Tithe Confusion Part 1

There is great confusion today about the concept of tithes and offerings. Most Christian leaders teach that believers are obligated to give 10% of their income to support the ministry of the local church. This is not how we see the Early Church function after the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2:44-47 & 4:32-37). It also becomes a difficult pattern to reconcile with the spirit of generosity we aim to nurture!

Many Christian publications emphasize tithing as a primary stewardship principle in sustaining a “blessed” relationship with God. A booklet titled Tithes, Offerings, and Alms states: “Today many churches do not teach tithing because they do not want to drive people away. In reality they are robbing God’s people of their blessing. When tithing is not taught, they are allowing their people to ignorantly rob God. By this they allow the devourer to have free access to their people. Then the church and the people wonder why they are not being blessed. When God’s people return again unto God, He will return unto them as He has promised.”

In this one small paragraph, entire congregations who do not tithe or teach about the tithe are condemned to the devourer. This “devourer” is usually spoken of as either the devil or his influence over their money. As long as people do not tithe according to this booklet, they have turned their backs on God and He cannot bless them. They are robbing God and under a curse! But is that the truth?

Fear-based Giving:

The booklet I just quoted is very typical of teaching that is promoted everyday among Christian Denominations and Independant Churches. I have seen it throughout the Western Church and I watch as it continually increases across the mission fields I serve. The impact has created the perception that the church at large is only interested in money. It breaks my heart to watch as well meaning leaders through poor teaching are being misinformed and bringing their people into fear-based giving rather than love-based generosity.

Teaching people to give from this platform of fear does harm to the generous heart, because it effects how we perceive God. God is good and His desire is that love becomes our motive for giving. The Apostle Paul said, “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). In fact, the Apostle Paul never even hints about the tithe system in regards to effective ministry in the local church. There seemed to be a real awareness in the Early Church that a shift had taken place… a shift from Law to Grace and from the ministry of the “letter” to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

A Handful of Scriptures:

Those who teach the concepts of the tithe, refer to the same handful of Scriptures to justify their position and without realizing, they bring judgement and confusion into their congregations about God’s love and blessing. A “handful of Scriptures” might be helpful for those that maybe disagree with my statements so far (2 Cor. 3:11-13, Heb. 8:13, Gal. 4:21-26). Really, all of Galatians and Hebrews give insight into how the Christian’s New Covenant of freedom differs from the Old Testament Covenants of the Patriarchs, the Law of Moses and the Prophets.

Remember, We Reflect the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

The main focus of tithing throughout the Old Testament was food! Food for the Levite, food for the stranger, food for the widow, food for the orphan and in the book of Malachi, the subject is still “food in My House” (Mal. 3:8-12). It is very sad that church leaders today do not recognize that the Early Church was not concerned about choir robes, pews, organs, retirement, building funds, retreats, new carpets, etc… it does not make those things wrong, just not central to the goal of the Church. They didn’t have any of these things, nor did they want any of them to promote real ministry! Pastors who are so interested in 10% of their follower’s income are usually building their own kingdom… which requires a lot of money. Jesus is building His Church in an entirely different way and He doesn’t need padded pews, stained glass and steeples to get the job done.

The Key is Being “In Christ”:

Knowing what it means to be “in Christ” is the key to understanding why tithing is not part of the New Covenant. In Christ all debts are paid in full, we are no longer just servants of God who live under the Law as people did before the cross and the resurrection. We live to follow the law of love (Mt. 22:36-40)(Gal. 5:14), written upon our hearts. We are now the Children of God, spiritually re-born and living by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, Himself. Our connectedness in the family of God is tied to our sensitivity to the guidence of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:4-7). Tithing was instituted for people who had a different relationship to God than we now have in Christ. Tithing is inconsistent with the most important aspects of the New Covenant and the believer’s new nature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

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