To Tithe Or Not To Tithe: "The Whole Truth From The Bible"
TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE: WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.
Tithe: A tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart for special purposes.
MALACHI 3:10 (New International Version):
"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".
Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing.
In some churches tithing is over-emphasized at the expense of giving to the needy.
Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple
- see Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5.
In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithesâ€”one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the landâ€”which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent.
Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.
NOTE: Tithes were awarded to the Levites for their priestly service because they would not receive land in Canaan see: Num 18:19-21.
They, too, gave a tenth of what they received (v. 26).
Donation of a tenth portion, or tithe, was common apparently because most peoples counted in tens, based on ten fingers.
Tithing first appeared in the Bible when Abraham gave one-tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem see: Gen 14:18-20.
The writer of Hebrews presumed that tithes were paid to a higher authority and inferred that there was a greater priesthood than Aaron's see: Hebrews 7:4 Hebrews 7:9.
The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (Plus their allies) fought a battle against king Chedorlaomer king of Elam (plus his allies). Chedorlaomer king of Elam and his allies won the battle and took all the food supply and other goods from Sodom. They also took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he (Lot) was living in Sodom.
The incident was reported to Abram and he took 318 of his trained servants and defeated Chedorlaomer king of Elam. Abram brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer, Abram was met by Melchizedek king of Salem and a Canaanite priest of God Most High, refreshing them with bread and wine and he blessed Abram. The blessing was given to Abram, a very important fact to remember. In response, Abram gave one-tenth (10%) of all the goods of Sodom that were stolen by Chedorlaomer to Melchizedek. Abram DID NOT tithe from his own possessions, an essential fact to refute tithing practices in the new covenant.
The king of Sodom offered to give Abram all the goods of Sodom that were recovered for himself, but Abram refused, taking not one single item, to give honor to Yahweh, lest people say this pagan king of Sodom made him rich. This is a very important point, because Abram took NO INCOME and the tithe he gave to Melchizedek did not come from his goods, but those of the Sodomites and 1/10 of Lotâ€™s recovered goods.
If Abramâ€™s aforementioned encounter is used by clergy men to justify the practice of tithing from oneâ€™s gross income, then they are justifying Christians paying 10% of goods and money they do not own!
Even worse, paying tithes this way means they have to find someone who has been robbed and recover the stolen goods.
For example, if jewelry was stolen in a burglary, the tithing Christian must first return the stolen goods to the rightful owner, who must not be a Christian, (in keeping true to the symbolism of Abram and Melchizedek) and then use 10% of the recovered goods as a tithe to the church.
This is an outlandishly absurd example and it ought to be ample proof for rejecting this false doctrine of church tithing.
The modern practice of church tithing is not supported by the teachings of scripture.
Church tithing began in the late nineteenth century when a Wesleyan Church in Cincinnati hosted multiple fund-raising events to erase its enormous debt.Fledgling on the brink of bankruptcy and devoid of options, a layman came up with the idea of, â€œstorehouse tithing.â€
It was an instant success and soon the news spread like wildfire throughout Christendom and the practice of storehouse tithing caught on.
At the time, it seemed the answer to the debts and financial woes of churches whose church members gave indiscriminately.
Today storehouse tithing is a deep-rooted tradition that is promoted on a regular basis by clergy men that misuse the context of Malachi 3:8-11.
Pastors insist that every church member is obliged (as a matter of righteousness) to pay 10% of his or her gross income.
In addition to the tithe that church members give, most churches teach that a, â€œfreewill offering,â€ over and above the 10% tithe should be given to again to the church or any charitable cause, with the stipulation that his or her â€œlocal churchâ€ is always to receive the â€œtithe.â€
The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be â€œin keeping with incomeâ€ -see 1 Corinthians 16:2. Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a â€œrecommended minimumâ€ for Christians in their giving.
The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving.
We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek Godâ€™s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give -see James 1:5. Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ.
â€œEach man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giverâ€- see 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Nowhere does the New Testament require Christians to tithe in the sense of giving 10 percent, but it does reiterate many things associated with tithing:
those who minister are entitled to receive support - see 1 Cor 9:14;
the poor and needy should be cared for- see 1 Cor 16:1; Gal 2:10;
those who give can trust God, as the source of all that is given- see 2 Cor 9:10,
to supply their needs -see 2 Cor 9:8; Php 4:19;
and giving should be done joyously- see 2 Cor 9:7.
Paul's vocabulary and teaching suggest that giving is voluntary and that there is no set percentage. Following the example of Christ, who gave even his life ( 2 Cor 8:9), we should cheerfully give as much as we have decided ( 2 Cor 9:7) based on how much the Lord has prospered us ( 1 Cor 16:2), knowing that we reap in proportion to what we sow ( 2 Cor 9:6) and that we will ultimately give account for our deeds ( Rom 14:12).
The New Testament directs that taxes be paid to the state- see Rom 13:6-7, which replaced Israel's theocracy.
In the days of Abraham and his contemporaries, there was no tax system. Society was largely theocratic. Tithes therefore, were next to modern day taxes. Jesus is seen in Matthew 17:24-27 asking Peter to pay their taxes.
When Jesus and the others arrived in Capernaum, the collectors for the temple tax came to Peter and asked, â€œDoes your teacher pay the temple tax?â€
25 â€œYes, he does,â€ Peter answered.
After they had returned home, Jesus went up to Peter and asked him, â€œSimon, what do you think? Do the kings of this earth collect taxes and fees from their own people or from foreigners?â€
26 Peter answered, â€œFrom foreigners.â€
Jesus replied, â€œThen their own people donâ€™t have to pay.
27 But we donâ€™t want to cause trouble. So go cast a line into the lake and pull out the first fish you hook. Open its mouth, and you will find a coin. Use it to, pay your taxes and mine.â€
Nowhere did we find Jesus speaking about tithe. This is because the essence of tithing, which is anchored in the law, is giving from one's abundance. Jesus came to fulfill the law. He therefore gave, not from His abundance, but His all - His life.
Christians today are called to look beyond ordinary tithing, submitting their lifes to God!
That is the perfect tithe.
WHY DON'T WE READ ABOUT THE TITHE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?
Jesus actually called his followers to a standard of giving that went far beyond the tithe. He called us to give up everything and follow Him. The early Christians were able to do this. However, as the Church expanded throughout the world, its followers needed to be reminded that generous giving is a hallmark of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Church Council of Macon in 585 A.D. ordered payment of tithes. In the 8th century, Charlemagne made tithing to the Church a civil law. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) also reiterated the call to tithe.
â€œTell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.â€ -1 Timothy 6:17-19
A New Testament teaching on giving which may be helpful to you is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2:
â€œOn the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.â€ This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately.
The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances. He knows when they are beyond our power to direct and control. The important thing is that we see giving (not just to the church, nay a pastor) as a privilege and not a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, rather out of love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom advanced.
- O.S. EMEJULU Esq.
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