Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Should You Pay Your Tithes Next Sunday?

I know what you are wondering.  How dare I ask if you are going to pay your tithes this upcoming Sunday?  Of course you are, right?!  Well, while I understand you may be certain about your intentions with your 10%, I wish to offer you some information about what you may be about to do.  I will go ahead now and give you warning that what you are about to read, may challenge teachings you have learned since childhood.  While I understand that these types of challenges can shake us to the core, I encourage you to continue reading.

I Probably Was Just Like You

Once I gave my life to Christ, I was taught that we are to give our tithe and offering.  I was taught that I should be a “cheerful giver” and that I was suppose to “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse”.  You’ve probably heard it too.  Once I learned that I was suppose to give an offering and that I was required to give the tithe (which was 10% of my income) I started to fall into line.  It was a gradual process because after all, one is not use to giving away 10% of their income.  At first it started off with 10% of my net income and then it changed to 10% of my gross income because God is suppose to get my “first fruits”.  That made sense to me, but then God threw a monkey wrench into what I thought I knew.  I had been doing it all wrong and what made it even worse is that it was right there in the Word for me to read.  I just chose to be spoon fed from the pulpit rather than picking up my bible and reading for myself.  Reading is definitely fundamental.

What’s Wrong With Tithing Today?

After doing some reading, studying, and discussing with my wife, I discovered something.  Tithing is an Old Testament (OT) teaching and as where it is taught that you should do it today in the church, it is an incorrect teaching.  There is a lot in the bible that supports this statement but I will simply point you to this.  In the OT, the only people who could collect the tithe were the Levitical Priests which meant you had to be a descendant of Levi (see 2 Chronicles 31:1-12).  In that alone, unless a Pastor today is a descendant of Levi and they live under OT Law, then what they are teaching is incorrect.  Also, in that scripture, there is no mention of money (which is man-made), but rather it is a tithe of things that were created by God ("...firstfruits of grain, vintage fruit, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field").  

If It’s Not Money, Then What Is It?

Well, some would argue that the Israelites did not have money, so they tithed other things. Well that would be an incorrect argument as well.  In Deuteronomy 2:5-7, Moses told the Israelites that they "...shall buy food from them for money, that you may eat, and you shall also buy water from them for money, that you may drink". So, clearly money was present, but God never commanded them to tithe money.  It was always something from the land and/or an animal (of things God created).  One scripture that people love to quote is Malachi 3:10, but this really point to the fact that tithe was not about money. It says to "Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."  Using that scripture alone, it is easy to deceive and keep with the same teachings of tithing today.  However, if you look at that scripture and keep in mind the directive of God as to what to tithe, you will know that it is not money, but the first fruits of God created things (see back in 2 Chronicles 31:1-12).

Let’s look at the BibleStudyTools.com commentary for Malachi 3:10.  (Just an FYI, they are using the NIV version).  You will notice that it points to Proverbs 3:9 which says "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;".  Here wealth is not money but their increase from the crops.  Going back to the mentioning of the "storehouse" in Malachi 3:10.  The commentary points to 2 Chronicles 3:11, but I would suggest for you to read 2-chronicles 31:9-13 for the full context.  Here "Hezekiah gave orders to prepare storerooms in the temple" because the people brought so many contributions that they "...had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the LORD has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over."  So, the storerooms (or storehouse) was a place to store the "contributions, tithes [which is not money], and gifts".  Nowhere does it mention bringing 10% of your gross monetary income.  In addition, this again is in Malachi which is in the OT which is under the Law!

What About Paul’s Instructions to Give Cheerfully?

So then, we have to move to the New Testament (NT) because a lot of the times 2 Corinthians 9:7 is used in the context of tithing.  It says, "Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He [a]takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]."  I do not have a gripe with this at all because we are to give cheerfully.  We are to give of our time, talents, resources (which could include money, but does not have to).  Going back to 2 Corinthians 9:7, you have to read it in context.  If you read verse 1, Paul says "Now about the offering that is [to be made] for the saints (God’s people in Jerusalem), it is quite superfluous that I should write you;".  Directly, he tells you that the offering is made for the saints of Jerusalem who are poor (see verse 9).  It is not a tithe.  It is not 10% of their income, but rather an offering from their heart to support the poor in Jerusalem. Paul gave them notice that he was coming as to prepare before he arrived so that the offering was not as a surprise, but so that it would "be ready, not as an extortion [wrung out of you] but as a generous and willing gift".  Notice again there is no reference to money.  Today, our society has trained our brains to think that when we give something representing a charitable donation that it has to be monetary.  Well, once again I would like to challenge you to believe otherwise and that there is other value found in things outside of printed currency.

But, What About the 10% of My Income Part?

If we cannot find an account of it in the written word, then it only leads to one thing.  Humans made it up.  Now, I would like to turn the question back to you.  What about it?  Can you find any mention of it in the NT scriptures that says we as Christians, living under grace, should be doing this?  It is not my intention to offer up opinions, but rather to provide facts based on the truth, which is the Word of God.  If you decide to keep giving 10% of your income out of the cheerfulness of your heart, then by all means do so.  However, know that you are not tithing.  It is not an obligation and neither will you go to Hell for not doing so.  Those misconceptions are not true and many have been misled.  I encourage you not to take my word for it, but rather go to the Word of God for yourself.  Also, I encourage you not to discount what I write because it goes against anything you’ve ever learned.  Again, read the Word for yourself and if you find different then please correct me as a brother in Christ.  

In Conclusion

By no means, did I provide an exhaustive explanation and or list of scriptures, but what I wanted to do was provide an invitation for you to look for yourself.  God does not contradict himself, so I wouldn’t expect any of the scriptures listed to contradict any others in his Word.  There is a lot of information out there on the topic of “should the church teach tithing”.  Google it when you get a chance. Any time we as Christians give, it should not be a guilt trip, game, or the need to give because we think God is a slot machine.  All of these thoughts have been incorrectly taught and is still preached every Sunday from the pulpit throughout the nation.  The issue is that a lot of us don't pick up the Bible and read for ourselves and simply accept spoon feeding.  I know because I was one of them, but when you know better you do better.  

Be Blessed Folks,

Antoine E. Hall

Some Other Reading Resources:

"Tithing is Not a Christian Doctrine", by Russell Earl Kelly, PhD
“Tithing Today”, Gary Arnold Ministries

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