Scriptures

Tithing

Introduction

Some religious groups require their members to tithe. Among our brethren, you may have heard someone say,

“If the Jews were required to give a tenth, then Christians should give no less than a tenth because we live under a better covenant.”

This raises the question are Christians required to give a tenth today?

The first case of giving a tenth in the Bible was Abraham who gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek,

‘Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.’ Genesis 14:20

Jacob vowed a tenth,

‘Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’ Genesis 28:20-22

The Bible gives no hint as to when or to whom he gave his tenth.

After Moses received the law, the people were required to give a tenth in order to support the Levites. The Levites in turn gave a tenth to support the priests who were descendants of Aaron who was also a Levites.

‘I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’ ……..‘In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.’ Numbers 18:21-24+28

At the time of the conquest the Levites received no tribal inheritance but were given forty-eight cities with their pastures to live in. They were caretakers of the Tabernacle and later the Temple and assisted the priests. In addition, they served as teachers and even judges.

The tithe, which the other tribes paid, was the means of support for the Levites. Israel was a “Theocracy” (a nation ruled by God). The tithe was a form of income tax, which supported their theocracy. At times Israel failed in their tithing. For example, Malachi, severely rebuked them for not bringing the

“whole tithe into the storehouse.”

‘Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.’ Malachi 3:8-12

He says they had robbed the Lord in their failure to bring in their tithe. In other words, they were cheating on their income tax.

The above Malachi passage is a favourite passage for those who want to bind tithing upon people today but what they are doing is not robbing God but robbing those who feel they need to tithe.

Ask yourself, to whom was Malachi written?

It was written to Old Testament Israel NOT Christians. So, using these verses to make people tithe today is going beyond what is written. 1 Corinthians 4:6.

Hebrews 7:5 ‘Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.’

We are not Jews and the ‘pastor’ is not a son of Levi. Ask your ‘pastor’ if he tithes and get him to prove it. I doubt very much if he will.

We are not under the Law anymore,

Galatians 5:4 ‘You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.’

Tithing was required until after the death of Christ, which ended the old law regarding the Levites, and inaugurated the new covenant.

‘For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.’ Hebrews 9:15-17

Today Christians pay taxes to the state (civil government) which has replaced Israel’s theocracy.

‘This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.’ Romans 13:6-7

When it comes to the church and the giving of the members the sky is the limit. We are not required to give a fixed specific amount but according to how much we figure we have been prospered. Nowhere does the New Testament require Christians to tithe. It is a matter between each individual (or couple) and God.

It is to be according to how we think we have been prospered. Our giving takes place on the first day of the week,

‘On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.’ 1 Corinthians 16:2

This means the amount will vary with each individual. Giving should be planned ahead of time and not as an afterthought,

‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ 2 Corinthians 9:7

It should not be done grudgingly but cheerfully,

‘So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.’ ….. ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ 2 Corinthians 9:5+7.

As we give we should keep in mind that we reap in proportion to what we sow,

‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.’ 2 Corinthians 9:6

and that ultimately, we must give an account of our deeds,

‘So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.’ Romans 14:12

Sometimes an emergency may arise or some special cause may present an opportunity that causes us to want to give in addition to our regular giving. This might occur at a time other than the first day of the week.

Now remember that 1 Corinthians 16:2 isn’t used as our authority for giving each week, the real authority for giving is found in Acts 2:42

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’

The word fellowship is ‘koinonia’ in Greek and carries with it the idea of giving and receiving. This is what the very first Christians practiced as they shared what they had with each other as the need arose.

Is it a collection or an offering?

The first time the word ‘worship’ is used in the Old Testament is in Genesis 22 when Abraham was about to offer Isaac up to the Lord on a mountain and says to his servants,

“I’m going go up to that mountain and worship God.” Genesis 22:5

And the first time the word ‘worship’ is used in the New Testament is in Matthew 2 when wise men bring gold and incense and myrrh and they lay it at the feet of the baby and they kneel and they worship him. Matthew 2:2.

And we are introduced in the Old Testament and in the New Testament to this very important truth and that is worship of God, is bringing your very best to God and laying it at his feet to honour and praise him.

A collection is when you go and do everything you want to do, you take care of all your passions and desires and if there is anything left over you give it to the Lord, that’s a collection. An offering is when you take the very best and you honour God with the first fruits and you say,

“God, your first in my life, I’m going to bow down and lay this at your feet, this is my best treasure and it’s for your glory.”

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

2 Timothy 3:16

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