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Tithe or tithing is one perennial issue in Christianity that has garnered several controversies among various churches and denominations. But should it be an issue in the first place? Or is it the case of compulsion, volition or that it shouldn’t be paid at all that draws this much polemics about it?

Tithing in the Old Testament

Going down Biblical memory lane, we find the initial shadow of tithe paying in Genesis 4:3-7, where Cain and Abel presented a portion of their toils’ harvests to God. We see also in Genesis 14:1-20, the first instance where tithe was mentioned and observed by Abraham to Melchizedek, king of Salem (who was a foreshadow of Christ – Hebrews 6:19-20, 7:1-28).

The second instance surfaced in Genesis 28:10-22, where Jacob made a vow to give a tenth of all that God gave him. These instances captured were before the law given to Moses and they are so mentioned that we may understand the genesis of tithe or tithing. However, the emergence of the law gave a clearer explanation on who is entitled to tithes and how it should be administered. It is in this regard, I believe, the misconceptions on tithing ensue.

An argument raised by Christians who are on the opposing side of tithe paying is that, according to the law, tithes were meant for the Levites (Priests), and in our current dispensation of grace and not of law, where the supposed place of the Levites (Priests) no longer exists, there should be no need to pay tithes.

But what they fail to realize is that from inception, tithes weren’t for the Levites (Priests) but for God, and though the Old Testament’s priesthood was a presage of what Christ was to accomplish, the advent of the new covenant didn’t nullify the validity of tithe or tithing.

Leviticus 27:30-33 says, “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 unto the LORD…” So, we understand that tithe was and is for God and no one else. That is why we see God in Malachi 3:8 requesting from the people of Israel and the Priests is due – “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”

And where do the Levites (Priests) come in pertaining to tithe? In apportioning inheritances for the tribes of Israel, each twelve tribes received an allotment of lands in the promised land of Canaan except the tribe of Levi. As such, the Lord became their inheritance and saw it fitting to give them (Levites) ten percent of all that the other tribes gave to Him (See Numbers 18:20-21, 29-31).

Moreover, for knowledge sake, it’s pertinent to state that according to the law, God also permitted that tithes be used for the Israelites to celebrate in His presence and to meet the needs of foreigners, orphans and widows (Deuteronomy 14: 22-19; 26:12-13).

In view of this backdrop and according to Deuteronomy 14:23; Malachi 3:10, we may infer that though tithe was for God, it was instituted that we may learn to revere God always and make food available in God’s house to sustain those serving in His vineyard and to promote His work.

Hence, it wouldn’t be out of place to posit that tithe was God’s design to teach us how to show forth gratitude, learn not to be possessed by what we have and to imbibe His nature of giving. God has always been a giver from the beginning of creation and hitherto. So tithing is a privilege of giving back to God, not that He needs our resources or money (Psalm 24:1-2; Deuteronomy 10:14; Job 41:11; Haggai 2:8; Leviticus 27:30) but that we may revere and learn to be like Him.

Tithing in the New Testament

Having established the basis for giving tithes, the book of Hebrews 7 makes us understand that the New Testament’s dispensation of grace doesn’t invalidate the viability of tithing. What happened, instead, was a change in the directives of the law since the Old Testament’s priesthood was transmuted by the coming of Christ (Hebrews 7:11-13). For instance, failure to tithe attracted curses under the law but under grace, it doesn’t.

Another argument raised is that nowhere in the New Testament is a definite instruction given for believers to give tithes, but similarly, nowhere is it stated that they shouldn’t. Yet, we may submit that no instruction was required as it was already a known principle by the Jewish believers and thus, communicated to the Gentile believers in view of the new covenant’s pattern in Christ.

The Lord Jesus acknowledged the place of tithing which was why He didn’t condemn the Scribes and Pharisees for observing it but that in being merely religious and self-righteous, they forsook the weightier matter of the law, “which they ought to have done and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).

Critics may as well contend that the Scribes and Pharisees were under the law and so they were mandated. If that were the case, why didn’t Jesus also condemn giving of offerings to God in Luke 21:1-4 being a command of the law and one of the accusations levied on Israel in Malachi 3:8?

All of these evidences should make it credible enough that there is no basis for defaulting in tithe paying. Though, it is only a starting point for believers’ giving, tithing is an essential virtue that accompanies our faith. And we don’t offer it because it is compulsory but because we love Jesus, who is our reason for sacrificial giving and living.

Tithing Today

To reiterate, tithing didn’t emanate from the law and however, doesn’t justify us before God; we are justified by faith in Christ (Romans 3:28) but then, ‘isn’t faith without work dead?’ (James 2:20-26). More so, “do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

Evidently, there is a manifestation of worldliness in the church and the crop of Christians who find faults in tithing are the ignorant ones, supposed born again believers who seek to subject the word of God to human intellect in order to suit their ways of life.

The rationale is that these purported Christians find it difficult to give wholeheartedly and amidst present global economic cash crunch where even monthly wages are insufficient to cater for one’s needs, they would rather bring out excuses not to pay tithe than give to the Lord even from the little they have as did the woman in Mark 12:41-44.

Besides, we do not give tithes to the church but to God through the eternal High Priest of the new covenant in the order of Melchizedek, Jesus Christ. And the church, being the body of Christ, receives them on His behalf for the prevailing of God’s will on earth and the furtherance of the gospel.

We must, nevertheless, take heed so as not to give that which is holy to dogs nor cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6), for there are deceitful workers transforming themselves as servants of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), who rob God by enriching themselves with the tithes due to Him and deprive believers of their blessings.

Even so, this shouldn’t be a reason not to pay tithe, for defaulting amounts to robbing God of gratitude due to Him. Thus, depriving one’s self the privilege of laying full claim on God’s promises associated with tithing. But if truly the love of God abides in us, gratitude and humility would make us entertain no reason to hold back in giving to God. However, giving by compulsion in any way or form is not of God, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Above all, tithes and offerings should be given joyfully with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. And beyond tithing, God wants us to give our very best and all to Him. Not just a part of us, He wants everything and our hearts inclusive (Proverbs 23:26).

Finally, tithe is not a criterion to make heaven; confessing and repenting of one’s sins, believing in Christ and continuing in the faith till the end are. And should you still nurse the doubt whether to pay tithe or not, consider these questions: will a man rob God? Where are you laying your treasures, heaven or earth? And are you rich towards God? (See Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:15-21).

References:

Bible verses – New King James Version (NKJV)

https://www.gotquestions.org/tithing-Christian.html

http://www.borntowin.net/articles/why-did-abraham-tithe/

http://www.acts17-11.com/dialogs_tithe_melchizedek.html

http://www.acts17-11.com/dialogs_tithe.html

Michael Olajubu, alias Jacobs Adewale is a product of grace and ambassador of Christ, journalist and poet from Nigeria. He is a certified Digital Marketer and whose ultimate goal is to win Christ and be found in Him. Michael blogs at www.truthmediaonline.blogspot.com and you can connect with him via Facebook.

 

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5 Responses

  1. Adeniyi

    Whether paying of tithe is compulsory or voluntary in Christianity I cannot say, but I believe because God commands it, we must obey it.

    However, what about the pastors who use church members’ tithes to enrich themselves while the members languish in poverty? They use tithes to build schools and universities that even church members cannot send their children due to enormous tuition fees?

    When one considers these and more, I tell you, it will be difficult instructing or urging some Christians to pay their tithes. Although, I pay my tithe and I will continue to pay no matter what is written or said about it.

    Reply
    • Jason

      Exactly! Far too many ministers use the tithe for their own benefit rather than for what God intends it to be use for “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled”.

      Reply
  2. Jason

    Interesting what this article doesn’t mention, and many Christians don’t realize, is that the Holy Scriptures actually encourage ALL of God’s people to enjoy part the tithe themselves and use it to buy wine or similar to be drunk at church. Don’t believe me? Then read Deutermonoy 14:26 “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.”
    Just imagine the shock on the face of ministers if the congregation rocked up to church one Sunday and cracked open a bottle of wine or can of beer as the worship started!

    Reply
  3. Rennie

    Been tithing for 20 years. It is not a constraint but a tremendous blessing! Consider this: God promises to “…Open the windows of heaven” for your benefit if you tithe! I have seen this faithful reality come true many times! Went from near bankruptcy to receiving all I needed to pay off bills, mortgages, car loans, etc! Just ask and you will receive if you are a “faithful tither”. God also promises to “… Rebuke “the devourer” on your behalf…” — that means keeping the evil one away from your crops (food supply) clean sustenance etc!! And claim the blessing of the tithe over your health and wellbeing too! — and all in your household!! Been there and done that! Seen the a Lord bring healing and deliverance time after time!
    The tithe is a blessing from God! Don’t worryso much about how your Pastor spends the money — God is watching him closely — worry about your own life and how you will be able to account for your spending and “giving” (or lack of it) at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If you think your Pastor is doing anything wrong then call him (or her) on it and pray about it. Is your church is ignoring the needs of the poor (and not providing for schooling the poor for instance) then pray and ask for God’s help in the matter and God’s intervention! As the Jesus in scripture proclaims: ” … All things are possible with God!” — whatever you decide to do– be a “cheerful giver” and God will reward you according to the faithfulness of your heart! Blessings Rennie

    Reply
  4. Dave

    Article is primarily absolute rubbish. Context of Scripture must be observed. Jesus also advocated animal sacrifice, but you don’t see tithe teachers promoting that practice today. Let alone the fact that the tithe was specifically defined by God as food taken from the land of Israel for the purpose of sustaining the EXPIRED Levitical system. Hebrews 7 actually pronounces the spiritually weak and unprofitable effect of the ordinances of Mosaic Law. Furthermore, it places the focus of mediation upon Christ, not “church leaders”. Melchizedek is not a type of “church leadership”, rather he is representative/symbolic of Christ Himself, through whom we have direct relationship with God!

    Tithing was also NEVER money in Scripture and never purposed for supporting church organizations or institutional programs. Colossians and Ephesians pronounce clearly, not only the END of the ordinances of the Law, but state that they were NAILED to the cross of Christ and done away with!

    This author seems to be ignorant of the teaching of Scripture when he suggests that tithing is the benchmark for giving in the New Testament. FALSE!!! First of all, tithing is NOT giving. Tithing is essentially a mandatory tax that was imposed. It was not optional. It had nothing to do with giving. Nor was it a “benchmark” or suggested practice (not to mention the fact that not everyone in Israel tithed – Only those who had the appropriate substance meet for the tithe).

    The Christian’s example for giving is NOT tithing but Christ Jesus himself! Furthermore, the example of Christ is not 10% but 100%. We are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (just as Christ himself demonstrated). There is not a single teaching in all the New Testament by either Christ or His apostles that advocates 10% benchmarks for giving.

    Jesus, however, told us exactly how to “give to God”. He said that, in as much as we serve the least of these, we do it unto Him. The “least of these” include visiting those in prison, giving aid to the poor and sick, taking care of widows and orphans, clothing the naked, etc. That may or may not include money and may or may not involve any third party institution in the mix. Jesus certainly took the matter strait to men PERSONALLY! Jesus said that THIS is how we give unto God. No mention is ever made about financially supporting religious organizations (though I will not say that is never possible, but this is a matter of personal choice, love, and leading of the Spirit).

    It perhaps bears pointing out that Jesus’ definition of “Church” was not an institution, but a PEOPLE! In the earliest centuries of Christianity there were no “churches” as we think of them today. There was no such thing as a “pastor profession”. There was no “clergy-laity” distinction either (but one family of Christ) and those serving the body did not get paid for it, though at times the saints willingly supported Gospel workers who left all earthly possessions to travel long distances to bring the Gospel of Jesus to others. There is simply no image portrayed anywhere of fat cat clergy in cozy offices who collect a salary just for breathing a couple of hours each week behind a pulpit and get their houses, boats and swimming pools paid for by church tithes in the name of “giving to God.” Absolutely ridiculous!

    This author seems to do what most folks who have been brought up in the traditional church system do; they tend to interpret the Bible based on their traditions, rather than allow Scripture to speak for itself.

    Giving is a matter of faith, the heart, and love. It flows from relationship with Christ, not from regiments or benchmarks. And since giving is not defined as “money to a church organization”, giving make take on many different shapes and forms. It may be money given to a neighbor who is in need, a poor person on the street, or food for the hungry, or labor performed to help someone. It may be kindness shared with a lonely, hurting soul, or care given to an elderly couple or a widow. Giving manifests as LOVE and may or may not involve the exchange of money. What is it about these people who are infatuated with tithing that they almost always interpret giving to God as giving money to a religious club. The Church is not a religious club; it is the body of Christ. It doesn’t require a special building or organization to manifest itself. The New Testament clearly teaches, “know ye not that YOUR BODIES are the Temple of the Holy Spirit” and that the Lord’s tabernacle is “NOT MADE WITH HANDS”.

    I also like Jason’s comment about the part concerning the family celebration part about Mosaic tithing. 🙂 I’ve never heard a preacher talk about that; purchasing strong drink to celebrate with one another in the presence of the Lord. Indeed that is what God commanded Israel to do! In fact, God so much indicated that He did not want money that money was only allowed as a “penalty” for choosing to keep back the food tithe from the land as He had prescribed. Once they reached the place of gathering, they were to use money to buy replacement food and celebrate there! God never wanted money for the tithe. Furthermore, even the Old Testament tithe was more gracious than the tithe of today, because it (the food gathered in the tithe) was used to feed the strangers, the fatherless and the widows. Tithing in today’s so-called “church” goes primarily to pay pastor salaries and organization overhead, not to feed the hungry and hurting saints.

    You can only “rob God” by not tithing if you believe your righteousness comes through observing the Law of Moses, and if you believe that, Galations says you are under a curse. We don’t live by the letter of the Law but accordingly as those who are led by the Spirit and give as each one chooses to do so in their own hearts, without any compulsion or necessity whatsoever! (2 Corinthians 9:7).

    Reply

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