I remember hearing the phrase “tithes and Offerings” many times when I first became a Christian at age 25. I know that many churches teach that the 10% tithe still applies today. I am convinced that if you pause, pray, and place the presuppositions about the tithe aside you will clearly see that it does not apply today. Furthermore you will see that we are to view 100% as God’s so our giving is to be even more generous!
Now before we begin I want to apply the classic method to teaching that I believe helps, especially when a topic such as this many people come with a belief that can cloud their understanding. At the end of this post at least if you disagree you know what it is that I put forward that you disagree with. The classic approach is this:
First, I am going to tell you what I am going to tell you. Then I am going to tell you in detail. Then I am going to tell you what I told you.
Here is what I am going to tell you:
I believe that our duty as Christians today is to be based on the principle that ALL we have is God’s and not ours. Then: (1) We do not legalistically tithe 10%; (2) We should never give to get; (3) Give generously; (4) give cheerfully; (5) give sacrificially (6) give according to your means.
Time to tell you:
First, I want to provide you a very simple timeline to keep in mind whenever you read the supposed commands in the Bible about the tithe. When you do this you will clearly see that there is not one single command for us to tithe that applies today. In fact I will issue you a challenge! If you find one command that you think commands us to tithe today post it in the comments section. But before you get too excited to prove it, here is the timeline to use as a grid to place the Bible verse through:
Let’s use this figure as a grid and take a look at some verses in each giving phase in the Bible. Again remember that the Bible is 66 Books that cover a 1500 year span as noted in my post here and here on How We Got The Bible.
Exodus 25:1-3 – “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.”
You can see here that the Lord moved in people’s hearts to give in order to build the tabernacle and pieces used in it before the Temple was built.
First note that the word “tithe” means 10%. So we see under the Old testament Law that the Lord gave to the Israelites that in order for them to live in the Promised Land He commanded the people to give 10% of everything. And this “everything” was to be the “first fruits” and not the “leftovers”.
Leviticus 27:30 – “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord ; it is holy to the Lord”
This served as an act of worship to remember that the land is the Lord’s and He was the one that gave it and divided it among the 11 tribes of Israel. But wait weren’t there 12 tribes? Yes! The Levites did not get any of the Promise Land to own and live off of for their support came from a portion of the 10% offering:
Numbers 18:20-21 – “The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.”
As you can see anytime that you have a command by Jesus to tithe it is because He is fulfilling the law! If Jesus would have not tithed or not commanded to tithe than He would have not been sinless. Friends, He also gave animal sacrifices and commanded that as well and that does not apply today! Post resurrection verses about giving are the commands for us in the church age because that is exactly when they were given.
This continues throughout Israel’s history all of the way up to the last book of the Old Testament Malachi:
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 1
Ah, here is our phrase “Tithes and offerings” that I would often hear.
NT Command for the Church:
Below I am going to dive into this topic with reference numbers at the end of every sentence that corresponds to a list of Bible verses at the end of the post. So print this out or scroll and read each verse:
So with this background in mind, why is there so much confusion in the church today on the topic of giving and the Christian’s responsibility? Much of this confusion is due in a large part to the fact that there is much Biblical illiteracy in the church today. Add to this, false teachers that act as if giving is tied directly to God “financially blessing the believer” even though the Bible teaches exactly the opposite! ; thus today the sad state of Christians giving not as an act of worship but an act of greed. Listen to my teaching here on the False Teachers and you may be surprised who is on there!
There is another reason for confusion that is not that easy to detect at first, and is demonstrated by the timeline above. This has to do with the fact that the 66 books of the Bible is a library of God’s progressive revelation to His creation over 1500 years.
In the Bible the concept of the tithe is taught in many places, so many Christians wrongly believe that this law applies to them. However, once I place the Bible in a timeline, you will clearly see that the tithe no longer applies to us today. As a matter of fact, you will not find the tithe taught in the New Testament!
The tithe was a tax on the Israelites to pay for the temple work of the Levites who were to serve the Lord at the tent of meeting and eventually the temple. The Levites were the only tribe of the twelve to not receive physical territory in the promise land. The Levites were the only ones who were able to serve, and the High Priest was the only one who could enter behind the curtain in the most holy of holies once a year to make atonement for the nation of Israel.
Now, enter the Lord Jesus who fulfilled the law and the prophets. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross and said that “it is finished” the curtain that separated God in the most holy of holies from man was torn in two for now Jesus is our high Priest making intercession for us daily. Moreover, God no longer speaks through priests for we are all part of the priesthood of all believers if we profess Jesus Christ as our Savior! What’s more, in the Old Testament only the prophets the priests and the Kings would be temporarily filled with the Holy Spirit for service. But today, we are all filled with the Holy Spirit and given gifts for service the moment we accept Jesus’ payment for our sins on the cross with the expectation that we will use those gifts.
So how are we to give? What are we to give? We are to give our time, our talents, and our treasures (1) Generously, (2) Sacrificially, (3) Cheerfully, (4) As the Lord leads, and (5) With Pure motives. All of these should have the goal of bringing praise to God. In many ways we have more responsibility today in the New Testament then the Israelites had in the Old Testament. We have Spiritual gifts that we are expected to use and we are not to merely “pay a 10% tax” but hold out our hands knowing that God owns it all. Think about it. Can a man who makes $100 million a year with no debt giving $10 million a year really be giving sacrificially? What about the man’s time using his Spiritual gifts? But for someone who makes $30,000 a year, has debt to pay off as an act of obedience, and a family to take care of giving $3,000 a year can be very sacrificial. It can actually be an act of disobedience if he or she does not pay off debt, or take care of family needs, in order to obey a tithe that they are not called to obey! However, this person has Spiritual gifts to use and time to give, both of which are of great value to the Kingdom. In fact for this person 3% of his or her salary could be considered sacrificial giving! Moreover, giving of your time using your spiritual gifts is very sacrificial since time is one resource that is truly finite.
In Short, What did I just tell you?
We all have to give not out of compulsion or reluctantly because God loves when we are cheerful givers giving back to Him a portion of the blessing He has given to us. Also, we are to give as we can and in accordance with our income to missionaries and the local church, while helping people in need.
1 Peter 5:2-3 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
James 4:3 – When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Proverbs 28:25 – A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
1 Corinthians 6:10 – nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Timothy 6:8-10 – But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Ephesians 5:5-6 – For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Matthew 23:25-26 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
1/10 or 10%.
Numbers 18:20-22 – The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.
Leviticus 16:34 – “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”
Matthew 5:17-18 – “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.
Matthew 27:50-51 – And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God…
Hebrews 4:14 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,
1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…
1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1Corinthians 12 – 14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 – And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Proverbs 11:25 – A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
2 Corinthians 9:11-14 – You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Romans 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…
1 Timothy 5:8 – If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Acts 11:29-30 – The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.