I n the eyes of many, tithing and giving are synonymous. There are some that have no idea what a tithe even is. But to others the word tithe is synonymous with religious bondage. First let me state that I believe that the Old Covenant's (Mosaic Law's) mandatory requirement to tithe (on pain of being under the curse) no longer applies to New Covenant Christians. However, as you will see below, there are still valid applications of the tithe (or the tenth) for today's Christian giving.
No I'm not writing this to cause anyone to fear, feel guilt or to cause shame. God is not looking at your past mistakes - He just wants you to do the right thing starting the moment you know what the right thing to do is! Fear, guilt and shame are all tools of the devil, which I refuse to receive and I refuse to use. If you are not currently tithing or otherwise supporting the church and Christian ministries because you didn't know you should, or if you do not have control over your family's income, understand this - you are only responsible for what you know and have control of.
My main purpose for writing this article in the way that I have, is that there has been a recent wave of deceptive anti-tithing teachings, which on the surface all sound pretty good - as long as you want to skip over what the books of Hebrews and Corinthians had to say about the subject - which we will see later.
My favorite quote so far from these teachings was as follows:
" A new covenant child of the Lord comes to embrace a deep desire to give into the work of the kingdom over time as God pours in His blessings, so full, that they just begin to overflow."
This quote sounds wonderful, poetic and
idealist - if was not for the fact that most "Christians" (94%+) are
anywhere even close to 10% of their income to ministries or churches! Less than 6% of all "Christians" do tithe
and many of those actually give less than 10%. And
when I say 'tithe' that includes all giving to
Christian ministries weather you call it tithing, sowing, giving or
whatever. Therefore I can only conclude
that this automatic "deep desire to give to the work of the kingdom"
not nearly deep enough to get the job done. I
believe that if every Christian were to give a full
tithe (10%) of his
or her incomes for just three years in a row, that these funds would be
sufficient to support the Gospel being fully preached to every person
planet before the money ran out. (What
I just said is HUGE. Perhaps you should read that part again.)
Tithing (or giving the tenth) in the New Testament is only mentioned in a few places.
In Mat 23:23, Luke 11:42 and Luke 18:12 Jesus talks about the Pharisees, and how they tithe of everything, even giving ten percent of cooking spices but do not walk in love. Jesus said that it was correct for them to tithe, but that tithing meant nothing without love. But until Jesus was killed, raised from the dead and was appointed our High Priest, the Old Covenant was still active and in place. So, even though Jesus said (in Mat. 23:23; Luke 11:42) that tithing was a good thing (shouldn't be left undone), and even though that implies that Jesus was himself a tither, I will allow that this reference to tithing was made while still under the Old Covenant. So lets look at the other references to tithing.
Here Paul wrote what I call "the
Letter". I actually paraphrased the
following passage as a TGM Partner Letter and let Marcia read it and
me not to send it because she knew that it would offend a lot of people. I won't take the space to let you read the
paraphrase but I do want you to read what Paul the Apostle had to say. (Paraphrase it yourself.)
(Note that ALL scriptures in this article are unchanged from the NIV version. However all emphasis such as underlining, bolding and of course notes are mine.)
1 Cor 9:1-16
(Note that Paul uses an Old
Covenant illustration for
financial support of the ministry. I mention this because
people mistakenly believe that everything Moses gave as part of
is no longer even relevant to a New Covenant Christian. )
1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses:
muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about the oxen
that God is concerned?
(Note that Paul also believed in the principal of financial sowing and reaping.)
1 Cor 9:12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
(Note also that Paul states that he (the ministry) has the right to expect to be financially supported by those ministered to.)
(Next Paul uses the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood as an illustration for financial support of the ministry. This is the Levitical priesthood, which received the tithe. I mention this because in nearly all of the anti-tithe teachings they state that the Levitical system has no relevance to New Covenant Christians. Now remember, Paul is talking about financial support here ...)
1 Cor 9:13 Don't you know that those who work in the
temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar
in what is offered on the altar?
(Question: How was food provided to those who worked in the temple?
Answer: The tithe and the offerings.)
Paul says that in the "SAME WAY" ... those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. WHICH "same way"? It has to be the tithes and offerings.
1 Cor 9:15 But I
have not used any of these rights.
And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for
me. I would
rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.
(Paul here is saying that he was willing to starve to death before he would beg or "force" people to support his ministry. But supported or not supported, that he would continue preaching any way - with them or without them.)
Wow! If I were to send out a partner letter that said exactly what you just read, I think many would be very offended - if not outraged. DID Paul have the "right" to require financial support from the Church or not? He says that it was the Lord who arranged, ordained and commanded it.
How much was the church to provide? If you look up 1 Cor 9:13-14 in the Greek you will see that the Lord arranged for and prescribed the same amount that those that worked in the temple (the Levites) were provided. And the Levites were provided 'the tenth' (1/10th or 10%) of all increase (or income) of each household.
Now Paul was an Apostle used by
God to establish and
develop churches. But according to Eph 4:11-12 (also written by Paul), The Lord gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers
the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
the body of Christ: (Note that Paul was not a pastor , he was an apostle - the head of his own ministry.) The apostle
was just one part of the "five-fold" ministry - ALL FIVE of which needs
supported in the "SAME WAY"! The
Greek says, "in this same way, in this same manner,
referring to what was previously said. (i.e. tithes and
Hebrews 7 teaches about Melchizedek receiving the gift of "the tenth", about the Levitical Priesthood receiving the gift of "the tenth" and how Jesus has been appointed High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
that the word "tenth" used
throughout this passage is the Greek word dekate which can be translated: tithe or
that this New Covenant book is referring to the Old Covenant
collection of the tithe. It should be
obvious by now that the subject here is the tithe.)
Heb 7:5 Now the law requires the
descendants of Levi who become
priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their
brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.
(Did you get that? This is saying that even under the (Old Covenant) Aaronic Priesthood, that the tithe was actually still being collected (for Melchizedek) through Abraham - because the Levites were all his descendants and were only stand-ins for Abraham!)
Heb 7:11 If
perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood
the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still
another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the
This is pointing out that:
Or another way to boil it down is that the Melchizedek priesthood of which the Son of God (Jesus) is our High Priest, has always existed and that all tithes collected were and are still His to receive. Jesus is the High Priest of the Heavenly Temple. The tenth, (the tithe, 10%) was paid to the High Priest by Abraham, and the tenth is still to be paid to our High Priest (Jesus) today! But, now Jesus is seated at the right hand of Father God in Heaven, yet His earthly ministry continues here on Earth.
Who then are the
representatives of Jesus that are responsible for collecting the tithe
further that ministry? I
believe that it must be those that Paul refers to as the apostles;
and prophets; and evangelists;
and pastors and teachers; i.e. the (five-fold) ministry.
Today many churches teach that Christians should just give as they are able, whatever they decide to give - based upon 2 Corinthians 9:7. The problem with this is that they overlook or ignore the above passages and fail to note that 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 is ONLY talking about an annual fundraiser or relief drive for Paul's Ministry. It should be obvious that this giving was over and above regular ongoing support based upon what we already read. ( i.e. Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians is foundational to this teaching in 2 Corinthians.)
(Next we find Paul doing the modern day equivalent to fund rising for his ministry.)
Please note that part of Paul's ministry as an Apostle was the establishment (planting) and development (raising, watering, nurturing, growing) of churches through his ministry. Paul's ministry, this ministry and so many others come under the umbrella of the ongoing earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Also note the difference between what Paul says in the following chapter and what he said in 1 Cor 9:1- 14, which we have already read.
2 Cor 8:1-24, 9:1-15
(Note that Paul has already stated in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 that he has the RIGHT to command support and that the Lord has commanded that he be supported by those he taught ... But that now there was a voluntary additional offering being taken up as a relief fund.)
2 Cor 8:8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
(In the above scripture Paul is saying that one's love can be evaluated by their eagerness, earnestness and diligence to give.)
2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that though he
was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his
might become rich.
(We have already seen that Paul expected them to provide for his ministry with the tenth, gifts and offerings. Paul is taking up this special relief offering over and above their normal giving.)
2 Cor 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to
you, so that in
all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in
We also saw that the author of Hebrews, believed and taught that the priesthood and the administration of "the tenth" or the tithe under that priesthood has now come under Jesus as our High Priest of the New Covenant ministry.
Now I don't care what you call it, the tithe, the tenth, donation or gift, every Christian should be financially supporting the (five-fold) Ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe that from what I see in the New Testament scriptures, that a tithe, a tenth, 10% (gross, net, after expenses, before expenses ... however you want to figure it) should be the base amount of all Christian giving for every man, woman and child who calls themselves "Christian".
Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED for salvation? NO! But if your own personal salvation is your only goal as a Christian, you are already missing whole point! It's about SPREADING the gospel to others (and that costs money!).
Are you under a curse if you don't tithe? Like will your nose fall off or something? I don't think so. I did meet a man whose nose did fall off - but that's another subject. Where was I? Oh yeah! From what I read in scripture, I believe that when you make Jesus the Lord of your finances, He becomes your financial partner and advisor through His Holy Spirit. On the other hand if you remain the Lord of your own finances, He cannot not involve Himself in your financial affairs.
Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED for God to sovereignty bless you, heal you or deliver you? Again NO! But again this isn't just about YOU! How will all the others that need blessing, healing and deliverance ever hear and receive what Jesus has done for them if there is no money to send someone to teach them? Jesus sovereignty paid the price for your salvation and your redemption, which includes healing and deliverance. But He expects YOU as a Christian to EITHER GO and preach the Gospel yourself OR support those who are preaching the Gospel - particularly, all of those who have been called to the "five-fold" ministry. (Note: I said "expects" and not "requires." He's not going to force you to abide by Mark 16:15. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.")
Is tithing or any kind of financial giving REQUIRED to be prosperous or gain wealth? Absolutely not! There are lots of wealthy people that are "self made men and women". There are a lot of ways that people have acquired wealth without God's help or partnership other than the gifts that He gave them at birth. But with the Lord as your financial partner, He will not only help you make it, but see that you are provided for always.
is not about the Old Covenant or "the Law" which REQUIRED the tenth
part of all increase. As New Covenant Christians, we are no
longer under any law other than the law to love God and one
another and perhaps the law of faith (or good faith). Therefore we are no longer obligated to pay the tithe as
if it were a tax or rent. But rather, we have the combined
responsibility and opportunity to convert what was an obligatory
expense into a profitable seed sown for a harvest, and thereby finance
the propagation and spread of the good news of the Kingdom being
reestablished here on the Earth..
God has established a method of increase for those who partner with Him called sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping works financially, just like it does on a farm or in a garden. You plant a single seed (like a corn kernel) into good, well-watered ground, which then germinates and grows producing a plant with several ears of corn made up of hundreds of kernels). The more seed, the more plants and the bigger the harvest. Paul says that it works and I experience it working every day.
Like I mentioned before, I recently read the works of several authors that seem to ignore the teachings of the books of Hebrews and Corinthians that you have just read and propose that every man (or woman) just do whatever seems right to them when it comes to giving. In essence implying that good intentions alone will somehow fund the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the World! I just cannot keep silent when I see an attempt of the Devil to further erode the funding of the Gospel! This isn't my philosophy or my teaching! I didn't write those scriptures! I don't like to make an article so long, but I wrote all those scriptures down (in context) so that you could read them for your self! I didn't leave anything out or change any words.
Those anti-tithe authors said, "Malachi
3:6-10 is speaking only to the Old Testament Jews!"
Well then, to whom are Proverbs or the Psalms speaking to? So, Psalms 91 is not for me?
Proverbs 16:25 is not for me? Isaiah
53:4-5 is not for me? Psalms 34:19 is not
for me? Deuteronomy 28 is not for me? Are they saying that nothing that God ever
said or promised Abraham or to the nation of Israel belongs to us as
Christians? As we say in Texas, "HOG
WASH!" (Ok, calm-down now Tim, you
always seem to get in trouble for the last thing you say!) (Take a deep
breath!) OK, I'll be nice.
For nearly 30 years Marcia and I tithed
religiously, because we were taught that we were required by law to
do so. But now we tithe voluntarily, as part of our worship,
because we believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to
support the five-fold present-day ministry of Jesus Christ.
We tithe personally and TGM tithes to other ministries and churches. And when we receive your tithes and offerings, we take them and present them before Jesus our High Priest on your behalf in prayer believing by faith that you will receive an abundant harvest on all your good seed sown.
I personally believe that each of us
should have an apostle, a prophets, an evangelist, a pastor and a
teacher in our lives that we support with our prayers and a portion of
our tithes and offerings.