* As always, please read preceding parts first to get the full picture.
Getting right into the thick of it now, do you embrace the 10% teaching? Why? (pause) OK, do you know why? How many times have we all heard, that "your tithe belongs to your home church and your offerings can go 'x'", basically. Who came up with this anyway? We'll look into this in a minute.
What did Jesus have to say to the promoters of the tithe in His day, in Matthew 23:13?
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."
What was one of the ways that Jesus said that they did this in verse 23?
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."
There is more revelation regarding how many Christians still errantly follow the old law in Matthew 23. For example, "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: 'The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them'". (verses 1 through 3)
Let me ask you, do we still look to the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees? Are they still seated in the chair of Moses? Absolutely not! We are a new covenant people under a new system, if you will, under Christ. Although I don't want to get too far into this, if the OT law on tithing applies with equal force to Gentile Christians as to Old Testament Jews, then multiple tithes are required, not just 10 percent but up to 20 to 30 percent, including your land! Perhaps tithing would be less acceptable in the eyes of men if this percentage were embraced, no?
The main issue with many who have used words like "seed", "house of God" and "tithe" never seem to really examine them biblically. For example, Exodus states, "You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God." Fair enough. But if you read the rest of the verse, it goes on to say that "You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother." I just don't remember a sermon about that part when the "church" needed a new sound system. Oh well.
We must wisely look at what the Word says as a whole and not pick and choose what we'd like to fit our personal preference. We must understand what is in place today, under the new covenant of Christ. The Bible is not a sermon outline resource book written to promote organizational agendas. It is the very Word of God and should be handled accordingly.
"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test 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 a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes' says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 3:8-11
Until I began looking into this, I did not fully realize how many "leaders" actually use this verse to endorse tithing. I do remember always hearing the "test the Lord with your tithe" part quite well however. I guess I just see this verse completely different than proponents of the common tithe. I was shown this verse by a friend over dinner as we discussed how we can effectively please the LORD. We discussed how it has been twisted to fit the religious mold. It has been taught that the storehouse is somehow the institutional church, God's "house". How do we arrive at such oddball conclusions? To me it simply states one thing - that God wants it all, not just some percentage. If you're going to "tithe", tithe it all! The latest thing now is if you "partner with us", you'll receive some double, triple, quadruple "ministry anointing" and such. I ask, who is partnering with God?
In this day and age, we always hear about the law of sowing and reaping, especially if you ever turn on Christian broadcasting. In fact, this seed-sower nonsense must be a requirement to get airtime anymore! But few seem to ever point out the entire verse that follows: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
This verse absolutely does not fit what these self-professed evangelists push. Nor does it fit the institutional church mold whatsoever. You have to give under compulsion and obligation! Why? Well, the pastoral staff needs paid. The lights need to stay on. The van ministry needs gas money. The parking lot needs repaved. You get the idea. Have you not heard someone in leadership stand up and say that "unless you give today, we won't be able to (fill in the blank) this month". Of course you want to be a giver! You want to help! We are to desire to give – giving is not the issue, but how are you called to do it? What does God approve of and deem acceptable in His sight?
(Please keep in mind that I, on two separate occasions was on paid staff salary at churches. I know first-hand what it means to depend upon tithes and offerings in order to do "ministry".)
The obligatory tithe absolutely goes against God's desire for you to give cheerfully.
God wants us to give out of our being given to, not out of obligatory ritual or guilt. Ritualistic giving because it's "just what a Christian is supposed to do" negates the entire idea. One might even be able to assess that it could potentially make it all in vain, in God's eyes, according to the aforementioned Scriptures.
It is obvious that the LORD views giving in a completely different light than men as we see in Luke 21. "And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, 'Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.'"
Would you like a good gauge to find out where your heart lies in regards to giving? Do you keep track of what you give weekly, monthly, annually? Do you grab a calculator and figure up what exactly 10% is? Do you seek out tax exemptions and 501c3 organizations? It is not difficult to discern one's approach to giving really. I believe we should live a lifestyle of giving. I believe that when I see a need and can meet it, then I do so accordingly.
"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1 John 3:17
Because I'm no longer bound to tithing in order to pay for salaries, campus power bills and building programs, I can actually help people in need. I am free to extend the love of God!
We are called to love. Giving is loving in freedom. Tithing is obligatory law. There is a great difference.
Next we'll take a look into several biblical examples of how we are to worship. We'll place them side by side with common worship practices that we see today and see how they compare.