FW: If you tithe, please answer these questions to yourself…
1. Do you have give an exact amount calculated on your gross income or net income?
2. What if someone made small error in calculations and paid 1$ less will God punish them for not being accurate?
3. What if a giver made a generous contribution by adding $1000 more, will any pastor return the money saying, you shall pay ONLY tithe?
4. Is it a law/condition relating to our salvation we SHOULD pay tithe?
5. Where does tithe stand in relating our relationship with Christ?
6. Will a pastor/church accept if someone pays half of the tithe to church and remaining to the needy, poor, widows and orphans?
For years I, and probably many of you, have heard that a Christian must give ten percent of their earnings to the church. It is your ‘responsibility as a Christian’ to pay your tithe. You are robbing God if you do not pay your tithe.
But I ask, is this Biblical?
Is this Christian?
Is it even ethical?
As always, let us take a look at Scripture to see where it stands on this issue.
In ancient biblical times, during the age of Moses, God commanded that the people of Israel tithe, not once, but THREE times out of the produce of their land. First, they were to give ten percent of their produce every year to support the Levites (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-31). Second, they were to give another ten percent of their produce every year towards the yearly festivals (Deuteronomy14:22-27). Finally, every third year they were to give an ADDITIONAL ten percent of their produce to be collected and meted out to the Levites, the widows, the orphans, the poor, foreigners, and any others who were not well off (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 26:12-13).
Let’s take a moment and do the math:
10% (Levite Tithe) + 10% (Festival Tithe) + [10% (Poor Tithe) / 3} =
10% + 10% + (10%/3) =
23.3% Tithe PER YEAR!
So, if we were to follow the actual Mosaic Law today, we would have to pay not ten percent of our income to the church, but TWENTY-THREE point THREE PERCENT!
But let us look at what the tithe went to support in those days:
The National Workers (Priests)
The National Holidays (Festivals)
The Poor (Foreigners, Widows, Orphans, etc.)
Sounds a lot like our income tax which goes to support:
Our National Workers (President, Judges, Senators, Delegates, etc.)
Our National Holidays (Fireworks anyone?)
Our Poor (Welfare)
In fact, the ‘biblical tithe’ was in essence, the Old Testament Income Tax, created and sustained to keep the running smoothly of the nation of Israel. Since we are no longer under the Law of Moses (I mean, I sure don’t know of anyone who sends their tithes in the mail and has them postmarked “ATTN: Israel Financial Tithe Office!”) I would have to say that simply from this conclusion that we, as Christians are not obligated to give ANYTHING to the church. God loves the cheerful giver, God never wants us obligated to give but as a freewill offering in love, always support your church cheerfully out of love.
“But wait!” you say, “What about Abraham? Didn’t he give a tithe to Melchizedek? You know, the person who is supposed to be a type of Christ?”
Well, yes and no.
Genesis 14:17-20 (the first time we hear of Melchizy) is the final couple sentences in a retelling of when a bunch of kings fought each other and captured Abraham’s nephew Lot and then Abraham went after them, killed them, plundered them, and brought back Lot. After Abraham came back, Melchizy came to meet Abraham and Abraham DID give Melchizy ten percent, but I do not know that I would call it a tithe, here’s why:
It was not compulsory, Abraham gave it voluntarily.
It was not of ‘the produce of his land’ (his income), instead it was from the plunders of war (in other words it was not his to begin with, he gave what really wasn’t his).
He did not do it regularly; in fact, this is the ONLY time out of his 175 years that it was ever recorded that Abraham gave a tenth of his possessions. (If you would like another example of this near-exact thing happening, check out the story of Jacob starting in Genesis 28:20. He promised God a tenth and then didn’t come through for over twenty years!)
Well, what about the New Testament church, surely they tithed?
In fact, it is quite evident that the first century church did NOT follow what we see today as a tithe.
“Paul planted approximately fourteen churches. They were all heavily Gentile. Paul never put the Law on them (see Galatians). To say that the Gentile churches that Paul planted tithed is an argument from silence, and it runs against the entire grain of his law-free gospel. To Paul’s mind, if someone tithed, that made him a debtor to the whole law, which includes circumcision (Galatians 5:3).”
Now let us glance at one of the verses oft quoted from the pulpit in relation to tithing: Malachi 3:8-10. The people in Malachi’s day were withholding their tithes from God, which can be compared to you keeping your taxes from the US Government. See how long you would last before being thrown in prison for doing that. Because of Israel’s delinquency, God sent Malachi with a message to tell them to fill up the storehouse, and God will rain blessing from heaven.
Preachers use this line all the time to get you to empty your pockets into the offering plates. But the question is, are we even using this verse right?
The answer is simple: NO!
Let us go back a couple sentences to verse five of chapter three:
‘”So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.’
Put two and two together between verse five and verses eight through ten and what do we have here? These verses are talking about bringing into the house of God so that Israel would be able to continue doing their civic duty and quit depriving and oppressing the widows, orphans, and foreigners, because they were the recipients of the tithe!
“But what about the Levites? Isn’t there a parallel between the Levitical priesthood and our pastors today?”
The Levites owned NOTHING and were thereby covered by the Old Testament welfare system. However, this system was abolished when Christ became our High Priest and made ALL of us ‘priests’ (Revelation 1:6). So, unless everyone is ready to start paying EVERY CHRISTIAN a salary, this point is moot. In fact, supporting clergy with a salary was not even mentioned until the third century when Cyprian of Carthage first suggested the practice. The first century ‘elders’ were not salaried; they each had an earthly vocation to support them as Paul himself claims.
“If all Christians got in touch with the call that lies upon them to be functioning priests in the Lord’s house (and they were permitted to exercise that call), the question would immediately arise: ‘What on earth are we paying our pastor for!?'”
If we are “all even at the foot of the cross” and we are all priests of God, then paying clergy a salary to ‘do the work of God is immoral and unethical; for it elevates them above all other Christians, it creates a clerical caste where pastors are paid professionals, and does nothing more than turn the church into a business where people are buying goods and services.
Must I remind you that the last time people turned the church into a business Christ turned over tables and drove people out with a whip?
Am I saying that we should not be a giving people?
What I am saying is that we need to take a good long at our situation, and ask ourselves why we do the things that we do.
Do we do them because we feel like they will make a change in the world?
Or just because that is what is preached from the pulpit?
To conclude :- God loves the cheerful giver! Surely God loves the cheerful giver to the church, poor, etc. but don’t let any pastors/ministries to take money from you in the name of tithe.