Tithing is an Old Testament command that was for the Jews and was in reality their “taxation” system. The tithe consisted of the Temple tax, the Land Sabbath Tax, and the Special Profit-Sharing Tax (leaving the corners unharvested, for the poor).
The required giving for the Jew was approximately 25 percent per year. In addition to all of this there was voluntary giving in the Old Testament which included firstfruit giving and freewill offerings. The emphasis here was not on a percentage but on the attitude of the giver and the quality of the gift.
The point is that “tithing” is an Old Testament practice that was equivalent to our modern-day tax structure. Tithes were not gifts at all, but were required giving.
In the New Testament things really have not changed, for the Christian is still required to pay his taxes to support the government. This taxation is the New Testament equivalent of Tithing. But the Tithe is no longer a part of the “religious system” of a Theocracy, rather our “tithe” today is simply the taxation system of a Democracy.
The only references in the New Testament to tithing is to Jews and their requirement to support their religious system of government. The New Testament does teach that a Christian should give to God but only in the sense that it is freewill giving from the heart. While no specific percentage is given, we are to give:
1. In response to need – Acts 4:35, Acts 11:27-29
2. In a systematic and purposeful manner – II Cor. 9:7, I Cor. 16:2
3. In a sacrificial way that “costs” us – Mark 12:41-44, Lk 19:8
4. In a secret and humble way – Matt 6:1-4
5. In a cheerful manner – II Cor. 9:7
Now some will get all excited if we say that the requirement to tithe is not for the church. They will say that the church will go “broke” in a week if the people are told that they don’t have to tithe. I would remind them that if the church is supported because Christians are wrongly taught to tithe then we need to stop that practice.
Many churches today would have to “cease operations” if their tithe were taken away. But the churches that God wants to exist would continue to be supported by freewill offerings of the people. God said, “Seek my Kingdom and my Righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” If a church will preach and teach God’s truth and not man’s tradition then she will “never” lack for the money she needs.
One writer put it this way, “God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s provision.” I believe some churches today exist because they have convinced many to tithe, when in reality the church itself is not teaching the truths of the Bible. For many pastors it is easier to teach people to tithe than to teach them to be holy people of God who would then give from their hearts because of their deep love of their Savior.
Bible Bulletin Board
Galveston, IN 46932
March 16, 1987