The tithe is something that has been taught as a must do in the church for as long as I can remember. When tithing is preached on invariably they point to Malachi 3:8-10 as the basis for the tithe. Your abundance and blessing is always tied to your faithful giving of the tithe. So what is the tithe?
The tithe is 10% of everything grown, raised and earned. That 10% goes to the Lord via the temple. In Numbers 18:21-28 we see that the Lord has given the tithe as an inheritance to the Levites. The Levites were the one of the 12 tribes of Israel and the only one dedicated to be the priests. See, the Levites were set apart to perform the priestly duties in the temples. They were not to work the fields or engage in the trades. They were to maintain and keep up the temple. They were to oversee and perform sacrifices and the other religious ceremonies of the day. The tithe was put in place to support them.
Now when speaking of the tithe we have two other tithes not preached on that are tied to the tithe. One is the tithe on the tithe. So the priests were commanded to bring a tithe ( 10% ) of all the tithes to the Lord to be put up in the store house. Then we have the 5% tithe on anything valued. Leviticus 27 talks about valuation and what amount of money shall be given when something is valued. So to be totally in keeping with the Levitical Law ( the laws God gave Moses for the Israelites ) everything valued you have to add a fifth and give that to the temple also. So to be in 100% obedience to the tithe you not only give 10% of everything you earn, grow and raise, but pay the added 5th to everything you have that is valued and dedicated to the Lord, including people.
Then there is the first fruits offerings commanded once every three years and the year of jubilee that is to be observed by all those under this law. So to be faithful and true to the law you have to give a first fruits offering on everything every three years and when the year of jubilee comes around you have to forgive other believers of their debt and return any property you seized or bought as payment for debt.
So here we have the laws of tithing as set forth in the old Levitical Law. Now we know we are no longer under this law because of the sacrifice of Christ. We are under the law of grace, love and liberty being led by the Spirit as Paul tells in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews and James. To keep going back to the law, as laid out in Leviticus, is to have an affair behind Jesus’ back. After all, we are in a marriage with Christ through our redemption by His blood. Going back to the Levitical Law is telling Him that He isn’t enough and you want to flirt with Moses and his law, but not fully commit. It’s like a married man having a side chick.
Why would you want to be under condemnation of that law when you can have the liberty that comes with Christ? Nothing comes from the old Levitical Law but guilt and false condemnation from not upholding ALL the law. It also brings a false guilt when you are having hard financial times and literally can not pay the full 10%. Because you were flirting with the old law you now can’t give with joy like we are instructed to. Instead you give with guilt and dread coming into disobedience of the New Testament command to give cheerfully as laid in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.
So what does the New Testament tell us about giving? First lets take Mathew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 off the table. Jesus wasn’t trying to commend them for their tithing as some suggest. Just the opposite is true. He was condemning them for keeping the law of tithing while failing to keep to keep other equally important laws. In Hebrews when tithing is talked about, in every instance it is in regard to Old Testament figures under the Levitical Law.
The New Testament does lay out instructions for giving. In Mark 12:40-43 Jesus watched people giving. He noticed the rich giving great sums that were no loss to them. The one who stood out was the widow who gave everything she had. She was the one who made a true offering. This tells us that our offerings should cost us something. This example was laid out by David when he was going to make a sacrifice and the land owner said he would provide the threshing floor and the animals for the sacrifice. David said no, it should never be that the sacrifice not cost me, for it doesn’t cost me it’s not a sacrifice. We see that principle in play with this widow.
Secondly the New Testament tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we are told to give what we have already decided in our hearts and not to give reluctantly or under compulsion, but God loves a cheerful giver. How do we know what to give then if it’s left up to our heart? If you are under the law of the Spirit the Spirit will guide you in what to give. Set that amount in your heart and give cheerfully. If you are reluctant about the amount you know the Lord told you to give, pray about it before giving until you can do so without reluctance.
What about churches who have campaigns once a year to raise money or to get commitments from the members? These churches are trying to budget so they know how much money after they pay their debt to use for ministry and salaries. Now I don’t have a problem with salaries as even Paul talked about supporting those in full-time ministry. I do have a problem with churches going into debt and being slaves to the lender ( another biblical principle. ). It’s also an indication that they are trying to budget and spend with more worldly financial wisdom and less faith. If you know the Spirit is leading you to give a certain amount over the year and you have no reluctance about it, then by all means commit that amount.
Why do so many pastors preach on the 10% tithe? Two reasons, either they are biblically illiterate or they are taking the easy road instead of teaching you the truth. Both are equally dangerous and unacceptable. I’ve had some admit that it’s just easier to teach the 10% then to try to teach being led by the spirit. The question is, if you commit yourself to only 10% because of bad teaching, what kind of blessing are you robbing yourself of? If you are stuck on the 10% and you truly can not afford it, but insist on giving it because of bad teaching, you are willingly putting yourself in a financial bind.
Under the New Testament and the laws of grace, love and liberty your provision and blessings are not solely tied to your giving. They are tied to your obedience and devotion to Jesus. Giving is certainly a part of that and still commanded, but not the whole equation.
I challenge you and encourage you to study scripture to verify everything your pastor or favorite radio and/or T.V. preacher teaches. Like I’ve said in the past, they are human and their beliefs are tinted by their life experiences. It’s human nature to regurgitate what you’ve been taught if it sounds reasonable instead of researching it yourself.
Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of what God has in store because what He asks you to do is different then what your pastor has preached about.