Apparently there’s a Tithing Debate Heating Up, with a new site out there, TithingDebate.com.
Well. Deep breath.
Last week I was all over the sacred cows, and several went up in flames… with this one, the site just linked offers downloads of two books, Should the Church Teach Tithing and Eating Sacred Cows. Ahem.
Rather then delve into the specifics of the issue, like what Malachi really meant and if it’s really supposed to hold through the New Testament (whatever), I’ll just offer some of my own thoughts. I do have some, as this was a bit of a hot-button issue in my CLB. Over the years I was there, there was some teaching on tithing — not an excessive amount, but it was unequivocal, and it was one of the measures of whether or not someone was “committed” to the church. Leaders were expected to tithe, and it was taught as a proper minimum. Mostly it was based on Old Testament passages… the New Testament doesn’t really mention it, or does so very sparingly. There was one passage where the subject came up and Jesus didn’t say it was bad, so this was used as an indication that the practice should remain for believers today. Not only that, but it was further taught that not tithing hinders God’s blessing in your life, particularly in the financial department. This wasn’t a word/faith prosperity-teaching crowd, they just thought that if you didn’t tithe you would somehow invite a financial curse upon yourself or at least hinder God from blessing you.
Poor God, who is barred from blessing people because their account is overdue. Remember, according to the argument from silence (did you catch that one?) Jesus figured this whole tithing thing was all okay with him. In the context of the teaching that was given on this subject, one question might be asked, but would be anticipated and answered anyway. Should one tithe based on your gross or on your net income? The consistent answer from the leaders there was to respond with a question. “Do you want to be blessed gross or net?” Clearly, the gift and the blessing of God are linked, and evidently the amount of the gift reflects the return. Really, in this worldview it’s an investment. Or a spiritual slot machine, I could never tell which.
Over the time I was in this church, I had financial struggles. Not the whole time, but at times. I remember asking pastors to pray for me concerning this issue, and being asked in direct response if I was tithing. The connection seemed pretty clear that if I wasn’t tithing, it wasn’t worth praying. After all, God couldn’t and wouldn’t bless me or answer the prayer unless I repented and paid up. If I was tithing, perhaps it was just faith that I lacked… but at least they were more willing to pray for that.
The more I looked at it, the more absurd the whole thing seemed to me. Jesus didn’t ban or amend the practice of tithing — he didn’t say much of anything at all. It’s certainly not a bad idea to give to the church and support the work… this clearly happened in Acts, and references of this type are found in Paul’s letters as well. But it seemed to me that in my reading the New Testament, the principle seemed to be that all your money belongs to God, not just the tithe. Expanding one’s view to the entire corpus of Scripture, one can see that God has a lot to say about money. Overall, he does talk about the tithe, but he doesn’t say a whole lot about it… the thing he says a whole lot about in connection with money is care for the poor.
As I thought this through, it seemed to me that a question loomed… rather than justifying the money one gives away, such as a tithe, what if one tried to justify the money one kept? That might be a lot harder. Ultimately, the whole matter for me boiled down to one simple rule: honour God with your money. In some ways this makes it harder, but in every way it frees me from legalism.
As for my CLB, about six months or so after I left, they decided to accept tithes by debit card, preauthorized debit, and credit card. They circulated a letter explaining how people wishing to avail themselves of these conveniences should give a little extra to cover the transaction fees for each type of automated processing method. In the letter, specific examples were given to illustrate how much one would have to give so that the net amount received by the church after transaction fees and service charges would still be 10%. The gift would of course be receipted as tax deductible — less the cost of the transaction fee itself.
It is both odd and sad how the tithe becomes so leglaistic. Jesus was not a legalist. It is very sad the you experienced your need for prayer being tied to the issue of whether you were a tither or not. It is no wonder people flee our churches. I do agree with you, ALL our money belongs to God and our accountability is about what we do with ALL we have and are not 10% or not whatever we happen to give to the church. Thanks for this reflection.
Your experience with tithing sounds quite manipulative and, unfortunately, not uncommon. I think that most teaching on it is coming from people who have a conflict of interest; that is they are the people who stand to benefit from having people tithe. Their paychecks depend upon it (so to speak), or, if they are elders, they are responsible for the buildings and salaries which depend upon the tithes. They NEED that money … people become not people anymore but tithing units.
The path your former church took reminded me quite strongly of an old friend who was Mormon. Speaking of legalism regarding tithing!! In the Mormon church one can direct deposit the tithe from the paycheck into the church’s bank acount. At least one could in her church. They were extremely strict about the 10 percent, but I can’t remember if that was gross or net. It was quite a while ago.
At our former church, my husband and I noticed a real trend in the type of members that were sought after once we acquired a building. Then the church found it necessary to cozy up to tithing units whose 10 percent was significantly larger than previously. Those of us with small 10 percent units (or who didn’t care about tithing) were left in the dust. They made it very clear that tithing was the important factor of membership. Funny … Jesus is recorded as saying so little about tithing and now it’s the measuring rod of membership in his body.
Thanks for this post … I especially liked the line that begins, “Poor God, …” Who are we to imagine that we have the power to put God in a box??
Great post. Just wanted to say that.
When we were at a large charismatic church here five years ago they invited a prophet by the name of Clive Pick to come teach on tithing. He came.. with visions.. stories of angels.. etc.. all substantiating the amazing blessing we get through tithing. And of course, he backed it up with Malachi.
We wrote a letter to the board of elders at that point.. having been fed a heresy and having had it justified with false prophecy. They were polite and listened. They held their position, and we resigned from membership. Not long afterward we attended a worship event where one of the prophetic women from the same church closed the meeting with a teaching.. and appeal.. to tithe. But if one really wanted blessing, one could tithe on earnings not yet received.. what faith that would represent! And yet, one could certainly use a credit card..
At that point in the meeting, my wife had to restrain me from standing up and calling this woman a false prophet..
I really liked how David Ruis used to articulate a different approach to this: “Oh Lord, make us a GENEROUS people.” It wasn’t about percentages, or being manipulated, or even the common (not based in Scripture) idea of “the tithe goes to the church, and gifts can be given wherever”, which a lot of charismatic and non-charismatic churches seem to accept as uncontested truth.
We’ve always approached it from a standpoint of (A) listening to God, and (B) when He tells you where and how much to give (to a church, to an individual, a mission, or whatever), (C) be generous and (D) trust God to provide.
It has became a terrible truth in my previous church that tithing was demanded. As soon as the elders saw that 95% of the congregation were tithing, they began pushing “offerings” as the secondary form of giving, saying that if all you were doing was tithing, you were wrong. By the time I was leaving, the third concept came along : “the Bible demands tithing, offerings, and ALMS” Sadly it seems to all be feeding a huge building, vehicles, church-administrations, conferences…all thing which we do not find in scripture.
It is in the end a form of control, where a man steps in to approve or disapprove of another mans walk with God. “Based on your tithe-records, you really aren’t ready for….”
I didn’t talk about the whole tithes / offerings / alms thing, but that was a sore point with me too. My CLB was the same way in how they conceived of this — the tithe “belonged” to the church, etc. The church bulletin used to have a little thermometer on the back, showing how much of the monthly budget had come in so far… it was labelled “His tithes and our offerings.” I hated that distinction and tried to get it changed, but to no avail. They didn’t dispute my reasoning, they just made no motions toward changing the phrase. Ugh. As if the extra few dollars we gave after the tithe somehow counted differently because it came from “our” funds rather than the funds which we “owed” anyway. It’s hard for me to slam the giving of alms and I don’t really want to except the distinction is utterly dangerous if it means that the chuch isn’t giving alms out of the money they receive as “tithes and offerings.”
It sounds like my experience was anything but unique, though perhaps I should say that the church I came from — as bad as it sounds — isn’t the worst offender in this area, by far. They did give a reasonable sum to missionary endeavours and I do recall a Sunday offering or two that was given away to some cause in its entirety… but overall they had the same financial hangups that many churches have. And worse than some.
I like the idea of simply honouring God with your money, being generous in the process, and trying to hear and express God’s heart with the resources available to you. When anyone steps in to tell you how it has to be done and what return comes directly to you as a result, you’ve got trouble.
Well, this scripture came up in a discussion at church this morning. We weren’t talking about tithes specifically, but about being present with God and with others in a celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Booths). But I wonder how to fit this square peg into the round hole of most tithing sermons … especially the bit about purchasing wine and other fermented drink for the express purpose of having a party on God’s behalf!!!
22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
“honour God with your money…”
That sounds and feels way harder than a tithe. It also sounds and feels right. God doesn’t need my money or necessarily want my money. God wants my heart. All of our hearts, to a greater or lesser extent, are tied to our money.
The whole tithe debate shows how little people actually read their bibles – but it’s not unusual:
Most peoloe are contecnt to let some preacher or teacher or any other person tell them what God says about a particualr subject rather than find out for themsleves. The level of biblical illiteracy among many Christians is amazing – even among those who do read it – but don;t actually do any research – taking it literally or reading it like a novel…Sad really
Most people are content it should read – big fingers – typing fast – too lazy to check before submitting …see what I mean about not bothering??? It’s even true of me :)
Gosh, I smacked my head when I realized I missed this one.
Just wanted to say thanks. This post including everyone’s thoughts made me feel much better.
The tithing ordinance was for Israel only and given by Moses from Mount Sinai (Leviticus 27:30-34). Tithes were taken only from the LAND (verse 30), and from anything nourished by the LAND OF ISRAEL (cattle, sheep, etc., verse 32). Today, preachers have taken the tithing burden off the Land and put it on God’s people. We are not under the Mosaic Covenant of Law, but under Grace (Rom.6:14; Gal.5:18). Going back under Mosaic Law brings a curse (Gal.3:10). If you pick one Mosaic Law to be under, you must keep them ALL, including circumcision, not eating ham, ceasing work on Saturday, etc.
Only Israelite farmers had to bring in tithes. Hired hands, midwives, fishermen, and tradesmen did not owe any tithes. Tithes were food for the poor (Deut.14:28-29). Not one scripture supports taking tithes on money or using tithes to construct church buildings.
Every seventh year no crops would be gathered (Lev.25:1-7). Since tithes could not be collected off a non-existent harvest, people were given a year off from tithing every seventh year. The Israelites didn’t even have to tithe at all in the wilderness. How many preachers give their congregation a whole year off from tithing?
The tithe of Abraham is often cited to justify pre-Law tithing. But Abraham also practiced circumcision, animal sacrifice and polygamy before the Law. Does that mean we must do the same today? Abraham’s tithe (the first one recorded in Scripture) was taken from recovered plunder stolen from wicked Sodom (see story in Genesis chapter 14). Abraham’s ONE-TIME tithe was voluntary, and it was NOT taken from any of his personal assets. Scripture does not say that Abraham ever tithes again. Paul never taught unpaid slaves and housewives how to tithe. None of the apostles ever command tithing, or rebuke anyone for failure to tithe. Paul and Jesus did not take tithes to support their own ministry. Only members of the tribe of Levi qualified to take tithes. Jesus did not take tithes from poor widows. Instead, He condemned preachers who robbed the poor.
Jacob attached conditions to his offer to tithe (Gen.28:20-22). IF God will be with me, etc., then AFTER Jacob got home safely again to his father’s house he would start tithing. If tithing was required of Jacob to begin with, Jacob would have been in no position to bargain with ten percent of his stuff.
The Israelite priesthood did not pay tithes. Lower-ranking Levites tithed to the priests after taking getting their own tithes from the people (Num.18:25-28). New Covenant believers are called Christ’s Royal Priesthood (I Pet.2:5,9). When Christians tithe, they deny their own priesthood in Christ Jesus.
Truth About Tithes
Is Your Giving by the OLD COVENANT or by the NEW COVENANT
Jesus Died to Set us Free From The Law!
The following Bible verses prove Jesus No Longer Demands The Tithe!
Is Your Giving by the Law or by The Holy Spirit?
Question: Have you been taught the liberty of giving by the Holy Spirit. Or are you taught the legalistic law of giving called tithing? The Bible say’s if you live according to the law you become a debtor to keep the whole law. The Bible also says if you try to justify yourself by the law you will fall from grace.
Moses Established Levitical Law Of Tithing – Only Required Every Third Year!
Deuteronomy 14:27-29 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. “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. 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.
Moses’ Levitical law mandates a four-way split of the tithe! The storehouse was to provide a welfare fund using 75% of all tithes! The tithe was to bless the poor, not put a yoke of bondage on them!
Deuteronomy 26:12 “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, then you shall say before the LORD your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.
According to the Levitical Law of tithing established by Moses, priests are limited to room and board, as the Levitical Law prohibits priests from owning property.
Joshua 14:3 Moses had granted the two-and-a-half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest,
Joshua 18:7 The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the LORD is their inheritance.
Are we Under the Law Or Not?
NEW COVENANT established in Jesus’ New Testament
Hebrews 9:16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be a death of the testator.
Before Jesus died to establish His testament, the new covenant, He said to those still under the law at that time;
Matthew 23:23-26 “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. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Hebrews 8:6-13 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Are You Guilty of Wrongfully Demanding The Tithe? Repent!
Matthew 9:13 …go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Matthew 12:7 …if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have
condemned the guiltless.
Galatians 2:16 …man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…
Original Jewish Christians Set The Standards Required For Gentile Christians
Acts 15:1-29 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Galatians 5:1-18 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Romans 7:6 …now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that WE SHOULD SERVE IN THE NEWNESS OF THE SPIRIT and not in the oldness of the letter.
Galatians 3:24-25 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Hebrews 7:18-19 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and un-profitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Read Hebrews chapters 7 & 8 for more clarity)
Acts 20:35 …‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Only, Let Your Giving…
Philemon 1:14 …not be by compulsion…
2 Corinthians 9:7 …let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Give by The Holy Spirits Leading With Faith and Love…
Luke 6:38 …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.”
2Corinthians 9:6 …He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
1Corinthians 13:3 (paraphrased) Though you bestow all your goods to feed the poor, and even give your body to be burned, but have not love, it will profit you nothing.
To Those Who Give Out of Love as They Are Lead by The Holy Spirit…
2Corinthians 9:10 …He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness…
James 1:25 …he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
New Covenant followers of Jesus are free to give as the Holy Spirit leads them.
Are you free to exercise this liberty Jesus died for you to have?
What sacrifice does Jesus really want from you?
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Warning to all pastors: STOP DEMANDING the TITHE, says THE LORD JESUS
These Bible verses were compiled from the New King James Version by Brian & Jon Hanna Truth Ministries, PO Box 25096, Cleveland, OH 44125 http://www.ConnectionMagazine.org, email: email@example.com
Our purpose is to rightly divide the word of the One True Almighty God/Father/Savior Jesus Christ who’s word is found in the Holy Bible; To provoke you to read His Word thoroughly; To incourage you to seek Him diligently in prayer, and to help you develop a strong relationship with Him.
Please visit http://www.connectionmagazine.org with your corrections and/or comments
love it all! giving (of course is the rule for the N.T. Church. 1 Cor. 9:7 gives the ground rules. Below, i hope it comes out, (this 2nd time) is a part of a small booklet i am working on. The more we dialogue on this the better it is.
Always in place is the heart condition of;
1) seeking to learn of Him how to give as we walk with Him in faith. and
2) that we also desire to be a good steward of that which He has given into our hand, no matter how much or how little.
3) From this position then let us hold His guidance on giving before us along with the understanding that Giving is God’s way of raising His children NOT raising money. To help us in this respect let us remember God owns everything in this world.
From here keep 2 Cor. 9:7 guidelines in mind.
A) give as you purpose in your heart
B) do not give grudgingly, under compulsion or pressure
C) do not give of neccessity, becasue we feel we should or under emotional pressure
D) give cheerfully be carefree in your giving. Remember, God wants us to be a cheerful giver.
i) all aspects to be held in balance/equilibrium. if not, stop. and work it out with your God.
When all of the above are held correctly, when all are in equilibrium, before and with your God, I would argue it is a good sign, what you are doing is good in His sight.
When any one or more is out of sync it is a sure sign you ought to stop and prayerfully work whatever is happening out before, and with Him. Carry on only when they are in balance once more. In your prayerful time I am of a mind He will be working in and with you for your good. In this way we may move on in Him in a healthy way that is equal for all of His children regardless of the amount that may be in view. Whether a penny or a pound, I believe it matters not. It is, for me, the process and the hand of God in it that counts.
Finally, it is ironic that those who pressurise others into tithing cause them to give in the very way God tells us in scripture not to – that is under pressure!
How ironic is that!
Thank God it is Jesus that if Lord. What does he say about the style of leadership and hierarchy? ‘let it not be so among you. but that’s another story…