Truth About Tithing

 


Tithing Truths: Preamble


Tithing is giving a tithe. And a tithe is one-tenth of the yearly increase. The Bible teaches the truth about tithing, but folks listen to wealthy TV evangelists who misquote Bible verses to fund extravagant lifestyles. They do not teach tithing truths. They run Ponzi Schemes which guilt folks with distorted Bible verses. Their prey give more because they tell them to believe for what they want and they will get it. 

Truth about tithing from the Bible Giving in the Bible shows up in two eras. The first starts with Israel drifting in the desert. It ends with Jesus' death. And the second begins with Jesus' resurrection and continues today. The sacrificial system God set up in phase one needed Israel to present agricultural crops and livestock, not money, as tithes. 

Why Tithing Introduced to Israel


Let’s examine phase one, the period before Jesus' death and resurrection. Through Moses, God set up tithing in Torah, among other reasons, to support Levites whom He did not give an allotment in the Promised land. He chose the Levites to minister to Israel. From the Levites, He chose Aaron's sons as priests in the Tent of Meeting. To provide for the Levites, the poor, widows, orphans, and to teach Israel to celebrate, commune with and revere Him, God introduced three tithes: Levitical, Poor, and Festive tithes.

  1. The Levitical tithe in Numbers 18:21-32 required tribes except Levi to give one-tenth of the increase in their agricultural crops and livestock to Levites. In return, Levites worked in the Tent of Meeting. Levites tithed from their tenth. In Numbers 18:20-22 (Complete Jewish Bible), ADONAI said to Aharon, "You are not to have any inheritance or portion in their land; I am your portion and inheritance among the people of Isra'el. To the descendants of Levi I have given the entire tenth of the produce collected in Isra'el. It is their inheritance in payment for the service they render in the tent of meeting. From now on the people of Isra'el are not to approach the tent of meeting. ..."
  2. Donors consumed in God’s presence the Festive tithe of agricultural crops and livestock (Deuteronomy 14:23-27). Its purpose was to teach Israel to worship God, to learn to fear or revere Him, and to celebrate with Him and the people.
  3. The Poor tithe, in Deuteronomy 14:28-29, agricultural crops only, once every three years (equal to 3.3% each year), fed Levites, foreigners, widows, and orphans. 

Isreal’s three tithes totaled 23.3%. Only farmers in Israel offered them. And they were an historic religious and social arrangement that excluded money. 

Besides, God assigned towns and pasturelands from other Tribes’ allotments (Numbers 35:2-3) to Levites. In these assigned towns, Levites lived, farmed, and helped other tribes worship God (Numbers 35). Levites received tithes in these towns, where they stored them. The Tabernacle’s storehouse kept a small part. Not only did Levites work in the Tabernacle and on the land, but they ran the government (Deuteronomy 17:8-9, 21:5; 2 Chronicles 34:12-13).

By His Death & Ressurection Jesus Replaced Aaronic Priesthood


Today's giving standard will set you free. What happened in phase two? Jesus gave himself as a sacrificial Lamb to take our sins. This act nullified the need for intermediaries to sacrifice animals to remove sins. And it ended the Aaronic priesthood. Yeshua (Jesus) became the perfect Passover Lamb to offer the paths to remit sin and to the Father. Yes, Israel practiced tithing while Jesus was alive. While denouncing the Pharisees, Jesus referred to tithing in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42.

Hebrews 7 and 8 tells us Jesus replaced the temporary Aaronic office of High Priest with a permanent priesthood (Hebrews 7:24). And Hebrews 5:4-6 says Jesus is the High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. Further, Apostle Peter reminds us that after Yeshua's death and resurrection, each believer is a priest (1 Peter 2:5-9). Mull over Hebrews 7:23-28 and ask Holy Spirit to guide you.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Today, we need neither intermediaries between us and Jesus nor animals for sacrifice. God sent His one and only Son, Yeshua the Messiah, to stop those. He shed His blood for our sins, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He, not Levites, is our intermediary to our Father. 

Grace Giving


Giving to God should flow from each person’s relationship with Messiah—from lives surrendered to Messiah. We see examples of surrendered lives in the early church in Acts 2:41-47, Acts 4:35 to Acts 5:24, and 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.


Our heart condition is the central issue here. Do we accept God’s sovereignty over our possessions? Are we prepared to make them available to Him? Believers have nothing, so we can give God our hearts alone. Apostle Paul says: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (Romans 8:13-14).

We see a new giving style after Pentecost. The church is new and unorganized. These early believers live as one group. As needs arise, they share belongings with one another (Acts 2:44-45). They do not tithe. Believers bring gifts to the apostles to share (Acts 4:35, 37; 5:2). They do not tithe. Later, they fulfill individual responsibilities to God. They practice grace giving which I call keeping. It accepts God’s ownership of everything and my stewardship. We see the keeping lifestyle in these four Scripture passages:

  1. The selfless giver (2 Corinthians 8:2-7)
  2. The hilarious giver (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
  3. The regular giver (1 Corinthians 16:2)
  4. The sharing and hospitable giver (Romans 12:13)

Keeping aims to maximize funds Jesus keeps for His work and minimize amounts we use. We achieve it by:

  1. Surrendering every area of our lives to Jesus—giving ourselves first, like the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8: 1-7)
  2. Applying His ownership and our stewardship to our possessions
  3. Praying continually to seek Jesus’ allocation of funds
  4. Obeying His directions

Grace Giving Pays Pastors Fair Wages


Since tithing does not apply today, how should we pay our pastors? How should churches and ministries fund their expenses? Apostle Paul tells us to pay our pastors (1 Corinthians 9:1-19), not from a tithe, but from grateful hearts (2 Corinthians 9:7). Keep seeking the Lord’s will; He will direct our paths. But don’t respond to crafty manipulation from leaders who seek to fundraise to do their wills. Mull over this Mother Teresa’s quote:

As Missionaries of Charity, we are here to help the poorest of the poor in whatever form that takes, which is always Christ in His distressing disguise. We don’t accept even one rupee for the work we do, as we do our work for Jesus. He looks after us. If He wants something done, He gives us the means. If He doesn’t provide us with the means, then He doesn’t want that work done. (Mother Teresa, A Simple Path, (New York: Random House, 1995) pp. 64-65

Messiah followers affirm God owns 100% of everything and they are His steward. Yet, they tithe. As with my earlier walk with the Lord, they hear the tithing teaching when churches and ministries fundraise. It's convincing and feeds my greed. What a bargain? I give 10% and keep 90% for me! That's cool. So, they believe it. But the good news is this: Every person I know who studied grace giving understands tithing does not apply today. They do not see early believers teaching or practicing it.

Jesus wants us in a personal relationship with Him where we place money and belongings at His disposal and then follow His direction to use and share them. Still, many folks withhold parts of their lives and live in at least two silos. In one, they alone decide how to use God’s 90%. And in the other, they give Him a tithe or less—in North America the average is 2.2%. That’s why I define tithing as a guilt relieving way to spend God’s 90% without His approval.

Grace Giving Funds The Great Commission


Levites had no inheritance

It doesn’t end there. Often, folks give God 10% or less, and expect something in return. But that’s not biblical. It’s the TV evangelist’s hook. And fits the selfish lifestyle practiced in North America. 

As the Spirit leads, ask Jesus to help you stop seeking stuff for you. Stop focusing on you. Seek to know Him better to become more like Him. Then, His will might become your wish. 

Develop the mindset your funds go to God’s bank account. Write "God” on the back of your credit and debit cards. Pray, ask Jesus to show you how to divide His possessions you manage. Don’t wait until Sunday or when an organization asks for funds. Invest time with God always to learn His way to share His funds. Live in one silo as a Christian: surrender everything to Jesus.

Each believer should use time, talents and funds God gives him, to further the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). This includes giving to your Bible-believing church, selected Christ-centered Christian charities, the poor, less fortunate, and others, as the Lord leads. Know your local church’s life, learn its needs, ask God to show you the right responses.

Don’t let pastors, leaders or others pressure you to fund building or programs God does not lay on your heart. When God wants buildings built and programs funded, He provides funding through willing hearts He gives to His people.

Many churches and Christian charities have been manipulating believers, preying on their naivety and greed. Do not give God’s money to any group unless God tells you. Don’t give under compulsion. These groups appeal to the tithing mindset; they suggest you give to God and claim more. That’s not biblical. You do not need these groups’ mediation to approach God; you need Jesus. 

Beware! Don’t give to a group when it tells you to give it funds so it can do something for you. Instead, ask God to show you where to give His funds.

Another growing practice Christian charities use is to ask you to give on credit cards. They do not teach you the proper use of a credit card, and so they don’t tell you to wipe out the balance each month. Instead, they tell you to give them funds and then believe for a financial miracle. Yet, putting funds on credit cards give merchants a percent of those funds, wasting God’s money. They ignore this! Then again, likely you will fall deeper in debt by giving on your credit card while the ministry gets more money. Stop. Do not give unless God tells you!

Why Tithing Practiced Today


So, why do folks practice tithing today when the Bible shows it does not apply? Maybe it fits North American me-centered Christianity. TV Evangelists see tithing as a good fundraising base. So, they present it as a seed for God to return a blessing. And it works! Yes, ignorance, greed, seductive marketing by flashy TV charlatans.

Prosperity gospel proponents use Bible verses as bait. They catch poor, uneducated, greedy, and ignorant folks. They misquote Malachi 3:10 as they fish and reap big gains:

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 there will not be room enough to store it.

These charlatans ignored the context. Malachi 3:10 refers to priests mentioned in Malachi 1:6-8, who were presenting defiled animals to the Lord—Israel’s tithes to Levites were unfit. Priests got blemished and defective animals as tithes and gave God. They knew the law; that was wrong! In Malachi 1:12-15, God cursed the priests for this. Then, in Malachi 3:10, God tells priests that if Israel tithed as the law requires, and priests presented proper tithes to God, He will bless Israel as promised in Deuteronomy 11:26. 

Malachi 3:10 does not mean people today should send 10% of their income to churches, and to health-wealth-prosperity gospel preachers so God may bless givers. No, it does not. Here, Malachi refers to God’s promises of blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 11. But, seductive prosperity messages, and wealthy TV preachers’ manipulation appeal to the greed and ignorance of their flocks. So, the faithful continue to give even what they don’t have to gain a bonanza. An unbiblical practice.

Then again, like me, many folks grew up hearing tithing and have not studied it. Besides, God fearing, sincere pastors have not studied the matter. Still, a few preach this truth. Imagine a pastor who tells his congregation: “The 'law’ doesn’t apply today and you do not have to give. But understand, if you do not give, you need to account to God, not to me.” Not a pleasant message, but one that needs preaching. And a few pastors preach it. We must keep focusing on our relationship with our Messiah. Not on people.

When Tithing Re-introduced


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: "… The earliest positive legislation on the subject is in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the canons of the Council of Macon in 585. ..." 

Summary


What's the truth about giving to God? Today, average giving in Canada and the USA is around 2.2% despite coercion to give 10%. I want to stress: I am not saying tithing is the start of giving, a minimum, a "training wheel." It's not. That popular training wheel idea is like this message: "Abstain from sex before marriage, but if you must, use a condom." Partial obedience of God's word is disobedience. 

Obey Him. Acknowledge His ownership of everything, and our owning nothing. Then, through our relationship with Jesus, let Him show us how much to give. How much to "keep" from His 100%. And how much for His work. 

It is not about percentages, but about your heart. Study 2 Corinthians 8 to see the Macedonians’ hearts.

After Jesus’ resurrection, you won’t find one instance in the New Testament where the early church taught or practiced tithing. Folks who turned away from tithing to keeping said they found freedom. They studied the topic and heard truth from God. Peace came when they stopped giving under compulsion. And when they stopped giving to get. 

I pray you let God lead your giving. Folks who write, e-mail, and talk to me, testify to giving more to God when they practise keeping instead of tithing. They become discerning and move away from ministries that manipulate and appeal to their greedy nature. They drew closer to Jesus.

God will show you how much to leave in His Kingdom. Stay near to Him. Learning to leave funds in His Kingdom is important to grow closer to Him. If after reading this page you want to continue tithing, answer these questions:

  1. What’s the basis for your decision?
  2. Are you tithing 23.3%?
  3. Which of the three tithes aren’t you practising?
  4. To whom do you tithe, and why?
  5. Do you tithe money, or stuff?