Reflection Series: Tithing

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The Church is often associated with certain duties or responsibilities to be carried out by its members. Apart from evangelizing, tithing is one of the most notable examples, recognized by Christians and non-Christians alike. However, as is the case with many issues concerning the Church, over time this holy responsibility has been misrepresented, misconstrued and misunderstood.

Why is tithing so recognizable to non-Christians? One possible explanation is that tithing concerns money: “our” money. And since Churches often are in need of assistance to operate, the plea for financial assistance is one often made from the pulpit. The key in this is the word “our.” To sinful man there is nothing more powerful than the allure of money. Money promises to fix problems. Money promises to cure diseases. Money promises to supply happiness and security. Many people have a stronger faith in money than in God Himself. And since we have to work for our money, the request to give away some of that hard-earned money is oppressive. We are willing to part with our money, as long as there is an element of investment involved that could benefit us. We feel justified in parting with our money if there is a possibility that the parting will result in our gain.

Tithing is different. Tithing involves faith. It aids things that will go unseen by our own eyes and will almost certainly benefit someone else and not us. With this in mind, most people when asked to tithe at Church feel comfortable tossing spare change into the basket, but feel unmoved to reach for a bill or a check. We view our money as “ours.” Thus, we often find ourselves responding to the request of the church to tithe unmoved, unimpressed and unwilling to give anything at all.

Tithing is an established command of God to His people in the Bible, and as is the case with God’s commands, it is not easy or possible through man’s power or effort. A true act of tithing is only possible with God’s hand firmly behind the believer. Otherwise, tithing will eventually result in resentment, frustration, bitterness and anger on the part of the giver. Therefore, a true act of tithing should be giving with four distinct characteristics. Tithing should be:

1) Giving that is Just

2) Giving that is Constructive

3) Giving that is Painful

4) Giving that is Joyful

Join us for the next four weeks as we explore this issue of tithing and what God’s Word says about its role in Christian life.

14 comments

    1. Hi Travis. Thanks for the question. As you’ve mentioned, the Levitical law or precedent for tithing does in fact specifically refer to fruits, vegetables, oil, cattle, etc. However, what you find in common amongst all of the references to tithing in scripture is the word “everything.” God calls us always to tithe not only 10 percent of the aforementioned possessions, but to hold ALL of our possessions loosely as we acknowledge the true owner, God and tithe joyfully and freely. As the Levitical law was fulfilled in Christ we have to always look to Christ for our directions concerning Godly application in our current situation(s) as a Christian. I look to Luke 8:9-14 and Mark 12:41-44. In our present day limiting tithing to fruit, vegetables, oil and cattle is no longer relevant or applicable but Christ does not abolish the law, he fulfills or expands the law. Therefore, as those possessions were regarded as a person’s primary possessions in the 1st Century to tithe from, we find that in the 21st Century money is our equivalent benchmark possession we are called to tithe from. As I mention in the series, tithing is represented in scripture as giving from what you love the most and from what is most difficult to give away. For most people this refers to their money as opposed to livestock or crops and therefore I see a direct correlation between Jesus’ frequent warnings against the love of money, the command to the Rich Young Ruler to give away his money and the command for all of us to give from what we have to the Lord completely. Thanks again for the question and let me know if my answer leaves you with remaining concerns or uncertainty.

      1. I see your analogies but when Jesus fulfilled the law, there is no longer a need to follow it. We know follow Jesus and do what he tells us and Jesus doesn’t tell the Christians to tithe. He does instruct Christians to live, exhort, edify, fellowship, etc.. I fee like you have a misinterpretation on tithing and I pray your biblical knowledge in the word. Nothing can be changed from the word.

      2. Hi Travis. Jesus tells us to love God with all of our heart, mind and spirit. All original translations of the Gospels indicate that the point here is as I mentioned in my first comment, everything. We are to devote all we have to God. Therefore, as mentioned in this reflection series, tithing 10% to God is no specifically commanded by Jesus but giving 100% absolutely is. Our 100% includes our time, talents, futures, careers, desires and, money. This understanding is supported by the entire scriptures which is, as you said, unchanging and eternal. May I ask why you disagree with tithing?

      3. I disagree because it’s not commanded by Jesus and it causes some Christians to lose focus on Christ due to their ignorance of scripture themselves. Case in point Malachi speaks to the effect of God cursing you due to not paying tithes and offerings. But that different apply to Christians. That’s referring to 11 tribes of Israel not including Levi tribe due to them not having land to tithe with. I have the gift of giving and I love helping others with what God has truly blessed me with but I prefer complete accuracy when dealing with Holy scripture. I love God with all of me, finances included but tithing isn’t the way anymore, is cheerful giving by the Holy Spirit pricking your heart.

      4. I agree completely. Precisely my point and the intention of this reflection series. Cheerful giving by the Holy Spirit lead to tithing to support the work of the Church and the spread of the Gospel. I prefer complete accuracy in regards to scripture as well but what we find in scripture is that all the sayings of Jesus are not meant to be taken literally and not all practices of the Christian faith are spoken by Jesus literally in the Gospel accounts. For example, nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus command us to attend church on Sunday. Does this mean all Sunday churchgoers are erring and disobeying Jesus? Of course not. By the power and “pricking of the heart” by the Holy Spirit we can conclude that celebrating Jesus on Sunday is honorable to God. Jesus also taught that with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. Obviously a figurative lesson that is not meant to be taken literally. I agree that tithing can confuse some people and lead them to a works-based form of Christianity that is no Gospel at all. However, I believe that the 10% established by Abraham and continued through the cultural and religious practice of Israel is fulfilled in the 100% Christians are commanded to dedicate to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. They are one and the same but amplified, magnified, and fulfilled in Jesus. Tithing can be a stumbling block but to completely oppose the practice is not Biblical. We are commanded by scripture to give what we have and to support the Church and the 10% fulfilled in Jesus to 100% is the new covenant standard. I’m glad we agree that giving must be led by the Holy Spirit and that tithing should not be misunderstood. This is, in the end, the primary concern and intention of this reflection series. I believe that in reading the entire reflection series you will find that we agree with one another and follow the same standard of the Gospel and Jesus Christ. I encourage you to look deeper into the teaching found on this site and I believe that you will find peace concerning my teaching and understanding of God’s word. Thanks again for your input.

      5. The Holy spirit doesn’t tell you to do something contrary to his word nor will he lead you to error. You’re right about Sunday service and I do believe that the mandate for going is error but with a heart after christ and wanting to learn more about him and his word. Also, by my assumption and I’m wrong for assuming but Jesus didn’t tithe, although he was of the tribe of judah, he didn’t Jane any land to tithe with or cattle . He stated he didn’t have a place to lay his head in the form of him being poor. If Jesus wanted tithing to stand, I feel he would’ve commanded it to Christians. Neither did any apostles tithe when the tithe was to be given to the levitical priest, strangers, or widows. We do disagree on tithing but with the love of Jesus Christ and his word, we agree. So that’s the most important topic to agree on.

      6. From our dialogue it’s clear that we are saying the same thing. The point of this entire reflection series is to help people to understand that tithing should not be an obligation to which we practice in order to receive salvation from and that tithing or the amount a person ties does not increase or decrease the love and grace they receive in Jesus’ name. Your point is also my point. Personally it is still unclear to me why you have such strong opposition to my explanation of tithing given that the foundation to both of our positions is the same. Red herring disagreements over wording and interpretation are the cause of so much division in the Church and has been since the beginning. Your point of being led by the Spirit leading people to tithe is also my point. However, giving what we have, all we have, including our money, to support the work of the Church which commonly comes in the form of a tithe is my point, is also Jesus’ point, is also the example set by the early church and I would hope that it is your point as well as a Christian. Jesus spoke often about the dangers of money and our clinging to worldly possessions. He commanded us to free ourselves from the love of money. This is scriptural. He also calls us to love one another with all of our lives, including our money. If tithing supports the body of Christ, the Church, and liberating ourselves from the grips of money in our own wallet draws us closer to Jesus, where is the problem in explaining and encouraging people to tithe? I understand your desire to draw people away from the legalization of Christianity, me too. However, on the side of sacrifice, love, and submission to God and the Church, there is scripturally no problem with tithing. If you disagree with these points please support your opinion with scripture that teaches that we should not tithe. Opinion is still only opinion, I would like to see your evidence from God’s word if you disagree. Thanks for your input.

      7. Nicely put and I feel that no matter what scriptures I show, it’s a list cause but I’ll agree to disagree. JESUS doesn’t need our money to show his power, even the early church have all their possessions and divided then accordingly to those in need. Why and where sure a tithe of money come into play? Christian tithing is not biblical, and I must say, the bible never says not to tithe but tithing is apart of the law and the law died with Christ but he rose and the law Is no more the way but grace.

      8. Define, “Christian tithing.” Also, your final sentence stands as a complete contradiction to the words of Jesus. The law does not die with Christ. Jesus himself says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” You’re correct in saying that the law can no longer bring life but only death. We agree completely with one another. But you misunderstand the role of Jesus bringing about a “new covenant” that does not kill the law but fulfills it. As tithing was a part of the law, and Jesus declares not to abolish the law, tithing must therefore logically persist with Christianity as it has not died with Christ but is fulfilled. Therefore, we can in no way look at tithing as abolished but enhanced and fulfilled in Christ. Which brings me to the one and only point I am leading people to understand about tithing which is, whereas in the levitical law the requirement was 10% in Christ we are called to honor God with ALL of our possessions and the percentage increases to 100%. This does not promote a legalistic or works-based Christianity. Nor does this promote adherence to the levitical law. Understand that I am not arguing for either. Tithing as fulfilled by Jesus is a willingness and desire to give all your possessions INCLUDING your money to God for the work of the Church. Not give money to pastors, priests and churches out of a burdensome obligation. But because in the end all of our money is God’s money in Jesus’ name as he so clearly illustrates in the parable of the talents. All of your money is his money and should go to further the work of the Gospel around the world to all nations and for all people. This is the root, cause and motivation for Christian tithing.

      9. Christian tithing isnt found in the Oxford dictionary but simply put, forcefully condemning Christians to pay a tithe to God or be cursed by him. If that answers your question. If you would read Hebrews 8:6-13, the law was specifically given to Israel only, a lot of Christians are not Israelites, but are gentiles. Also, Hebrews 9:15-17 speaks of Jesus having to die before the new covenant could come into effect.

      10. Using your definition of “Christian tithing” and then reading the entire reflection series you will find that we are saying and believing precisely the same thing. I would actually encourage you to do so before responding. Read other things i’ve read to understand more about my position concerning Christ. Listen to an episode of a podcast. Watch a sermon video. Read my bio. Seek the context from which i’m writing this reflection series. If you haven’t done that, please do so before responding.
        As for you references to Hebrews you are simply wrong. Galatians 3:29 says, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So again, we are an extension of the promise, and existence of everything related to the Israelites, INCLUDING the law. Just to be clear again, this does not mean that the levitical law must be obeyed as it was in the Old Testament, nor does it mean that a Christian is Jewish and must follow Jewish customs. A quick exploration through this website would settle your uncertainty concerning my position of such things. However, according to scripture we are the extension and fulfillment of EVERYTHING given to the Israelites. Again we agree completely on the dangers of tithing. However, your basis to disagree with me so strongly is not supported by the scriptures you are providing.

      11. Actually it is supported but where we disagree is that we are both passionate about the word and neither point is being promoted so God will get the glory so I’ll just pray you get a proper understanding and I’ll pray for myself as well.

      12. But you can’t simply say something is supported. You have to support it with scripture. So far your scriptures are not supported by the context of the collected scriptures of the entire Bible and I have shown that.
        I believe that your primary point is that tithing should not be viewed as a means to justify oneself or to oblige to in order to appease God’s judgement or to reap God’s blessings. You believe that tithing should not be done out of a legalistic mindset toward God thus empowering and emboldening works-based faith. Can you restate the point that I am trying to explain and make through this reflection series?

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