Tithing

Tithing is important for me to address as it is a controversial subject. I really wish more Pastors would explain tithing from a true Biblical perspective, rather than perpetuate misunderstanding and misinformation. I am not as concerned with non-Christian views, for we are part of a kingdom which appears upside-down and the spiritual things of God don't make sense to the earthly minded. However, the genuine Christian needs to grow, and progress from "the milk" to "the meat" of the Word. Tithing is sometimes one of these "strong meat" issues that some believers never grow up enough to learn and feed on. Let me explain tithing (and giving) clearly from a Biblical perspective.

As I have often said, it is essential to clearly define our terms. I prefer to use the term "giving" or "offering" rather than "tithing," because tithing was an isolated Old Testament law. Some of you know where I'm going with this. My wife and I have always given more than 10% to the Church and this should be the testimony of every Christian. It is shameful that Christians will argue that since tithing isn't a requirement now, they don't give to the Church. Perhaps they are not even part of the body of Christ (the Church) since they apparently do not care for the rest of the Body. I have occaasionally heard Pastors mention the percentage of people who give and it is always incredibly low. Notice I said the percentage of people, not how much. Most of the Church is therefore in sin, regardless if they aren't giving or aren't working. I can give you dozens of Scriptures why giving to the church, the Church, is essential. This isn't rocket science... the Church needs money to operate and fulfill it's purpose. Giving is for the rest of the body, your body, if you are a member. Giving generously IS required in the New Testament. The body's members should contribute and I'll give you that 10% is a good Scriptural number that has seemed to always work well. However, if you insist on tithing what the Bible says, you need to give three tithes which end up being 23.3% each year.

The verse most commonly used to support tithing is Malachi 3:8-10:

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—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 there will not be room enough to store it.”

I cringe every time I hear these verses read because it is being used completely out of context. As Dr. Che Ahn the overseer of H.I.M. a network of 40,000 churches writes: "Unfortunately, this teaching on the tithe from Malachi 3 frequently intimidates people, inducing guilt by telling them that if they don’t tithe, they are robbing God and are under a curse."[1] This passage only concerns the Israelites bringing their grain sacrifices (Leviticus 6:14-23) to the temple storehouse where they kept the grain. The Israelites were to share their produce and livestock (it was never money) to support the Levites, the caretakers of the temple who did not get paid otherwise and couldn't even own land. Keep in mind this was all when Israel was a Theocracy and they didn't have a tax system beyond this tithe system. This tax system included three tithes which took care of the Levites, the feasts, and the last took care of widows and orphans. Under Hezekiah it was reinstituted "to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD" (2 Chronicles 31:4-5). After Christ and the destruction of the Temple system, this was never instituted again until much later in about 900 AD.

Some people will mention the passage in Genesis 14 (or even the mention of this event in Hebrews 7) where Abraham gave 10% of spoils to Melchizedek. However, we read later that Abraham gave the rest of the spoils (beside what his soldiers ate and earned as payment) to the King of Sodom (remember Sodom and Gomorrah?) who was pretty much the most evil human alive at the time! This all was a one-time gift from the spoils of this battle, they weren't Abraham's possessions or income, and it wasn't under any obligation either. Abraham killed a bunch of people and gave all their stuff away. The implication that we are to be like Abraham doesn't fit since we are in Christ and therefore priests and kings in the order of Melchizedek, we are a rotal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and therefore we would probably be receiving the tithe rather than giving it.

It's interesting that the only other example of plunder being given to priests is in Numbers 31:25-30, but it is never used as a tithing passage. Admittedly this would be a stronger passage than the Abraham passage because God told Moses to have all the people of Israel give a percentage of the plunder to the priests. The reason it is never used is because it's only about 1%. The soldiers were to give 1/500th and everyone else was to give 1/50th. It is also out of context like the previous passage.

In the New Testament, we see that the Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17). When the Church began to include the Gentiles, the leaders struggled with whether or not to command these new believers to follow the Mosaic Law. In the end, only a few instructions were given (Acts 15:19-21), probably just for the sake of peace, and tithing was not among them. The principle in the New Testament is to give voluntarily and generously to assist our brothers and sisters in Christ (see Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30, 24:17; Romans 15:25-28; 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8:1-15, 9:1-12; 1 Tim 5:3-16) and to support those who preach the gospel / plant churches (see Acts 15:3; Romans 15:23-24; 1 Cor 9:1-14, 16:5-11; 2 Cor 1:16; Phil 4:14-18; Titus 3:13-14; 3 John 1:5-8). No specific amount is ever commanded, and no percentage is suggested. The early church sold possessions (Acts 2:45; 5:1), houses (not the one they lived in) and land they had in excess (Acts 4:34), giving all the proceeds to the church leaders (Acts 4:34-35) for distribution to the church community for any needs. They shared everything and regarded their possessions as communal, treating nothing as their own (Acts 2:44; 4:32). They weren't compelled to sell their properties, and contrary to what some may believe, they were not compelled to give all the money from property sales to the church. The problem with Ananias and Sapphira was that they lied to the Holy Spirit, saying they were giving everything (Acts 5:1-4).

As far as tithing in early church history, Frank Viola and George Barna in their bestselling book, Pagan Christianity, point out the facts:

"Before the 3rd century priests had no form of income. The people supported them of their own volition. If that was not possible they worked alongside their ministerial roles to support themselves. It was actually Constantine who introduced the idea of a priestly salary, which was a pagan idea. He took money from the municipal and church funds to pay those serving as priests in the empire. We have to wait till the third century before someone suggested a tithe upon believers to support their local priest. Cyprian of Carthage suggested it, however it still wasn’t really accepted by anyone until the fourth century. Even then it was a tiny minority. In fact, it wasn’t common practice till the 8th century and was not law until the 10th century. That’s right, 900 years after Jesus!"

As far as giving, one of the most helpful things for me was to look at what I spend my money on and compare that to what I give. As a business owner, I go through all my receipts and expenses and see exactly what I spent my money on. I also go through my giving and see how that compares. We will so easily spend trivial money, that on the mission field is essential money.

Above all, all giving and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). You should be happy to contribute to your Church family, keep the church running, and most importantly, obey God to glorify Him. It should always be voluntary and will often reveal the heart of the individual.

There is a concept of giving in the Kingdom of God called "trading" and some are talking about various trading floors in the spirit realm that can be either good or bad. I will try to write something on this shortly but until then, you can search for "trading floors" and find information on this topic. Let me know your thoughts.

SOME SCRIPTURES: The following are some relevant Scriptures but they must be read in context:

Genesis 14:17-20
Genesis 28:20-22
Leviticus 6:14-23
Leviticus 27:30-34
Numbers 18:19-28
Numbers 31:25-30
Deuteronomy 12:1-19
Deuteronomy 14:22-29
Deuteronomy 26:12-13
1 Samuel 8:14-17
Amos 4:2-6
2 Chronicles 31:1-12
Nehemiah 10:37-38; 12:44; 13:5, 12
Malachi 3:7-10
Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42
Luke 18:9-14
Acts 2:44-45
Acts 4:32-35
Acts 5:1-4
Acts 6:1-7
Acts 11:27-30
Acts 15:3
Acts 24:17
Romans 15:23-28
1 Corinthians 9:1-14
1 Corinthians 16:1-11
2 Corinthians 1:16
2 Corinthians 8:1-24
2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Philippians 4:14-18
1 Timothy 5:3-18
Titus 3:13-14
Hebrews 7:1-19
3 John 1:5-8

FOOTNOTES:

1. Dr. Che Ahn, The Grace of Giving, Location 3691, Kindle edition


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