Tithing and Giving

I was surprised to see how many Christian blogs are dedicated to opposing the tithe. The one I found today was denounced the tithe, but they mainly focused on denouncing those people who would bully people into tithing by declaring that those who do not tithe would basically loose their salvation.

I have to agree, that those who make claims should be stopped. That message is harmful and puts people into a place of fear of God. Why would you do that to someone?

I have written about tithing before and let me start out that there is no requirement that the Christian much tithe.

Each of you must give what you have decided in your heart, not with regret or under compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.  (2Co 9:7)

The New Testament principle of giving is to be cheerful and give what it is that you want to give. If you want to give a little, then give a little. If you want to give much, than give much. Let what ever you give to the Church be given cheerfully or do not give at all. Easy enough isn’t it?

So the legal requirement of the tithe(s) established under Moses is not required of any Christian. Now the Book of Hebrews makes reference to the tithe given by Abraham.

Now this man Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, met Abraham and blessed him when he was returning from slaughtering the kings. To him Abraham gave a tenth of everything. In the first place, his name means “king of righteousness,” and then he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” He has no father, mother, or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life. Like the Son of God, he continues to be a priest forever. Just look at how great this man was! Even Abraham-the patriarch himself-gave him a tenth of what he had captured! The descendants of Levi who accept the priesthood have a commandment in the law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their own brothers, even though they are also descendants of Abraham. But this man, whose descent is not traced from them, collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the man who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the less important person is blessed by the more important person. The men who collect the tenth die, but we are told that he keeps on living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, for he was still in the body of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.  (Heb 7:1-10)

The writer compares the tithe that was required under the Law to the tithe that was made by Abraham. Just as the covenant under Moses was inferior to the covenant under Abraham, so is the tithe under Moses inferior to the tithe that Abraham gave. There was no requirement for Abraham to give then and there is no requirement for us to give now. If we give, we give cause we want to give and not out of compulsion or legal requirement, in the same manner that Abraham gave to Melchizedek.

So why do people push for people to give a tithe or 10%?

Sometimes people just want money. There are several pastors and televangelist who are fighting to keep their career going and need your money to survive. They know that people want to be obedient and want to live for God, so they play on their fears and hopes in order to secure the resources that God has not provided them. It is a horrible practice that should never be condoned. This is why believers need to educate themselves on what God really says instead of being passive and just trusting whoever they are listening to.

Other people give because they feel that is what God wants them to do. That is why I give.

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.  (Deu 10:14)

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. (Psa 50:12)

The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. (Hag 2:8)

God is the owner of everything. There is not my things and God’s things. There is only God’s things. He will allow me to steward certain things, but they still belong to Him.

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.  (Pro 3:9-10)

Produce here is the Hebrew word tebuah. It means fruit, gain, increase, and revenue. This is not a law, but it is principal that if you honor God with the materials that He has entrusted to you, He will bless you with more. Now this isn’t give to get rich, because we do not know how much God has entrusted to us. This is give because you want to honor God.

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. (Hag 1:4-10)

When we honor ourselves before God, what we have comes to waste. Our needs and wants are never satisfied.

I think that the principal of why should be taught to believers. No where did any of the New Testament writers say the tithe went away. Paul removed the legal requirement from it and said it has to be cheerfully given.

We are also encouraged to give generously, so the 10% tithe is not the requirement of what to give. We are told to support those who minister to us, so it makes sense to give to the church that you attend.

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ The king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, in that you did it for one of the least important of these my brothers, you did it for me.’ (Mat 25:35-40)

We are called to continually give to others when there is a need, so the tithe is not the extent of what we are asked to give. This is still option and not legally required. My personal stance is that I attend who actively participates in outreaches to the local community and prisons as well as international. If your church does not, you need to ask the leadership why not. In addition to the tithe, which I know will be used to aid others I give in addition. This is my choice. I give to both Christian and secular groups, but these offerings are in excess of my tithe.

Remember that what we give should be from what we are moved to give. There is not to be compulsion or guilt conveyed to those who choose not to. There could be negative repercussions from not giving, but do not ever threaten people for not giving. God will deal with the hearts of all of us and how we deal with money, resources and every other thing we are given stewardship over.



Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

6 responses to “Tithing and Giving

  1. I really don’t see a problem with people giving to the church – but does the church see a problem with the people that give having a say in what the church focuses on? All’s fair I figure.

    I personally don’t give to a church because all the one’s I know really are quite limited in scope and my tithe is not accomplishing what is was given for. I see taxes as more like a tithe…they go to roads, hospitals, infrastrcuturem etc for everyone. Whereas a tithe in a church – where is that exactly going and what if where it is going is not something you support?

    I like to see taxes as giving because it is taken off the top of what I earn (my actual work) and given to all to share. I am not sure I can say that same thing about tithes in a church. However, tithes in the Tanakh seem to have some of the Socialist/Communalist tendency to them as well.

  2. I think you should be able to vocalize what areas you want the church to support, but I don’t think you can specify where they have to spend it. The leadership has the authority to make those decisions. Now if you don’t agree, I would switch churches. Find one that supports what you believe in.

    Churches should publish how they spend their money. There needs to be a level of accountability if for no other reason is to squash any claim that people are getting rich off of the tithes. If the church is unwilling, I would be curious as to why. Maybe they don’t have to be specific, but you should know what portion of the whole goes to salaries. How much to outreach efforts. See where they heart of the church lies.

    I don’t see it as much socialist or communism, but more humanitarian. You can see where some of the tithes went to support the priests, but also others who needed help. I think the church has lost some of this vision of supporting and helping others while they march to the drums of social change. Giving in the first church went to support the saints as a whole. Those believers who were being persecuted where being supported by the whole. If they could work they had to work, but those who couldn’t were helped out.

  3. You said, “If we give, we give cause we want to give and not out of compulsion or legal requirement, in the same manner that Abraham gave to Melchizedek.”

    No one gives in the same manner that Abraham gave to Melchizedek – a tenth of war spoils, and kept nothing for himself. Abraham gave it all away, not just a tenth. Furthermore, there is no example that Abraham ever gave a tenth of his regular income or wealth.

    In addition, Biblical historians agree that during the days of Abraham it was CUSTOM to give a tenth of war spoils to the King. Had Abraham not given the tenth, he would have gone against the customs of that time.

    Did God even want a tenth of war spoils? During the Mosaic law, God only required 1.1% of war spoils, not a tenth.

    Abraham’s giving of a tenth should not even be compared with God’s commands to tithe as they have nothing to do with each other.

    Giving a tenth of one’s income today is good, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the Biblical tithe which was on the miracles of God, not man’s income.

  4. But the tenth to Melchizedek and the giving of the remainder to the king of Sodom are two different actions. He gave the tenth to the priest of God after Melchizedek performed priestly duties. This was not a custom at the time. It might have been a custom to pay tribute, but the Bible doesn’t refer to it as tribute in either the New or Old Testaments. His actions toward the king of Sodom better reflect a custom, but he exceeded any normal amount to show that his provision was provided by God and not any king. We do not see Melchizedek asking for war spoils, but we do see Abraham giving them over after a time of worship to the Lord. Also, Abraham gave away all of an increase as he was already wealthy. This is not the same as someone giving away all of their paycheck if that is all they have to live on.

    “Giving a tenth of one’s income today is good, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the Biblical tithe which was on the miracles of God, not man’s income.”
    The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.
    (Hag 2:8)

    Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil–this is the gift of God.
    (Ecc 5:19)

    The miracle is that God provides us with resources in the first place as it is all His.

  5. The goods that Abraham gave the tenth from didn’t even belong to Abraham:

    Genesis 14:21 (NIV) – The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

    Notice in verse 21 the king of Sodom didn’t ask Abraham if he would give back to him the people, but rather said GIVE ME the people and keep the goods for yourself. The way that is worded indicates that the king of Sodom was claiming that the people and the goods belonged to him and those he represented.

    Genesis 14:22-24 (NIV) – 22But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

    Notice in verses 23 and 24 Abraham also acknowledges that the goods belonged to the king of Sodom and those he represented.

    Therefore, it is clear that both the king of Sodom and Abraham acknowledged that the spoils of war did NOT belong to Abraham, yet he gave a tenth of the spoils to King Melchizedek. This would seem that Abraham did something wrong, if not even illegal, but Biblical historians agree that it was custom in Abraham’s day to give the king a tenth of the war spoils. Had Abraham not given the tenth, he would have gone against custom.

    Conclusion: Abraham did NOT give a tenth of his income, or his wealth. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war that didn’t belong to him. That is NOT an example for Christians to follow today.

    The king of Sodom had an original right both to the persons and to the goods, and it would bear a debate whether Abram’s acquired right by rescue would supersede his title and extinguish it; but, to prevent all quarrels, the king of Sodom makes this fair proposal (v. 21).
    –Should the Church Teach Tithing by Dr. Russell Earl Kelly, pages 24-25

  6. Xander

    I do like your position, and it is somewhat compelling but I do not agree with it.

    In verse 21, instead of GIVE ME being a demand, could it not be a plea? The possessions that Abraham used to tithe to Melchizedek would have been a combination of the spoils taken from Sodom and Gomorrah plus anything that was taken into battle by the four kings that were attacking. The custom was that the spoils of war belong to the victor. This new king of Sodom, as the last one was slain when the possession were taken, was not in a position to demand anything from anyone, let alone from the force that just defeated the very people that took everything from Sodom. Keep the possessions, but please return the people, which would include family and friends of the king. Abraham went above the request to return the people to also returning possessions, not because they were owed to the king of Sodom, but so that no claim could be made that it was the material possessions of others that blessed Abraham but the Lord God almighty. In verse 24, Abraham is not giving back all of the possession, but only his share of the possessions which shows that the king does not have a rightful claim to the spoils.

    Notice that when Abraham references God in verse 22, he is now using the language and terminology used by Melchizedek. We do not know what vows might have been made when the tithe was given to God, but there is a change in Abraham’s view of God. Going back to Hebrews, the writer is clearly showing that the tenth gave to Melchizedek was not a tribute or a penalty for unlawful acts, but gave a tenth to a priest of God in the same manner that tithes were given under the Mosaic laws. The act of giving the tenth is in the same manner, but we are shown how the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than that of the Levitcal priesthood.

    Income is an increase in what we possess. Whether spoils of war or from working, it is still income.

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