New Testament Tithing is it Biblical?
by H. Slack
Christians often asked the question; should I tithe? The answer is NO! Reason? We can see no basis in the Bible for the prevailing view and teaching on tithing as presented in Churches today. Many things changed with the coming of Jesus Christ. One main thing being the laying of the foundations of the ‘Church’ and the choosing and training of apostles/builders to begin its building. Another is that Jesus insisted that mere outward adherence be replaced with inward transformation. While under the Old Covenant tithing was required we can find no such requirement for the New Testament Church.
Giving not Tithing
The new way is giving not tithing. Cheerful giving from a willing heart has replaced dutiful tithing. Nowhere will you find Jesus, who is the foundation of the church, teaching or insisting on tithing although He did have a lot to say about giving. Nowhere will you find the apostles, the builders of the church, teaching or insisting on tithing. However, they did have a lot to say about giving – but did not insist on people giving to them! If I were to list and briefly expound the many scriptures that commands and teaches giving the pages of this magazine would not be enough to hold it.
Here are a few examples
“Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8 (NIV))
“If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)
“Sell what you have and give the money to the poor.” (Luke 12:33)
“…If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17(NIV))
“Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give…The Scriptures say, “God freely gives his gifts to the poor…” (2 Corinthians 9:7-9)
“I am now on my way to Jerusalem to deliver the money that the Lord’s followers in Macedonia and Achaia collected for God’s needy people.” (Romans 15:26)
Above all God the Father and Jesus His Son sets the example of giving. God gave of Himself and not just some material thing, He gave Jesus His only begotten Son. Similarly Jesus did not give up a tenth of His heavenly glory but gave it all up and, in addition to stepping down from His heavenly glory, came and gave Himself. In like manner we who are in Christ are required to give everything, including ourselves, and not just some of what we have or who we are.
Why then, is tithing so popular?
Tithing is popular because of greed. Greedy men have crept in among us, false teachers and false prophets who are peddling the gospel and teaching heresy for their own gain. Peter in his second letter says, they are experts in greed, making merchandise of us with fabricated stories. They often tell exaggerated stories about how tithing has worked for them. The truth is however, if we tithe to them only they become richer and us poorer.
They argue that tithing is not law because it was practiced by Abram before the giving of the law when he give a tenth to the king of Salem. Consider however, that the Sabbath was also before the law and one much greater than Abram set the example. God Himself set the example when He rested on the seventh day, so why do these false teachers insist on tithing but not on keeping the Sabbath? Note also that Abram gave a tenth of his war spoils to the king of Salem once, he did not give a tenth of his harvest and flock every month or year. Circumcision was practiced before the law was given so why do they not insist on that? Answer. Because tithing is a much more effective way of plundering our pockets while filling theirs.
FOR LOVE’S SAKE
Some ministers enforce tithing in their church not because they are greedy but because they are ignorant and are just going along with tradition which, many years ago, may have been harmless but is now turned into a money making machine.
To give with any other motive apart from a true compassionate heart and a desire to help even if we base our giving on a plethora of biblical principles is wrong. To give only because we know God will multiply back to us is still giving to receive.
My disagreement therefore, is with those who make tithing a New Covenant doctrine and say it is required of us. Those false teachers who imply or outrightly state that our finances are blessed if we tithe but cursed if we do not.
No doubt you will hear some quote Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Jesus is obviously not endorsing the scribes and Pharisees meticulous tithing from even their garden herbs as long as they do not omit matters of the law and judgment etc? The Scriptures account is clear, Jesus is speaking to religious Jews, scribes and Pharisees. We do not tell Jews to stop being Jewish, we preach Jesus and let them know that their ceremonial laws cannot save. Salvation comes only through faith in Christ. I wouldn’t tell a Jew to stop tithing but that he should not enforce it upon the church that is also made up of Gentile believers because the New Covenant does not require it, it has no value in a New Covenant context. The same way Paul treated circumcision.
The apostles and elders did not tell the Jews to stop being circumcised but that they should not enforce it on believers in Christ. (Acts 15) You will not find the apostles and elders telling the Jews not to tithe, neither will you find them enforcing such a practice upon the church.
For so-called ‘Christian minister’ to emotionally blackmail people by telling them there is a curse on their finances because they are not tithing is evil. Similarly, to use adverts of destitute starving African children to pull money from our pockets is emotional bullying. In these situations the money received does not come from willing hearts but from manipulated emotions and a feeling of guilt.
New Covenant giving must be from the heart that is abundantly overflowing with joy. Jesus the mediator of a New ‘heart’ Covenant explains that outer form must now be replaced by inner transformation ‘of the heart’. If we hate in our hearts we have murdered, if we lust in our hearts we have committed adultery, IF WE GIVE AND IT’S NOT FROM THE HEART WE HAVE NOT GIVEN.
New Covenant givers doesn’t care about WINDOWs IN HEAVEN opening or the pouring out of blessings. We do not give for the rewards. We do it simply because of THE JOY we get from seeing that expression of relief on the face of the hungry man who is finally able to eat or that cold homeless person who can finally snuggle up and have a peaceful warm sleep.
The fact that Malachi 3:10 is rivalling John 3:16 for popularity is sad. A reminder to the Israelites about the law that commands them to bring a tenth of their harvest into the stores came with a promise, that if they should obey, God will send a lot of rain (open the windows of heaven) has been twisted beyond recognition by peddlers of the gospel. Tell me, why is it the advocates of tithing keep the contents of Deuteronomy 14:22-29 hidden? I advocate what Jesus teaches, give and give generously but to people who are in need, or to those who distribute to the poor, not to those who heap it upon their own lust to get large cars, jets and beautiful buildings with fine interiors etc. Times are difficult and there are a lot of God’s people who are in great need.
For more on how Kingdom economics should work see article entitled God’s Economy.