This is Part IX of the article, entitled, “Is Tithing a Biblical Requirement Today.” Because of the extensive Biblical research involved, it will be posted in 15 Parts. Although this subject may be controversial, the Bible tells us to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).
Many Christians look at worldliness in the Church today as appalling. Power, wealth, and notoriety seem to be lusted after and pursued with great vigor. For pastors, it becomes “all about them.” Paul’s approach to ministry was entirely different from modern day clergy and tithing was not part of his ministry.
“For yourselves know how you ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you: Neither did we eat any man’s bread for naught; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any man. Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us.” (II Thessalonians: 3:7-9).
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:33-31).
Cheerfully giving from the heart is a virtue. However, fraudulently fleecing the flock by exacting a ten percent of paychecks under fear of breaking an Old Testament law on tithing is a sinful.
Prosperity teachers who promote tithing like to point out that even Jesus commanded tithing. In the New Testament tithe and tithing are found eight times (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-6, 8-9). All of these passages refer to the Old Testament usage under the law.
Tithing was still practiced when Jesus was on earth; however, the only time Jesus mentioned tithing was to rebuke the religious leaders “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.” In Matthew 23:23, Jesus explains they “have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done.” Jesus makes it clear that living the life of faith toward God included love toward man and was more necessary than what you give to God; and this was under the law, not grace.
The Pharisees were unfair in their dealings with the people; they apparently ripped them off in their sacrifices brought to the temple. Mercy, they had none, everyone had to be as spiritual as they were. They constantly looked down upon people. Remember the story Jesus told of: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men– extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess. “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).
So we see giving is not enough to make one justified before God, yet many have been convinced to rely on their obedience in this area to have God’s blessings.
The Pharisees said they have faith but they were more interested in the money. Jesus said: “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.” (Luke 16:14). Then Jesus scolded them saying “what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God,” (Luke 16:15), and He then summed it up by giving another parable–the rich man and Lazarus. The poor man entered where the faithful were, finding rest in Abraham’s bosom but the rich man entered torment. The rich man was punished, not because he was rich but because he lived for self, he had no compassion for poor Lazarus whom he walked by and ignored each day as he sat by his gate.
Notice that those promoting tithing always use the Old Testament law to justify their teaching this method of blessing. Basically, prosperity teachers bring people out from grace and place them under the law. Under the New Testament covenant there is no specific amount required to be given; we determine the amount we can freely give. “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
As previously stated, nowhere does Paul or any other apostle mention tithing or a required amount to give. On the other hand, Israel was under the law, being a theocratic nation, tithing was an obligation. As previously noted, however, tithing was not monetary. Jesus kept the law before He was crucified, for this reason Jesus had Peter pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24). After Jesus was crucified the New Covenant began and the Old was finished (Hebrews 8:7, 13). New Testament Christians were never under the Old covenant law!
One cannot conclude tithing is required under the New Covenant the same as the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Not once does any epistle contain any admonitions or a rebuke for failing to tithe. The necessity of giving is mentioned but only with the right attitude, to help and support others. You do not have to tithe to have God’s blessing. In fact, those who are well off are asked to give away their things when necessary. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Part X tomorrow.
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