The Mythology of Tithing

Did you know that tithing is never mentioned once in the New Testament, except for a few references in the context of Old Testament practice?

Money or Life?

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for nearly a year now, but just didn’t have the energy to face all of the likely rage from those who have a vested interest in promoting the tithe as a sacred cow of the institutional church.

So here’s the simple fact: Tithing is not ever mentioned in the New Testament as something for Christians to do or as a valid practice within the church.

Nope, nada, zip, nyet, just not there!

And furthermore, there is no historical support for the tithe being practiced in any church until around the 13th century. It came into the Church only when an increasingly complex and self-serving ecclesiastical hierarchy started to need funds to build their huge cathedrals and assume other unbiblical prerogatives for themselves.

That doesn’t mean you can’t personally choose to tithe, but please don’t sit idly by as some pastor or televangelist tries to impose it on God’s people in order to fund “his” church or ministry!

For those who nonetheless insist on shoehorning this Old Testament practice – which was part of God’s provision for funding the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant – into New Testament life, I only ask that you be consistent.

In the Old Testament, the tithe NEVER involved giving 10% of your income to the temple and the priest. Yet, tithing advocates today use that analogy to tell people to give 10% of their income to the church and its pastor. At most, only 1/3 of 1% of the produce of the land ever made it, as an obligatory tithe, to the temple and its priests.

As mandated in Scripture, the title was limited to 10% of the increase on a landowner’s produce from his land – and as such was limited to fruits, crops and livestock. See Leviticus 27:30-33. It was never, ever instituted anywhere in the Old Testament on income or products arising from a trade, other than farming and raising livestock. Thus, blacksmiths, cobblers, tent makers, and other tradesmen never tithed. There simply was no tithe on commercial activities that generated goods and services other than agricultural produce.

Nope, nada, zip, nyet, just not there!

Furthermore, only 1/3 of 1% of the agricultural produce – rather than 10% – was tithed to the temple and the temple priests. Yet today, pastors and churches want to claim a full 10% tithe.

As spelled out in the Old Testament, the tithe was given over a three year cycle, with 10% of the agricultural produce going for different purposes in each of those three years.

In one of the three yeas, you’d give the tithe to a local Levite, who was forbidden under the Mosaic law from owning land and instead served, as we see throughout the Old Testament, as a local community adviser, judge, peacemaker, teacher, charity administrator and civic leader. See Numbers 18:23-24 & Deut. 33:10, among many other verses. They also were tasked with maintaining the cities of refuge in Israel, and were to go to the temple one out of every twenty-four weeks to help the priests and serve as temple worship leaders.

And even then, there was no absolute right to the tithe by any particular Levite. Rather, the farmer or herdsman who gave 10% of his produce in year one was to give it only to those Levites who were actually doing their jobs well. Thus, there was no entitlement.

Nope, nada, zip, nyet, just not there!

If a Levite was not doing his job well, he starved.

Interestingly, when you look at the various census counts in the Old Testament, the Levites always came out as about one thirtieth of the total population in Israel. So getting, in effect, one-thirtieth of the produce of the land (10% every third year) came out just about right.

Sorry if the math is confusing, but in essence, the number of Levites proportionately matched the total agricultural output for the nation as a whole and thus their “income” from the tithe equaled the average income of the people they served – no more, and no less. No one got wealthy or lived above the average income level from the tithe!

Nope, nada, zip, nyet, just not there!

Of that 10% tithe given to support the local Levite as he served the local community, the Levite in turn was required to give 10% of his 10% to the temple storehouse to fund temple operations and to support the temple priests. See Numbers 18:35-28.

Again, sorry if the math is confusing. But this meant that the temple and the temple priests got only 1% of the farmer’s produce every third year, and it only went to the temple storehouse indirectly.

So what about the other two years out of the three year tithing cycle?

In the second year, the farmer was obligated to tithe 10% of his produce to supported the poor, the landless (including the Levites), the widows, the orphans and the destitute aliens. See Deut. 14:28-29 & 26:12-13.

In the third year of the three year tithing cycle, the farmer was required to spend his 10% tithe on partying. Yes, you heard that right. He was to use the money to take his family on a vacation, where they would go to Jerusalem for a week of eating, drinking. and partying. See Deut. 14:22-26. In fact, Scripture tells him to use that tithe to buy strong drink, and to share that tithe with others so they too could join in the week long party and have a good time!

So, next time some pastor, televangelist or church tries to put a self-serving guilt trip on you regarding the tithe, understand that there is nothing in the New Testament that brings the tithe forward into the church or imposes it on Christians.

Nonetheless, if you feel free you must tithe, give him and “his” church or ministry 1% of the produce of your vegetable garden and laying hens, but only every third year. Use the other 9% of your produce of the land that year to support those who are providing social cohesion to your community by being peacemakers, helping the poor, serving in a community administrative role, and providing wise advice.

But if you raise no crops, have no orchard, no herd or livestock, then I guess you’ll just need to tell that pastor he’s out of luck, because tithing on your non-agricultural paycheck just ain’t in the Bible!

Then, the next year, give 10% from your garden and your chickens to the poor.

In fact, if you are poor, widowed, orphaned, an alien or without property, tell that pastor that you were never expected to give a tithe, but instead were to receive the tithe!

Then, the next year, sell 10% of the produce from your land and take your family on a vacation, where you can wine and dine your spouse and have a good time with your kids and friends.

Because that, after all, is the tithe, the whole tithe, and nothing but the tithe!

55 responses

  1. My wife and I tithed for 35 years.

    When I learned it was extra-scriptural to the New Covenant we stopped. We started giving hilariously, out of a cheerful, thankful heart.

    Now we don’t have to approach a benevolence committee on behalf of the poor. We just whip out our wallet and help a brother, or sister, or unbelieving poor. Mainly we just listen for that still small voice, and the inner desire to give.

    There is joy when a gift isn’t required, mandated, or coerced. A gift given out of joy, will never bring regret.

    Likely, motivated by the Spirit, one will give way more than a simple tithe. And giving can include any resource, even our time and assistance. Giving is a way of life for the Christian.

    Blessings, bd

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    • I agree, Bruce. The NT standard is not some obligatory tithe, but to give cheerfully as the Lord puts it on your heart to do so. The irony is that some years, after I stopped tithing, I ended up giving more than 10%. Now my wife and I give as God brings real needs to our attention, as a good stewards and where we know it will make a difference. We have seen much fruit, and it brings joy, where before it was drudgery and bondage and there was very little stewardship as it went into some offering plate black hole to support overhead, budgets, programs, buildings and the like.The lives my wife and I have been able to impact for the Kingdom of God have been awesome now that we are free to give under the New, and not the Old, Covenant! It truly is liberating.

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    • Here’s the basic truth: All money is God’s! He owns us and all that we have. “The cattle on a thousand hills are Mine,” He tells us. What this means in practice is that we should not frivolously waste what God has enabled us to earn, but should superintend it wisely so that we will have the means to give to those who need it. God knows what each person needs, and He also knows those who are listening to His voice and whose wise use of the funds entrusted to them will enable them to give. I want to live in such a way that I can and will respond to the needs around me whenever God prompts me to give appropriately.

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  2. I’ve heard of churches that have ATM machines in them – I presume for when conviction falls on the congregations concerning being obedient with tithing – striking while the iron is hot, so to speak

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  3. Those who tithe unknowingly attempt to put themselves back under the law, which Jesus nailed to the tree. And the words of Malachi should never be heard from the modern pulpit as it is Old Testament to the max.

    There are no curses from God for the believer. He removed them all in Christ. Take care of your family or you are ‘worse than an infidel.’ Once you’ve done that find a place to bless others. Jesus said the poor are with us always. If this is not the case, we are probably not in the right place.

    James 1:27 NIV: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

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  4. This is one of those truths that is so difficult to address in the face of centuries of repeated misinformation. When the receiver of the tithe has a vested interest in believing in the now-traditional perspective that “this you should do while not leaving the other undone,” it’s easy to understand how that is the preferred interpretation (and why there is no energy applied to digging in to the truth as you have done).

    Another aspect of the laziness of a focus on the “numbers” is the loss of clarity in the relationship with the Father. We are called to hear from Him and respond to His still small voice, not to obey a dry rule.

    I do find an analysis of giving to see how our overall giving compares to Abram’s honoring tithe to Melchizedek to be helpful in understanding how well we may be listening to the Father, but there are certainly no rules!

    By the way, I think a bit of analysis into the “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” verse in Malachi would be a nice addition to what you’ve posted here.

    Nicely done!
    ssh

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    • Steve, if you’d like, try substituting the words “Jesus Christ” for “the whole tithe” in Malachi 3:10 and see what you think.

      Especially the desired end state God envisions in Malachi 3:16-18 (which surprisingly to me was NOT that they started tithing).

      I think Malachi 3 is a beautiful fore-telling of Jesus founding the Church, His own possession.

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      • Tim, I like that… very interesting…

        I find it interesting that those who disagree with the sentiments of this post don’t seem to get that it’s not saying, “Don’t be generous.” It’s saying that there is no *requirement* for giving 1/10 of anything to a Christian church. Instead, we are called to be generous under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

        Of course, that’s far more challenging than following the rule of a law: give this much here all the time.

        I’ll take grace and the Spirit!

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        • If you notice Malachi is addressed to the priests. Its a message given to the priests. The priests are told to bring all the tithes into the store house. I believe the store house is the people in need, the poor, the widows, the homeless, the orphans.

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  5. Jim, the following is an extract which I wrote down from a book I read many years ago. The author of the book was a member of the Seventh Day Adventists but I cannot recall his name or the book’s title. Nevertheless, I believe it reinforces your article -

    1. By means of the Old Testament sacrificial system, the priest and the people were taught to abhor sin and to shun it. When a man sinned inadvertently, or through error, he was required to bring a sacrificial animal to the temple as a sin offering. After the animal was sacrificed, the priest placed the blood on the horns of the sacrificial altar and then ate part of the flesh in the Holy Place.

    2. However, the sacrificial system became perverted after a time. Firstly, the sinner came to think that his offering paid for his sin, and if he only brought an offering every time he sinned, all would be well. Repentance and true sorrow for sin were absent from the hearts of the people, and they came to believe that, no matter what their sin, it could be dealt with by the presentation of a gift. Their attitude of heart played no part. As a result, “thousands of rams” and “ten thousand rivers of oil” were thought to be pleasing to God (MIC 6:7).

    3. Apart from this, the remuneration of the priests largely came from these sacrifices. Consequently, they came to regard the sacrifices as a means of income – a livelihood. In addition to the tithes they received, the priests kept a part of most of the sacrifices offered, as well as part of the other offerings.

    4. Accordingly, some of the priests became corrupted and saw great advantage in encouraging the people to sin and, as a result, make more offerings (HOS 4:8; 1 SAM 2:13-17). The situation became so serious that during the feasts, when as many as 1 000 000 visitors came to Jerusalem, the priests could not handle all the individual sacrifices involved, and they encouraged the pilgrims to convert their animal offerings into cash. They were then advised to leave this cash as temple money with the priests. The priests then, at their convenience, offered the sacrifice which the money called for. This changing of common money into temple money was another large source of income for the priests. This is why Jesus later referred to the temple as “a den of thieves” (MATT 21:13). The pharisees and sadducees, supposedly holy men, also came to be corrupt (MATT 23:14).

    5. Because the priests lost sight of the original purpose of offerings, and allowed perversion to come in, it became necessary for God to send warnings to them. As instruments of this, God used prophets (1 SAM 15:22). Consequently, a very bitter struggle ensued between the priests and the prophets (JER 7:1-4; MAL 2:1-9). The prophets also told the people to change their ways (JER 7:5-23; ISA 1:11-17; AMOS 5:21-22; MIC 6:6-8; LUKE 3:7-9). Absolute hatred against the prophets sprang up among many of the priests – they hated the men sent to rebuke them. Much of the persecution of the prophets in the Old Testament was initiated by the priests. It was more the priests than the people who opposed and persecuted the prophets. Likewise, it was the priests, the scribes and the pharisees who opposed Christ (MATT 23:29-36).

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  6. We tithed for 11 years and didn’t see the many benefits promised by pastor after pastor: mounting debt and sickness after sickness, over a decade of ‘just barely’ living. Over the past few months I’ve been reading about how if the Israelits couldn’t get to the temple, God commanded them to throw a huge party! So we used our 10% this time to fund a glory party next month and go to Disney World. Next month it’ll go towards a huge love offering to the ministers who are speaking at the party and to help some struggling friends. If you’re going to give, have fun with it!

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  7. While I wholeheartedly agree that tithes are not part of the NT, and are indeed part of the corruption that the cross stabs at the heart of, I must disagree with the tone of the article, which seems to imply “Yay we don’t have to give anything!’ I would instead encourage giving to more practical sources, like Habitat for Humanity. BTW, I wish my 10% paid for a trip to Walt Disney World. We’ve been saving for two years to go there, and I consider myself financially stable…

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    • Melissa, thanks for taking the time to respond! As I commented above, the New Testament certainly calls on us to give, but only as the Lord puts it on our hearts to do so. For some of us, this results in more than 10% that was otherwise required in the Old Testament under the tithe.

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  8. But what about Jesus saysin Matthew 19:21“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

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  9. I certainly appreciate the fresh look into a teaching that can easily be misunderstood. I realize that challenging existing thoughts can require a lot of courage. However, as a tither, I caution people not to assume the worst of intentions from their pastors. While we all can point to people who are in ministry for the wrong reasons, there are plenty of people in ministry who do promote the tithe that are not doing it for selfish gain but based on their understanding of Scripture and tradition. Therefore, give based on your conviction but please do not assume wrong motives even if it is wrong theology, thanks!

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  10. Giving rather than tithing is one of the things the Spirit of God taught me when I left my old church of 20 years, four years back. Above is a comment by Rory. I cannot help but wonder if this commenting Rory is the brother in California that wrote the book: The Tithe that Binds, by Rory O. Moore. Rory sent me a couple of copies of his book. He also gave the “rights” to the book to a ministry. Somehow, the book in it’s entirety ended up online and “for Free”. It’s a blessing to see the work of God go forward, each time we stand up to error and refute it, in favor of God’s true intentions. Fewer Crystal Cathedrals, more local fellowships, with money to meet needs that didn’t go to wrong places. The blessing of God, it maketh rich and adds no sorrow. Thanks Jim Wright, bd

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  11. Throughout Hebrews it says Jesus is a priest forever in the order (pattern) of Melchizedek who only did 3 things according to the bible: 1- Established relationship, 2- Blessed Abraham, & 3- Recieved the tithe.

    Now should it be forced or “lawish”, or connected to being cursed if you do not do it? NO. Has the principle been abused and misunderstood? Yes.

    However, if we claim Jesus as our high priest then that means tithing is DEFINITELY a New Testament standard.

    Also, if we are MORE BLESSED than old testament children of God (which we clearly are) then it would totally make sense for us to GIVE MORE. To begin nit picking at how much to give is to miss the heart of new testament giving in the first place.

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  12. Anonymous, am a bit unsure about your conclusion that since we claim Jesus is our new high priest then we must tithe. You are trying to mix the physical elements of the Old Testament with the spiritual elements of the New Testament or putting old wine into new wineskins.

    The Old Testament tithes were taxes on agricultural produce alone and never on money. And this was limited to produce from within Israel alone. And it was not the standard of giving in the Old Testament any more than the taxes we pay to our respective governments today is. So your call for us to “give more than the Old Testament tithes” is clearly unbiblical.

    The call to give in the New Testament is to give as you able as the bible clearly states that anything we give is acceptable as far as we give it willingly and cheerfully. It does not have to be more than the so called 10% before it is acceptable.

    PS
    It would be practically impossible though to use the Old Testament tithes as a New Testament giving standard because contrary to popular opinion, the Old Testament tithes were not calculated using percentages but by virtue of their position.

    The crops were grouped into 10 equal parts and the tenth one separated as the tithe. For the tithe of animals, every tenth animal was separated as the tithe and in the event there was not tenth animal one could not tithe. So if for instance one had 9 sheep, one could not tithe because there was no tenth sheep and the tenth sheep remained one’s tithe if one had anything between 10 to 19 sheep and so on.

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    • 1. I never “called” for us to give more nor did I say it was a biblical mandate. So there was NOTHING unbiblical in what I said. I simply said it would make sense. And again so many nit pick at how much versus capture the heart of new testament giving.

      2. If this is your view please explain what “in the order of Melchezidek” means…

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  13. Melchezidek received a booty from recovery of stolen goods of war. This was not any type of Abrahamic personal tithe. Matter of fact, Abraham kept none, zero, nada of the booty, he simply returned it to the rightful owners. Now if only all those pastors who have my tithe from the past 35 years would do the same, my wife would be very happy.

    This is what happens when we don’t read the scripture for ourselves, we get hood-winked. Deut. 12 and 14 talk of Eating the Tithe, which sounds sacriligious. God wanted us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. This tithe was to become a banquet before the Lord honoring not only him but us, our sons and daughters, our menservants and our maidservants, and the Levite within our gate.

    Later in the same vein, the widow and the orphan are also included. Never heard that preached from the pulpit of the tithe-demanding Malachi-curse-spouting preacher. Go ahead and read it. Take a razorblade with you, just in case you want to slice those sentences from the pages of your holy writ. (grin)

    Blessings to all, especially the widow and the orphan, there are no more Levites, we’ve taken their place in the new covenant.

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    • As stated I clearly disagree with the teaching of the curse tied to tithing or not. I would also like to hear what you believe what “in the order of Melchezidek” means

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  14. The writer of the book of Hebrews was trying to show to the Jewish Christians that there was an Old Testament precedent for a non-levite becoming a high priest.

    Melchizedek was already a high priest before the law came into existence and we understand from scripture that this was not by virtue of his birth or his lineage. The order of Melchizedek simply means that Jesus’ preisthood and that of Melchizedek belonged to the same rank i.e. The same parameters that were used to select Melchizedek as a high priest were the same parameters used to select Jesus. And this had nothing to do with tithing.

    The mention of Abraham tithing to Melchizedek was just proof that this priesthood before the law was valid and it was not to make a case for tithing in the new testament church.

    God bless.

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    • Thanks for your input, Tony. We are totally in sync on this. In addition, Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek was a one time event. There is no indication at all that it extended beyond the spoils from a specific battle that Abraham won, or that Abraham ever gave anything else to Melchizedek. And there is nothing in the New Testament which extends the practice of giving a 10th of the spoils of war to the church or anyone else! At best, those who claim otherwise are arguing from silence (in the NT, that it’s not excluded, or in the OT, that there’s nothing which says Abraham didn’t continue to tithe on more than that one battle ) or from an assumed implication (by mentioning Melchizedek, the author of Hebrews also indirectly intended to endorse tithing), which are very weak exegetical positions.

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  15. Following is a well written paragraph from the Official Assembly of God Webpage. Proof that even in our day, the Malachi Curse continues within an entire denomination. My best friend and his family were Assembly, so I was exposed to much of their doctrine in my later adolesence. I attended for a period of time, about six months, but decided not to join based on a little yellow card which I had to sign to become a member. It discussed such topics as watching movies, mixed bathing, smoking, and a few other things. Yes, legalism. That is when I continued to look for the place where I might fit on Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Following is a link to the AOG Tithing article and a sample paragraph:

    (http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_06_tithing.cfm)

    What is the position of the Assemblies of God on tithing?

    The Assemblies of God has always been a proponent of tithing (or giving one-tenth of one’s personal income to support the work of God). We believe tithing is a recognition that everything we have comes from God. The practice checks our greed, promotes personal discipline and thrift, testifies to our faith, promotes God’s work in the world, and alleviates human need. While we do not believe tithing to be a condition for salvation, we do believe it is a very important biblical model, one which should set the minimal standard for Christian giving for people in all income ranges.

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  16. Blurb from AOG Website front page: Currently the Assemblies of God USA and Assemblies of God organizations around the world make up the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination with some 64 million members and adherents.

    Concerning correcting the teaching of God’s folks to tithe….. we’re gonna need a bigger blog, okay Jim? Also, just for fun I visited Google on Southern Baptist Denominations teaching and it is much the same as AOG.

    I spent many years involved in a local Faith type Church, you know, name it and claim it. The pastor was out of the Assemblies but had gone non-denom, switching his allegiance not from earth to heaven, but from Springfield to Tulsa, (little joke). Naturally, tithing was a big part of receiving the blessings.

    I saw many poor folks giving a tithe, who really needed to be on the receiving end of the members generosity. Much of the cash from that church went to buying more and more property. And the financials which were once public and posted monthly, vanished. One of those little red flags we sometimes see, and often ignore, to our own detriment. I recommend being a giver, but not a tither. Give with joy, not by some archaic rules to another people in another time.

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  17. Jim – very well written. God bless you. I wrote a note on this topic on my Facebook page and attracted lots of criticisms, ‘hate’ mails and phone calls from people in different nations. At the same time, there were so many who were glad to see a write-up on this topic. I was also sent many links to blogs and books written about this. I believe the Spirit of God is bringing attention once again to this practice, so that those who have ears will hear what the Spirit is saying.
    God bless you.
    Charles

    The write-up was posted on September 25, 2011 and was titled – TITHES, TITHING AND GIVING – WHICH COVENANT ARE YOU SUBSCRIBED TO?

    https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150318414406428

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  18. I love tithing plus. I’ve tithed for about 30 years plus giving beyond that. Part of it depends on your view of the local church. If you belong to a church that is embarrassingly rich and spends on all kinds of things to keep up with the Jones, then I might not tithe either. However, I belong to a small church and I love to give and tithe there (and other places). God gives me 100% which I’m accountable for, so why wouldn’t I want to strongly support my church and pastor. By the way, God always provides for us and we’ve never even been late on a bill through unemployment, under employment and disasters.
    We feel that giving like this makes a statement to the spiritual realm that we depend on God and not our job or other sources. It’s definitely not legalism. Why would I want to divert most of my money to some outside agency when I am an integral part of my church?

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  19. If we give in the measure Jesus gave, it is our all. I have been moved at times to give my entire paycheck and even once the grocery money. God supplied so wonderously during those times that I have become convinced that He is not a grundging Giver. He overloads us with blessing and we? We are His conduits.

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  20. The local church has electricity bills, insurance, maintenance etc. I’m sure the holy spirit would want us to be responsible and disciplined to help pay the bills as we enjoy the privilege of worshipping together as well as giving generously whenever possible to whoever is in need,always following the supreme example of Jesus giving even his life to people who couldn’t care less!

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  21. I beleive this is a good NT perpective
    New Testament Principle (best vitamin for a Christian b-1)

    2 Corinthians 8(1-15)(N.L.T) 1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but also far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. 6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. 7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us. I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. 8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. 9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. 10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,” Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,
    and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

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  22. What about what Jesus Himself said? “For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these (justice and love of God or judgment, mercy, faith), and not to have left the other (tithe) undone” (Luke 11:42, Matthew 23:23). God wants us to give because He is a giver. That is what we are really learning. Now, does that ‘giving’ (tithe and offerings) go to a church, the widows and poor, or the body of Christ (other believers that are the church)? It’s not clear. But it is clear that we give.

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    • It is clear that we are to give. The comment/passage by Kashabba just before your comment makes that point very wonderfully.

      But the passage you cite is directed at the Pharasees and religious leaders who were opposing Jesus under the Old Covenant, and Jesus was simply pointing out that they themselves were not living up to the dictates of the Old Covenant by which they were trying to judge Him.

      I see no basis in those passsages for concluding that Jesus was telling us to also live up to the dicates of the Old Covenant. His comments were directed at the Old Covenant, not the New!

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  23. It’s very rare for me to make the time to read every comment on a blog, but this was just too good to pass on. I appreciate all the comments made and am myself at a bit of an impasse as to which I feel more led to do – to tithe or not. I’ve done both. Am tithing currently with my husband and what we are coming to realise is that we need to be making these decisions based not only on what the church in general teaches, or what books we may have read or podcasts we’ve listened to, but to also learn for ourselves what Holy Spirit is trying to teach us through this particular practice. My current status is that I shall continue to tithe but am also very encouraged and challenged to now spend more time reading the scriptures to search this matter out for myself, rather than assuming that those who seem to know more are actually right. Thanks for such a lively and honourable thread everyone – refreshing that there’s been so little ‘niggly’ comments thrown at one another: a true testament to how we should really be treating one another :)

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    • An impasse that makes us cry out for the Holy Spirit to teach and lead us, and drives us to search out scripture for ourselves and then dialogue corporately while struggling to bear with one another.

      Almost feels like we’ve been set up.

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  28. When did you throw out the old testament? Does not the new covenant hinge all things on the old? Where was you when the Gentiles became grafted into the olive tree? You focus is on money. The truth is Mamon is a god of pagans and all whom value their money it is an idol to them. When did you become able to tell God that he said you did not have to give anymore? Your scripture is without end as you tell lies all through it. There is tithing in the new testament in many passages but here is one of the best. acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. you say there is no tithe then why would they need to sell all they have. Matt 19:23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Who are you to say what is of the Law and what is a commandment. Jesus said i come not to destroy the Laws but fulfill them. Then Romans tells us 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
    So where is your real support. If you shall say we are not of the law and then throw out the commandments as well then you shall have your own end. Those who teach others to do wrong will see the flame.
    The Lord wants a cheerful giver yes and we out to give Jesus the things of the Father. You say it is the Pastor or the minister but it is his job to teach you. If Paul lived today you would say he was wanting money to travel and share the gospel to all the world and you felt like you shouldn’t help him.
    If you do not want to dedicate your life and teach others the gospel. Day and night. DO the job which the Lord has appointed, yes the Lord Jesus whom you do not wish to pay anything appointed someone to lead. As he did Peter, as he did Paul.
    You need to give all you have today and leave it at the Alter or You will not see the Kingdom of heaven. If money means that much to you that you want to stop giving even a tenth, you should give everything you own. You are not your own but bought with a price.
    repent of your ways and I can tell you this as I am not collecting anything from you. You can not have two masters.
    If the Lord has fulfilled the tithe then why does his promise stand? He says full Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. straight from Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
    The Father can not change therefore his promise stands. Give to him and you shall be rewarded. therefore is his promise stands then his message does also. My info is at the bottom. I can share more at anytime.

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  29. excellent post. I did my own in-depth study of the tithe some years ago, and came to the same sort of conclusions. I would add this one addition: the Old Testament is still a shadow of things to come, and so there is value in those same scriptures to understand God’s heart in our giving. So, if we view the Levites and temple in the OT as shadows of what was to come in the NT, it can aid us understand God’s heart in our giving (when we let the Holy Spirit illuminate His Word). Lest any think I am saying anything about coming under the law, I am not. Such a way of viewing the OT means a dependence on the Holy Spirit. I have done this on a number of occasions. The way this plays out in my own life is this: I give as led by the Holy Spirit, but from time to time I look in the mirror of the word on giving (which includes OT, since this is a shadow of things to come, and is useful for “doctrine, reproof and training in righteousness.”) So, as I look into the mirror of the word, I check if there is something important that I am missing by asking myself various questions — e.g. Is all my giving toward Levites, do I miss the poor? Or vice versa? Who are the true Levites around me who I should be giving towards? And other similar questions that come to me as I read the Word.

    With this approach when people ask me about tithing, I usually do not answer for them whether they should tithe or not (give 10%), but I do point out the same points that Jim made (showing that it’s not so clear cut as “tithe-to-the-local-church” teaching would have us believe), but then encourage them to read the scriptures on giving, both OT & NT, themselves, with the understanding that the OT was shadow of things to come, and let the Holy Spirit speak. Some come away feeling they want to give 10%, but it’s often not simply to the so-called local church, but especially also includes the poor. Sometimes, they come away deciding they will do as many have commented on this post, that they will give as the Spirit leads, and this can actually lead to a lot more than 10% (but really it doesn’t matter if it does or not, if it’s led by the Spirit – 2 Cor 9:7).

    Finally, an example from my own devotional life about learning from OT scriptures as a type and shadow: at one point when I was puzzling over the issues of giving to large ministries with which I have no relationship, I happened to read that God told the Israelites to “eat” part of the tithe with “the Levites from your towns” (I believe this was the part that Jim described as a “party” or “vacation”). Again, as a shadow this may mean different things to different people, but what I got from that is that the tithe is relational. They were to eat it with Levites from their town who they knew. That is, they were to invite these Levites to dinner. Having been burned by giving to big ministries whom I have no relationship, I’ve since decided to aim most, if not all of my giving towards people I actually know, or have some relationship, who are open to my speaking into their life, and vice versa. In practice, it also includes people in my relational network (friends of friends). This does not mean I would never give to a stranger, but I am more likely to give to a stranger due to an obvious need, not a stranger who claims to be “a Levite” (i.e. someone who has devoted themselves to caring for the Body of Christ, which the Temple was a type and shadow). Again, understanding the OT in this way doesn’t saddle me with “laws” (hard and fast rules), but with wisdom that helps me avoid poor choices in my giving, and also to not miss God’s heart in the process (or if I do miss His heart, to be reminded of it as I delve into the Word).

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