Tithing, Giving, Sowing and Reaping

Contents

Introduction

The Meaning of “Tithe”

Scripture References

Arguments for the Tithe Law

Arguments Against the Tithe Law

Tithing Conclusion

Giving – The Higher Order

Where To Give

Sowing and Reaping

Conclusion

References

Bibliography-Resources Consulted

 

Introduction

Many pastors and church leaders teach their congregations that they should give 10% of their income to the local church. They teach tithing. Does God require Christians to tithe? Are Christians supposed to give 10% of their income to their local church even if that means they won’t have money for other necessary expenses, e.g., their utility bills?

Tithing is taught to be the means for special blessings from God. If you tithe, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that you won’t be able to contain. However, if you do not tithe, you will be cursed. I call that teaching the tithing law.

In this article, I hope to show you the truth about tithing and liberate you from the obligations that religious leaders place on you primarily to get more money for their kingdoms, i.e., religious organizations. I also hope to enlighten you on what I call the higher order of giving and the results of using what you have to help others, i.e., sowing and reaping.

I encourage you to be a critical reader. Follow along in the study and examine other information that you can find about tithing. Don’t just take my word for it. Know what God says for yourself.

The Meaning of “Tithe”

What does the word ‘tithe’ mean? Five words in the Bible were translated into the English word tithe or tithes.

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

 

Now let me present to you entries about tithing from several resources.

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (1988)
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.

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

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3rd ed
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. 27:30-32, Deut. 14:22-24). 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).

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.

Scripture References

This study uses an inductive methodology, which means that we gather data, analyze the data, and then draw a reasonable conclusion. The data here will come from the Bible. So, let’s examine scriptures from the Bible about tithing.

Abraham’s Tithe

Genesis 14:20 (NKJV) — 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham gave the High Priest of God, Melchizedek, a tenth of all booty he obtained from war after rescuing his nephew Lot. The passage indicates that tithing may have been a common or familiar practice well before the Mosaic Law. We also note that Abraham tithed from the spoils of war and not from his personal belongings. Abraham was highly prosperous.

Jacob’s Vow and Tithe

Genesis 28:22 (NKJV) — 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob was filled with awe and reverence for God, whom he believed was present where he slept (Bethel, formerly Luz). Filled with awe and reverence, he made a vow to God seemingly to honor or revere Him. Therefore, Jacob vowed his submission to God and would give a tenth of everything he gave him. Jacob worshipped God by promising to give back 10% of whatever God gave him.

Note that there is no indication that Jacob gave God 10% of anything. Since it was a vow, Jacob’s promise stood valid even after his death. God promised Jacob the Promised Land, which his descendants would inhabit. Therefore, it is most probable that Jacob’s descendants fulfilled his vow through the tithe law. Whatever the land (that God gave Jacob—Israel) produced, 10% was given to God. That is perhaps how tithing became part of the Mosaic law.

The Holy Tithe

Leviticus 27:30–33 (NKJV) — 30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’ ”

God establishes that 10% of the harvests and every 10th animal that passed under the shepherd’s rod was holy (sacred, set apart). Every tenth animal that passed under the rod belonged to God. They were not to determine one to be good or bad. The tithe of the produce and seed were holy.

We also note that one could redeem (buy back) their tithe at 20% above its value. As we will see later, this suggests that the tithe was not money.

The Levite’s Wages

Numbers 18:21 (NKJV) — “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.

Numbers 18:24 (NKJV) — For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’ ”

All the tithes were wages for the Levites for their work in the tabernacle.

The Tithe of the Tithe

Numbers 18:26–32 (NKJV) — 26 “Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. 27 And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. 29 Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ 30 Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. 31 You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. 32 And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’ ”

The Levites gave the priests a tenth of the tithes they received from the people. The tithes they presented to the priests would be counted as produce from the threshing floor and winepress. The Levites ate what remained after tithing to the priests. It was their food.

Instruction from God

Deuteronomy 12:6–11 (NKJV) — 6 There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you. 8 “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—9 for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. 10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, 11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 12:17 (NKJV) — 17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand.

God gave the Hebrew people instructions for living in the Promised Land. He told them to bring their tithe to the tabernacle. They were not to do whatever they wanted to do with it. There was a specific place where the people had to bring their tithes.

Tithing Guidelines

Deuteronomy 14:22–29 (NKJV) — 22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. 28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

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 tabernacle was too far for them to travel with their tithe, 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 kept the tithe in their towns so the Levites, foreigners, fatherless, and widows who lived in the town would eat and be satisfied. Also, they would be blessed by God when they met the needs of the people and obeyed Him.

The Third-Year Tithe

Deuteronomy 26:12 (NKJV) — 12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled,

God taught the people how to offer the third-year tithe for the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows. They were to recite what God commanded them to say as they presented the tithe to the Levites. See also Deuteronomy 14:28-29.

Tithing Reinstated

2 Chronicles 31:5–6 (NKJV) — 5 As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. 6 And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.

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 due to the Levites, which was a tithe of the land’s produce.

An Abundance Given

2 Chronicles 31:12 (NKJV) — Then they faithfully brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things; Cononiah the Levite had charge of them, and Shimei his brother was the next.

During King Hezekiah’s reforms, the Israelites began to bring their tithes and other offerings to the Temple. There was so much food that there were heaps left over. This Scripture reveals 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.

Tithing Reinstated

Nehemiah 10:37–38 (NKJV) — 37 to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. 38 And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.

The tithe was re-established along with other ordinances.

Storeroom Overseer

Nehemiah 12:44 (NKJV) — 44 And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered.

Nehemiah appointed men to oversee the storerooms of the Temple. The storerooms stored the tithes and offerings from the people. Note that the tithe was food.

The People Tithed

Nehemiah 13:11–12 (NKJV) — 11 So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.

Nehemiah discovered that the tithes were not collected. Therefore, He stationed the officials at their posts, and the people began to bring their tithes to the Levites.

The Jewish leaders influenced the actions of the people. Therefore, since the leaders neglected the Temple of God, so did the people.

Bring The Whole Tithe

Malachi 3:8–10 (NKJV) — 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

The hearts of the people were against God. They held God in contempt and accused Him of not loving them. This heart condition affected their worship. Neglecting the tithe resulted from the people’s cold hearts towards God, starting with the religious leaders.

Note that the tithe was food, not money.

The Hypocritical Tithe

Matthew 23:23 (NKJV) — 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders. The Scribes and Pharisees tithed from the smallest herb in their garden. However, they neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They were merely following the rules or going through the motion. Their tithe was not an act of worship.

Luke 11:42 (NKJV) — “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

This passage is very similar to Matthew 23:23 above. However, in this account, Jesus states that they neglect the love of God. The Pharisees were religious leaders who lacked the love of God, though they were pious.

A Prideful Prayer

Luke 18:12 (NKJV) — I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’

Read verses 12 thru 14. This passage is part of a parable Jesus said to prideful people. They tithed to exalt themselves. Like the Pharisees, they were not tithing as an act of worship.

Paul Recollects Abraham’s Tithe

Hebrews 7:2–9 (NKJV) — 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,

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.

Summary

The following are some points about tithing that we have covered so far.

  • 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
  • The tithe was not money
  • Only produce from the fields and herds were tithed
  • The tithe was food
  • The tithe did not fund projects such as building the Temple
  • People ate the tithe.
  • Only those with land that produced crops and those with animals tithed.
  • The title was the wages for the Levite’s work in the tabernacle
  • Tithing could be a religious activity and not done from the heart
  • Tithing could merely be a rule that one follows

Tithing was instituted in the Old Testament law primarily to provide food for the Levites and Priests who worked in the tabernacle. The tithe was also used to provide food for the orphans, widows, and foreigners.

Another important point is that money was not used as the tithe. Tithing was not a tax that the people paid to the Temple. Only those with land and animals (farmers) would tithe. Those who earned wages for work did not tithe.

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

Arguments for the Tithe Law

People use various arguments to prove that Christians should give 10% of their income to their local church. Let us now evaluate some arguments ministers use to “prove” that Christians are supposed to tithe.

Robbing God – Malachi 3:8-10

Malachi 3:8–10 (NKJV) — 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 is often used to prove that Christians are supposed to tithe. They say that neglecting to do so is robbing God. However, the context of Malachi reveals something different.

Malachi is about the worship and people’s hearts and how it affected their worship of God. They were going through the motions instead of worshiping God from their hearts. They allowed the Temple to go to ruins because it wasn’t important to them any longer. Since their worship waned, so did their tithing.

Malachi shows us that our relationship with God should be more than mere religious activities and that worship is from the heart. We can go to church each Sunday to attend a worship service. However, genuine worship is from the heart, and it expresses itself in many ways.

Malachi does not show us that Christians should tithe to their local churches. As a matter of fact, Malachi is not about tithing. It is about worship and the heart.

Former Agricultural Society

Some argue 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. That sounds logical, but its assumptions are inaccurate.

The Old Testament Hebrews did live under an agricultural society. However, there was a monetary system, which was based on silver, gold, and other precious stones. For example, as we saw earlier, 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 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 wanted food, not money.

Therefore, we cannot say that since we do not live in an agricultural society that our tithe should be money given to a local church, especially since wage earners in the Old Testament did not tithe.

Paul Taught Tithing in 1 Corinthians 16

1 Corinthians 16:2 (NKJV) — On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

Some argue that 1 Corinthians 16:2 is referring to tithes.

Notice that there is no mention of tithing. The Apostle Paul simply said that the people should set aside some money on the first day of the week to eliminate the need to take an offering when he comes. Paul was not teaching about tithing.

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

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV) — So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

God is not pleased when we give reluctantly or by coercion. It is not money that is important. It is the motivation. We can give to help others or worship God, or we can give for prideful reasons. That is why the woman who gave two mites gave more than the others at the Temple (See Luke 21:1-4).

I should also point out that the Apostle Paul, nor any other apostle, mentione tithing. If tithing was so important and mandatory for Christians, then surely one of them would have taught it. They do not.

The Jews Knew to Tithe in The New Testament Church

Some argue that tithing was not taught in the New Testament because the Jews already knew to tithe and didn’t have to be told. However, consider that the New Testament church consisted of non-Jews as well as Jews. Therefore, if tithing were essential to the New Testament Church, then Jesus would have instituted it into his teaching, and the Apostles, including Paul, would have taught the gentiles to do it. However, that never happened.

Jews Do Not Tithe Today

You might be surprised to learn that Jewish people do not tithe today. That is, they do not follow the Mosaic law of tithing. Some may give 10% of their income to a charity or to  help others.

Jewish Rabbis state that the laws of tithing only apply to the land of Israel (www.myjewishlearner.com). The destruction of the Temple in AD 70 made it impossible for the Jews to follow the law of tithing, especially since the tithe could only be given to a Levite. There is no Temple in Jerusalem and no Levitical order to care for it.

How do Jews fund their Synagogue operation if they don’t tithe? They buy seats. Families pledged a certain amount each year to financially support their synagogue. Some give 10% of their income to charitable organizations or help someone in need (Jew or gentile).

 

Honoring God

Some say that we honor God when we tithe. That is true, depending on the motive of the tither. Though the Bible doesn’t teach us that we must tithe, a person may give 10% of their income to a church, charity, or people in need.

Tithing in the Old Testament was ultimately a way to worship God. So, we can worship God by tithing, but that is a personal decision. Tithing is not justified merely because we can worship God when doing it.

Proverbs 3:9–10 (NKJV) — Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

We can honor God with our wealth and the firstfruits of our increase (perhaps wages). Since honoring God involves the expression of the high regard and respect that we have for Him (worship), it would seem reasonable to say that doing something with our wealth or income could be used to worship God.

I should note that there are many ways we can honor or worship God. Genuine worship comes from the heart and can be expressed in many ways, such as singing, playing an instrument, praising, working, helping, etc.

Arguments Against the Tithe Law

Now, I would like to present arguments that show us that Christians are not commanded to tithe. These arguments go directly against the arguments that ministers have trying to prove that we must tithe.

Tithing is Not Taught in the New Testament

The most significant argument against the tithe law is that the Bible does not teach us that the New Testament church is supposed to tithe. If tithing were mandatory for Christians, then surely Jesus or the Apostles would have said so. They do not. At best we are encouraged to simply give.

The Early Church Had No Tithing System

Did the early Christians tithe? The early church met on the first day of the week. The apostolic fathers never taught tithing, nor did the early church practice it. There is no historical record of the early church practicing some form of tithing.

Tithing was incorporated into the Christian church by the Council of Tours (567 AD) and the third Council of Macon (585 AD). At this time, the tithe was still agricultural, not monetary. Tithing was expanded to include wages in 1200 AD by England’s Pope Innocent III. King Pepin III (Pepin the Short) established the tithe legally obligatory. His son, Roman Emperor Charlemagne, played an important role in enforcing tithing within the Christian church.

The point here is that there was no tithing system in the early church. Other leaders introduced it for reasons other than the Old Testament tithing system. Early Christians helped each other by sharing what they had so that those in need in the community would have provisions.

Acts 2:42–45 (NKJV) — 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Tithing Was Not Used to Finance the Early Church

How was the early church financed? The freewill offering of the people financed the early church. See Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35. Tithes were not collected from the people to fund the activities of the early Christian church.

A principal activity of the early church was to help those in need. They divided the donations among those who lacked.

Acts 2:44–45 (NKJV) — 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

 

Pastors Are Not Levites

Some argue that pastors are justified to receive tithes because they are like Levites and Priests. Levites and priests were determined by bloodline. Therefore, unless a pastor happens to be Jewish in the lineage of Levi, they cannot claim to be a Levite or priest. Therefore, if a pastor receives tithes and is not a Levite, he breaks the law.

Pastors do not stand in the position of a Levite or Priest and cannot claim they are authorized to take the tithe. Furthermore, the Old Testament tithe was given specifically to the Israelites, not the New Testament Church.

The Church is Not The Tabernacle to Which We Tithe

It has also been said that we should tithe to our local church because it is a type of tabernacle where the Israelites brought their tithes. We must consider what the church is and what the tabernacle was. The tabernacle was a sacred tent, a portable and provisional sanctuary, where God met His people (Exodus 33:7-10). The church is the collection of all Christians throughout the world. It is the community of believers, i.e., those who are born again because of their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

We should not confuse a physical structure as the Temple of God because God dwells in us, not a building.

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV) — Or do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV) — Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NKJV) — And what agreement has the Temple of God with idols? For you are the Temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

The bottom line. The church is not a type of Tabernacle/Temple to which people should bring their tithes.

Tithing Conclusion

Many ministers, pastors, and other church leaders teach people to give their local church 10% of their income. We have found that the Bible does not support that teaching. Furthermore, the people could only give their tithes to a Levite, which is doubtful that a Christian church pastor would be. A significant point about tithing in the Old Testament was that it was never money.

The New Testament Church is not supposed to tithe.

Now, I am not suggesting that we should not give financially to support a local church or ministry. If your Christian walk is positively affected by a ministry, pastor, or church, then quite naturally you should support it if you can.

The conclusion about tithing is God does not command us to give a religious organization, i.e., church, 10% of our income.

1 Timothy 5:17–18 (NKJV) — 17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

 

Giving – The Higher Order

Jesus tended to move the law from rules to follow to principles to follow. For example, consider the following passage of Scripture.

Matthew 5:27–28 (NKJV) — 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus took adultery beyond the physical act to the condition of the heart. We do and say what is in our hearts. Tithing is similar. We have a higher order to merely tithing. We should be givers as God is a giver. We should help others and support the will of God on the earth with the resources that we have (which belong to God anyway).

Churches, i.e., religious organizations, require money to operate. Some pastors work full-time in ministry, and like the Levites and Priests, they depend on donations from the people. We should not think that because God doesn’t command us to tithe, we can be indifferent to the needs of the local church or those in need. Remember, the Old Testament tithe provided for the Levites, priests, widows, foreigners, and orphans, i.e., those in need.

How can we support the ministry and help others? We should give. True giving, like OT tithing, should come from the heart.

2 Corinthians 9:6–7 (NKJV) — 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Give because you want to help a ministry or someone in need. Don’t give because you feel obligated or are pressured into giving. There would be so much less pain in the world if people helped each other.

Giving is a way to express your love, concern, and care for others. We donate our time, energies, talents, resources, and money.

The Bible reveals the principle of sowing and reaping. We will reap a harvest when we sow, i.e., give. Your giving will produce fruit. However, don’t think of it as an investment where you only give to receive. Give to help others, honor God, support a ministry or church, etc. God will provide you with more to work with so that you can help even more.

Proverbs 11:24–25 (NKJV) — 24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 19:17 (NKJV) — He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.

Supporting Ministry

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) — 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Note that Paul addresses a church and not just any group of people. 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.

About Giving in the Bible

Proverbs 11:24–25 (NKJV) — 24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

It seems counterproductive in the world system. However, generosity leads to more. Don’t think that the only way to prosper is for God to magically make money come to you. Prosperity will probably come through other people. Be willing to help others, and your giving will produce more.

Proverbs 28:27 (NKJV) — He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.

Giving to the poor will secure your provisions. 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 (NKJV) — Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Don’t turn your back on those who come to you for help. Help them if you have the power to do so (See Proverbs 3:27).

Matthew 10:8 (NKJV) — Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to do good works. Jesus spent a lot of time helping others by healing and teaching freely in his ministry. Likewise, we should freely give, i.e., share what God has empowered us with. Freely give of the resources that God gave you.

Luke 6:38 (NKJV) — Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The picture here is of a grain merchant or the like. He gives a fair amount of grain, presses it down to fill as much of the measuring container as possible, and shakes it so that it all can settle even more. He fills the measuring container so that it overflows. That is how God will give to us when we give to others. God will usually use others to bless you.

Giving as Worship

Luke 19:5–8 (NKJV) — 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

Zacchaeus was a tax collector who wanted to see Jesus as he passed through Jericho. He climbed a tree because he was a short man. Jesus stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus and told him that he would stay at his house. Zacchaeus was delighted about hosting Jesus and meeting him in person.

Zacchaeus’s response to Jesus was fascinating. He told Jesus that he would sell half of his possessions and give to the poor. He also told him he would restore to anyone four times what he had gained by false accusation.

Zacchaeus’s response to meeting Jesus personally was worship. Worship is our response to the presence of God. Zacchaeus’ worship was to give to others. Therefore, giving can be a way to worship God.

 

Work, Earn, Give

Acts 20:33–35 (NKJV) — 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Paul was a significant Apostle of Jesus Christ who ministered to people throughout the Roman empire, from Syria to Italy and Judea to Philippi. However, he worked with his own hands to earn wages to pay for his necessities. Paul was a tentmaker by trade.

Paul points out that earning money provides a means to support the weak. Christians should be willing to help those in need with their resources and keep greed from causing them to hoard for themselves.

See also Ephesians 4:28.

Give to Enemies

Romans 12:20 (NKJV) — Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Interestingly, the Bible reveals that we should give to our enemies. You would think we should want to destroy our enemies, but God has an entirely different way. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

  • 2 Kings 6:22
  • Proverbs 25:21-22
  • Matthew 5:44
  • Luke 6:27

 

Give from the Heart

2 Corinthians 9:6–8 (NKJV) — 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

The more you sow, the more you will reap. Genuine giving is motivated by the heart. We should support ministries that make a difference and those in need. However, don’t give because you feel obligated or pressured. Decide what to give from your heart. God loves the cheerful giver. God’s grace will be plentiful in your life such that you always have an abundance for every good work.

Giving is More Than Money

I want to point out that giving and receiving involve more than money. We tend to think of giving and helping others in monetary terms. However, you can give more than dollars and cents. Here are some examples.

  • Food
  • Time
  • A listening ear
  • Advice (e.g., spend time to give someone advice)
  • Assistance (e.g., helping someone fix something)
  • Knowledge
  • Possessions (e.g., furniture, car, appliances, etc.)
  • Support

The point is that there are many opportunities to give to help others besides money.

Where To Give

Giving is more than putting money in the church offering pan. Giving can be a lifestyle activity. God works through people, so allow him to work through you to help others.

Let me present some ideas for where you can give.

Give to Yourself

Airplane passengers are instructed to apply the oxygen mask to themselves before they attempt to help others in an emergency. You are better able to help others when you take care of yourself. I am not suggesting that you give only to yourself, but that you spend time and resources for yourself. Spend time and resources to improve yourself. My father once said that people don’t realize that they are blessed because they keep giving it away. So, remember to give to yourself.

 Sure, you may want to help others but don’t neglect yourself. The more you take care of yourself, the more you can help and provide for others. Learn to receive from the Lord.

Give to Help People in Need Around You

There may be opportunities to help someone who needs assistance. It could be financially, help with a home issue, etc. Someone may need help dealing with an illness, caring for a loved one, and more.

You must realize that helping people is more important than blindly giving to a local church. God works through people to help people. Be that miracle for someone else, and one day someone will be a miracle for you.

Here are some ideas of how you can help others.

  1. Pay for someone’s meal when you are eating at a restaurant
  2. Help someone trying to change a flat tire
  3. Encourage someone who is depressed about something
  4. Do something for someone for free if you own a business
  5. Pray for people around you (at your job, store, church, business clients, etc.)
  6. Lay hands on the sick

Remember that God works through people. Be the miracle for someone else by helping them.

Give to Your Parents

I cannot stress enough the importance of supporting 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 (NKJV) — 3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

It is wrong for us to give to the local church when your parents need it. Do whatever you can to give your parents your time, knowledge, money, and more.

 

Give to the Local Church

It makes sense that you would support your local church. However, your support should be well-founded. What is your church producing, i.e., the effects of ministry? A church that truly makes a difference in the lives of people that encounter it is worthy of your support. A church that promotes the Bible and a personal relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ is worthy of your support.

Giving to your church may not always be monetary. You volunteer to help your church as well.

Give to a Ministry

There are many online and television ministries. Some are genuinely about ministering the Word of God to people. However, there are still many that are merely social clubs that require resources to exist. It is up to you to know what kind of church you attend is.

I think it is natural to want to support a ministry that has helped you directly. For example, I had contacted several ministries over the years when I had questions or needed someone to talk to. I was amazed at how many churches and ministries do not respond to questions sent via email or their website’s contact form.

I felt grateful to those ministers who gave their time to help me, whether by email or phone. I was highly appreciative. It was an honor to donate to those ministers to help support them so that they can continue and help even more people.

Give to a Local Charity

There may be a charity in your area that you can support. Those organizations exist to help others in one way or another. Therefore, supporting them is like helping others.

For example, organizations that provide food and shelter, education, clothing, etc.

Sowing and Reaping

Let me briefly cover the concept of sowing and reaping to help us get into a healthy frame of mind. Why would you expect to receive apples when you did not plant apple seeds? Now, I know what you might be thinking. We can just go to the grocery store and purchase apples. The fact is that someone had to plant the apples so that you could eat them. Someone had to sow so that both you and they would reap. You might consider giving as a way of sowing seeds, which will produce a harvest for you or someone else, or both.

Consider what Jesus told the rich ruler recorded in Matthew 19:16-24. The man asked Jesus what he must do to enter into eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The man told Jesus that he had kept the commandments that Jesus listed and wanted to know what else he needed to do. The following passage is Jesus’ answer.

Matthew 19:21 (NKJV) — Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The man was sad when Jesus answered him because he had great possessions. The man seemed to value his possessions more than helping others and becoming a disciple of Jesus. He would have had great treasures in heaven, and he would have been a great blessing to others.

Consider a parable Jesus told.

Luke 12:16–21 (NKJV) — 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

The rich man hoarded the abundance of crops instead of helping others who were hungry. He would rather spend money to create more room to stash his abundance instead of looking for ways to bless others. He was selfish, to say the least.

Notice also the mention of treasures. The rich man accumulated great treasures for himself on earth, but not in heaven. He was poor towards God.

We should share our blessings with others. If everyone helped each other, you would have help when you are in trouble. We should reap and then sow, or gather the harvest and then plant seeds to provide more for ourselves and others.

I am not suggesting that you should give so that you would receive. That is not a godly approach because it is another form of selfishness. We don’t give to receive. We give to allow the Lord to flow through us and help others. I’ll say it again. God works through people.

Help others when you are blessed. When you receive from the Lord, don’t think about how you will buy this or even how much you will give to your church. Think about who you can help or support. What would God like you to do with the money, the talent, the extra time? Sow some of your blessings into the life of others. Allow God to work through you to accomplish His will on the earth.

Conclusion

First and foremost, God did not command Christians to tithe to a local church. The Old Testament tithing law does not apply to Christians.

Secondly, we have examined giving. We should give to help others, which is what God consistently did throughout the Bible. The tithing system in the Old Testament was a way to provide for Levites and priests and those in need. Therefore, tithing was a structured way to give.

God did not command Christians to tithe, but He commanded us to love one another. That means that we are thinking beyond the activity of tithing. Instead, we are actively concerned for the well-being of other people. We are meeting needs as much as possible with our resources. We should operate) at a higher order than the law. We operate with grace, radiating and manifesting the love of God to those around us. Giving is a way to do those things.

Give as God has prospered you, not to receive, but rather to be like your heavenly Father who is also a giver to all those 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

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Juanita Elliott

    This was a very informative and we’ll researched teaching. I found it to be a major blessing. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Pastor Bill

      Thank you for providing feedback. It was this research that I used to free myself from the tithing bondage. I believe in giving to help people, ministries, family, etc. However, for a church to demand 10% as something that is required of Christians or commanded by God is just wrong and unbiblical.

      Reply
  2. nadean fuller

    very interesting i enjoyed it.

    Reply

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