs money, and tithe provided for these expenses.
– Poor Tithe
The poor tithe was unique in that it was only paid once every three years. This money was for the poor or travelers, especially orphans and widows. It is found in Deuteronomy 14:28, which states ”At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall lay it up inside your gates. And the Levite, because he has no part nor inheritance with you, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are inside your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do”.
Now you see the difference between these tithes. While the other two have become completely unnecessary in the New Testament, the first one can be finetuned. It’s a practice for me to give to people everyday, I don’t need to save up tithe for three years to do that.
I hope this has brought enlightenment to someone.
Remain ever blessed, in Jesus precious name!