Is Tithing for the Old Testament or for Today?

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:8-9)

I cannot think of one topic in the church that is more despised, neglected and sensitive than finances. How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say “this preacher is just out for money”, or “that church should give their money to the poor instead of having all that nice stuff.” Let’s put aside the Judas complex for a bit and dive into scripture for answers.

 

The Origins of Tithing

I want to start by saying that tithe means tenth (10%). Many assume tithing came with the law of Moses, however scripture doesn’t record when God gave the commandment.  Abraham is seen tithing hundreds of years before Moses was born (Genesis 14:20). We can safely assume that God taught Adam and Eve tithing and offering since Cain and Abel gave offerings in Genesis 4.

 

Old Testament Purpose of the Tithe

There are over 100 verses on tithing and offering. I suggest for you to do you own reading on the topic and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Too often we believe something just because another person does. When it comes to giving to the Kingdom of God you should have stern convictions.

There were three tithes in the Old Testament:

1. The Levitical, or sacred tithe (Num. 18: 2124).

2. The tithe of the feasts (Deut. 14:22-27).

3. The tithe for the poor (Deut. 14:2829).

The first tithe, the one we trace back to Abra­ham is the sacred tithe. The Levites and priests recieved it for their service to the temple and the congregation. The second was to be used by the individual for the time of feasts. We all know that traveling can be expensive so the Lord required for you to set aside a tithe for when the time came to celebrate the feasts in Jerusalem. Lastly, the tithe for the poor was collected every three years. It was established for different communities to be able to supply the need of the most vulnerable: the widows, orphans and foreigners.

 

Extremes

I have never heard a person arguing about wanting to tithe more than 10%. People that argue always want to give the bare minimum but still want to receive the full blessing. One extreme says that if you don’t give, then you are under a curse. I have heard some say that if you don’t give your tithe to the church, God will get the money out of you some other way; your car will near repair, your washing machine will break, or your health will deteriorate and medical bills will accumulate. These are fear tactics used to manipulate a person into giving. The Bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith; this aforementioned type of giving is without faith. Giving in this manner is like twisting a person’s arm: you force them to do something they don’t want to do by inflicting pain.

The second extreme is being led by feelings. “I will give when I feel like it”. That’s not the attitude we should have. God doesn’t say that when your led by the Holy Ghost you will feel it. Responsibility isn’t a feeling. Honor isn’t a feeling. Even love isn’t a feeling. These are all choices, they are decisions we make and act accordingly. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus gives an outline of a believers life: giving, praying, fasting and forgiving. What struck me was the word “when”. Not if. Not maybe but when. It implies it is something to be done often.

“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:3-4)

 

Cheerful Giving

Tithing for the Levite’s service is what we continue to give under the priesthood of Melchizedek in the New Testament. It is the tithe consecrated to God and the furtherance of the gospel and has, therefore, validity for all believers in Christ.

Paul writes to the Corinthians “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” This verse could say “give not according to Malachi 3:8-9.” God wants for his children to give, not of necessity (obligation) or grudgingly (or else you’ll be cursed). Instead, he desires for us to give cheerfully. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price for us: his life. Can you imagine Jesus murmuring under his breath while being whipped? Or while hanging of the cross rolling his eyes while saying “forgive them for they know not what they do” because that was the Godly thing to do. No, he did it knowing the joy set before him. He gave because he wanted to. We should do the same. It is a way for us to exude the character of Christ.

 

Blindness in Giving

It’s easy to say that we trust God with everything, our life, family, finances. What most do is put a safety net for themselves so if God’s word fails they have something to fall back on. Isn’t that the reason you haven’t given as much as God has placed on your heart? You knew a better way to use the money other than giving. There’s no farmer in the world that sows corn expecting apples. What you sow, you reap. I’m tired of people praying “God multiply this offering 100 to 1.” I see it as a crutch. What I really hear is “I don’t give more because of fear but I want to receive a blessing from acting out by fear and doubt.”

The statistics of giving in churches is startling.

  • Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation.
  • Christians are giving at 2.5% of income; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%.
  • Only 3-5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing.
  • For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing
  • 17% of American families have reduced the amount that they give to their local church.
  • 7% of church goers have dropped regular giving by 20% or more.

All these points show me that we as a body has yet to receive the understanding of the tithe.

 

Revelation, Multiplication

77% of those who tithe give 11%–20% or more of their income. Of those 10-25% that tithe regularly 77% give more than the 10%. It’s not coincidental. The revelation of giving causes a want to give more. Giving actually benefits you just as much as is does your church or others. God has many wonderful promises surrounding giving. It is the only time that God says to test him (Mal 3). He knows that when you give it will be given to you in good measure, pressed down and flowing over; it’s a law.

Understanding it’s more blessed to give than to receive will change anyone’s life. These are the ways you are blessed when giving.

  • The Kingdom of God Expands
  • Those receiving the gift will pray for you
  • You feel joyful, fulfilled and prosperous
  • You will receive an increase both in this world and the world to come
  • Can be used as a testimony

God wants his will to be established; that takes money. Clothes, food, shelter, buildings all require finances. A tenth should be a starting point for us! The Lord will get money to you if he can get it through you.

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