First off, there is nothing wrong with tithing. I am not against tithing. Tithing is honorable if that is what you purpose in your heart to do.
People tend to have strong opinions about the subject of tithing because of the relentless teaching they have been exposed to from the pulpit.
A Stumbling block is an obstacle to progress, an impediment to belief or understanding. It is a problem that stops one from achieving something.
Tithing is not a Stumbling block if that is how you choose to give. Compelling others to believe it is a New Testament Doctrine and they should give that way is.
If Pastors would teach Love and generosity and stop depending on the tithe to keep “the gospel ship” afloat, we would see an increase in giving and an increase in influence and anointing.
We can’t properly lead and disciple God’s people if we are teaching Old Testament Law as a New Testament practice.
Teaching tithing as a New Testament doctrine, insisting that this is how all believers should handle their money according to “Kingdom Principles” is exactly what the Pharisees and tax collectors did. In fact, it is likely that this false doctrine entered the early Church through Pharisees that were converted to Christ.
I was taught tithing from the first few days of being born again in 1988. I tithed faithfully for almost twenty years. Almost every Church I attended taught a mini teaching of tithing and giving before every service. Because of this practice, I heard more teaching on tithing than any other subject in the Bible. I was thoroughly indoctrinated.
During the 20 years I practiced tithing, I had many occasions where I desired to give more, be involved with certain projects, and support specific missionaries, but I could not do it. I was taught that the tithe must go to the local church, and I was expected to give offerings over and above that as the Lord led or as I purposed in my heart.
For two decades, the most I was able to give was 14.5% of my total income to God’s work. That was my tithe plus 4.5% more in offerings. I desperately wanted to give more and be a greater financial blessing to those less fortunate. I was frustrated and a little confused. I had been faithful in my giving, I desired to give more, and yet the blessing and prosperity that the tithe teaching promised me never seemed to come to pass.
Our New Testament giving should far outdo giving under the Old. If we follow the principles of love and generosity in the New Testament, we will find that we give way more than 10% of our money, resources, time, effort, commitment, etc. If we don’t see ourselves giving like that, then it is likely that money and things have a hold on us to some degree.
We have a new and better covenant with better promises. Giving in the New Testament should be more dynamic and relational than the Old Testament law. This brings me to my first point. Tithing is Old Testament Law. Jesus said so.
The tithe predates the Law
Tithing was a part of Old Covenant law. Believers that teach tithing as a New Testament standard argue that tithing pre-dated the law; therefore, it is still a current and valid New Testament command. The problem with that line of thinking is other commands in the law pre-dated the law. For instance, circumcision pre-dates the law. Yet the apostle Paul repeatedly corrected the Church not to bring old covenant practice into the covenant of grace. How do we differentiate between what practices we bring, or do not bring into the New Testament that pre-dates the law? We don’t! If we live by the law, even on one point, we are going to be judged by the law.
I was frustrated that I could not financially bless others like I wanted to. Then one service at Church, the pastor taught tithes and offerings as he did before virtually every service. During his teaching he made this comment, “Don’t take my word for it; study it out for yourself.” God must have put some supernatural unction on those words when he made that comment because they pierced my heart. I knew the Lord was trying to teach me something.
After praying and asking the Lord where I was going wrong and what adjustments I needed to make, the Lord told me to ask myself why I believe what I believe. If I didn’t learn it directly from His word, I should examine it and verify it by the scriptures. Not just tithing, but everything I believe.
I started reading everything in the Bible that had to do with tithing, for years. What I found was a deception and strategy of the Devil that has kept the Church in financial and spiritual bondage for over two thousand years.
Tithing in the Old Testament
First, let’s look at what the tithe was used for in the Old Testament.
The tithe, although it predated the Law, was later formalized in the Law that God gave to Israel through Moses, in passages such as Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 18:20-32, Deuteronomy 14:22-29, and Deuteronomy 26:12-15. One of the purposes for which the tithe was to be used was to support the priestly tribe of Levi, which (unlike the other eleven tribes of Israel) did not receive an allocated portion of the land of Canaan for its possession. All the other eleven tribes tithed to support the Levitical priesthood. While the other tribes received a portion of land for their inheritance, the Levite’s inheritance was the Lord. The Levitical priesthood is a type of the New Testament Church.
The Lord is our great reward, not what He can do for us. All of the New Testament promises become a reality when we have this perspective.
What Jesus said about tithing
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
Jesus clearly identifies tithing as Old Testament law.
“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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Keep in mind that the OT was still in full force when Jesus spoke these words, even though we find them in the NT. Jesus fulfilled the law in every point because we were not able.
Hebrews 7 is the other place in the New Testament that the tithe is mentioned, and the writer isn’t talking about the tithe, he talking about a change of priesthood. It uses tithing to make the point about the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek and the superiority of Jesus as the high priest. It says “Consider how great this man Melchizedek was” in vs 4.
In Jewish culture, bloodlines were very important. Genealogies were meticulously recorded. That is why we see the “begats” in Matthew and Luke because those letters were written to a Jewish audience.
Certain bloodlines had certain responsibilities, specific prophecies attached to them, etc. Hebrews 7 mentions Levi paying tithes (in Abraham’s loins before he was born) and receiving tithes as a priest. The bloodline of Levi was the only bloodline allowed to be a priest. Melchizedek didn’t have this bloodline because Levi obviously wasn’t born yet. He was likely not even a Jew. He certainly wasn’t from the Levitical order.
It tells you the “order” of that priesthood in verse 3 “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”
If the Jews couldn’t trace your bloodline you were considered, “without genealogy” with no beginning and therefore no end. This is the order of Christ’s priesthood. Neat, how God snuck that in there before the Law was ever written.
So, the topic is not tithing, it is just used to make the point about the priesthood.
The other side of the coin.
The common belief and perceived benefits of the Church are that if every Christian tithed the Church would have all the money needed to carry out the great commission.
The tithe, instead of being a blessing and an answer to the Church’s money needs, has become a hindrance to the people in more ways than just finance. Spiritually speaking, it has hindered the growth and fruitfulness of the Church for over 2000 years.
It becomes a stumbling block to the poor because it puts them under bondage, and a stumbling block to the rich because it enables them to be a withholder. How many people could give 20, 40, or 60 percent of their income and still live a comfortable life with all their financial needs well exceeded? The truth is, some people don’t even miss 10%, while for some it takes every ounce of faith they have to tithe. It puts a terrible burden on some and not others. Is that fair, equal, or just?
The Bible says to give as YOU decide in YOUR heart. ( 2 Corinthians 9:7)
The worst part about teaching tithing is the deception to keep one foot in the Old Testament while trying to embrace the New. You never fully leave the Old, so you never truly embrace the New.
Instead of our giving being a beautiful, relational expression of love, it has become a legalistic, rigid practice that is a burden to some and an excuse to withhold for others.
The Malachi misconception
Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
A big misinterpretation of Malachi is that the “storehouse” is a type of the Church, and you should bring all the tithes into the “Church storehouse” so that the ministers, staff, and facilities will have what is needed to keep the salaries paid, the lights on, the maintenance of the facilities up to par, etc.
Just a surface study of tithing will prove that wrong. If the Church is a type of storehouse, then the temple must be a type of the Church building. The thing is… WE are the temple. Not the church building or organization.
Are houses of worship wrong? NO. Should we have a place to gather, worship, and fellowship? YES. Should we support our local assembly and ministers? YES.
So, should we keep tithing? Or should we embrace the New Testament principles of love and generosity?
New Testament giving should be relational and organic, more fruitful, and a far more beautiful expression of Love than the practice of tithing.
Did tithing become part of the new covenant?
No. There is no New Testament command or standard for tithing taught anywhere in the New Testament. No matter how hard you try, you must use the Old Testament to teach it.
A common argument is that tithing was before the law, part of the law, and in force now also. Where is the New Testament Scripture for this?
Circumcision was before the law (Genesis 17:24), part of the law, but is it in effect now? No! Some New Testament apostles tried to argue that it was (Acts 15:5-11; Galatians 2:11) but Paul gave them a strong rebuke. Hebrews talks about Abram giving a tithe to Melchizedek but the same passage says there was a change in the law (Hebrews 7:12, Hebrews 8:13) talks about the “first covenant with regulations (tithing is a regulation of the law) made obsolete (tithing was made obsolete).” Hebrews 10:9 “takes away the first” (tithing was part of the first) “to establish second” (tithing is not part of the second)”.
The very first year I abandoned tithing as a practice, I was able to give over 26% of my income and was also able to give away one of the nicest cars I have ever owned as well as furniture, clothes, groceries, and other things that I didn’t even count. I still ended up supporting the local Church with more than ten percent of my income, but I was also able to be more accurate and strategic in helping others as the Lord led.
The car we gave away helped a family of four who just totaled their only car. The Lord also led my wife and me separately to give a certain amount to a specific family. We didn’t know it, but the husband got laid off and they felt like they were not supposed to tell anyone, just trust God. The amount we gave them was exactly what they needed to pay their mortgage and have money for groceries. We all knew without a doubt that God had done this. The man got hired in the next few days.
That was just the first year. I could go on with stories of supernatural provision like that, but I want to end with this:
Tithing is honorable if that is what you purpose in your heart to give. The problem arises when someone teaches you that tithing is the way all Christians are supposed to give. It is a lie! That is compelling a person to give like they believe. The person teaching becomes a stumbling block to those he teaches, and if the one being taught embraces the false doctrine of tithing, it becomes a stumbling block to them financially and spiritually.
People believe the lie because they don’t read the scriptures for themselves, allowing well-meaning, but misguided preachers to brainwash them and compel them to give legalistically.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
We are not to give under compulsion, and we are not to compel others to give a certain way. When we teach others that tithing is a New Testament command, we become a stumbling block to others. Giving should be relational and organic, not rigid, and legalistic.
Furthermore, God never wanted 10% of anything. He wants it all.
The tithe was put in place to meet the needs of the Levitical priesthood and to teach spiritually dead people to always revere God. Deut 14:23
In the New Testament, we have the freedom to give as we purpose in our hearts, and we have the opportunity to be creative with how we love God and bless others with our money. If we embrace the New Testament principles of Love and Generosity, we won’t stumble over money to the degree we have by practicing tithing.
Thank you for visiting Truth Pressure Ministries. I hope this has been a blessing to you.