Are Christians commanded to tithe or is this requirement legalism?
By Don Koenig
Since Pentecost, the Church has been under the New Covenant. Those under the New Covenant know the will of God through the teachings in the Bible and the living presence of the Holy Spirit. Those in this covenant have God's commands for them written in their hearts. Therefore, there is no requirement to follow the letter of the law that was given to show people their sins so they will come to the Messiah for forgiveness.
There is not one word written about tithing in the New Testament to the people of the New Covenant. This alone should be sufficient proof that Christians are not commanded to tithe but most fundamental pastors will still find a way to dig up proofs that their congregation is required to tithe to the Church or more likely to their church.
The New Testament teaches Christians are to give from out of their heart - there is no percentage used. This only makes sense since you can not give cheerfully if you are giving out of some legalistic requirement. Some wealthy people should give much more than ten percent of their increase (tithe) and some very poor people should give little or nothing or even be aided by the church. Some pastors will say tithing was a requirement before the law because Abraham tithed. Nevertheless, they can not prove from scripture that there was any requirement to tithe before the law was given.
Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek King of Salem from the spoils of a war. It was a one-time event. Nothing implies that this was even a tenth of his increase in that one year. Nor is anything said in scripture that anyone ever gave tithes of their annual increase before the law of tithing was given to the Jews. There simply is no foundation to teach that Christians should be tithing based on any scripture written before the law.
What was the Old Testament tithe?
The tithe system given to Israel was a means to support the government and the priesthood of Israel. If the tithes and offerings system were in place today in Israel, it would have to support most government functions and all religious functions. (Those that live in Israel today give much more than a tithe; they give about half of their income to support their government and their places of worship). In ancient Israel, there were three separate tithes that averaged out to be about 23 percent of one's annual increase. Therefore, those that teach that Christians should give 10 percent of their annual income are certainly not even teaching the requirements of the tithing law.
The law of common sense says pastors should not be teaching that Christians are required to tithe
It is only common sense that the tithe is not a requirement for the new covenant church. Our governments are supported by taxes, not by tithes. Our churches should be supported by free will offerings and many of them are. The New Testament would not talk about giving from a cheerful heart as we have been blessed financially if a legalistic tithe was to be our motivation for giving. Christians who have been financially blessed will give through Christian love to help those less fortunate and to support God's Church. The law of love is written in Christian hearts and it supersedes any legalistic law of tithing. God also gives some in the Church the spiritual gift of giving to help support His purposes on the earth.
Some pastors need to take a rational look at the situation in the United States and the world. Many people are on government assistance because they for one reason or another do not make sufficient money to live on. Nevertheless, many pastors are asking them to tithe on this charity from others. That being the case, you are really asking them to steal from the taxpayers that aid them. Please understand, if they really could afford to tithe to your church they should have their public assistance reduced by a tenth because taxpayers certainly are not giving assistance to them so they can support your church! If someone cannot afford to tithe to your church but they still do it because of your coercion and they or their children go without basic necessities because of your legalistic requirement then you are stealing from widows, orphans, and the poor. All of these things God hates! He said that those who will not take care of their own families are worse than infidels, this also applies to the Church family
Over a quarter of the families in this country, have low wage earners where both the wife and husband have to work to support an average of two children. On the average they have a combined income of about $2000 a month. Take out $300 for social security, taxes and other deductions and they are lucky to bring home a combined income of $1700 a month. Okay, lets now do the math on the minimum basic necessities for a family of four. This family would need $400 a month to eat, $200 a month for basic transportation to get them to their jobs, your church, and other places they have to attend. They will need to pay about $400 a month for health insurance (if their job even has benefits that pays most of the costs, otherwise they must pay cash, go without, or they must find public assistance). Those even fortunate enough to have health insurance will pay on the average an additional $200 a month for medical co-payments and deductibles. A basic apartment for four in most locations costs a minimum of $500 a month and utilities cost a minimum of $200 a month. Just these basics I listed have already come to $200 over their take home pay and we have not even got to clothes, home furnishings, dental, optical, and and many other expenses. So how in the world are they going to come up with $200 a month to give to your church! I have just proven that at least a quarter of the people in the United States can not afford to tithe at all. The next 25 percent up the income scale would have similar problems making ends meet. Tithing to your church is hardly an option for these people. Yet, many of you pastors keep preaching on tithing as some type of biblical requirement.
What is your answer? The answer I hear from the pulpits is an insult to these people and to God. You tell these people if they give a tithe they will receive more income from God. From where will they get this income from God I might ask? From the state lottery, the state welfare office, the unskilled labor pool of part time jobs, from you? where?? Sure, some might get a better job in God's timing but can you prove to the world and the Church that tithing families make more on the average than non-tithing families? I would like to see your data! Many make false assumptions based on nothing more than their false presumptions.
These same pastors are often the same ones that then preach that the wife should stay at home and not work. How is that possible for a man with no advanced skills or college degrees that has a wife and two kids? Some pastors really need to get a reality check! They also need to be satisfied with their widow's mite from the poor.
Why is tithing taught today?
To be honest some do it because they lack understanding. Some actually believe that tithing has to bring financial blessings on the families that tithe. Those giving to God from the heart certainly will receive blessings from God but not necessarily more money. Requiring people to tithe will bring guilt trips to those who can not tithe and to those that give legalistically it will bring pride.
Some on the darker side teach tithing because they are grumblers who are never satisfied with the amount of money God leads people to give to their "ministry". They get ahead of God and spend the money on their dream quest building program before God even blesses the undertaking and provides for the funds. They then beat up on their poor flock and try to bully them to pay for their misguided presumptions.
Teaching on tithing does not produce the increased giving that pastors want anyway, so it is rather futile. There is no long term increase in giving from preaching on tithing. Churches in general receive only 2.6 percent of after tax income in the United States. Giving is usually higher In denominations that I believe are more biblically sound. The higher percentage given is more likely to be because there are more true Christians in these denominations than because of any requirement the church puts on them to tithe. You can preach on tithing until you're blue in the face within these denominations and the figures will not change much. The Mormon cult puts their people under strict tithing laws. In fact if they do not tithe they can be banned from the temple but in spite of this coercion they still only have about 1/3 compliance. This link will tell you how giving in churches breaks down according to denomination.
Christians are to give out of a cheerful heart
Giving as one is led by the Spirit of God is the type of financial giving that God wants from His people. There is no requirement to tithe in the new covenant church. It fosters pride in many that do tithe and when it becomes the percentage for the wealthy to live by it does not foster sacrificial giving. For the rich the tithe becomes a false guide for giving for those who really can do much more. It also brings guilt or hardship to those who simply do not have the funds to tithe. In many cases, the church should be aiding these poor families with their funds and not laying on them more burdens by telling them to tithe. Paul asked the more wealthy churches to give to the poorer church in Jerusalem that was experiencing hard times. Paul gave us the guidelines for giving in the body of Christ we should follow his teaching.
I have no problem with those who suggest a tithe as some minimum example for those financially blessed, but no Christian should be put back under bondage. Do not let any pastor or minister tell you to give what you know you do not have so you can get hundred fold blessings from God. That is not giving in faith; it is giving through the presumption that God can be manipulated and held to fulfill some scripture that is misunderstood and misused by these hucksters.
Also remember it is God's will that parents make sure the need of the family are taken care of first. For if the children cry out to God because they lack food or clothes. I would not want to be in the shoes of those responsible.
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