It is Sunday morning and we are gathering for the morning services at our local Church. As we take our seats we are preparing for our first hymn. The song leader directs us to the proper page in our hymnals. Soon, the pastor will come forward to lead us in prayer as the ushers walk forward with the offering plates in their hands. The organist begins to play softly as we are admonished to begin thinking about how much we are to give. The Pastor reminds everyone of a passage in Malachi that causes some people to fear that they may be robbing God if they do not give accurately. The offering plate passes by as most people begin to fill it with their offering. This is the scene you see in many Churches on a typical Sunday morning. You may ask yourself, "Did I give accurately? In this study we will take a closer look at what the Biblical mandate for giving is. The Bible does speak on this issue, but, as I will show, it does not require that we give a tithe.
Present Day Tither's - what they Teach and Believe
Tithing means different things to different people, therefore it is necessary to clarify what the word tithe literally means. Some people simply use the word tithing to mean they are "giving." Those who practice tithing may differ in what they believe about it.
First, there are the extremists who not only practice tithing, but they like to boast about it. They believe tithing is giving ten percent of your gross income. They base this teaching primarily on the book of Malachi. They take these few passages in Malachi chapter three and conclude that the Bible is teaching what they call storehouse tithing. What this means to them is:
* Sunday morning service is the proper time to tithe.
* This tithe is to be given only to your local church.
* "Offerings" are what we give over and above 10% and can be given outside your local Church.
* If you do not tithe you are robbing God.
* If you do not give your tithe God will not bless you, He will curse you.
They go on to teach that if you are obedient to the command given in the book of Malachi then you will be debt free. To exalt their teaching they usually have some sort of testimony about how God blessed them financially because they tithe faithfully . In their mind, God is to receive His tithe before any other financial obligation is made. Each individual family’s financial situation does not have relevance. You are to obey God by tithing regardless of whether you are rich or poor. If you are not in a good financial condition, they claim the reason is because you are not tithing. They firmly teach that if one is to achieve personal financial freedom, the first thing they must do is start tithing. This is sometimes called "first fruits tithing" based on the passage in Proverbs chapter three. Most preachers who adhere to this belief on thithing will somehow fit this teaching into every sermon or discussion of the Scripture. They measure every Christian by this barometer. Your spiritual position with God is determined by your attitude on tithing. They teach that Abraham tithed before the Law of Moses so we are to do so after the Law. They proudly proclaim God will fulfill His promises to those who tithe.
Second, there are the tithers who are cheerful givers. They do not boast about tithing, they are simmply doing what they think is the will of God. They should know the Biblical teaching on tithing, but have never been shown any other way. They are generally motivated by love to give their tithes and are not legalistic in their actions. To them the word "tithe" is a synonym to the word "give". However, the Bible does make the distinction between Christian giving and tithing. Third there are the obligatory tithers who think they would be letting God down if they do not tithe. They feel if they must give their tithes to be "right with God." Many of these people understand that tithing was originally for the nation of Israel, but they still try to follow it as a "guideline".
A Closer Look at the Biblical Meaning of Tithe
The word tithe simply means ten percent. But the questions are:
Ten percent of what?
To whom does this ten percent go?
And when do I give this ten percent?
Lets try looking to the Bible to find the answers to these questions.
Lev 27:30 "'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. 31 If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock--every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod--will be holy to the LORD. (NIV)
Here we read that a tithe is
1) The seed of the land
2) Fruit of the tree
3) The herd
God had told Israel to give every tenth animal that passed under the rod, possibly to keep them from selecting the poorest of the herd. Every tenth one was to be given as their tithe.
2 Chron 31:5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. 6 The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them in heaps. (NIV)
This portion of scripture shows us that a tithe is
5) increase of the field
Notice that there has not been one mention of money. When looking at all of the references concerning tithing you will not be able to find one place where it spoken of as giving money. Tithing was always food, something from their flocks or fields. Abraham's tithe is the only exception and he tithed the spoils of the war, which could have included more than food. You will find no mention of tithe as money, silver, gold, clothes, or housing. It was food and only food. Anything that could be eaten. You can see this when the Pharisees wanted to add to the law of tithing by tithing mint, herbs, anise, cummin, and rue They were not tithing money. (Matt. 23:23 Luke 11:42). Jesus said to them about their tithing: "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel". (Matt 23:24) Christians are also trying to add to the Law by teaching us that we are to tithe.
So we see that a tithe is ten percent of food. Now let us attempt to answer the other questions. The tithe seems to have served three different purposes, and there could have been three different tithes. A tenth of the seed of the land and fruit of the tree, of the flocks, and of honey was given every year.
Deut 14:22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. (NIV)
The first tithe went to the Levites and the Levite was to give ten percent of that to the high priest:
Num 18:26 "Speak to the Levites and say to them: 'When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD's offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD's portion to Aaron the priest. (NIV)
So, we can see that the Levite could eat some of the food that was given to them, but were required to tithe the Lord's portion (see Deuteronomy 14:27). The second purpose and second tithe was to be taken to wherever God told them to go for a feast festival, which was to include all the tribes and the Levite:
Deut 12:5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you. (NIV)
The third purpose and possibly the third tithe (it could be that the third purpose was fulfilled in the second tithe) was only done every three years. This tithe was to be given to the stranger, fatherless and the widow. The Israelite was to lay his tithe at his own gate, or to eat it in his own home. He was commanded in the Law to invite the widow and fatherless as well as the Levite to eat with them:
Deut 14:28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (NIV)
Deut 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. (NIV)
As stated, this could be that the second tithe covered the third purpose, but I am inclined to believe that this was a third tithe for a third purpose because God told the Israelites to bring the second tithe to an appointed place.
It is obvious that the tithe stated in the Law is different from the tithing that is practiced today. The Law was to be observed once a year, and on the third year it was observed differently. Two or three tithes were paid by the Israelites and one specifically by the Levites. Tithers today are teaching us that we must pay a tenth of our income every pay period. If we are supposed to tithe, then should we not be doing so according to the way it is taught in the Word? The Bible does not teach the giving of silver or gold. In fact, God told Israel that if they had to travel far when going to the festival then they could sell their tithe (food) for money, then when they reached their destination they could buy back food with the money. They were allowed to buy back whatever they desired:
Deut 14:23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. (NIV)
So you can see that they were not tithing cash, but food. In fact, they had to turn thier cash back into food before they could tithe it. Biblical tithes had nothing at all to do with your paycheck or offering plates on Sunday morning at 10:35am.
Stewardship and Tithing
Many people put their "tithe" in the offering plate not knowing just where that money is going. This is poor stewardship on the part of Christians. We may not need to know every detail about how the money is spent, but we should be conscientious of how it is being used. A casual observation of most Churches reveals that much of the money is being wasted. For example; look at the church buildings in most communities. Some feel it is important to have a large building so they can bring more into the fold. Some feel that it must be ornate in order to be honoring to the Lord, but the Scriptures do not teach that. Churches often spend more on thier buildings than they do on missions and discipleship. I realize that in order to have a Church building, there are expenses that are necessary to maintain it. But we are told to be good stewards and many Christian Churches are spending more than is necessary and therefore not practicing good stewardship. The purpose of the Old Testament tithe was to help the fatherless children and widows or anyone who needed it. Stewardship allows for Church members to think prayerfully about how much they are going to give. Tithing limits the believer to give only what they feel required to. Tithing may also cause financial hardship to the families who do not have all the financial means to give ten percent of their income. We will address Biblical giving later in this study.
The Meaning of Malachi in Context
When reading Scripture we should always follow some simple guidelines. These are the same guidelines we use when reading any book, newspaper, magazine article or publication. Always consider:
Who is speaking?
Who is being spoken to?
What is the time element involved, past present or future?
What is the context of the text?
What is the subject under consideration?
Where are other passages of Scripture that may help us better understand the text?
We are all guilty at times of miss-applying God’s Word unintentionally. But too often many people deliberately or carelessly fail read the context, or ignore it totally. An exegesis of Scripture turns into an isogesis; twisting portions of scripture to make it mean something that the Holy Spirit of God did not intend for it mean. This is especially alarming when Pastors do this in order to gain financially. When studying the bible we must understand that sometimes Jesus is talking and other times Satan is speaking, sometimes the past is being considered and other times it is referring to the future. There are times when the context has a subject matter in mind that has nothing to do with what you think is being communicated. Paul tells us to rightly divide the Word, and there are several ways in which we are to divide it. For example it can be divided by "ages" and by "peoples." The Bible teaches us that there are different groups of people referred to in the Bibe, such as the Jews, Gentiles, and the Church. All three of these groups are vastly different. We must make these distinctions when determining the context of a passage.
Malachi the prophet was speaking to Israel, not the New Testament Church. Let us read the following verses from the book of Malachi.
Mal 1:1 An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. (NIV)
Mal 4:4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. (NIV)
God was using Malachi the Prophet to speak to Israel His chosen people, to whom the Law was given. Israel was in disobedience to God and was refusing to admit their transgressions. Let us look at one of the issues in which the Israelites were disobedient to God; tithing.
Mal 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (NIV)
In this passage, it is clear that God is speaking to Israel . It was Israel, not the church that was given the law. The Church is not under consideration here. Remember, even churches that claim to practice tithing are not tithing according to the Old Testament law; i.e. a giving a tenth of our food out of our gardens.
Look at the promise God gave to Israel if they were to start tithing again:
1) Their storehouse would be full
2) They would be given a blessing so large there would not be room enough to receive it
3) God would prevent pests from destroying their crops and their vines from casting off fruit (Malachi 3:11).
God's blessing was that their crops would flourish. While they did possess money at the time, God did not say his blessing would be to increase their silver and gold. There is no logical way to apply this to putting money in an offering plate. None of these passages address such a concept.
Many modern day "tithers" use this passage to support their teachings and even call it "Storehouse tithing". They teach that the storehouse here in Malachi is symbolic of the local Church or the place of worship. This is the place where all the tithes are supposed to go. But as we have seen in the true context of the passage, that teaching is not Scriptural. They are trying to take a literal passage and spiritualize it to make it relevant to the New Testament church, however that was not the intent of this passage.
Let us look at the true meaning of STOREHOUSE .
The Ungers Bible Dictionary says this:
The rendering of several original terms, meaning a treasury (<1 Chr. 27:25; Ps. 33:7; Mal. 3:10>, as elsewhere rendered); a receptacle for provisions (cf.
"Storehouse" is used twice in the Bible:
1. Malachi 3:10 #214 = depository-armory, cellar-ganer, treasure.
2. Luke 12:24 #5009 = a chamber on the ground floor or interior of oriental house. (gen. used for storage of privacy)(spot for retirement) secret chamber, closet storehouse.
"Storehouses" is used six times:
1. Gen 41:56 (concordance has an error in reference)
2. Deut 28:8 #618 = to heep together-barn storehouse
3. ICh. 27:25 #214 = depository armory cellar ganer, treasure
4. IICh. 32:28 #4543 = treasure
5. Ps. 33:7 #214 = same as above 2146.
6. Jer. 50:26 #3965 a granary-storehouse
Let us look at Gen. 41:56-57 to see if we can futher understand the meaning:
Gen 41:56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world. (NIV)
Here we can see when the seven year famine was upon Egypt, Joseph opened the storehouses to sell food. It was not a Church or place of worship, but a barn. Just looking at the word we can easily derive its meaning: store - house. A building (house) meant for storing crops. There is no logical way to get the meaning of the Church out of the word storehouse. There is no symbolic reference from any passage of storehouse to mean a place of worship. There are no similarities between the storehouse and the local church, so there is no way to infer that these passages teach tithing in such a way. Storehouse tithing is a man-made doctrine that is completely foreign to the plain reading of the Scripture.
Can a person apply the book of Malachi to their life? Of course we can. There are great lessons here. One of those lessons would be to understanding the will of God and follow it. When God convicts us, do we attempt to ignore Him and try to justify our actions as they Isrealites did? This concept can even be applied in our giving as well. If God lays it on our heart to give, we should not be like the Isrealites and hold back. Of course we must understand this in relation to the teachings of the New Testament that giving for the church is not a regulation but rather it is something that should be done willingly. Since this can be applied to us today, then the question must be addressed, will God still bless us? Absolutely! He already has and will continue to do so, but not based on anything you do, will do, or have done. The apostle Paul tells of the law of reaping and sowing and this can be applied to our giving. But, do not confuse the blessings found within the Law of Moses with the blessings we receive today. Some of those blessings had a direct result on only the Jewish people. God's blessings are not guaranteed to be financial. Furthermore, our motivation for giving should not be motivated by the desire to receive a blessing. Giving should be motivated by love.
Tithing and the Law of Moses
When the law was given 3,000 people died. When grace was given 3,000 people were saved. (Read Exodus 32:28 and Acts 2:41)
When studying the Bible must realize the difference between the ages in which God dealt with man. These ages are known as dispensations. In each dispensation God tests man in respect to his obedience to Gods divine will. In turn, this shows man’s incapability to please God without the saving grace that Jesus Christ provides. There are basically seven different dispensations: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Kingdom. The main dispensations are the dispensations of Law, Grace, and the Kingdom. The Law was given only to Gods chosen people, Israel. Today we live in the dispensation of Grace, also known as the "age of the Gentiles" or "the Church age." Regardless of what the age is called, the Law has been abolished by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Tithing was most certainly a part of the law (Lev 27: 30-34, Matt. 23:23, Heb 7:5). Some peple teach that "Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to destroy the law". Let us consider this passage:
Matt 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (NIV)
First, we must understand that the word fulfill does not mean "to confirm". It means to complete, expire, and fill. When Christ said that He did not come to destroy the law, He knew that He would be living a perfect sinless life, therefore completing the law that no other man could. This Law was obeyed by Jesus Christ without breaking it. If Jesus would have sinned, the law would have been broken or destroyed. Jesus did fulfill the law which He was born under (Gal 4:4) by living in perfect obedience to it (Heb. 4:15). He also fulfilled that law by His death on the cross (Heb. 9:7-28). And the fulfillment of the law is lovewhich is the new commandment that Christ gave to us (John 13:34). There are many scriptures that tells us that through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are no longer under the Law (for the law was meant for Isreal). Below are just a few examples:
Col 2:14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV)
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (NIV)
Rom 7:2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (NIV)
Rom 7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (NIV)
2 Cor 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (NIV)
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (NIV)
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (NIV)
Understand that the Law had its place and can still be used today as a tutor for us (Gal 3:24 NASB). However, it is no longer a rule for our life. We can learn from the Law, but its role for us is to lead us to Christ, not to be our guide. Love is our guide. We live in the age of Grace. Paul wrote the Galatians because they were trying to look to the Law for their righteousness. Paul asked them, "are ye so foolish? (Gal 3:3). He told them that they had fallen from grace by wanting to follow the law (Gal 5:4). If you try to follow the law and fail (which we all do), then you are guilty of all.
Gal 5:3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law (NIV)
James 2:10 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (NIV)
Every part of the Law has been abolished. The New Testament does restate some of the laws such as when Paul pleads with us to not preform certain sins. God does still beseeches us not to sin, but our righteousness is not obtained by "observing" the law. Romans 12:1 teaches us that we are already made holy, and acceptable in the sight of God. All we are asked to do is to give our body (after we have been saved) as a living sacrifice. An unsaved person cannot do so because they are still dead in their sins. We are made alive by the resurrection of Jesus the moment we believe.
Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)
In this age we are told by God to walk in the Spirit. God tells us exactly what is expected from us in the New Commandment of Christ; love. It is wrong to think we can merit favor with God by imputing the Law of Moses, or another man made rule on grace. The Galatians were guilty of looking to the Law for righteousness. These Laws had already been fulfilled in Christ. The Book of Hebrews also addresses this and corrects those who were still trying to live by the Law to the point that they were still offering animal sacrifices. The Law has been done away with. We have a new clean slate. Yes we can look to the Law and see the Holiness of God, but but we should not pick and choose which Laws we want to try to follow to gain favor with God and which we want to disregard. Let God be the Judge.
Do not mistake my intentions. People have often accused us of ignoring the Old Testament or cutting it out of our bibles. We firmly believe in the Old Testament and realize there are thousands of applications that apply to our lives. I have learned a tremendous amount of truths and have grown spiritually by studying the Old Testament. I love the entire Bible with all of my heart. We simply must divide it properly. For example, God told Joshua to cross the Jordan river. Does this mean we should all go to Israel and cross that river? Of course not.
Sometimes the New Testament will provide a principle and emphasize it by saying the Law of Moses contained the same principle. The law does teach us not to steal, lie, or murderl; but so does love. However, the motivation of doing something out of love is not the same as doing so because it is required. Let me try to give an example. Ephesians chapter six instructs children to obey their parents:
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"-which is the first commandment with a promise- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (NIV)
Paul tells children to obey their parents simply because it is right, not because you are under a law which may rob you of a blessing or put you under its curse if you do not. Paul is merely emphasizing that even the Law says, honor your father and mother. Paul also tells us this was the first commandment given by God which had a promise, and that promise was that they would live long on the earth. Paul does not say now we will live long on the earth if we follow the will of God, but rather that we are to follow the will of God because it is the right thing to do and that is what He wants from us. In the Old Testament (when they were under the Law) this was Gods promise to those who followed this Law. Under this present age of grace, we should not want to live long on this earth, we are strangers and pilgrims just passing through! We have spiritual, heavenly blessings waiting for us, not earthly ones. What if a Child did obey his parents perfectly until he reached the age of nine or so and then the rapture took place? He would not live long on the earth would he? But in the Old Testament people were not looking for a rapture, they were looking for a Kingdom to continue here on earth, with earthly blessings. God has chosen what laws he wanted to restate in the New Testament, it is not our place to change or infer anything different from what He has already stated. You will never find the Bible teaching, that under this dispensation of grace, the Church is required to tithe. No where is the Old Testament tithe ever redefined to mean giving your "income." Christians are to be moved by love. The book of Romans tells us that if we have love then we will not want to sin.
Rom 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV)
Gal 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (NIV)
If you want to follow the Law as a "guideline" then I must ask you, is not the shed blood of Christ which delivered you of such bondage enough for you? Jesus died and gave us grace. Paul calls the Law a yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1). Jesus said:
Matt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)
Jesus has something to offer us that is not a burden, but that is easy. He offered freedom from the law. Interestingly enough, when Jesus was speaking about or to the Pharisees He referred to the law as being "their law" or "your law." (John 8:17, 10:34, 15:25, Acts 18:15). Jesus offered grace. These were His commandments. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12 NIV). Tithing was part of the law (Lev 27: 30-34, Matt. 23:23, Heb 7:5). Grace teaches us how to give.
The law says do and live while grace teaches to believe and live. The law says do so God will bless, Grace says you are blessed therefore please do. Jesus never enforced any act of tithing in His teaching. Even if he had done so, we should follow tithing according to how it was taught in the Old Testament, which is not what is taught today. We should not add to the Bible and call a tithe giving ten percent of our gross income. After reading these passages of scriptures if you still want to say the law is for us today, listen to the words of Paul:
1 Tim 1:5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (NIV)
Considering Other Passages of Scripture
Matt 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (NIV)
This verse is often used in defense of New Testament tithing claiming that Jesus was re-enforcing the Law of tithing to us. Let us first consider who is being spoken to, it is the scribes and Pharisees. In the context of chapter twenty-three, Jesus is showing how hypocritical and unscriptural the Pharisees were. He tells them how they like to make clean the cup on the outside, but the inside of the cup is filthy. They were trying to be good, when they needed a new heart. In the whole chapter Jesus says, “woe to you scribes and Pharisees“. Jesus is preaching to them about their thinking and doctrines. One of the problems they were having was, "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel". They were going way overboard when it came to tithing. First of all Jesus told them there were more important things to the law than tithing, so how could this be an enforcement of the tithing law? They were neglecting the weightier matters and then started tithing even the herbs and mint cummin and anise of the field. The law never said to tithe even the herbs, mint, cummin and anise. Just as today people want to impute some man made act which they think will merit favor with God, the Pharisees were adding to the law something which is not there. It is true that Jesus did not tell them to quit tithing, but only because it was still part of the law. The law was still active until Jesus died. Jesus followed the law of tithing, for it was his act of obedience to the system he was under. We are to follow Jesus commandment, which is love. This does not include a legalistic form of giving.
Hebrews chapter 7
Heb 7:2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! (NIV)
It would be good to read this chapter very closely. It can be a difficult passage to understand. This letter was not written to any local Church. It was a letter to the Hebrew people. But, for certain, these Hebrew people were Christian. These Jewish believers were struggling with some doctrine and fear of persecution from unbelieving Jews. I do believe that the book of Hebrews is applicable for every Christian, not just the Hebrews. But there to understand why this was written will help us understand its meaning. The problem was these Jews did not understand the position of our Lord Jesus Christ. They thought they were still under some obligation to the Law. The writer was teaching them that Christ was superior to the law, angels, Moses, and the entire Levitical system. Christ was the "better sacrifice" but these Jews were still offering sacrifices. Jesus is superior to their sacrificial system, He is the ultimate sacrifice! The writer of Hebrews taught them in the seventh chapter how Jesus was a yet higher priest than Melchisedec. If the law in which they were still trying to follow could bring perfection or salvation then why must Christ come who lives forever after the order of Melchisedec?
Heb 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (NIV)
This is the key to the whole chapter. They were still trying to pay tithes to a Levitacal system which was dying anyway. Jesus is in a higher position and the law is abolished. The time this letter was written the temple still stood, and tithes were still being paid. The writer says this is unnecessary. Verse five tells us they were doing it according to their Law:
Heb 7:5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-that is, their brothers-even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. (NIV)
This scripture tells us that Abraham gave ten percent to Melchisedec, a Priest, and the Law was in accordance as the tithe was to go to a Levite. Not to a church. Abraham also gave the spoils of war, in gratitude to what Melchisedec did (read Gen. 14:17-24). You can not use Hebrews to show that tithing is still for today. Even if Hebrews 7 was somehow teaching tithing, then we would need to look at the law and see exactly when, where, and how the true tithe is to be given. This does not say we are to give ten percent every week to our local church.
1 Cor 16:1 Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (NIV)
Some teach us that in this portion of scripture, Paul is tells us to tithe. The context of the verses are dealing with a special collection for some poverty stricken brethren which dwelt in Judea. (Acts 11:42) The scripture clearly says to give as God has prospered you.... The word lay can not be interpreted as a tithe. It means to place something away, or put something down. Paul wanted them to have the offering ready so there would be no gathering when he came. Now if tithing were something they did regularly, why did Paul say that he did not want any gathering when he came? He would have told them this was not to be their tithe money but to go beyond and above their tithe. If tithing was so important, then why doesn't he ever make mention of it to this Church, or any other? Why wouldn't he do so all the time, like we hear almost every time we enter a Church service today? Paul did say: For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:27 NIV) And again: You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. (Acts 20:20 NIV) He could have at least given us a seven point course on how to be debt free by paying our tithes! He didn't because it is not what giving is about. The idea of calculating ten percent of our pay check, giving it to our local church, calling it a tithe, and thinking we are now right with God is unscriptural.
The Famous Tithe of Abraham
It seems every pro-tithing teaching loves to point out the fact that Abraham tithed before the Law. They teach that because he did, we should all tithe after the Law. Where does God tells us to tithe after the law ended because Abraham did it before it started? He doesn’t. Regardless, I believe Abraham was tithing according to the covenant of law. Abraham was the first Hebrew. He was the father of the Hebrew race. As we turn to the New Testament we see he fills another role. He is pictured as the father of a spiritual seed; those who become a child of God by faith.
Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (KJV)
Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (KJV)
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)
In studying this we find that Abraham had two roles in the Bible. He is the father of the Hebrew race according to the flesh, and the father of spiritual seed according to grace. The Old Testament points this out in the promise that God gave to Abraham, Gen. 13:16 "and I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth... This refers to the fleshly or natural descendants of Abraham. Gen 15:5 "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars if thou be able to number them; and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be. This promise refers to the spiritual or heavenly descendants of Abraham. The fleshly or natural descendants of Abraham were given the covenant of Law. The spiritual seed were given the covenant of grace. It would then only be fitting to say Abraham received both covenants. Acts chapter seven recorded Stephen's sermon that cost him his life. Acts 7:2 "Men brethren, and fathers, hearken; the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham... The first eight verses are devoted to the call of Abraham and Gods dealings with him. In verse eight Stephen says "and God gave him the covenant of circumcision..." In the New Testament Paul clearly speaks of the covenant of circumcision as being the same thing as the Law of Moses. (Rom.2:25, 4:8-12, 9:1-5, Gal 4:21-31, 5:2-3, 6:12-13, Eph 2:11 and Phil 3:1-6) Since it is clear they are the same, then one must conclude Abraham was given the covenant of Law before the same covenant was engraved in stones and given to Moses at Mt. Sinai. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my Laws. (Genesis 26:5)
What else did Abraham do before the Law?
Ÿ Abraham was commanded by God to circumcise his children (Gen. 17:9-14).
Ÿ Abraham was commanded by God to offer animal sacrifices (Gen. 15:7-10).
Ÿ Abraham was the first man in the Bible that had any connection with a priest (Gen 14:18).
Ÿ Abraham was the first to tithe, and to a priest (Gen 14:18-20).
Why do we not circumcise our children (we do so now only by choice), or offer animal sacrifices, or have any dealings with a Old Testament priest?
WHAT DID ABRAHAM TITHE?
The Bible says Abraham was rich in silver and gold.
Gen 13:2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. (NIV)
But is this what Abraham tithed? The Bible says he tithed of the spoils of battle that had been fought with Chedorlamer,
Heb 7:4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! (NIV)
Why don't those who teach this tithe what they have acquired in a battle? That is what Abraham tithed. Let me also point out that the Bible records only one time in which Abraham gave a tithe. He was under a covenant of Law, and he tithed the spoils of battle. Abraham did not tithe ten percent of his gross income weekly to a storehouse or local assembly.
What is the Scriptural Way of Gifing?
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with giving to your local Church, if you have a local Church to give to. I also believe in giving to other types of ministries. I do not believe the system God intended for us to use is a tithing system. We are living in the dispensation of Grace. God has abolished the Law and brought us out from its’ curses. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessing, therefore I want to do things because I love him, not to get to heaven, but because I am going to Heaven. Some people sincerely misunderstand the difference between tithing and giving. Tithing was for Israel not for Church offerings. Tithing had really nothing to do with money whatsoever. And sometimes neither does Christian giving! Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee... Paul declares, Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive. This is an example of Biblical giving. We must take note of the fact that Peter had no silver or gold. Many today would have to conclude that he must not have been titheing. Yet how could he tithe money, when he had none? Peter gave what they could from their heart. So laboring they did give.
2 Cor 8:12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. (NIV)
First, there must be a willing mind. If we were forced to give according to a legality, it would not leave room for us to have a willing mind. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit. It is accepted according to what a man has, and not according to he has not. Some people have a hard time figuring out how they are going to pay their next bill. God knows who they are and He is full of grace and understands they may not be able to give as much. But when they do give, it was a real sacrifice to them. On the other hand, there are people who has great riches financially. They are able to give more and that is the way God wants it to be, give what you have, not what you have not. God does not want some to be eased and others burdened. This also speaks of equality within the body of Christ. For some in the Body to be so burdened financially and other without food or shelter is not what God has willed.
1 Cor 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
As said earlier this was a special offering, but the principle is good, as God has prospered him. Not ten percent, but what God has given you to give. It also does clearly say, let every one of you. All of us should give what we can and how we can. And that does not have to include money.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (KJV)
Look at this beautiful verse. The remarkable thing is I read it in pro-tithing literature. They are missing what Paul was trying to teach. God says to give according as you purpose in you heart. What you feel comfortable with, what you think is best, and what you think is the proper thing to do. This kind of giving is more difficult. It is not so cut and dry as to just give according to a law and know you are then "right with God". This type of giving requires diligence, prayer, and listening to the Holy Spirit's guidance. Not to mention your financial situation. That does not mean we can blow our money on foolish things then come to God empty. If you know you should give then give! Getting a calculator out and figuring ten percent of your gross income is obligation not conviction. God wants us to do things because we want to, because we love him. Some times it is more than ten percent, sometimes it may be less, that is between you and God. Not grudgingly, as if you were thinking, Oh, here we go again, I have to reach into my pocket. It is also not of necessity, which would be a tithe every week. God only wants it to be from a cheerful heart. He may want to test you to see how much you give, as He has prospered you, according to what you have and not what you have not. You do not have to buy Gods Love and acceptance. Jesus did that for us. I am not suggesting that every one who does tithe does so unwillingly. I understand that some people truly believe they are being obedient to the Bible. And there are some people who are truly sincere, and quietly give ten percent. My desire is for you to come out from the law, and live under the wonderful age of Grace and see what real giving is about.
Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
Being legalistic is a dangerous place to be. Read and study the book of Galatians. Galatians 6: 12-13 says those who are trying to be good on the outside and make a show by trying to follow a legalistic path, are really the ones who would not suffer persecution for Christ. They are trying to teach everyone else to do the Law, yet they themselves keep not the Law.
Gal 6:12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. (NIV)
Paul teaches us that giving is the good and right thing to do. He tells us that he himself
should be under the care of the Church. (1Cor. 9) We are to take care of our pastors and their needs. We are not to fall into debt by spending foolishly. Our money should go to something that would be beneficial.
If there is anyone who reads this and has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, do not give your money. You see the scripture says this:
Prov 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? (KJV)
The Bible calls anyone without Jesus a wicked person. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). When we sin, we commit a crime against God. When sin has finished its work, the wages is death - not money. (Rom 6:23). God demands payment for sin. Paying a tithe, a hundred dollars or a million could ever pay that price. God does not want your crisp twenty dollar bill, God wants your heart. He wants your life. You or anyone else does not have to pay God off. Jesus can turn your wickedness into righteousness. Jesus paid for your salvation. He paid the debt that was owed, - death. Jesus came to this earth, lived a perfect sinless life, and took upon himself your sins, and was crucified on the cross. He died for you. The Bible says:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
This was the greatest gift of all. So please accept Jesus as your Savior, all you must do is trust deeply in Him.´
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)
It is wonderful to know the God of the universe and have a personal relationship with him.PRAY, STUDY AND MEDITATE ON HIS WORD, AMEN.