Tithing in the Church
The question of tithing for a Christian is a subtle one. As a Gentile Christian, for the most part, we are not under the Law of Moses, but rather we are under the Law of Christ. Under the Law of Moses tithing was a requirement. This is a very subtle thing. What I mean is that while we are not directly under the Law of Moses, we still can't violate the Law's Spirit, that is, the Spirit of Christ.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (NIV)
This is a very important passage. The 'law' that this is talking about is the Law of Moses, (specifically) and indirectly the worldly laws of government too. We that are in Christ, that is, are born again into Christ, that is, having had the Spirit of God enter into us and as a result have been raised from death to life, have the truth made alive in our hearts so that we don't need the written code to tell us what to do, but rather we know what to do, (if we will just do it).
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (NIV)
Notice verse 14. This is telling you that as a Gentile believer you (should) have the law's requirement written on your heart. Regarding tithing this means that you are not (required) to give under the Law of Moses, but the Spirit of the Law does require that we give.
1 Corinthians 9:7-12
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? (NIV)
Notice Paul's use of the Law of Moses here. Paul says in other places that we are not under the Law of Moses and yet he quotes it to support what we are to do. Notice too that he doesn't quote the Law regarding tithing, but rather the above passage about feeding the worker that works. This is important because as a Gentile believer I am not under the Law of Moses regarding tithing, but I still have obligations to those that "work" for me.
Did you know that after the death of John the Baptist, when Jesus was officially ministering to the people; that he didn't have a job and he didn't have any money?
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. (NIV)
for the worker deserves his wages.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (NIV)
When God sent Jesus to tell us the Truth he didn't financially support him, (directly). If the people of Earth didn't value him he would have starved, (actually God would have brought him home.) My point is that those that valued Jesus were required to show their love for him by their willingness to support him. This is very subtle so don't jump all over what I am saying until you think it through, okay? Thanks.
(Something that is helpful in understanding the above passage is that, for the most part, Jesus' supporters were out of work poor people, which made supporting Jesus far more difficult than you would think.)
So we see that giving to those that sow a spiritual seed within you deserve to share in your earthy wealth. This is not a requirement of the Law of Moses, but rather the right thing to do. This, giving to those that teach and support us, is just simply the right thing to do.
Tithing Under the Law
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"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. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)
Organizations today love to quote the above passage regarding tithing so that you will feel obligated to give a tenth to them. No sensible person wants to be guilty of robbing God and therefore being found under God's curse. Only a fool wouldn't be concerned about that. Many organizations today use that fear and also the ignorance of people's understanding of the Scriptures to frighten people into giving them money. Yuck!
The above passage is speaking to those that were under the Law of Moses, that is, at that time mostly the Jews.
To understand tithing under the Law of Moses we must understand how the people were distributed. All of this is a bit complicated, but I will give you the short explanation.
The people of Israel were made up of twelve land-holding tribes and within their borders existed a thirteenth tribe (Levi) that was dedicated to God, that is, they ministered to the other twelve tribes concerning the things of God and they didn't have a land allotment for themselves. The priests were taken from within a subset of that thirteenth tribe, (descendants of the sons of Aaron).
So those that were the ministers of God did not have the means of making a living as the other twelve tribes did, so they were dependent upon the giving of a tithe (tenth) by the other tribes. In this way the other tribes showed their love for God by giving to God through Levi, (the tribe that was dedicated to God).
All that sort of fits nicely, doesn't it? What I mean is that the twelve each gave a tenth to the one and so everyone had the right amount. The plan was setup by God so that Levi would have a little more than the others, but that was fitting for the tribe that ministered for God.
Tithing Within the Church
Now, I have already shown that it is necessary and right to give to those that minister to you spiritually, but does that mean a tithe? and does that mean that you should give a tenth to your local church? Well I believe that the answer is, maybe. The maybe is not for the giving, but for the amount. You should always give to those that make their living providing you with spiritual food, but (I believe) that the amount that you give to them is proportional to the amount of spiritual food that they give to you. Only you (and God) know that amount. You must give to those that feed you the amount that you believe that God wants you to give.
It should be understood that we are not under the Law of Moses. As a Gentile Christian, God is not the owner of a tenth of my income--he owns it all. I am his servant. What I have is not truly mine. This question of tithing is very similar to the Gentile Christian's "requirement" of honoring the Sabbath Day, (Saturday, not Sunday). Some Gentile Christians teach that we MUST honor the Sabbath Day, but I am not one of them.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (NIV)
The "reality" is, that in Christ we have entered into a rest from our own labor EVERY day. We are not to labor for ourselves for six days and then rest on the seventh. Every day belongs to Christ. Every day is the Sabbath Day.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (NIV)
In a very similar way we do not owe God a tenth, but rather everything belongs to God. We should do with our "money" whatever God wants us to do. We should give in faith and do so cheerfully and willingly.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 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.
12 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. 13 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. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NIV)
I would like to point out that the above passage is not talking about money given to the "church". I would like also to point out that this idea of the "church" today is not scriptural either. The body of believers, that is you and me, are the church. If we meet together in a barn then we meet in a barn. If we build a place where we can all meet together then that is great and that must be paid for by the body. If we have a pastor that we expect to be there to help us with our spiritual needs then he must be supported well. Whatever the costs are in maintaining a meeting place must be bore by the local body and that should not be stingily. Things should be supported in keeping with your own income--which sounds a lot like a tithe, but a tithe today, that is within the church, is more that just giving to the local pastor and for the maintenance of other support staff and expenses. Your giving should include anything that is God's work. I give weekly to a local food bank that has no connection to the "church". I just feel that it is right that I do so. I also consider that the monies given for the maintenance of this web site, SeekersTrove.com, is also part of my godly giving.
What I am trying to say is that you are God's servant and therefore you should be faithful to your Master. Whatever God has given you you must be faithful with. This requires you to be faithful and that is not easily defined in dollars and cents. Under the Law of Moses it was easier. You gave God a tenth and then the rest was yours. It is now not as easy as that. You don't have to give anything now, but whatever you do is subject to God's approval.