Tithing, Giving, Sowing, and Reaping

Table of Contents

 

 

Introduction

Are Christians required by God to give 10% of their income to their local church? That is the fundamental question that this study was created to answer, which we will. In addition to that we will look at the topic of giving as well. Does God require Christians to support their pastors, ministers, bishops, and other religious leaders the way the Israelites were supposed to support the Levites and Priests with regards to the tithe? Is tithing the key to being blessed by God and are we indeed robbing God if we do not tithe? We are told that we must tithe to our local church to be blessed by God. We are told to sow seeds (money) into our local church to obtain provisions from God. I will answer all of those questions in this study.

I have been in many churches and all of them believe in and/or teach the tithe. I have also seen people struggle trying to give the tithe in fear that they will be cursed or that they would be in danger of going to hell. Has God commanded a tax to be paid to the local church? I used to teach tithing myself. However, one day in the mid-1990s, I was preparing for a financial seminar that I was giving at the church I was attending. I had been reading books about finances from a Christian perspective. At one point during my studies, I stumbled upon contradicting answers to the question, "What should a Christian do if he or she cannot afford to pay the tithe?" At that point I prayed to God to show me which of the authors was correct. I took a walk that day to hear from God, but did not hear anything until I got back to where I originally was. Upon arriving I heard God simply say, "Believe me." This study is the result of that incident for the most part. What does God say about tithing for the New Testament Christian? We will find out.

The purpose of this study guide is to reveal the truth from scripture concerning tithing and giving. It is not to support any presupposition of mine regarding the tithe. This study guide is not a study on why we should not tithe or that we should tithe. This study is designed to present what the bible teaches us about tithing and to help answer the question of whether a Christian is supposed to tithe or is commanded to tithe.

 

 

Methodical Study Method

The methodical study method was used in preparing this study. In the methodical method of study, we analyze data that we have gathered and determine the best interpretation of that data. In this case, we will analyze scripture to determine what the bible reveals to us about a particular topic and we will then draw a conclusion. The methodical method of study uses an inductive approach rather than a deductive approach to biblical interpretation.

Deductive Bible study involves validating a preconceived idea, belief, conclusion, or presupposition. In this approach the interpretation is already assumed and scriptures are gathered to support that presupposition. This is what happens when people make the bible say what they want it to say so to speak.

Inductive Bible study involves the gathering of facts/data from scripture and then drawing conclusions that are revealed by those facts. Inductive Bible study is an objective Bible study. This means that any conclusion that is made can be easily tested against the scriptures themselves since the conclusion came from the scriptures. Therefore, in this study you will find a plethora of scripture passages and an interpretation of each. We will then summarize what those scriptures and subsequent interpretations mean.

 

 

The Law

The first thing that I would like to discuss is the tithe itself.  However, I think we must first discuss the tithe per the way that it is taught in the typical church and then move on to how it is revealed in the Bible.

I think it is important to discuss the LAW since the teaching of tithing centers around the Old Testament law. The following is an excerpt from the Holman Bible Dictionary.

LAW, TEN COMMANDMENTS Law refers both to the revelation of the will of God in the Old Testament and to the later elaboration on the law referred to as the "traditions of the elders" in the New Testament (for example, Mark 7:5). The term law may be used for a commandment, a word, a decree, a judgment, a custom, or a prohibition. The Hebrew term most frequently translated "law" in the Old Testament is torah, used more than 200 times. The central idea of torah is that of instruction received from a superior authority on how to live. Torah in the Old Testament came to mean the way of life for faithful Israelites. The Torah is more than just "laws"; it includes the story of God's dealing with humankind and with Israel.

Jesus inaugurated a new era in which the Law as understood by the Jews of His day would no longer be the guiding principle for the Kingdom of God (Luke 16:16). Nevertheless, Jesus claimed not to have come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20). That is, Jesus moved the understanding of the Law from its external, legalistic meaning to its spiritual one. Moving from outward observance to inward motivation and intention is Jesus' concern (Matt. 5:21,22,27,28). He pushes the Law out to its ultimate meaning (thus filling it full). In this sense Jesus affirmed the heart and the spirit of the Law. He moved to a deeper level of meaning, to the spirit behind the Law which God had intended from the beginning.

Paul gives us the purpose of the Old Testament laws,

Galatians 3:24–25 (ESV) — 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

The law had a definite purpose and Christ has fulfilled that purpose. Jesus said,

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) — 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.

 

 

Keeping the Whole Law

I must point out a very important fact before I get into the discussion of tithing. The Bible says,

(James 2:10-11 KJV) For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. {11} For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

The law revealed the will of God as we said earlier. So, if we being law keepers break one law, then we have gone against the will of God and therefore guilty. If we are to keep the law of tithing, then we must keep the whole law of tithing. What is the law of tithing that some ministers teach? This tithing law can be stated as follows.

God, according to Malachi 3:8-10, commands Christians to pay 10% of their gross income to their local church. Christians must pay this 10% before any other financial obligations are met. Christians cannot be blessed by God unless this tithe has been paid.

Are we required to pay a tithe to the local church? Let's investigate this from the scriptures.

 

 

The Tithe

Tithing is a concept taught by many ministers where it is taught that Christians are supposed to give 10% of their income to the local church to support ministry or otherwise to invest into the Kingdom of God.  Is this true?  That is the topic of this study.  However, let's first establish the true definition of tithing.  What does it mean to tithe? Let’s define the word tithe from the Bible. There are five words in the Bible that were translated into the English word tithe or tithes.

  • Hebrew ma'aser or ma'asar (plural form ma'asrah) means a tenth.
  • Hebrew 'asar means to accumulate; to tithe, i.e. take or give a tenth. Used only in Deuteronomy 14:22 and Nehemiah 10:38.
  • Greek ap-od-ek-at-o'-o means to tithe (as debtor or creditor).
  • Greek dekatoo means to tithe, i.e. to give or take a tenth. Used only in Hebrews 7:5,9
  • Greek dekate means a tenth, i.e. as a percentage. Used only in Hebrews 7:8

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (1988), page 2071: Words deriving from Old English for “tenth,” and representing a charge upon produce or labor levied for the maintenance mainly of religious activities. The custom is very ancient (Abraham paid tithe of spoil to Melchizedek, Gn 14:20; cf. 28:22), and widely practiced, being known in Athens, Arabia, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Syria, Babylon, and China.1

New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition, page 1193: The custom of tithing did not originate with the Mosaic law (Gn. 14:17–20), nor was it peculiar to the Hebrews. It was practised among other ancient peoples. There are three main questions to consider.2

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3rd ed page 1637: The tenth part of all fruits and profits due to God and thus to the Church for the maintenance of its ministry. The payment of tithes has been held to be enjoined not merely by ecclesiastical law but by *natural and divine law—by natural law because it is essential to the maintenance of religion, which is enjoined by natural law; by divine law because the payment of tithes is specifically ordered in the OT (Lev. 27:30–2, Deut. 14:22–4). It is, however, only implied in the NT (Mt. 5:17–19, 23:23) which places much greater emphasis on voluntary giving (e.g. 2 Cor. 9:6–7).3

Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (electronic ed): Giving a portion of one’s profit or the spoils of war was known in the ancient world from Greece to China. Gifts were made as religious offerings, or given to a political authority as tribute or tax. Religious and political uses often combined since it was common to associate earthly and divine authority. Donation of a tenth portion, or tithe, was common apparently because most peoples counted in tens, based on ten fingers.4

For this study, we will define tithe as one tenth. The word tithe in the religious community typically means one tenth of one’s income.

 

 

Some History

Tithing is not something that only took place with the Israelites in the Old Testament times nor is it merely an ancient practice. Of course, many pastors and ministers still teach tithing today, but you may be surprised to know that tithing was a part of local governments. Let’s look at some information about tithing from the middle ages (about 500 AD - 1500 AD) to get an idea of how diverse the practice of tithing is.

There were non-Jewish pre-Christian societies that practiced something like tithing. We see this from records from Babylon during Nebuchadnezzar's time to the temples of Apollo in Delphi and Athens, and other pre-Christian centers of worship collected a tithe for their gods. Other cultures including Greeks, Chinese, Arabians, Phoenicians, Romans, and others practiced giving like tithing.

The following is from the Encyclopedia Britannica
Despite serious resistance, tithing became obligatory as Christianity spread across Europe. It was enjoined by ecclesiastical law from the 6th century and enforced in Europe by secular law from the 8th century. In England in the 10th century, payment was made obligatory under ecclesiastical penalties by Edmund I and under temporal penalties by Edgar. In the 11th century Pope Gregory VII, in an effort to control abuses, outlawed lay ownership of tithes.

During the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther approved in general of paying tithes to the temporal sovereign, and the imposition of tithes continued for the benefit of Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches. Gradually, however, opposition grew. Tithes were repealed in France during the Revolution (1789), without compensation to tithe holders. Other countries abolished certain kinds of tithes and indemnified the holders. By 1887 the tithe had been brought to an end in Italy. It was abolished in Ireland at the disestablishment of the Anglican church in 1871, and it gradually died out in the Church of Scotland. In England in 1836, the tithe was commuted for a rent charge depending on the price of grain, and in 1936 the tithe rent charges were abolished. New methods of taxation were developed in those countries that provided financial support of the church out of government funds. Remnants of the tithing system do exist, however, in certain Protestant European countries. In Germany, for example, citizens must pay a church tax unless they formally renounce membership in a church.

Tithe was never a legal requirement in the United States. Members of certain churches, however, including the Latter-day Saints and Seventh-day Adventists, are required to tithe, and some Christians in other churches do so voluntarily.

The Eastern Orthodox churches never accepted the idea of tithes, and Orthodox church members have never paid them.5

In the beginning of the 21st century Barna Research found that less than 5 - 7% of Christians tithed.6

My point here is simply to show you that tithing is not exclusively a Christian practice nor is it strictly a Jewish practice. Tithing has been practiced for thousands of years by different cultures even to this day. Of course, we know that many religious leaders compel us to tithe like how the Catholic Church compelled the peasants to give for fear of purgatory. It is also very interesting that historically tithing was not presented as a means to prosper, but instead as a way to support the institution, i.e., clergy, buildings, kings, etc. Perhaps because in America tithing was never mandatory, we have developed a different way of implementing it in our Christian walk. Some believe that tithing is necessary in order to be blessed by God, whereas others believe it is simply a law imposed on Christians by God that must be followed rather one prospers or not.

The purpose of this article again is not to show that we should or should not tithe. The purpose of this article is to examine what the bible teaches about it with regards to being a command from God for all Christians to practice. For example, if the local government imposed a 10% tithe then we would be obligated to pay it by law (and Romans 13). This study is not to determine if we should obey a law, but whether are we commanded by God to pay 10% of our income to a local church. Let's now move on to scripture to extract data so to speak about tithing.

 

 

Scripture References

Let’s review the scriptures in the Bible that deal with tithing. The scriptures below were found by looking up the words ‘tithe’, ‘tithes’, and ‘tenth’ using the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

Genesis 14:20 – Abraham’s Tithe
Abraham gave the High Priest of God, Melchizedek, a tenth of all of the booty that he obtained from war after rescuing his nephew Lot. This scripture indicates that tithing may have been a common or at least familiar practice well before the Law was given to Moses. We also note that Abraham tithed from the spoils of war and not from his personal belongings.

Genesis 28:22 – Jacob’s Vow and Tithe
Jacob was filled with awe and reverence for God whom he believed was present in the place where he slept (Bethel, formerly Luz). Filled with awe and reverence, he made a vow to God. Because of the way Jacob made the vow, it does not appear that he was trying to bargain with God. The "if" should be understood to mean that what God said was future and Jacob was simply accommodating that fact in his speech. Therefore, Jacob vowed that God would be his God and that he would give a tenth of everything he gains. Jacob in a sense promised to honor God with his increase. We can also assume that Jacob’s heart was in the right place because of God’s response in Genesis 31:13.

An awe and reverence of God motivated Jacob’s vow to Him, which included a tithe of all his increase. Tithing can be used to honor and/or revere God. Notice that Jacob initiated this action not God.

Leviticus 27:30-33 – The Holy Tithe
In these scriptures God establishes that the tithe was holy (sacred, set apart) to Him. God further establishes that the tithe of the land is holy. We also see in the scripture that there was not a one-to-one relation between the tithe and its value. If a person redeemed their tithe, then they had to add 20% (a fifth) to it. This seems to indicate that God made provisions for someone to buy the tithe back for himself. In addition to this we see that there was to be no distinguishing a good or bad animal. Every tenth animal that passed under the rod belonged to God. This scripture establishes that the tithe of the land and the herd was holy to God. It also seems to indicate that the tithe could be redeemed. There was to be no distinction of good or bad tithes.

Numbers 18:21,24 -- The Levite’s Wages
All of the tithes were for the children of Levi for an inheritance, for the service they rendered in the tent of meeting (tabernacle). God made sure that His workers were compensated for their services.

Numbers 18:26 - 32 -- The Tithe of the Tithe
These scriptures establish that the Levites were to present to the priests a tenth of the tithes they received from the people. The tithes that they presented to the priests would be reckoned to them as produce from the threshing floor and winepress. We also see that they were to present to the priests the best and holiest parts. The amount that they kept could be eaten anywhere because it was their wages for the work they did in the tent of meeting. Even the workers (ministers) of God were required to give to meet needs.

Deuteronomy 12:6-11,17 – Instruction from God
Here God is giving the Hebrew people instructions for living in the land that He has given them. One of the things that he told them to do was to bring their tithe, as well as other offerings, to the place that He decides to place his name. They were not to do whatever they wanted. There was a specific place that the people had to bring their tithes.

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – Tithing Guidelines
God instructs the people to set aside a tenth of all that the land produces each year. They were to eat the tithe of the grain, new wine and oil and the firstborn of their herds and flocks. As in Deuteronomy 12:17, they were to eat it in the presence of the Lord (where he chose). The purpose of this tithe and for eating it in God’s presence was so they would learn to revere Him. Also, if the place that God chose was too far for them to travel with their tithe, then they were supposed to exchange it for silver, go to the place determined by God, exchange the silver for whatever they wanted and eat it in the presence of God.

At the end of every three years, they were instructed to keep the tithe in their towns so that the Levites, foreigners, fatherless, and widows who lived in the town would eat and be satisfied. Also, by doing this (meeting the needs of the people and obeying God) they would be blessed by God. We see that the people ATEthe tithe where God chose and the needs of the Levites as well as others that lacked where met by the tithe (every three years).

Deuteronomy 26:12 – The Third-Year Tithe
God instructs the people how to offer the third-year tithe that was for the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows. This tithe was to be given to these people and they were supposed to recite what the Lord commanded them to say when they presented the tithe to the Levites. See also Deuteronomy 14:28-29. There was a specific procedure that the people had to follow when presenting their ‘third year’ tithe.

2 Chronicles 31:5-6 – Tithing Reinstated
King Hezekiah reinstated the Levites and priests to their positions. He contributed from his own possessions for offerings. He also ordered the people in Jerusalem to give the portion that was due the Levites and the priests, (which was a tenth of the land’s produce). The people then began to bring an abundance of things as the king ordered including the tithe that was due the Levites. Blessings come when we walk in the realm of obedience to God even if we have been in disobedience.

2 Chronicles 31:12 – An Abundance Given
The Hebrew people began to bring their tithes and other offerings to the temple during King Hezekiah’s reforms. There was so much food that there were heaps left over. This scripture seems to reveal that obedience to God brings about blessing and that God will supply all that is needed to fulfill what he requires of us. In this case, he blessed them abundantly so that they could give abundantly. We also see in verse 10 that food was the purpose of the offerings along with the required sacrifice to God.

Nehemiah 10:37-38 – Tithing Reinstated
Verse 37 records the law from Moses that the people would bring their various offerings to the priest and bring their tithes to the Levites. Verse 38 establishes again that the priest would accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes from the people and that the Levites would take a tenth of the tithes that they receive to the storerooms of the treasury in the house of God. The key to these scriptures is maintaining the house of God and obeying the laws that God sent. God will restore the backslider if he/she begins to walk in obedience. We also see the importance to support those who are working for God.

Nehemiah 12:44 – Storeroom Overseer
Nehemiah appointed men to oversee the storerooms of the temple. The storerooms stored the tithes and offerings from the people.

Nehemiah 13:11-12 – The People Tithe
Here Nehemiah had just rebuked the officials for neglecting the house of God. He also had discovered that the tithes were not being collected. Therefore, He stationed the officials at their posts and the people began to bring their tithes to the Levites. If the leadership is not in place according to God’s will then the people may be forced to walk in disobedience as well. If the Levites were not in their place, then the people could not present their tithes. This is not to say that the people were trying to do so but the absent Levites would have made it a problem if some were. Also, if the people stopped tithing then the Levites and priests would have to find other means to eat thus causing the problem described above.

Malachi 3:8-10 – Bring Whole Tithe
The heart of the people was against God. They held God in contempt and accused Him of not loving them. This heart condition effected their worship and religious activities. The fact that they weren’t tithing was because of their heart becoming cold towards God. God first admonishes them about their heart condition and calls them to return (see verse Malachi 3:7). The purpose of these tithes was for food (which is consistent with other scriptures on tithing). He says that the blessings will be so great that the storehouses will not have enough room to hold it all. This is consistent with Hezekiah’s reform. Consider that tithing was a commandment of God that the people were not obeying. Therefore, they were walking in disobedience and thus a curse.

Our activities begin with the heart. The reason we may not give or obey God is because our heart has grown cold and we just don’t respect or honor God enough to obey Him. Our revelation of the reality of God can become less significant than the circumstances around us thus leading to disobedience.

Matthew 23:23 – The Hypocritical Tithe
Here Jesus is rebuking the religious leaders for their actions. The Scribes and Pharisees would tithe from the smallest herb in their garden. However, Jesus told them that they have neglected the more important matters of the law, namely justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus also stated that they should have practiced the more important matters of the law without neglecting the tithe. The more important matters of the law are justice, mercy, and faithfulness. However, tithing was a practice that was commanded in the law as well. The act of tithing does not make one righteous because Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites even though they tithed.

Luke 11:42 – The Hypocritical Tithe
This is very similar to Matthew 23:23. However, in this account Jesus states that they neglect justice and the love of God. Justice and the love of God is more important than the act of tithing.

Luke 18:12 – A Prideful Prayer
This is the record of a Pharisee’s prayer. He states, among other things, how he tithes from everything that he gets. Jesus tells us that the Pharisee was not justified before God because he was exalting himself. The act of tithing does not justify us before God. Any act can be used to exalt oneself. Even a good act does not justify us before God. Tithing does not make us righteous.

Hebrews 7:2-9 – Paul Recollects Abraham’s Tithe
Paul uses the event where Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything to prove that Jesus Christ is superior in his priestly order then the Levites through Abraham. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils of war before there was a law to tithe. The practice of giving a tenth existed before the Law of Moses. It can also be argued that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth out of respect of who he was—the high priest of God.

 

 

Points from the Scriptures

Now let’s take all of the scripture references above and compile them into a list. From this list, we will extract the actual teachings from the Bible about tithing.

  • The tithe was holy to God
  • The tithe was an animal or produce from the ground, not money
  • The tithe could be redeemed
  • The animal to tithe could not be predetermined
  • The tithe was the Levite’s wages for the services they rendered in the tent of meeting
  • The Levites gave a tenth of the tithes they received from the people to the priests
  • The tithe had to be eaten only where God chose
  • Money was used as a transport mechanism for the tithe and not the tithe itself
  • The tithe was used to feed the Levites, fatherless, foreigners, and widows
  • The people would be blessed if they obeyed God and provided for those who lacked
  • The people presented the tithes to the Levites and were correspondingly blessed
  • Nehemiah reinstated the tithe when the people became lax and let the house of God go to ruin
  • The more important matters (relative to tithing) of the law were justice, mercy, and faithfulness
  • The Pharisees expanded the tithe to include the smallest herbs in a garden
  • Tithing was practiced long before the law (and even in other cultures)
  • There were specific procedures that the people had to follow when presenting their tithes to the Levites
  • Great abundance ensued when the people tithed in accordance with God’s instructions (law)
  • The lack of tithing by the Hebrew people was due to a hardened heart towards God and even perhaps contempt for God and worship
  • The tithe’s primary purpose was to provide food
  • The entire process of tithing taught the people to revere God
  • The act of tithing can be used to exalt oneself
  • Tithing does not make you righteous

 

 

 

Implications About Tithing from Scripture

The following are some observations that were made concerning the tithes. These are things that can be noticed by examining the scriptures or are implied by the scriptures.

  • The New Testament does not include instructions to tithe
  • The gentiles (non-Jews in this context) were never instructed to tithe
  • The Ten Commandments does not include tithing
  • Jesus never taught tithing in the Bible
  • Paul never taught tithing in the Bible
  • Peter and John did not teach tithing in the Bible
  • Money was not used as a tithe
  • Only produce from the fields and herds were tithed
  • The tithe was only used to provide food
  • The tithe was never used to fund a project such as building the temple
  • The tithe was eaten by the tither (though some of it was given away)

 

 

Sectional Summary

Tithing was instituted in the Old Testament law primarily to provide food for the Levites and Priests who had no inheritance from God (God was their inheritance). The tithe was also used to provide food for the orphans, widows, and foreigners. The process of tithing was procedural in that the people had to recite a declaration and give the tithe specifically and exclusively to the Levite. However, the people in the presence of God also ate the tithe. Another important point about the tithe is that money was not tithed. Tithing was not a tax that was paid by the people to the Temple. Only those with land and animals (farmers) would tithe. Those who earned wages for work did not pay a tithe.

We also saw that the practice of tithing predates Christianity and even the Mosaic law. Tithing was used by leaders and kings to provide funding for themselves, military, buildings, and in some cases to help the poor.

I can confidently say that the law of the tithe is not a New Testament Law. The scriptures given above do not support the teaching in the typical church that Christians are supposed to give 10% of their gross income to their local church. That is inconsistent with the tithe of the Old Testament and inconsistent with the practices of the New Testament church. Therefore, the Christian is not obligated by God to tithe according to the scriptures that we examined above.

 

 

Arguments for the Tithe Law

There are various arguments that people use to show that the law of tithing is in effect today. These arguments will now be tested against the Biblical evidence that we discovered earlier in this study

 

 

Robbing God - Malachi 3:8-10

One of the greatest arguments for tithing is found in Malachi 3:8-10. It is argued that a lack of tithing is robbing God. Is this true? God commanded the Hebrew people to take a tenth of the produce of the land and of their herds and present them to the Levites (or eat them). Neglecting to do so was at the very least directly disobeying God. However, because of the national condition of the Hebrew people, they became weary of the things that they were doing by commandment of God. Their hearts grew cold towards God and they began to speak harshly against him. They accused him of not loving them, not being involved with them in the sense that He was doing nothing about restoring them to their once glorious state, and that the evildoers seem to get away with the things that they were doing implying that evil was good.

We must consider something very important here. Malachi states that robbing God involves tithes and offerings. The offering part is defined inaccurately when this scripture is presented as proof that we should tithe. It is stated that the offering is money over and above the tithe. Therefore, we must give a tithe and an offering to be blessed. A look at the Old Testament will show that the offering referred to here was the heave offering.

Though Malachi reveals that withholding the tithe and offering is robbing God, it does not justify the teaching that the tithe is for today nor does it support the teaching that the tithe is for the local church. The tithe had to be taken to a specific place (tent of meetings), given to a specific person (the Levite), and they had to do and say certain things. We do none of these because we are no longer under these laws. There is no longer a tent of meetings not even for the Jewish people. Real Levites cannot be determined so that we could legally, according to the law, present the tithe. There are no real Levites among us (The Romans destroyed all of the records in AD 70 when they burned Jerusalem). Therefore, since we have no tent of meeting we have no place really, according to the law, to take our tithe. Since we have no known and legal Levite we have no one to present the tithe to. Furthermore, money was not used as the tithe as is commonly taught in churches today.

In conclusion, Malachi does not prove that we are supposed to tithe. Malachi shows how far the Hebrew people were from God and how that effected the religious activities and attitudes. Malachi deals with the activities of people under the Old Covenant not the New.

 

 

Former Agricultural Society

It is argued that we must tithe money instead of animals and produce from the land because we do not live in an agricultural society as the Hebrew people did during Old Testament times. On the surface this sounds logical but it doesn’t hold up against the facts. This argument tries to show that we must tithe money instead of the animals thus validating the tithing law for New Testament church.

The Old Testament Hebrews did live under an agricultural society. However, there was a monetary system. Their money system was based on silver, gold, and other precious stones. For example, as we saw in our scripture examination section, the people were supposed to exchange their tithe for money (silver), take it to the tent of meetings, exchange the silver for whatever they wanted, and then eat the tithe in the presence of God. If God wanted money, then he would have commanded it. In each case that God instructed the people about tithing, He specifically wants food and NOT MONEY.

Therefore, we cannot say that since we do not live in an agricultural society that our tithe will be different. If that were true, then we would introduce a rather interesting problem. If God’s laws changed based on society then we could alter His laws whenever things (society) changes. God’s laws would be different in the industrial society then in the technological society. God’s word does not change and we do not have the right to adjust it based on the society or culture around us. Again, the society argument does not justify tithing our money to a local church.

 

 

Paul Taught Tithing in 1 Corinthians 16

It has been argued that 1 Corinthians 16:2 is referring to tithes. Let me quote it for reference.

1 Corinthians 16:2 (ESV) — 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

Notice that there is no mention of tithing because Paul wasn’t talking about tithing. Paul is simply saying that the people should set aside some money so that when he comes there won’t have to be an offering taken. Recall that the tithe did not involve money and that Levites were the only ones who could receive the tithe. Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin not Levi (See Romans 11:1) so he could not legally accept the tithe from the Jewish people.

Another important point to consider regarding Paul’s teaching on giving is found in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV) — 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Giving that is done reluctantly or by coercion is not pleasing to God. However, consider that none of this has anything to do with tithing just giving. The only time Paul talks about tithing in the Bible is when he was showing how Jesus is of a higher priestly order then any of Abraham’s descendants (Hebrews 7).

 

 

The Jews Knew to Tithe in The New Testament Church

It is argued that the reason that tithing was not taught in the New Testament was because you did not have to tell the Jews to tithe because they were already doing it. However, consider that the New Testament church consisted of non-Jews as well as Jews. Therefore, if tithing was important to the New Testament Church then Jesus would have instituted it into his teaching and the Apostles, including Paul, would have taught the gentiles such an important practice. However, that never happened.

I should point out that Jews do not tithe today and here is why. The tithe was to be given to a Levite who in turn gave a tenth of what he received to the priest. Therefore, unless a Jewish Rabbi or head of a synagogue was a Levite, he could not receive tithes from the people. Surely a non-Jewish pastor cannot receive tithes as a Levite either. You should know that even Jesus could not receive tithes or give tithes nor could his Apostles, including the Apostle Paul. In addition to this, the tithe was supposed to be taken to the Temple where the Levites served. The Temple does not exist today with an order of Levites serving within.

At the time of the first version of this study in the 1990s, I had interviewed a Jewish Rabbi online and was told that Jews stopped tithing after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in about AD 70. I was also told that true Levites could not be accurately determined since the Romans burned Jerusalem, along with all of the lineage records. The law required that the tithe be given to a Levite. Since they couldn't accurately determine who the Levites were, they couldn’t give the tithe. I further asked Jewish people how their Synagogue is funded. I was told that each family pledges a certain amount of money each year by "buying" seats. I was also told that they might give their tithe to charitable organization and to help anyone in need.

The point here is that if tithing was so important for blessings from God then Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles would have instructed the people in it. They didn’t. Also, the people who still live under the Old Covenant, namely the Jews, do not practice tithing for very specific reasons yet they are still considered blessed and God’s chosen people. Therefore, this argument does not show that tithing is a valid New Testament law that we should follow.

 

 

God Commanded Us to Tithe

It is argued that the God commanded us to tithe. The commandment to tithe however comes from the Old Testament scriptures. However, a very interesting problem arises when we try to validate Old Testament Hebrew laws to live by today.

Does the tithing law apply to us today? Consider for a moment all of the laws and rituals that God commanded the Hebrew people to observe. Do we observe these commandments and rituals? No. Why? God commanded them, right? The reason is that many of the laws given to the Hebrew people are no longer in effect and we therefore do not observe them. If we had to obey all of the law, then salvation would be unnecessary and self-righteousness would rule. For example, the Ten Commandments state that the people are to observe the Sabbath. Do we observe the Sabbath? No. The New Testament church historically did not observe the Sabbath. Instead they worshipped and had communion on the First day of the week (Sunday). The historical evidence also shows us that tithing did not pass over into the New Testament church. So, if there was a commandment from God to tithe then surely the apostles and those of the early church would have done it but they didn’t.

A law follower does not have the right to pick which laws he will obey and which he will not obey (refer to James 2:10). Does this mean that we do not have to be sensitive and live according to the will of God that is revealed even in the Old Testament law? No. As I said previously, the law transfers to the New Testament by principle. We live according to the Spirit of God since we have direct access to that Spirit through Jesus Christ. The commandment to tithe is therefore seen as a commandment to do what the tithe did, namely provide food for those in need and for ministers that God ordains.

In a strict sense, there are no laws or instructions given to us by Jesus Christ that tell us to tithe. However, Jesus had much to say about giving to meet the needs of others, which was the principle behind the tithe. When Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, he taught on the principles behind or the heart of the law. He would say something like "You have heard it said of old" and then he would say something like "but I say unto you." He takes the law and teaches us the will or mind of God behind that law. Jesus was revealing the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. So, there is no commandment, instruction, or law telling us to tithe our money to a local church.

 

 

Honoring God

It is said that we honor God with our tithe or by tithing. Is this consistent with the Bible’s teaching? What does it mean to honor God? To honor is to recognize the value of someone and act accordingly. It also implies a high regard for someone (Someone worth bragging about). Another word that is sometimes used that implies honor is "glorify" which in the verb form means to give honor to. You can see that the basis of honoring God must come from the heart. If God is not in high regard, then you cannot really honor him. So, the first thing we note about honoring God is that we must have a revelation of who He is and His great "worth" to us. Before we can honor God, we must recognize his position and authority in our lives.

There is no scripture that states that we honor God when we tithe. After all, anyone can give a tenth, godly or not. However, the Bible does give us some instruction on honoring God.

Proverbs 3:9–10 (ESV) — 9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Solomon states that honoring God with our substance (wealth) and with the best part of our increase will result in prosperity. How do we honor God with our wealth and the first fruits of our increase? Is there something that we should do specifically or in principle? Since honoring God involves the expression of the high regard and respect that we have for Him then it would seem reasonable to say that doing something with our wealth that would demonstrate this high regard is a way of honoring God.

There are many ways that we can honor God since honoring God starts with a heart attitude that leads to an outward expression or activity. Honoring God can take the form of singing, playing an instrument, praise, and even bringing an offering to him.

I think that the greatest way that we can honor God is to obey Him and submit to Him. We obey because we love and we submit because we trust Him with our lives. We honor God with our wealth by using our wealth to demonstrate the high regard and respect we have for God in our lives or to "give God a good reputation." Our abundant giving brings honor to God because the recipients of our gifts realize that God is behind our giving because of our confession. In other words, you make it known that you are an agent for God when you give. The light (Christ in us) that shines (our good works) bring honor to God (See Matthew 5:16). The point is that we express the high regard that we have for God by our giving which is a way to let our light shine. This is not "the" way but a way of honoring God.

 

 

Sectional Summary

None of the arguments presented above definitely proves that the New Testament church is supposed to tithe their income to a local church. As a matter of fact, the more we learned about tithing in this and the previous section, the more we see that tithing as taught in the typical local church is not biblical and even could be considered sinful.

 

 

Arguments Against the Tithe Law

Now I will present some arguments against the tithing law. These arguments attempt to show that the tithing law is not consistent with the teachings in the scriptures for the New Testament church.

 

 

Not in the New Testament

The greatest argument against the tithe law is that the Bible does not teach us that the New Testament church is supposed to tithe to a local church. Therefore, since the Bible does not teach it then we have no right to teach others that they should tithe.

 

 

The Early Church Had No Tithing System

A guide to the proper operation and practices of the New Testament church can be observed by evaluating the practices of the early New Testament church historically. What did they practice and what did they teach? The early church met on the first day of the week (which is contrary to the Sabbath law). They partook of the Eucharist (communion), sang songs, took a collection for the poor, and socialized. The apostolic fathers never taught tithing nor did the early church practice it. Therefore, our standard for church practices, namely the early church, did not include the practice of tithing. Instead they included the practice of simply meeting the needs of others. Look at the following scriptures.

Acts 2:42–45 (ESV) — 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

The Christians of the early church were concerned about two basic things: The Apostle’s teaching and meeting each other’s needs. It is expedient that the Apostle’s teaching did not include tithing because Jesus never taught them to teach the people to tithe.

 

 

Financing the Early Church

How then was the early church financed? The early church was financed by the free will offering of the people. There was no tithing system instituted at all! As a matter of fact, the early church was financed the same way as the early Israelite society. When God commanded the construction of the tabernacle He did not use tithes but free-will offerings of the people. See Exodus 35:20-29. Likewise, the work of the ministry of the early church was financed by free-will offerings. See Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35.

Today the tithes that are received from people in the local churches are not used exclusively for the work of the ministry. Since we have large edifices to maintain, much of the tithes and offerings go toward building maintenance and expenses. Many of the tithes and offerings go towards salaries. Little is given to meet the needs of people or to minister to people as described in Matthew 25:31-46. Instead of someone getting the money needed to help purchase a refrigerator, the money is given to a church that squanders it on luxuries. Instead of someone buying a car that they need, they give the money to a church where the pastor drives around in a luxury car. Luxuries are not wrong but having them while teaching the people that they should tithe to sustain these luxuries is wrong.

 

 

Breaking the Law

The tithe is based on an Old Testament law. However, the Bible tells us,

James 2:10 (ESV) — 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

The tithe law that God gave to the Israelites via Moses was not simply to give 10% of one's income to the tabernacle/temple. There was a specific process that had to be followed and specific people that the tithe had to be given too. There were specific times the people tithed as well. For example, the tithe had to be given to a Levite, which was a descendant of Aaron. Therefore, if you don't follow the law as given in the bible then you are breaking the law. Furthermore, if you want to keep the law of the tithe then you must keep the whole law not just parts of it.

Furthermore, following the law implies that Jesus was not enough. Paul dealt with this type of situation in his letter to the Galatian Church.

 

 

Giving Loophole Blocked

Remember that tithing in the Old Testament was designed to meet the needs of the people, i.e., the Levites and Priests. Also, consider that we are supposed to give to help each other. Therefore, if I create bills such as credit card bills and loan payments such that I have nothing left to give then I too have violated a Biblical principle. I am acting in selfishness and hoarding what God has given me. Furthermore, I am eating my seed. I used all that I have on myself instead of reserving something to give to help someone and honor God and now I have nothing left to sow.

Now if we look at this concept from the Biblical perspective, we will see that there is no loophole since the Bible teaches that true (Godly) giving is a heart motivated activity. An attempt to keep from giving reveals the true heart of a person. They don’t want to give. They want to have all for themselves. Therefore, they will come to poverty according to the teachings of Solomon.

 

 

Pastors as Levites

A fallacy in the church is that the pastor stands in the office of the Levite and/or Priest and is therefore justified to receive tithes from the people. This argument is very wrong to the point of going directly against the word of God. There are a few things that show that this argument is invalid: The true determination of Levites and the identity of the priest.

First, a true Levite comes from the tribe of Levi whose father was Jacob (Israel). It is very unlikely that anyone in America can trace their lineage back to Jacob in order to justify himself as being a true Levite. There were no other criteria for being a Levite except lineage. Therefore, pastors or anyone for that matter can stand in the office of a Levite because they are not a Levite.

The tithes, as we discussed earlier in this study, were presented to the Levites. If a pastor or minister is not a Levite, then they cannot accept the tithes according to the law. As a matter of fact, no one in the entire congregation could accept the tithes from the people legally (according to the Mosaic Law)—NOT EVEN JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF! Therefore, we would have no one to give our tithes to.

Another point is that the pastor or any other minister does not stand in the office of a priest either. The Bible states,

Revelation 1:5–6 (ESV) — 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

This scripture states that we are a kingdom (kings) of priests. We are priests. We have access to God our father and will minister to him forever as the priests did. In that case, we would be justified to give our tithe to any Christian if giving tithes directly to priests was legal according to the law. However, it was not legal since the tithe was given to the Levite.

 

 

The Church is The Tabernacle to Which We Tithe

It is taught that we should tithe to our local church because it is a type of tabernacle and the Hebrew people brought their tithes to the tabernacle (tent of meeting). We must consider what the church is and what the tabernacle was. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was a sacred tent, a portable and provisional sanctuary, where God met His people (Exodus 33:7-10).

In the strict sense the tabernacle was a tent where God dwelled among his people, who were nomadic at the time. In a less strict sense, and is sometimes used, the tabernacle is referred to as the temple. If we simply consider that it was the place that God dwells, then a very interesting question arises. Where does God dwell today? Does he dwell in a building where we go and hear from him? The Bible says,

1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV) — 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ephesians 2:19–21 (ESV) — 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

We are the dwelling place for God. The church buildings are places where the true church meets. The Bible also tells us,

Matthew 18:20 (ESV) — 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Therefore, the church building is not the temple of God and never will be. This argument also does not justify tithing to the local church especially since a paradox is introduced when we consider that we are the temples—Do we tithe to ourselves?

 

 

The First Fruits - Pay Your Tithes before Bills

It is taught that the tithe is the first fruits of our increase and that we should pay our tithes before we pay our bills. This also implies that if we don’t have enough for tithes and bills that we should still pay the tithe first. The first fruits in the Old Testament were different offerings then the tithes. Review Exodus 23:16-19; 34:22-26; Leviticus 2:12-14. The following is an excerpt from the Holman Bible Dictionary that defines what the first fruits were.

FIRSTFRUITS The choice examples of a crop harvested first and dedicated to God. In accordance with Mosaic law, individual Israelites brought to the house of the Lord "the first (that is, "the best") of the firstfruits of thy land" (Ex. 23:19; 34:26), including grain, wine, and oil, which were used--except for the grain (Lev. 2:14-16)--for the support of the priests (Num. 18:12; Deut. 18:4). According to Deuteronomy 26:1-11, the offering was brought in a basket to the sanctuary for presentation. The Book of Proverbs promises prosperity to those who honor the Lord with the firstfruits (Prov. 3:9).

We see that the offering from the first that the land produced was a way of honoring God, perhaps for blessing them with a harvest, and acknowledging God. Note also that it was not money that God was honored with. This offering was for the support of the priests. The people honored God for the harvest by giving some of the first that the land produced.

We, as good stewards, are obligated to pay what we owe. We don’t owe God anything because all belongs to him in the first place. God does not need our money—WE DO. Therefore, God established a system in the Old Testament were the needs of the people would be met. Telling someone that they must pay their tithes first even at the expense of neglecting to pay a bill is not Biblical at all.

Also, recall that Paul said that we should give what we have decided to give in our hearts and to give as God prospers us. This has nothing to do with tithing.

Look at the following scripture.

1 Peter 2:11–12 (ESV) — 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Can we do this and still renege on our responsibilities that we agreed upon. No! We would be accused of being liars, thieves, and people who cannot be trusted in agreements. Therefore, it is important that we show forth a good example to the world so that Christians, and thus Christ in their eyes, are blameless and deserving of respect. If a Christian is late paying bills or gives his money to a church in lieu of paying what he owes, then that Christian "gives God a bad name" or dishonors God.

Likewise, if a Christian is on time paying bills and pays what he owes then that Christian will have a good name and bring forth Glory to God. The Bible says,

Matthew 5:16 (ESV) — 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Our light cannot shine if we have the reputation of being unfaithful and irresponsible people that do not fulfill our obligations and agreements. Unfortunately, Church people have this reputation in the world.

 

 

Cause and Effect

In an effort to validate the tithe law, many religious leaders develop a cause and effect relationship between a blessing from God and tithing or an unfortunate circumstance and the lack of tithing. Therefore, tithing, which is considered as a commandment of God, brings blessings when done and curses if neglected. People even confess that a specific blessing in their lives (new car, new home, etc.) is a result of their tithing to a church.

God is honored when we exalt him in the presence of others or in our own praise and worship. We confess what God has done by His grace, love, and faithfulness to his word. However, we exalt ourselves when we credit a blessing to the activity of our tithing (works). Unless the tithe was in direct response to the voice of God or the un-coerced desire of our heart, then the cause of the blessing is not the act of tithing. Obedience brings blessings not our activities (these are called righteousnesses or righteous acts. See Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, the cause of our blessings is God. It is through God’s love, grace, and faithfulness and our obedience to Him that we’re blessed. The only valid cause and effect relationship regarding God is that of obedience that leads to blessings.

 

 

Tithing Conclusion

The conclusion is that we are not required to abide by the tithe law else we would have to abide by all of the law. Christ has fulfilled the law. We therefore live by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law. None of the doctrines or arguments about tithing that we have previously discussed are found in the scriptures that pertain to the New Testament church. We also see that the current tithe teaching is inconsistent with even the Old Testament scriptures that they are founded on. Anyone who persuades people to tithe is trying to mix law and grace. All of the evidence that we have discovered points to one main fact. God has not commanded or obligated the New Testament Christian to tithe!

However, keep in mind that I am not suggesting that you stop giving to your local church. Whether you continue to give to a local church should be dependent on the effectiveness of that church and whether it warrants your support or any support for that matter. The fact that you are not obligated to tithe is not an invitation to keep all that you have. Jesus warned us about hording what we have (See Luke 12:13-21). Furthermore, it is a good thing to support those who are in ministry.

1 Timothy 5:17–18 (ESV) — 17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

Above all do not neglect the care of others. The bible reveals to us that God cares very much for those who are less fortunate, poor, etc. He instituted many ways to provide for the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners.

Proverbs 3:27–28 (ESV) — 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

James 2:15–16 (ESV) — 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Help those when you are able to do so. It is not Biblically sound to say that you can’t help someone because the money that you would give him or her will be given to your church.

 

 

Giving - The Higher Order

In no way am I suggesting that because Christians are not required to tithe that we should not give to ministries, churches, or others. I am not saying that Christians are free to hoard what God has blessed them with. Tithing is of the law, but we are not under the bondage of the law. We freely flow in the grace of God. Tithing limits us from operating freely from the heart because we focus on a law of 10%. Just as salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ and not by the law, operating in that faith comes from the heart and not by the law too. Therefore, I propose that if we are going to operate as Christians in faith then our actions should be consistent with that faith. Therefore, we should not be limited by law, but be free to operate in faith from the heart.

This brings me to what I believe is an important point. There is a higher order than limiting ourselves to a law of tithing. The higher order is giving from the heart. Giving can be an expression of love. After all God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son. We give as well to express or demonstrate love, concern, care, etc. We give of our time, our energies, experiences, resources, as well as money. We give to help others in their times of need. We give because we want to express our appreciation, love, compassion, and concern for another. We give because we love just as God loves and then gave. Abel gave a righteous gift yet there was no law requiring him to give. Abraham gave a 10th to Melchizedek though there was no law to do so. I have also found that giving is a natural thing that we do. We tend to show appreciation by a gift when someone does something for us. Giving is indeed a very natural thing.

We cannot truly express our love for God or others when we follow a law or are somehow obligated to give. That type of giving is not from the heart and is therefore not real with regards to faith. Giving is indeed the higher order than law, i.e., tithing.

 I would like to propose that there are at least two types of giving. The first is as I described above. Giving can be an expression of love, care, concern, etc. We give when we appreciate something someone did, when we want to express how we feel about someone. A man gives a woman flowers to show affection in a language that he believes she understands. Another type of giving is to release for a purpose. For example, we give money to the banker in hopes of a return. We give money to an investment agency in hopes of a return. We give money to various sources in hopes of making a profit. We might call this latter type of giving sowing.

The bible does reveal to us that there is a principle of sowing and reaping. Jesus talks about a farmer sowing seeds (Matthew 13). The Apostle Paul talks about sowing sparingly or bountifully. We sow seeds expecting those seeds to grow. We sow seeds expecting a return. This brings up a good point. What is the motive for our giving? Do we give to a church merely because we want a return? Do we give to help someone because we can call a favor from them later? Do we give to support a ministry because we believe that God will owe us a blessing?

Let's look at what the bible reveals about sowing and reaping so that we can better put this type of giving in perspective.

Matthew 13:3, Mark 4:6, Luke 8:5 - The Sower and The Seed
This is the beginning of the parable of the sower and the seed. The farmer scattered his seed in his field. We learn from Mark's gospel that the seed is the word of God and the field is the world. Therefore, the word of God is sown in the world to produce fruit. The word of God is sown in the Earth producing various levels of fruit.

Matthew 13:27 - The Wheat and The Tares (Weeds)
Again we see the reference to a person scattering seed in a field (sowing). We also note that there were other seeds that were scattered along with the wheat and they were producing weeds. Bad seeds can be sown along with the good seed producing undesirable fruit. However, God knows the difference between what his seed produces and what the undesirable seed produces. By implication we see that a seed will grow whether it is good (desirable) or bad (undesirable).

John 4:37-38 - Harvesting Souls
Jesus is talking to his disciples about harvesting souls to the Kingdom of God. We see that the harvester is not necessarily the sower. Souls can be harvested. Also, the harvester may not be the one who sowed.

Romans 6:21-22 (NIV) - Reaping from Past Activities
Paul is referring to the results of the sins that were committed in the past. We experience the consequences of past activities and actions.

1 Corinthians 9:11 - Minister's Right to Reap
Paul is discussing the rights of ministers of the Gospel to receive compensation for their work. Here we have a link between spiritual seeds (the word of God) and the right to material compensation. Paul does not seem to imply that the spiritual seed produced the materials. Rather, he appears to say that he has a right to be supported by those whom he preached to. Ministers have a right to receive material items from the people that they preached to.

2 Corinthians 9:6 - Sowing/Reaping Spiritual Law
Paul states that your reaping will be dependent on your sowing. The more you sow, the more you will reap so that you will have even more to sow. This appears to be a spiritual principle for God to supply what you need and to bless you with abundance. Other insights to this principle are:

  • Proverbs 11:24–25 (ESV) — 24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
  • Proverbs 19:17 (ESV) — 17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

See also Luke 6:38.

Galatians 6:7-9 - Harvest from Motive of Seed Sown
Whatever you put out is what will be produced for you. If you sow to please the sinful nature, then you will reap destruction. If you sow to please the Spirit, then you will reap life. We can see here a component of motive effecting the harvest. Motive is very important and does affect the harvest reaped. The motive of the giving is also a determinant of what is harvested. Whatever we sow is what we will reap. However, the object of the sowing may not itself be the seed. For example, I can sow into someone's life only because I want to get close to that person to use them for my own needs. I have sown deceit not money and that deceit will produce its own fruit. Therefore, it becomes important to check our motive to ensure that we are sowing the seeds that we think we are sowing or want to sow.

Philippians 4:19 - The Church That Sows
Note that Paul is addressing a church and not a just any group of people, though this truth applies to individuals as well. If you read from verse 12 you will see that the church at Philippi gave to support Paul's missionary endeavors. So, Paul told the church that God would meet all their needs because they met his needs. This is another example of sowing and reaping in action. Even a church can sow to meet the needs of another minister and reap to have its needs met. We also see that a church that gives to the support of a missionary will have its needs met. This helps to show the importance of missionaries and the importance of supporting them.

James 3:18 -- Peacemakers
Those people who make peace (agreement, concord), that sow peaceably will produce a harvest of righteousness. That is, the seeds that they sow will produce fruit (harvest) that is in right standing and according to the will of God. Peacemakers sow seeds that produce a harvest (fruits) of righteousness.

Proverbs 11:18 - Sowing Righteousness
The word righteousness in this verse is the Hebrew word tsedaqah (tsed-aw-kaw') and means rightness, justice, moral (virtue) or figuratively prosperity. To sow righteousness is to sow that which is in right standing with God. Sowing righteousness will produce a reward or harvest. Scattering righteousness ensures a just reward (harvest).

Proverbs 22:8 - Sowing Wickedness
This is an application of the sowing and reaping principle. Whatever you sow is what you will reap. If you sow wickedness, then you will reap trouble. Sowing wickedness will produce wicked fruit and seed.

Proverbs 11:22-26 - Giving Induces Blessings
Solomon says that a person who gives freely and does not hoard what he has will be prosperous. This is consistent with Luke 6:38 in the way Solomon presents it as a natural reciprocation among people. A person who withholds what he has available to give will be cursed. Note that the language of these verses indicates that it is other people who will manifest your blessings but that God works through them. Giving generously to people will produce a reciprocate activity from others. We cannot rule out that God is behind even the activities of the people manifesting your blessing because God works through people for people. In general, giving induces prosperity.

Proverbs 28:27 - Giving to The Poor
Solomon says that the one who gives to the poor will lack nothing. However, the person that turns his back on the poor (when they are able to help) will be cursed much. See also Proverbs 19:17; 22:9; Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Psalm 41:4; 112:5-7; Hebrews 13:16. Giving to the poor (those in need) promotes provision for yourself.

Matthew 5:42 - Give to The One Who Asks
Jesus teaches the people to give to the person who asks and wants to borrow something. Don't turn them away.

Matthew 10:8 - Freely Receive, Freely Give
Jesus tells his disciples to give freely as they have received freely. The focus here is not on monetary gifts but on what they learned from Jesus. Note the context of healing, cleansing, and casting out demons as opposed to giving money. As Jesus poured his teaching and authority into them, they were to in turn pour Jesus' word and the will of God into and onto others. This scripture implies that the disciples, as well as we, are to be channels for God. As we learn and are edified, we should produce the same in others. As we receive we give.

Luke 6:30 - Give to Those Who Ask
The following is from the Wesley's Commentary: Give to everyone-Friend or enemy, what thou canst spare, and he really wants: and of him that taketh away thy goods-By borrowing, if he be insolvent, ask them not again (Mt 5:42).

Luke 6:38 - Give and Receive
Read Luke 6:13-38 for a clearer picture of this scripture. This appears to be the law of reciprocity among humans. That is, if I am generous with people then people tend to be generous with me. This verse does not necessarily deal exclusively with finances. Consider that Jesus' focus is the love of one's enemy. Therefore, we can say that if one gives much love then one will receive much love. If one forgives much then one will be forgiven much. If one judges much then one will be judged much and so on. We must also consider that Jesus was talking to his disciples and that these words could have been specific for the mission he had for them. Consider Luke 16:1-9 (How the people would return kindness for the steward for the good deed he did for them).

Also, note that Jesus said men will give into your bosom. The words here are clear. If we give to others, then others will tend to give to us abundantly. This, however, is typical human nature. We all tend to love those who love us, be nice to those who are nice to us. Therefore, people will tend to give to you as you give to them. I'm sure you know this to be true from everyday experiences with people. This scripture appears to reveal the law of reciprocity. That is, kindness brings about kindness and the like.

Luke 12:33 - Free to Give to The Poor
See Matthew 6 for a parallel reference. Jesus tells his disciples to sell their possessions and give to the poor. Doing so will establish treasure in heaven. He uses the term purse to imply that there will always be provisions for them. This scripture must be taken in its proper context with the rest of the chapter. It is not merely the act of giving to the poor that results in treasure in heaven. It begins with a trust in God and seeking after his kingdom. You don't worry about your life because of your trust and confidence in God. You know that God will meet your needs. Therefore, you are free to give to the poor without worrying about possibly needing that money later.

Giving freely and relinquishing the bonds of possessions occurs if there is a true trust in God and the dwelling of the love of God. Also, the results of this trust in God is to give and that entire process results in treasure (wealth) in heaven.

Luke 19:5-8 -- Giving as Worship
It is evident that Zacchaeus held Jesus in high regard since he climbed a tree just to see him. Jesus told him that he had to go to his house. Zacchaeus' life was so changed that he said that he would give a half of his possessions to the poor and he would restore four times to anyone he had cheated. The effect of Christ on Zacchaeus' life was to give.

Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35 - Giving in The Early Church
Here we see that the wealthy (or those who had abundance) sold their lands and possessions and gave them to the apostles to be distributed to those who had need. Christianity began socially as a communal lifestyle to meet the needs of Christians who were in need.

A Jew that became a Christian while in Jerusalem would most likely be ostracized socially and economically by the Hebrew nation. If it was not for the generosity of wealthy believers such as Barnabas (Acts 4:36) many Jewish believers would have starved. As Christianity spread outside of Jerusalem, the effects of being ostracized was much less because the Jewish Christians began dealing with non-Jews. The early Christians in Jerusalem were on one accord. They (those who were able) sold some of their properties and possessions so that there would be something to give those who had need.

Acts 20:33-35 - Work, Earn, Give
Paul reminds the people that he worked with his own hands to supply his own needs. As an example, we can help the weak when we earn wages from our labor. The wages or increase that we earn from our labor can be used to help the weak. Also, note that though Paul was an apostle traveling to spread the Gospel, he worked like any other man to earn wages to meet his needs. This doesn't mean that he was unworthy of gifts but he didn't take those gifts for granted.

Romans 12:20-21 - Giving to Enemies
Paul instructs the Romans to give even to those who are considered enemies. If they are hungry or need clothes, then supply it for them. By doing this you may win them over by making them feel shame for treating you so badly. Consistent with Jesus teaching of loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44), we are to meet their needs as well. As a matter of fact, meeting the needs of even our enemies is an expression of the love of God that we have on the inside. This is a way of overcoming evil with good.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 - Give from the Heart
Here Paul instructs the Corinthians to give what they had decided to give in their heart and not out of compulsion or obligation. He also tells them that if they sow sparingly then they will reap sparingly. Even in giving to others, God will still make all grace abound so that you will not lack. Give from the heart and not from obligation. God will still provide for you and you do not have to feel a sense of lack when you give. The more we sow the more we will reap.

Ephesians 4:28 - Work, Earn, and Give
Paul tells the Ephesians to steal no more and to work so that they will be able to give to those who have need. Use some of what we earn to help those in need. Earn our money honestly.

James 2:15:16 - Helping Others in Need
An example of the fruits or activities of faith (the faith of salvation) is to give to those who are in need when you are able to do so. Therefore, giving is an expression of Christian faith (salvation) because faith without corresponding actions is dead. Giving to meet someone's physical need is an expression of the faith.

The scripture passages above show us that giving is important in the Kingdom of God. Giving to help those in need, support a ministry or cause. We see that we earn a living by earning wages that provides seed for us to sow, i.e., money for us to give. See my study on Wealth and Money in the Bible for more information.

 

 

What we have learned thus far

Now let us compile all of the scripture lessons that we have gained thus far about giving.

  • Giving to meet someone's physical needs is an expression or manifestation of faith (salvation)
  • Use some of our wages to help others in need
  • Giving generously to people will induce a reciprocation activity. Giving induces blessings via other people's activities prompted by God
  • God is pleased when we give from the heart and not out of obligation
  • God will provide for you even when you give to help others
  • What you reap is determined by what and how much you sow
  • Give to meet the needs of even your enemies and perhaps win them over with love
  • The effects of Christ may result in giving and justice as with Zacchaeus
  • Giving freely results when we truly trust God and it causes treasures to be stored up in heaven
  • Give freely to those in need
  • One of the effects of a heavenly oriented heart is giving
  • We are channels for God. As we receive we should give
  • Give to those who ask if it is within your power to do so
  • Giving to the poor promotes provision for ourselves
  • As we are prompted by God to give to meet other's needs the same happens for us
  • The early Christians gave to meet the needs of each other

 

 

Section Summary

Sowing and reaping is a spiritual law that God uses to provide for people. Giving is a form of sowing. The harvest that is desired can be obtained by sowing the proper seeds along with the proper motives. What is sown is not always the object of giving.

We have also seen from the scriptures that God will meet our needs, including churches, if we sow to help others. The more we sow the more we will reap. However, we should not let a desired result be the motivation for sowing. In that case, there is no reward because it would be unrighteous (not right with God). See James 4:2-3.

 

 

Where to Give

There are no rules or formulas as to where to give except that you listen to the Holy Spirit for special instructions. Otherwise, give when you can and when it is your will to give. Don't just wait until you have extra money or time to give. Include giving in your plans and budget so that you will have something to give when the time comes. I will now present to you some ideas where you can give.

Give to Yourself
At first this sounds very selfish but it is not. I am not suggesting that you give only to yourself but that in all of your giving be sure to give to yourself. I believe that this is important because it will help prevent contempt for giving to arise. After a while you may begin to feel neglected because you keep helping others but you always are in lack. My father, William Cunningham, Sr. once said that people don't realize that they are blessed because they keep giving it all away. So, remember to give to yourself. How can you do this?

Psalm 37:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

This is a conditional promise from God. First we must trust Him and do what is good. Then we can dwell where we are (where God directs us). Also, when we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. Do not give God's gifts away to others when He fulfills the desires of your heart. For example, God may bless us with $500 and the first thing we start thinking about is giving it away to help someone or to give it to the church for the building fund. That is good but God gave the money to you and for you. Sure, you may want to help but you don't have to give it all away every time. Allow the Lord to bless YOU. Learn to receive from the Lord.

Give to Your Family (Household)
We said earlier in this study that giving is a way of sowing seed. We also said that giving is a medium by which we express or demonstrate love or benevolence. Consider what the bible says about God demonstrating his love towards us.

Romans 5:8 (ESV) — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Don't neglect your family. When you give to a local church or a charity, rest assured that your giving is not going exclusively to kingdom building as some call it. Your gift may go to salaries, utilities, and other business expenses. Therefore, never sacrifice the needs of your family to help build someone else's kingdom besides God's.

Give to Your Parents
Enough cannot be said about giving to your parents. The Bible tells us to honor our mother and father (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16). Consider the passage of scripture below.

Matthew 15:3–6 (ESV) — 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

Jesus plainly reveals that it is wrong to neglect your father and mother to say that you are going to give to the church. Since it is God's will that we honor our mother and father, it would not be wrong to give to them instead of the church. Never neglect your parents! Therefore, when we have opportunity we should always give to help our parents and to give them gifts. We honor them by giving in the same way we honor God by giving. Do not let an organization prohibit you from honoring your parents.

Give to Those in Need
Of course we should give to help others. This principle is taught in the Bible. God instituted meeting the needs of the less fortunate by the tithes and harvesting guidelines (see Leviticus 19:9-10). Give to help others when it is in your power to do so. Provision will not fall from heaven. Money will not grow on trees. If someone needs money, then they should acquire it as wages, harvest, or gift. The bible teaches us that God is very concerned about those who are in need. We therefore should look to help those who are in need in any way that we can. I am reminded of the following passage of scripture.

Acts 2:42–45 (ESV) — 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Here is another passage that comes to mind.

Proverbs 19:17 (ESV) — 17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Giving to the Local Church
I felt that giving to the church deserves special attention. It is a good thing to support the activities of your church by financial contributions if indeed the church is worthy of that support. Your church is or should be a consolidation of ministries. That is, the church acts as a centralized base for the coordination of various ministries for the sake of preaching the word of God, meeting the needs of the community, and edification of the saints. Therefore, if you believe in what your church is doing and want to support it then it is quite good to contribute financially to support its activities and ministries.

There must be a distinction between the needs of an organization and the needs of people. The needs of people well outweigh the needs of an organization because people make up the organization. The expenses of a church consist of utilities (water, gas, electric), insurance, salaries, and funds for other things such as carpets and renovations. These are valid expenses for an organization that is performing a service for the community and ministry to people. However, the Bible does not make a point that we are to give for these things. The Bible teaches us to meet the needs of people. Giving to purchase new carpets, windows, etc. is not meeting the needs of the people.

Unfortunately, there are many churches where the emphasis is on the church organization and not the people. People are compelled to give to support the kingdom of God when in fact they are merely supporting someone's kingdom, i.e., the pastor. I have encountered pastors whose objective was not effective ministering of the word to others, but rather to fill the seats of the church. Pastors desire to increase membership of their organization over and above membership into the body of Christ. Therefore, we must be diligent to determine if we are truly sowing into the kingdom of God or the kingdom of a person.

Have a Need-Plant a Seed
What happens when a person has a need and he or she goes to his church or a ministry for help? In some cases, the person may be told, "If you have a need, plant a seed." In other words, if you have a need then you need to give so that your needs would be met. If you don't have the money to pay the rent and buy foods, then you are supposed to give to your local church so that God will be able to bless you. It is true that as we give, we do receive because that seems to be how the Kingdom of God operates. However, when we have a need then we need that need met. Sometimes we don't have seeds to plant so to speak.

A better response would be for people to help those in need so that they would have seed to sow so to speak, instead of obligating them to give what they don't have to give. When you have a need then you need that need met. God surely will help you in that. He can prompt others to support you and he will give you ideas of how to get your needs met, e.g., an idea to make money.

 

 

The Answer

Christians are not commanded or otherwise required by God to give 10% of their income to a local church.

The acts of a Christian are and should be a matter of the heart, not a matter of law. That is, a Christian lives a righteous life and does righteous things because he or she is a Christian. A Christian does not do righteous things to become righteous or to otherwise be accepted by God. The bible tells us...

Romans 5:8 (ESV) — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Therefore, a true Christian will use what he or she has to help others and of course to support true ministry. Ultimately, Christians give for many reasons. However, this giving is not under compulsion or obligation. Christians give because of their heart not because of a law.

Christian live by a higher order than the law. We live because of the grace of God. We are vessels of God to help make disciples of all nations. We are givers. We give of our lives in many ways to help otherwise and to help the Gospel of Jesus Christ permeate the world. We are not governed by laws and obligations, but rather by the Spirit of God through our hearts. We give because God gave. We give forgiveness to others because God first forgave us. We give life to others through Jesus Christ because someone gave life to you through Jesus Christ.

A Christian doesn't tithe, but instead loves though giving. We are not commanded to tithe, but we in any given situation may go well beyond the tithe. We do not have to tithe, but may decide to do it anyway. The key thing to consider here is that Christians are not obligated to tithe.

2 Corinthians 9:6–7 (ESV) — 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

 

Giving to the Local Church and God's Provision

Some teach that to be financially blessed that we must give to the local church no matter what. If we do not have enough money to pay all of our bills, then we must tithe or give an offering to the local church anyway. It is true that trusting God means that you will give even if you are in a poor financial situation. However, the bible does not reveal to us that we are to give to a local church no matter what. Let me be clear here. I am not saying that we should not give even when we are in a poor financial situation. I am saying that giving to a local church does not guarantee some type of special blessing from God.

There are a few things that I would like to briefly discuss to help you understand what the main point here is, which is all part of what I call the higher order.

  1. God cares about people
  2. The true church is the people not the church organizations that we call "church"
  3. The kingdom of God is within us, not the local church
  4. Jesus told us to minister not the local church (very important)
  5. Giving is for people not institutions
  6. God loves you and provides for you because of that

 

 

God Cares About People

Reading the bible reveals some very important things about God. We find through many passages that God cares about people and established many ways for their needs to be met even if he had to do it directly, e.g., manna and quail in the wilderness. Consider

James 2:14–17 (ESV) — 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We find here that the true faith of a believer is revealed by what he or she does, not what he or she says. In the example given in the passage above, we do not see that the appropriate demonstration of faith is to take the person in need to the local church for the clothing drive or soup line. The appropriate action for the believer is to directly meet the needs of that person in the same way we minster healing to people. Remember that Jesus said to cast out devils, heal the sick, and raise the dead. He didn't say take them to church so that the pastor or prayer ministers can do it. We should be able to do it. We are the ministers that God uses to reach the world.

Unfortunately, we have the impression that the tool of God is the local church. In some ways, it is a tool, but I believe it is our tool not God's. God uses us to minister to the sick and the lost. We can take advantage of the resources and collaboration afforded by the local church organization. However, we should be able to minister and operate within the kingdom of God regardless of whether we go through a local church organization or minister ourselves directly.

I personally find it problematic when preachers demand an offering from those who are struggling. True faith is not based on coercion or compulsion. True faith is expressed from the heart. If a person does not have the faith to give and expect God to take care of them anyway, then they should be assisted anyway. We read in Acts how the body of Christ distributed donations to those who were in need. You do not find the New Testament insisting that we give when we are in need so that we can operate in the seedtime and harvest principle. We should not force people into supporting an organization especially when the bible clearly and abundantly reveals to us that we should take care of the needy.

I should point out that there are some people who have learned to trust God and not doubt him with regards to their finances. These people may indeed give even if they don't have the money for other things. They are confident that God will provide for them even when they give sacrificially. However, even in this case we should still reach out to assist as much as we can. If they do not have the money at a particular time for a specific need then we can step in and help.

 

 

The Body of Christ Versus Church

There is a difference between the body of Christ (the true Church) and the church (the non-profit organizations). The body of Christ is the collection of all believers and the church is a man-made organization. We see a great example of the true Church in the book of Acts. We see how they kept the Apostles teaching and shared everything so that anyone with needs were provided for. The teaching on tithing focuses on giving to the local church organization instead of expressing love for one another by helping one another when in need. What if the church got together to pay for someone's gas bill? Now of course you would have to contend with fraud, but the fact remains that the people are more important than the organization. The body of Christ is more important than a man-made construct. Therefore, if you had to decide where to be charitable, then don't exclude people in order to give exclusively to a local church.

 

 

The Kingdom of God

Another important consideration is to realize that the kingdom of God is not defined or confined to the local church. The kingdom of God is within us or among us (See Luke 17:21). We should not treat the local church organization as if it is the Temple of God of the Old Testament because it is not. The local church again is a man-made construct. This is not to say that the local church is a bad thing. In many cases, it is a good thing in that it can consolidate people in ministry to serve more effectively than the individuals alone. The local church can pool resources to be more effective than the individuals.

I bring this point up because many times ministers will say that tithing is a way of expanding the kingdom of God or investing/supporting the kingdom of God. That may very well be the case depending on the church. In some churches your tithes will go to salaries, and normal property expenses, and ministry efforts. However, this should not be seen as the only place to give or to support God's kingdom. Helping your neighbor in need is a way for God to work through you to help others. Blessing your family and friends is another way that God works through you to help others.

With that said, it is important to realize that Jesus told us to minister. Too many people think that the ordained ministers are the ones that are supposed to minister and no one else. I was in one church where they were waiting for a pastor to come and lead them and to tell them what to do. There was no one in the entire church that could (or wanted) to teach Sunday School. To them ministry was the clergy's responsibility not theirs. That is the mindset of many professed Christians unfortunately.

Those who call themselves Christian typically do not pursue God. They don't read and study the bible so they aren't really involved in doing what Jesus told us to do with regards to making disciples of all nations or to preach the word. To these people the only way to get involved with what God is doing is to get involved with a local church. They don't realize that investing into the kingdom of God could take place in their own home, neighborhood, job, or classroom.

 

 

Give to the People

What if everyone who is Christian blessed the people around them in their normal everyday situations? We are so focused in giving to an institution that we neglect people. When you give to a church organization, realize that you are giving to pay the expenses of the building, salaries, taxes, and professional services. Again, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing. An organization will always have these types of expenses whether it is a church or your favorite charity organization (e.g., the Red Cross). There will always be non-ministry expenses.

My point is that we should not be organizational minded, but rather people-minded. Allow God to work through you to bless people. Paul said to give as you have prospered to give what you have decided to give (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:7). Paul wasn't talking about giving to a local church in the way we think of it. The churches during this time were not formed the way they are now. Then churches were congregations of believers that met in homes. Today, the churches are organizations that people come to on designated days. The needs of the church then was not to maintain a building, but rather to assist the people and ministers. The needs of the church today is for mortgages, taxes, salaries, carpet care, landscaping, etc. In all of our giving we should not forget to give to help people.

 

 

God Provides Because He Loves

When people say, we are supposed to tithe or we should tithe in order to be blessed, they forget that God has already blessed us. There are many scriptures that say that God blesses us long before we have done anything to have earned it.

  • Matthew 5:1-12 -- Jesus said that we are blessed and none has anything to do with tithing or giving in general
  • Psalm 34:10 -- Having good things is tied to seeking the Lord not tithing or giving
  • Ephesians 1:3 -- We are blessed already with every spiritual blessing
  • Psalm 1:1-3 -- God forgives all of our sins and heals all of our diseases, which has nothing to do with what we do

The point here is to not think that God will not bless you because you do not tithe. God has already blessed you because he loves you. God will provide for you because he loves you. Yes. We should honor God with what we have. It is true that we should not hoard what we have, but rather give to honor God and at the same time help others and to support the preaching of the gospel.

 

 

Give When You Receive

We have established that there is no command that Christians are supposed to tithe. The bible also doesn't support the idea that we should tithe even without the law. So, what are we to do when we receive our paychecks or any other form of income either from a job or your own business? The answer is very simple. Give. Ask God where you should give your money. You could give of course to your local church or any other organization or person. The point is that we share the fruits of our labor and not hoard it all for ourselves.

There will be people who are in need and there will be organizations and activities that warrant our support. The priority is people. We find throughout the bible that God cares for people. You will find that God made special provisions for the widows, orphans, and even foreigners. For example, the harvesters were not to go to the very edges of their fields so that those who were in need, i.e., the poor, could come and glean the fields, that is, take what was left behind. See Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:20-21, Leviticus 19:9-10). Even a tithe was used for the widows, orphans, and foreigners (See Deuteronomy 14:28-29). Likewise, we should care for the poor and do what we can with what we have acquired to help them. That is what God did so we should be like him in that regard.

 

 

The Conclusion

What is the conclusion of the whole matter about tithing? First. We are not commanded to tithe. It is totally up to each individual how much they will give whether 10%, 5%, 20% or more. The important thing is that we operate the way our heavenly Father operates. God is concerned about us all and he uses people to bless others. Therefore, we should care for the poor as much as we can. This could mean helping a family with purchasing food, giving someone a car, buying clothes, giving clothes to a church clothing drive, etc. We are not under law, but under grace. That means that what we do comes from the Spirit of God within us not by the effort of obeying laws.

Be a blessing to others. Tithing wasn't about how much the tither would be blessed in the Old Testament, but rather how much the tither could be bless others. Even when Abraham gave Melchizedek a 10th of the spoils of war, that wasn't about Abraham securing additional blessings, but rather worshiping God by giving to the priest. We should be mindful of these things when we are blessed either by our paychecks, gifts, investments, or whatever it may be. Remember those who are in need. Support ministries that actually minister the word of God and helps people.

Christians are not commanded to tithe, but we are commanded to love. This means that we are thinking beyond the tithe and therefore not limiting ourselves to a tithe. We are meeting needs as much as we can with what we have available. We operate (or should operate) at a higher order than the law. We operate under grace, radiating and manifesting the love of God to those around us.

Give as God has prospered you, not to receive, but rather to be like your heavenly Father who is also a giver of all those who are in need--especially of salvation!

 

 

References

(1) Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 2071). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

(2)Thomson, J. G. S. S. (1996). Tithes. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 1193). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

(3) Cross, F. L., & Livingstone, E. A. (Eds.). (2005). In The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev., p. 1637). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

(4) Elwell, W. A., & Elwell, W. A. (1996). In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

(5) Encyclopedia Britannica, Tithe, February 9, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/tithe, accessed 3/4/2017/

 

 

Bibliography-Resources Consulted

 

 

Tithing, Giving, Sowing and Reaping
by William R. Cunningham
Version 2.0 (June 1998)
Version 3.0 (March 2017)
2017 All rights reserved

By: 
William R. Cunningham