There is absolutely no doubt that within Scripture there are ample recommendations to give, and if you choose to call it ‘commandments’, commandments that we are to give of our material belongings for the material benefit of others. Whether this is food, clothing, material possessions, even finances.
As a matter of fact, James said in chapter 2, 16-17 that unless we do, our faith is dead, lifeless, of no value to Christ or to His purpose and kingdom. But is ‘Tithing’ the way we are to fulfill our responsibilities as in the Old Testament Law and Theocratic tax code, or are we to focus on sacrificial giving as Paul taught, where and when the need arises?
What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.] 15 If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? – James 2:14-16
Without seeming to have a critical spirit, I am staggered by the number of people I encounter throughout my days (even just the other night – I’ll explain later) that when I say Tithing is not for New Testament Christians, their eyes turn bloodshot, their head cocks to the side like a dog sniffing out prey, and they get that Tucker Carlson look on their face as if they are thinking, “Are you some kind of martian speaking jibberish?”
In all seriousness though, after having left a severely legalistic Apostolic (Oneness) Pentecostal church that hammered us with Malachi 3:8 (will a man rob God?) often, and forced us to pay 10% tithes AND 5% offerings on our pre-tax monthly income in order to be in right standing before God, I really starting searching the Scripture for the truth.
The reality is that you only find hardcore Tithing taught in Prosperity Doctrine/Gospel style churches that also have other obvious legalistic signs having from the door post. In my experience, the ones teaching hard on Tithing, as a percentage you MUST give, regulated by the church, and regularly monitored, are also those churches/pastors that have very tight Don’t Ask policies surround what is done with the money.
Why? It’s a for-profit business for those pastors/churches.
In truth, Scripture never teaches a continuation of the Old Testament law of Tithing. And let’s be honest – it was NOT a ‘good principle’ as people often proclaim it to be now. It was a LAW, a requirement, just like our income taxes are required by the IRS and there is no escaping them without serious repercussions.
What does the Bible say about Tithing in the New Testament?
In the New Testament, Tithing is never taught as a ‘must do’. Jesus mentions tithing twice during His ministries, which, technically, is still Old Testament, and important to notice, is that Jesus is speaking to Scribes and Pharisees when He mentions tithes.
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luk 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Also worth noting is that Jesus ONLY mentions tithing during his Seven Woes (a future article) message, telling Scribes and Pharisees all the things they are doing wrong, and more importantly, all the things we are NOT to do.
Hebrews chapter 7 is the next major mention of tithes, but the focus is entirely on Abraham, and more importantly, the Levitical Priesthood, which was the recipient of the Tithe because they did not receive an inheritance of the Promised Land and needed to be funded(fed) by the people they served. (Deuteronomy 10:9)
And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. – Hebrews 7:9, KJV
That is it.
What IS taught in the New Testament?
Well, turning to Scripture, we discover that the real message in the New Testament is simply, excellent, and satisfying.
Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows [a]generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap [b]generously [and be blessed]. 7 Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 AMP
First of all, giving sparingly means we will reap sparingly. Now, I come against the Prosperity Gospel that turns God into a Las Vegas slot machine. That is to say, the more you put in, the more you might be able to get out of it. Yet, Paul made it clear that the more we put into our Christian walk the more we will get out of it.
But is that talking about Money?
I met a man at the local taphouse the other day, and when I told him Western Christianity was obsessed with MONEY I got that Tucker Carlson look. After awhile, as we spoke about how prominent money is in Western Christianity, he asked me a very honest question when I told him praying for people is worthelss if you aren’t willing to do something for them.
“What if I don’t have any money? What can I do for people if I have no money?”
My response was that he just nailed upon what is wrong with Western Christianity – it all boils down to the money. We feel helpless if we don’t have money. We can’t contribute without money. We don’t have anything to offer without money.
Tithing was never about money!
Even Jesus said in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 that tithing was the produce of the field, and the flock. Money, as in social currency, or coin was never mentioned. Ignorantly man has said that that is because social currency (money) didn’t exist in the days of Abraham and Jesus, but this is silly and simply not true. Abraham used money to buy burial land for Sarai. Joseph instructed that money be put back into the bags of his brothers when they came to Egypt for food during the great plague.
My response to the man at the taphouse was epic in my own mind, and something I wish Christianity as a whole would gel around;
Money has nothing to do with your worth to the kingdom, and to the person in distress! James 1:27 says that PURE religion is to visit the widow and bastard (the destitute and hopeless) in their time of NEED and provide for their NEED!
Their need may just simply be a meal tonight. Their need could be a jacket. Their NEED could just be another human that is willing to recognize their worth and to give them an evening of LISTENING. Their NEED could just be having a person validate their self-worth and take them under the wing, someone willing to mentor them and help them find success. Their NEED might just be finding someone willing to look past the rags and lead them to a loving God that doesn’t focus on material wealth.
We can offer our time and life which is so much more valuable to the Kingdom of God than our checkbook. I have heard countless men say that it is easier to give of our finances than it is of our own time.
Secondly, and most importantly, is that Paul taught us that any giving, under compulsion, is of no real value to God.
What is compulsion?
This is easily defined, even under modern dictionary references.
- the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
- an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.
It is ABUNDANTLY clear that any giving we do that is under threat of Scriptural or mans threat of punishment is useless and unwanted by God. It is a stink in His nostrils and anti-Christ.
Giving is good, and whatever you give, be it time, food, clothing, shelter, money, is adored by God. Taxation under threat of law and punishment is anti-Christ.
Giving used to help the needy is God’s purpose – giving used to create a wealthy and fat pastor is an antichrist, against God’s direct purpose for his Church!
The Word of God teaches us boldly that our purpose as Christians is to be Christ-like, and that means we give of ourselves for the benefit of others. We sacrifice ourselves so that others may have. Any pastor that teaches Tithing as a requirement for salvation, for pleasing God, or for remaining in the church is of the Devil, who is his father.
Tithing was done away with, with the end of the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood. Giving will never end, and is always needed. Give, and give more! Love, and love more! Look for opportunities to give. Yet realize, giving is not money. Money is the last thing God needs. What He really needs is your heart, your commitment, and your spirit!