Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Does the New Testament teach Christians to offer a 10% tithe?

Short answer? No.

For many Christians in a New Testament church it might come as a surprise that a 10% tithe, or a tithe at all, is not required.

Lon Hetrick at Average Us wrote a blog entry titled Why Pastors Should't Teach Tithing and it begins this way--
Were you taught the tithing system? I was. I believed it, practiced it, and even preached it myself. But no more. ... The system goes like this:

  1. Tithing is commanded by God.
  2. Therefore, Christians should give 10% of their income to their “storehouse” (i.e. the church you attend).
  3. God promises to bless people who tithe.
  4. Failing to tithe is disobedient to God, robs Him of His due, and shows that you don’t trust Him to provide for your needs with the remaining 90% of your income.
  5. God withholds His blessing from non-tithers, and they forfeit the peace of mind and security which tithers alone enjoy.
And then Mr Hetrick continues with 4 reasons why he thinks Pastors shouldn't teach tithing.

As much as I love church life, there is one thing that I have a peeve about. It is when a church decides to carry debt, the tithes and offerings start to decline, the powers-that-be get nervous, and the pastor decides to browbeat preach a series of guilts messages to the congregation on tithing. I am not speaking of my own church but I have seen it happen.

Here is Dr MacArthur at Grace to You on tithing:

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9

Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).

The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.

Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.

All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.

New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government--a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.

The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."

“This article originally appeared here at Grace to You” in accordance with their general copyright policies.

Personally I believe the bible is clear on giving. We are to meet each other's needs, to give generously, and sacrificially. We are to support our pastor and staff at the church. I believe firmly the bible teaches this.

But I don't like it when pastors who don't preach verse by verse feel free to pick and choose topics to preach on depending on their personal preference, fears, wants, vengeances, or perceived needs of the church members or the church in general. In this way, when money is tight, their go-to passage is Malachi and we're off and running with the pressure to give. ('Oh, nooo, the balloon payment is coming up!) This often means that people are targeted, or passages get left unpreached, and sometimes the meaning gets twisted, as so often the Malachi verse does. Worse, the giving that is done after these sermons tends to be emotional rather than cheerfully biblical.

If a pastor preaches verse-by-verse, money sermons will only come up when the text demands it. Everyone will be clear that the sermon isn't a personal point he's making to drive home, targeted at a church need, a controversy only a few know about, or personal likes or dislikes of the pastor, but simply a providential organization of sermons ordained by God as His under-shepherd preaches through the text.

Giving sacrificially doesn't mean giving wantonly or recklessly. So often the Malachi verse on tithing is not only incorrectly applied to New Testament churches but is taken a step further by telling people to sow a seed, and you will reap a harvest, meaning, give money you don't have and it will come back to you ten fold just because God will be so impressed with you. We are to shepherd our finances, not throw money away on a great adventure of testing God. You notice the Christians in the book of Acts sold property to give to the church, but they didn't take a loan, give the loan money, and expect God to subsidize the debt until the property was sold off. They sacrificed, had the money in hand first, and laid it at the Apostles feet. (Acts 4:34).

Here is an essay called Their Greed, Your Seed: Apostasy in the Church Part 3, addressing the 'sow a seed' issue.

I urge you to search out the New Testament biblical stance on tithing, and giving- because the two are not the same. Be sure to give generously as your finances allow, biblically and cheerfully!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Further reading:

Does the teaching on tithing in Malachi 3:9-10 apply to us today?

What does the bible say about sowing and reaping?

Are we obligated to tithe?

Tithing

9 Marks of a Prosperity Gospel Church

20 comments:

  1. AMEN AMEN AND AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -Carolyn

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    1. LOL, thanks Carolyn. I had to get that off my chest...

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    2. Elizabeth, this post was balm to my (admittedly currently) irritated soul. :) Due to some foolish thinking regarding giving that has recently come up at our home church. My husband and I - and thankfully a few other believers - all spoke up the truth.

      Praise God for His freedom in Christ!!! And for the truth that sets us free.

      -Carolyn

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  2. Amen.

    Chris Rosebrough covered this topic in great depth the other day on his show.

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    1. Brad, he did? I'll happily look that up and listen to it this afternoon when I get home from school. Thanks!

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    2. Did you find it Elizabeth? Here's the link just in case.

      http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2014/01/are-christian-required-to-tithe.html

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    3. Brad Thanks!

      I did find it and I was pleased that it was also in a .pdf. Readers, it is an essay written in sections by different men addressing OT and NT tithing and giving. For example, in one part it says.

      "How to reconcile the New Testament teaching on the continuity and discontinuity between new covenant and old covenant instructions has been debated for centuries, and the literature is voluminous".

      "The evidence is clear enough, however, that one cannot simply apply directly to new covenant believers the laws, directives, warnings, and incentives given to Israel under the old covenant. ... The difficulty with trying to apply part of the Old Testament law to Christians is the lack of any biblical substantiation for such a division on the one hand and the biblical teaching regarding the unity of the law on the other hand."

      I recommend it. Obviously, my brother Brad does too!

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    4. I always recommend Chris Rosebrough. :-)

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  3. The organizations need money. God's people need the Living Word. In it's current state of affairs most times they do not blend together very well as the needs of the organization trump the truth as leaders slump to the pressures of the flesh.
    Our system of taxation is illegal in the US. It is going to be more evident as the "powers" morph into the final stages of the beast system.

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  4. In deciding what to give, a tenth is a good starting point,and that has a bibical basis.

    We sinful humans who love, covet, steal, kill for, and print...money, need a reference point. Otherwise, we throw $10 into the offering plate and think we doing God a favor.
    Brian

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    1. I agree Brian, to a degree. A tenth is a round number for people to keep in mind, and the basis IS biblical. But the idea is to give generously as the Spirit leads, rather than relying on an OT number that has no bearing on us.

      A tenth can and often does cause as much reliance on a legalistic number as not. So being mindful is the key. So is knowing that the tenth, though it's biblical, is not directed at NT believers. Giving cheerfully and as income allows is the starting point, in my opinion. (1 Corinthians 16:2) :)

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  5. Elizabeth, this was so good, I've read it a few times now. :) Boy did I need to hear this right now, to be encouraged. Totally providential timing by the Lord.

    And an additional thought: tithe teaching is one way to whip goats into "obedience". In other words: goats don't give unless they are browbeat, or think they will get some sort of 'return on their investment'. So the tithe teaching will usually come shortly following a pastor's decision to go in a market-driven direction. The same wrong thinking that leads to a church going market-driven, flooding the sanctuary with goats, eventually will lead to the tithe monster being released from the abyss, along with other incorrect law-obedience guilting, in order to try to get the goats to perform like sheep.

    But Spirit filled saints aren't law-whipped into obedience. They are led by the Holy Spirit by the proper teaching and preaching of God's word, and as a result, they will give freely and generously, with no manipulation needed. Strapping saints to the law actually diminishes giving, because it quenches the Holy Spirit.

    When God had Israel free will give in Exodus 36, He had to tell them them to stop, they gave too much. LOL! That's how the Lord works, when His Spirit is moving non-law-based giving.

    -Carolyn

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    1. To quote a pastor I had many years ago: No church ever has a financial problem, it's a spiritual problem.

      -Ramona

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  6. When I read the Bible, it is pretty clear that tithing was applicable to the ancient Israelites, not the modern-day church. Thank you for writing this article.

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  7. I feel that the O.T. is a directive toward the Jews, though I also believe that should we (Gentiles) follow it's principles, we could/would benefit greatly. Saying this, I believe that the teaching on tithes from the O.T. is for the Jew not the gentile.


    With that said, the teaching on tithes, taken from the O.T. should be balanced out with other O.T. teachings on tithes. Many congregations today are intimidated by the use of Malachi 3:10. The congregation is told to give and trust in God to provide their needs, yet, can the church do the same?


    "At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth All the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied" (Deut. 14:28-29).


    Every third year, the Iraelites were to take the whole tithe and leave it outside of the gates to feed the Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans, they were not to take it to the sanctuary (Malachi 3:10). Thus, could not the church, every third year, give away all of the tithes and in turn, trust in God to provide it's needs that year? What a testimony that would be.

    Mario

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  8. Mark 12:17.....it all belongs to God, reading scripture reveals we seem to fall into trouble when we fail to realize this, acknowledge it, and give thanks to the Father for what we have no matter how large or little. It's ironic that our money says "In God We Trust" yet many would say "In money I trust". Tithing just measures the condition of our hearts.....matthew 6:19-21

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  9. Thank you, Elizabeth. I have been teaching this for years!!! My sister was severely spiritually harmed by an AOG assembly who browbeat her to pay 10% when she was barely eking by as a single mom (she had been married and was left by HIM). She began as a new Christian with this church and called me about what to do. I taught her what the Scripture actually says and advised her to leave that assembly. Unfortunately, she has rarely attended church since, and spends a lot of time telling what horrible places churches are.

    I abhor the teaching about Christian tithes.

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  10. After today's message on giving, which was mainly about faith in God and giving, I felt deflated as if the church leaders believed we, the congregation, was without faith and needed this goading. They didn't explain the church finances or the need for such a lecture, that must be private among the leaders I guess. Now I feel a little depressed after church.

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    1. so sorry, Lyn. I think your intuition is right, and the word goading is apt. I wonder what would happen if you asked for an accounting. Would they provide it?

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    2. I don't think tithing is required in the new testament as Jesus or Paul never taught this only to give - give as much as you are able whatever the Lord gives you. I have tithed over the years before and after tax + given a gift of £17.000 and then just gifts. I was then asked to leave my brothers home I rented with my husband making us homeless although God provided a miracle so the teaching about give and it will be given back to you lots of money in this life and tithing is not correct.

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