This is my response to a post at Slaughter of the Sheep on Creflo Dollar and something he said on tithes. I am not supporting what he said, but I was defending the position of tithing. For some reason it surprises me that people reject the concept of tithing so much, but to each their own. I question the intent of not tithing when there is such a legalist approach to defending it. Just say you don’t feel like God wants you to tithe and be done with it. My opinion though.
Actually the term tithe means tenth, which is the percentage of his increase that Abraham gave to Melchizdek. It is true, that it is only mention once that Abraham gave a tenth to a spiritual authority. It is only mentioned once that Jacob gave a tenth to God as well. But now we have two different people that gave a tenth to God.
Back track to Cain and Abel, both brought an offering but only one was acceptable. Cain’s offering was not rejected because it was of vegetation, it was rejected in the spirit in which it was given. Abel gave of the first of his increase and gave the best of what he had to give. Abel gave cheerfully where as Cain did not. This is the first offering, so following the Law of Firsts, we will see how God honors the first fruits offering and a cheerful offering.
Abraham also gave a first fruits offering, following tradition, but he gave a certain percentage to a man who represented God. Another Law of Firsts here. Now he gave a tenth of all that he had, so that would be food, livestock as well as material possessions. Everything else he gave to the government authorities.
Jacob was a bit different in his tenth. His vow was that he would give God a tenth of all that God has given him if God would be with him and keep him, give him bread to eat and clothing to wear so he could go back to his father’s house. Now you could say that God is our father by adoption and say that this would apply to us if we choose to follow the vow. You can be literal and say this was between Jacob and God and was limited until he returned to Isaac. Your choice.
You mention Deuteronomy 14:22-29 which is a neat passage. This passage starts out with the tenth being used in a feast with God. You are to celebrate the increase that God gave you with Him. If it is too far to travel with the goods, you convert it to money and travel then buy stuff for the feast when you get to the place where God chooses. You are still taking the tenth and using it to honor God. And verse 29, you give a tenth of all your increase to provided for the Levities. A common theme. The people are to provide for those who represent God in a ministerial function.
If you want to go back to the establishment of the tithes, being plural, to the tabernacle and later temple it was for the provision of the priests. No money was given them as all was provided by the nation. A national religion. They had no rent or utility payments. There was no need for money. There was not just one tithe. A tenth was given for various sins in addition to the tenth given for the yearly increase. The levities even gave a tenth on the tenth that they were given by the people. The spirit is that a tenth is given from the increase to honor god. A tenth is a significant portion. You later see a tenth being the unite of measurement that the King was to collect from the people as a tax for the nation. The tenths to the priests still continued though.
We have the most quoted tithing verses in Malachi 3. God is talking about being robbed in tithes and offerings. No longer being limited to just a tenth, we now have offerings added on top of it. Now was God only wanting the money going so the priests could focus on the work of ministering to his people? If that is the case, doesn’t it still hold true for today? Maybe it was the spirit in which people were operating in. Perhaps they were not honoring God with their material possession, instead placing all of their trust in them instead of God. I think Jesus alluded to this somewhere =D
Now Jesus admonished the Pharisees, the legalistic religious people, for giving exactly what was required for the temple. Neither more nor less. They put more emphasis on following the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. They focused on acts that were works based instead of acting out of love and service to others. When the poor woman gave, Jesus pointed out how she gave out of her poverty. The woman trusted God to provide for her.
There was a money keeper with Jesus and money was given to the apostles for the church. Paul openly asked for money in order to support the church and believers around the world, so giving money to the church is not a bad thing.
Now back to Abraham. While he only gave once, it was mention twice in the Bible. The man who lived by faith and gave money to Melchizdek who’s priesthood Jesus is from is mentioned twice for such a random occurrence. Interesting.
I don’t hold that everyone is required to give a tenth of their increase to God in order to be faithful. I hold that God made promises to those that want to honor Him with the tenth plus offerings out of the willingness of their heart. If you don’t want to, then don’t. There is nothing written that says you will be struck down or cursed for not doing so. It is not a sin, unless you put it into the love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul. That is between you and God though and I will not be passing judgment. If you want to defend the fact that the tithe is no longer legally required, make sure you are not taking a legalistic approach in your justification.