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Does the Bible teach that
tithing (giving 10% of our
income/increase) is the essential
and enduring requirement for
Christian
giving?
Christians
through the years have supported
this based on various scriptures,
reasoning that since the Old
Testament
patriarchs
like
Abraham and Jacob gave tithes at
certain times, then the practice
must be God’s abiding standard.
Since tithing appeared before the
law, itmust transcend the law. This
argument, however, has many
flaws and, after careful review of
scripture, we discover that there is
no formula or percentage for how
muchwe ought to give. Giving is a
matter of the heart, not amatter of
the head (Matthew 6:21). The
tithe is not a divine ordinance, but
refers to a voluntary free will
offering, motivated by the heart.
Let’s look at the tithe as exhibited
in the Bible.
Tithing in the NewTestament
It is important to know that
there are no verses in the New
Testament directing Christians to
tithe. The word tithing is only
referenced on three occasions in
the New Testament and all three
are merely historical references to
the practice (Matthew 23:23; Luke
18:9-14; Hebrews 7:5-10). The
tithing references in Matthew and
Luke involve the Pharisees and
their participation in the Old
Testament Law. Abraham’s tithe,
referenced inHebrews, was a one-
time “payment,” made of his own
free will from excess spoils gained
inwar (Genesis 14:20).We have no
indication in scripture that he ever
did it again or that this action was
to be normative for others on a
regular basis. TheNewTestament
was written by practicing Jews
who certainly knew the old
covenant law on tithing well. But,
none of the writers - Matthew,
Mark, John, Paul, Peter or James -
ever mention tithing as a basis for
Christian giving, even when they
are talking about giving.
Tithing in the Old Testament
OldTestament tithing, simply
stated, was a tax that the Jews had
to pay to underwrite their
theocratic nation whose king was
God. There were actually three
different tithes that they were
required to pay: The Levite Tithe
(Leviticus 27:30), the Festival Tithe
(Deuteronomy 19:9), and the
Welfare Tithe (Deuteronomy
14:28). This was a Jewish flat tax of
23.33% annually. Added to this
was Poor Taxes which brought the
annualized total up to 25%per year.
These
tithes/firstfruits
were
“brought,” “taken,” “presented,” and
even “paid” rather than given.
This tithing has never been an
offering to God; it was always a
form of taxation. Jesus even
upheld that the disciples should
pay their taxes to the human
government in power. However
using the 10% tithe as the basic
standard for which we should give
back is a rigid concept simply not
taught
in
scripture
(John
MacArthur; Whose Money is it
Anyway
?)
FreeWill Offering
If tithing isn’t the basis for
Christian giving, what is? It is the
same as it was for God’s people in
the Old Testament – free will
offerings. The Jews had taxes to
pay and we have taxes to pay. The
Jews made free will offerings and
we also make free will offerings.
Free will offerings, contrary to
taxes, have always been voluntary
and in whatever amount the giver
chooses. They aremotivated out of
grace and love. Taxes are
motivated out of law, duty and
obligation.
In the early church, the Jews
were trying to insist that the new
Gentile converts needed to also
obey the Jewish laws in order to
becomeChristians. The Jerusalem
Council determined that the
Gentile Christians were only
obligated to obey the following: “. .
. for it seemed good to the Holy
Spirit and to us to lay no greater
burden on you than these few
requirements. You must abstain
from eating food offered to idols,
fromconsuming blood or themeat
of strangled animals and from
sexual immorality. If you do this,
you will do well” (Acts 15:28-29).
Here was a chance to impose the
Jewish tax law (tithing), but it was
not included. They could have
accused them of “robbing God”
and therefore being “under a curse”
as Malachi did of the Israelites in
reference to the Temple Tithe.
However, Christians are not under
a law or a curse but under grace,
and the New Testament leaders
knew this.
Paul gives crystal clear
teaching onwhat our giving should
look like as he describes the giving
of the Macedonian Christians:
“And now, brothers, we want you
to know about the grace that God
has given. Out of the most severe
trial, their overflowing joy and
their extreme poverty welled up in
rich generosity. For I testify that
they gave as much as they were
able, and even beyond their ability.
They urgently pleaded with us for
the privilege of sharing in this
service to the saints. They gave
themselves first to the Lord and
then to us in keeping with God’s
will” (2 Corinthians 8:1-4).
Paul further sets the giving
standard for believers in 2
Corinthians 9:7 where he directs
us, “Each one must give as he has
decided in his heart, not
reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul
is not giving a formula or a
percentage on how much we
should give, but rather on how we
should be internally motivated.
Let’s be perfectly clear here.
Freedom from the law of the Old
Testament taxation is not freedom
to give less. It is freedom to give in
the ways and the amounts that
properly reflect our deep, abiding
love and gratitude for our Father
andHis Kingdom. It should reflect
our desire to give to Him with the
same sacrificial abandon that He
gave to us whenHe sent His son to
rescue us from hell. Being under
grace does not mean living by
lower standards than the law. On
the contrary, Christ systematically
addressed sins and made it clear
that his standards were much
higher than the law. As the lawwas
a tutor to lead us toChrist, the tithe
is a tutor that leads us on to
generous giving. So go and be free
from the law and let the lawof love
direct you in the size and amount
of your freewill offerings to your
Father.
Jeffery Masters, President of
Jeffery W. Masters &
AssociatesSecurities offered
through LPL Financial, member
FINRA/SIPC Investment Advise
offered through Independent
Financial Partners, a Registered
Investment Advisor. Independent
Financial Partners and Jeffery W.
Masters& Associates are not
affiliated with LPL Financial. Call
for questions @ 954.977.5150
Jeffery.Masters@LPL.com
>
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November 2012
17
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- Jeff Masters -
Is Tithing for Today?