Tithing, Tithing, Tithing. For today? Old Testament mandate? For the Church? This is one of the most hotly debated subjects in the church today. Are we supposed to give? Absolutely we are! Are we mandated by a percentage? Absolutely we are not. Giving for the body of Christ is to be done liberally and generously. Giving is part of our worship to the Father. It’s not a percentage and it’s not a mandate. We give because of our love for God and our desire to bless others. The tithe is NOT New Testament giving although many will try and say it is. I have many arguments against the modern day tithe and can expound on them but here is my general listing of oppositions:
1.Tithing is Old Covenant law-we are no longer under the law (Gal 3:10-14)
2.Today’s 10% tithing on everything we earn is really not found anywhere in Old Testament tithing. Under the Old Covenant/Mosaic Law there were multiple tithes which when fully equated amounted to somewhere between 22%-25%…not the flat 10% taught today.
3. Malachi 3:6-10 speaks of the ‘bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse’. Modern day teachers exchange the Temple storehouse for the church building storehouse but they are not the same thing. God’s Spirit resided in the Jewish Temple. Under the new covenant, we are God’s temple and His spirit resides in the hearts of man-not a building constructed by man. Not to mention the book of Malachi is generally speaking to the priests and not the common people.
4. Old testament tithing was given to the Levites as a type of tax on the Israelites because the Levites were given no land of their own. Their allotment was the Lord Himself and to serve in His temple thus they relied on the tithes of the people for grain, produce of the land and livestock. Pastors and ministers of the Gospel have no such restrictions on owning land, livestock or businesses to produce income.
5. Today’s tithe is 10% to the church-pastoral staff, ministries and building overhead (storehouse). In the old testament, the Israelites brought the tithe to the Levites-not directly to the priests. The Levites then would in turn give their tithe (off of the Israelite tithe) to the priests and the temple storehouse. In effect, if the Israelite tithe was 10% then ultimately the priests were only getting 1% (10% of 10%). This is never taught today.
6.The priests required a tithe according to the Law of God since again, they had no direct inheritance of the promised land and since their whole duty was to be given to ministering before the Lord. Well today, under the new covenant, we are the priests! (1 Peter 2:9). Should we be giving to ourselves?
7. If tithing was still applicable under the New covenant/New Testament, then why was it not affirmed or taught by any of the apostles? In fact the perfect opportunity was given in Acts 15 at the council of Jerusalem when the church leaders dictated the four things that would be required of the Christian gentiles (none of which was tithing): “28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” Clearly we can see here that tithing (if so important to receive God’s blessing) was not a requirement of men and women turning to God.
8.People use the Gen 14 example of Abraham tithing before the law was given. This is referred to as the ‘law of first mention’ stating that the first mention of something is to hold true for the remainder of the Bible. Well this is such a distorted scripture-Abraham gave 10% of other peoples stuff to Melchizedek, not 10% of all his own stuff. It was all spoils from his victory against the various kings in his going to save his nephew Lot. Abraham only took 318 of his trained men with him on this attack journey, he did not take all he owned which would have been ridiculous since this was a war party in search of Lot. Secondly, Melchizedek never asked for a tithe from Abraham. He actually came giving of himself to Abraham-a type of Christ. He came offering bread and wine, just as Jesus offered his body and blood for us. Lastly, this is a single incident and not even of normal circumstances. Nothing mentioned anywhere else about Abraham tithing regularly to God. And even if he did tithe (hypothetical argument), who did he tithe to? There were no priests back then, No temple, no tent of the meeting. This is a biblically unsound example across the board.
9. People use the argument from Matt 23:23 that Jesus supported tithing so we should do it today. Jesus said it so we should do it…well not so fast my friend. Two problems with that: first of all Jesus was speaking unto the Pharisees who were still under the obligation of the law. Jesus had not died yet nor been resurrected. There was no new covenant, no shed blood, no new birth-at least, not yet. So of course Jesus wouldn’t abrogate the giving of tithes in keeping with the law. Secondly, Jesus specifically mentions the following: “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. 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.” Here Jesus specifically states that he is referring to the type of tithing done UNDER the Mosaic law, not pre-law Abrahamic tithing.
10.Proverbs 3:9-10 states we are to ‘Honor the Lord with our wealth, from the firstfruits of all your crops…”. First of all, we should definitely honor the Lord with our wealth and put our trust in Him regarding our finances-as should we be good stewards of our money since “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”. But-this passage of scripture is written during a time when the Israelites were under the Mosaic law of God with regards to tithes-again, we are no longer under the Law for our righteousness is alone by faith. Should we honor the Lord with our wealth? Absolutely we should but not based on the tithe or firstfruits principle under the Mosaic Law. Good scripture and most definitely applicable to today so long as one is not trying to tie it to laws we are no longer under.
11. Many preachers today say we are under a ‘curse’ as it written in Malachi 3…um…I don’t know about you but, I’m under no curse. Christ bore all my sin and became a curse for me (Gal 3:10-Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”) This is blatantly trying to force or guilt people into tithing out of fear. In Christ, we are told not to fear. We are not like those under the Old Covenant who feared to approach God. No, we are told we can come boldly before the throne room of grace and approach God with boldness. The veil was rent in two.
12.Today we are told to give 10% of all our ‘increase’. Well tithing under the Old Covenant law was not based upon giving a tenth of all our money as it taught today. No…it was a tithe from the lands and the livestock. Why? Because specifically, the tithe was instituted to support the Levites who had been given no allotment of land by the Lord. Thus this was God’s way of supporting them. Specifically, you did not tithe off monetary increase otherwise. For example, carpenters, potters, merchants, etc. were not to tithe from their income-it wasn’t land nor livestock so it didn’t apply. Also, Jews living in gentile lands were exempt as well because the tithe was only from that which was produced on the promised land. This is a huge difference from what is taught today! The Israelites were also tithing off their promised land inheritance.
13. Tithing in the Old Testament wasn’t like it is today-10% of every paycheck, tax return, lottery winning and so on. In fact the tithe for the Levites and the priesthood was only at specific times. Other tithes were specifically for the poor and alien!
14.Much of the tithe under the Mosaic law was actually consumed by the very people tithing! Deut 14:22-23 states “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God…”. Wow-this is a major difference. In fact if the place where they were to go to ‘eat’ the tithe was too far away they were to exchange their tithe for silver to buy whatever they wanted to eat once they got to where they were going. This is completely contrary to what is taught today with regards to our tithe. You never hear about us taking a tithe and rather than giving it to the church, let us take it, buy food to celebrate and then eat it in the Lord’s presence as we celebrate His name. Just not taught because it would take away from the church income.
15.Again, the Old Testament tithe was only from agricultural products-not money. Some make the argument that “well back then they didn’t have money so they bartered everything with goods raised from farming and livestock”. Really, really…wrong. They most definitely did have money and monetary system of money exchange back then. Referencing the previous point, they used silver to purchase things.
16a. Today if you are poor and/or are having a hard time even paying your bills, you’re taught to tithe first and believe God for the rest.Or how about this one? ‘Just put your tithes on a credit card.’ (Talk about anti-Biblical sterwardship practices.) Now this principle sounds very noble and God-honoring and in some sense it definitely is but…it’s not Biblical. Under the Mosaic law the poor did not tithe. In fact much of the tithe given by the Israelites was for the poor themselves- for the fatherless and the widow!
16b. In addition to the previous point, there is even more. Today we are to supposedly give even when we don’t have it, put off bills and other responsibilities and debts to pay the tithe first. Well there is a story in Genesis 28 of Jacob tithing to God except his story is rarely taught as well because it doesn’t coincide with modern-day tithe doctrine. Jacob told God (his voluntary decision –not God’s command) that he would tithe a tenth of all his possessions IF… God blessed him first! That definitely contradicts today’s version of how we are to sacrificially give.
17.Today we are told to give the FIRST tenth which is holy to God. Definitely a good principle and not always bad by any means but unscriptural in context. Lev 27:30-33 specifically talks about the tithe and it states in verse 32 that ‘every tithe of the herd and flock-every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod-will be holy to the Lord’. Here it specifically states the ‘tenth’ animal-not the first, is holy to the Lord. Again, another passage of scripture defining the method of tithing in the Old Testament which is NOT mentioned or taught from today’s pulpits.
18.Pastors today typically tithe…Old Covenant priests did not tithe
19.In 2 Cor 9:6-10 states “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Now I hear this scripture given many times before an offering is taken up. What gets me is this scripture is in complete contrast to the mandated ‘tithe’. Preachers will say “I’m not trying to compel anyone to tithe or give’ yet that is exactly what is being done since it’s taught that the tithe is required of the New Testament believer. (It compels people to give what is mandated to give.) Those two things are in contradiction to each other-I don’t care how it is twisted around. And don’t tell me it’s ‘I’m supposed to give cheerfully the (mandated/required) tithe, because I have decided in my heart that is what I’m giving.’ If that is not the biggest corruption of what scripture says, I don’t know what is and anyone who denies that is just lying to themselves. I’ve also heard it said that now under the New Covenant we are to tithe by ‘faith’-that’s the difference today for the church. Really?? And they weren’t supposed to tithe by faith under the Old Covenant? Faith has been the center piece of both Covenants. Faith is not the issue here.
20. My last point is that if ‘Tithing’ is so important today for the Christian faith…why was it not taught by the Apostles in the New Testament. Complete silence except where tithing is mentioned in Hebrews 7 but, the focus of that chapter is not on the affirmation of Christian tithing but rather on the ministry of Christ in relation to Melchizedek.
Much of the apostle Paul’s ministry was not to the Jews but rather to the gentiles. The Jews were familiar with the concept of tithing since they had the law for all those years beginning with Moses and the Pentateuch but gentile believers knew nothing of giving a ‘tithe’. If it had been required of them, who would they have given it to? Priests? The Temple? No to both of those since they were both abolished with Christ’s death and sacrifice. As previously stated, every believer is now God’s temple (1 Cor 3; 1 Cor 6) and we are the priests (1 Pet 2:9). Plus, back then before Emperor Constantine of Rome legalized Christianity (making it the state religion), people were usually persecuted for their faith and met in secret-in people’s homes or in caves. There was no building fund, no pastors on staff, no overhead to maintain which is typically the reason for the tithe today. I believe the issue of tithing today is similar in nature to the issue of ‘circumcision’ back in Paul’s time. Same thing really…and if we get technical about it, there is a much greater validation of circumcision existing and being required (before the Mosaic law was given) by the Israelite people than there is about tithing being required or substantiated. Genesis 17 goes into great detail about the requirement of circumcision as a seal of the Abrahamic covenant between God and Abraham yet, all through the epistles we see Paul refuting the requirement of circumcision as being binding on gentile Christians. Why, even in Galatians, Paul rebukes the apostle Peter for siding with the Jewish customs as mandatory when even Peter didn’t live by them himself. If circumcision is no longer required (along with many other pre-law requirement such as keeping the Saturday 7th day Sabbath) of the Christian believer then tithing most definitely is not either.
I believe we should honor the Lord with not just 10% of our income but as Romans 12 states, offer ourselves as ‘living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God for this is our spiritual act of worship.’ We have been redeemed from the curse of law and all ‘works’ of the flesh. There is nothing we can DO which makes us right in God’s eyes except our faith alone. The beauty of it is that once we come into relationship with Jesus Christ by being born again (John 1:12-13; John 3:3,5; John 6:63, 1 Peter 1:3,23, 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 5:1,4,9). God no longer sees our frailty, our faults, our vices, our weakness, our sins, so long as we place our faith in the savior, We take on the righteousness of Christ Jesus. God only sees His perfect son when He looks towards us, and in that we have access to every promise of the blessed Word of God because Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law! He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled that written code which was against us and stood opposed to us! He took it away nailing it to the cross!!!
Praise God we are set free and alive in Him forever!!!!