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In tithes we trust February 13, 2012

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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The modern church has come to be reliant upon “tithes and offerings” which are regarded as essential to financing the Gospel. Proponents of the tithe in particular have claimed that God purposed for the tithe to be used to finance the Gospel, i.e., the church structure/organisation. In this regard it is argued that Jesus Christ never abolished the tithe, and to support the arguments scriptures are cited which suggest that tithing was before the Law. Whatever the arguments though, “tithes and offerings” are the mainstay of most churches in Christendom today and forms the main source of income to meet the various needs of the church.

 

The question should be asked however as to whether tithing (in particular) meets the standard of New Testament giving. The term “tithing” here is used rather loosely to refer to the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the local church. It should be pointed out therefore that though this modern form of tithing is not identical to the biblical practice it is usually the case that scriptures which pertains solely to the Law (the Old Covenant) are used to support the practice in the church today. So where exactly are we? Are we still under the Law or has the Law been set aside or perhaps we are partially still under the Law?

 

Perhaps the most overused scripture in “enforcing” tithing in the church is Mal 3:8-12. This portion of scripture appears to have the most currency because it drives fear in a believer’s heart in that they are robbing God if they do not give a tenth of their income and consequently they will be cursed as God will not rebuke the devourer. Of course none of us would like to be considered as robbing God and we certainly would want to escape from any curses imposed by God. One of the main justifications for tithing therefore is that the tither either believes or is lead to believe that they are insuring against this dreaded curse and are also “investing” for future blessings when they tithe. The fact that the church has to rely on this biblical injunction to raise funds demonstrates two things. Firstly, it demonstrates that the church has failed to recognised that the injunction in Mal 3:8-12 was not given to the Church but was said at a time when Israel was still under the Law and that since Christ fulfilled the Law it is no longer in force. Secondly, it demonstrates that both the church leadership and the followership have misplaced their faith by trusting in the tithe instead of putting their trust in God who is the source of all blessings. The church leadership demonstrate a lack of faith when they have to resort to using the Law to “encourage” giving in the New Testament age. Likewise the followership also demonstrates a lack of faith by putting their trust in the tithe as their insurance policy rather than to trust solely in God.

 

Under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood we are called to walk by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11) and as such giving is an act of faith (Jam 2:14-18). Tithing however, contrary to what some have believed, is not an act of faith but an instruction or commandment given under the Law. Furthermore, attempting to “prove God” by tithing as a result of the enticement of “the windows of heaven” blessings again is not an act of faith. If God will bless us because of our contributions to the church then all we need to do is take Him at His words. It is for this reason that Mal 3:8-12 should not be used to stir a believer’s conscience in donating money to the local church. It is important to note here that before faith came the Law was in force (Gal 3:23) and the Law therefore acted as a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24). Furthermore Paul tells us in Gal 3:12 that the Law is not based on faith. Injunctions such as Mal 3:8-12 therefore demonstrates the nature of the Law in its capacity as a schoolmaster – it emphasizes the benefits (merits) if you obey and the punishments (demerits) if you do not. Does this injunction typify our new position in Christ? Is this a demonstration of how faith works in the current church age? Are we as foolish as the Galatians in thinking that we are justified by obeying the tithing Law?

 

Whilst the income generated from “tithing” (of one’s income) may serve a useful purpose in contributing to the spread of the Gospel, the ends do not justify the means. According to James 2:10, if we seek to observe the Law but fail in on one point we are guilty of the whole Law. If we then are guilty of the Law then are we under a curse. But thankfully Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having been made a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The very curse therefore referred to in Mal 3:8-12 is the same curse that Christ hath redeemed us from. Why then do ministers continue to use Mal 3:8-12 to convict their church members to tithe of their income? Are they so fearful that if they do not instruct tithing that they won’t have any money to finance the church and are the members so lacking in faith that they can’t give unless they are faced with threats?

 

It is interesting to note that there are many church goers who help to propagate the myth that “tithing works”. By this they mean that when they pay their tithes they are blessed as this is usually followed by promotions at work, salary increases, unexpected gifts of money and general stability in their finances. On the reverse some claim that when they do not tithe all sorts of problems befall them so from this standpoint alone many put their trust in tithing to ward against the evil devourer that seeks to upset their finances. The simple truth however is that whether you tithe or don’t tithe you will have problems in your life including your finances. The Psalmist understood this fact only too well when he declared: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Ps 34:19). Jesus also tells us in John 16:33 that we shall have many trials and sorrows in this world and Paul declared that through much tribulation must we enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). If you purpose in your heart to give 10 percent of your income to your church that is fine. However, tithing is not an insurance policy against the evil day and the church should not teach tithing as if this is the case. You should instead put your faith and your trust in God alone who is able to help you to overcome all the challenges in this life.

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Comments»

1. Boyd - February 13, 2012

I enjoyed reading this post. It is well-rounded, complete, and logical. Plus, you cover a number of items that I have missed down through the years.
– Boyd

2. On the Law of the Tithe « View from San Angelo - February 13, 2012

[…] In Tithes We Trust Share this:ShareFacebookTumblrTwitterEmailPrintLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this post. This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged Bible, burden, chaos, church, Deuteronomy, Genesis, God, Gospel, Jesus, Lord, pledge, Spirit, tithe. […]

3. Henry - February 13, 2012

Boyd,
I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

Henry

4. Michael - December 14, 2012

Luke 11:42
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

Matt 23:23-24
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Both verses state practice the latter without neglecting the former. That means tithe, justice, mercy, faithfulness and love should ALL be practiced.

5. Henry - December 14, 2012

Michael,
If your interpretation is right does that mean then that we should start planting herbs and spices and tithe it to the church? If Jesus commanded you to tithe in like fashion as the Pharisees, who gave you authority to substitue the “proper tithe” for money? Are you therefore not being disobidient by tithing money instead of the items Jesus commended the Pharisees for tithing? This of course is not the main point though it defeats your argument.

The main point is that the context in which Jesus rebuked the Pharisees was in the context of them obeying THE LAW (as per the reference to “weightier matters of the Law”) since the Law was still in force prior to Calvary. Do you mean to imply therefore that we are still under the Law and therefore required to tithe? If so then we must also obey circumcission, burnt offerings, waive offerings etc etc. The scriptures therefore need to be read and taken in context otherwise we end up in confusion. There is NO instruction in the Bible which imposes an obligation on a New Testament believer to tithe. We are commanded by Christ to give, yes, but there is no prescription as to amount.

6. Jewel Perry - February 3, 2015

How do you encourage people to give ? How does the church survive, help the needy with food, clothing shelter without funding? Everything that we have belongs to God so we give back through tithes & offerings. The church is considered the storehouse for all who are in need and when we share with what we have, there’s always room to receive more for that next person who need electricity, water, gas bill, groceries , small change, fuel for car. That one-tenth is small compared to the ninety we waste each day.my prayer is that no weak person will read this & stop tithing to their church. Most churches tithing is their means of survival and we trust God by blessing us to be able to give and receive!

7. Henry - February 5, 2015

Jewel,
I hope I have not said anything here that can be taken as me discouraging church goers from giving money to their church or needy causes. My contention is that the term “tithe” is being misused in the church today to impose legalism rather than allowing people to give according to the freedom we have in Christ. Giving particularly to the poor and needy is a trait that every true Christian must demonstrate. Giving is a demonstration of our faith and as James pointed out in James 2 if we don’t act out our faith this way then it is dead.

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 9:7:

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

This is the model of church giving that we should aspire to and not misusing Mal 3:8-10 to put pressure on people or to guilt them to give. Do you think that God is please with our misuse of scriptures to exact money from people?

Christians should give by faith with the freedom granted to us by Christ. This is how I would encourage Christians to give. If on the other hand someone can only respond to threats of curses and robbing God this demonstrate a lack of faith on their part. The fact that a lie serves a “good” purpose does not make the lie acceptable or right.

8. Mephi - July 3, 2016

I come to same conclusion as this article. I come from church that teaches Tithes and honouring God with your tithe, however I decided to study Leviticus and as I was reading along side Pauls letters and looking church history I started to reach same conclusions as yourself


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