Hello and welcome to episode 67 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and today we’re going to take the next 10 minutes or so to talk about tithing.
Tithing in the Christian church is the idea that as Christians we should give 10% of every increase we receive to God by giving it to the church. It’s a tradition that we adapted from the Old Testament teachings of giving tithe to The Temple as the Jews were commanded by God in the law. In reality there was more than one tithe required of the Jewish people. There was the requirement to give 10% of every increase, but there were also special tithes for different regularly occurring events as well. In the end it would turn out being more like at least 23% of an individual’s increase once every tithe was taken into account.
Some churches have taken to teaching that Christians aren’t required to tithe anymore with some going as far as teaching that Christians shouldn’t be “tithing” at all, only giving free-will offerings. On the flip side of that there are churches who take time every service to give a mini sermon about tithes and offerings. In most churches, not all, but most, there’s the passing of the offering plate and at least the appeal to give at every service. When speaking of giving to the church 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.” And if we back up to verse 5 we find Paul talking about a gift offering that the church in Achaia has promised to give when he came, “Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not as an extortion.”
Paul seemed to believe, and I agree, that putting people on the spot where their financial gift to the church or minister is one of compulsion instead of predetermined in their heart is extortion. That’s not to say though, that he didn’t advocate for weekly giving, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 says, “Now about the collection for the saints: Do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches. On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save, in keeping with how he is prospering, so that no collections will need to be made when I come.” The word translated as “prospering” there though isn’t quite accurate enough for my taste. What Paul wrote there was:
G2137 εὐοδόω euodoō yoo-od-o'-o From a compound of G2095 and G3598; to help on the road, that is, (passively) succeed in reaching; figuratively to succeed in business affairs: - (have a) prosper (-ous journey).
What Paul’s talking about here sounds a lot like tithing to me, taking an accounting of your giving on the first day of the week according to how you’re succeeding in business affairs. Paul never actually used the word tithe there, but he wouldn’t would he? Paul’s ministry focused on the Gentiles, not those who had been raised being taught the law from birth.
The tithe itself was instituted to support the temple on a regular basis so that the temple priests could devote their lives to ministering to the Lord on behalf of the people and to minister to the people on behalf of the Lord. Today, in modern Christianity, we’ve replaced the temple with churches and the duty of the priests with that of pastors. Though, all who have placed their faith in Christ are now a part of the priesthood. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Some have claimed that this alone is the reason that the tithe is no longer needed, but in Leviticus the priesthood would receive the tithe of the people as their possession and in turn they would each then tithe 10% of what they received back to the temple to be used in maintaining the temple and ministering to the people, so 1 Peter 2:9 wouldn’t actually get rid of tithing since the priests also tithed. Paul, the same Paul we read earlier who advocates weekly giving to the church, teaches in Romans that we have been redeemed from the law by Christ. To me it would seem then, that since the tithe is part of the law that would technically mean that we aren’t then required to tithe.
But, when we take another look at tithing in the bible, the first recorded tithe was given without requirement before the law on tithing was given. In Genesis 14 Abraham gives a tithe to Melchizedek the King and High Priest of Salem. The second time tithe is brought up, still before required by the law, in Genesis 28 Jacob vows to give 10% of everything he receives from that point on to God. In Malachi 3:10-11 it says, ““Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way, see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
So Paul, the one who teaches that we are no longer under the law, advocates for weekly giving according to how you’ve succeeded in business, but doesn’t specify how much to give. The tithe itself isn’t required anymore under the law, but in Malachi God tells us that when we tithe it gives Him opportunity to bless us without measure and to rebuke the devourer so that it cannot ruin the produce of our work. How much you give is ultimately up to you, 10%, more than that, less than that. When deciding whether or not, and how much to give keep in mind 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 that says, “The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.”
My wife and I tithe and my personal recommendation is that you tithe as well. That you give at least 10% of the value of everything you receive to God through a church. However, you need to decide what is right between you and God for your giving; not because I say so, or out of dedication to some perceived religious requirement, or even to receive something back in return. The blessings that God will pour out on you, the things you will reap, may not even be something that can even be deposited in a bank, or even anything physical at all. Ultimately, you’re giving should be planned ahead and budgeted; not done out of compulsion. It should be done joyfully as an act of worship.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”