Tithing and the Bible
Recently, an individual who watches our online messages asked me the following question:
Pastor Stewart, I have recently become a Christian and am confused about financial support for my church. How much am I required to give? I’ve been told that ten-percent should be the absolute bottom-line. I am currently in a minimum wage job and giving ten-percent would be a huge blow to my ability to financially survive. What is your opinion on tithing?
Thanks, John D.
Here is my response:
John, congratulations on accepting Christ and joining His family. As a pastor, questions about tithing frequently come up. It seems there are a lot of differing opinions about giving among churches and their congregants.
Looking in the Old Testament, we see the first use of tithe-giving is found in Genesis 14, where Abram gives Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils after returning from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.
Elsewhere, in the Old Testament, we see tithing as a requirement for supporting the temple, priesthood, etc. What people often don’t realize is there were actually three different tithes given at different times of the year and from different resources. The combined total of these three tithes could be anywhere from 23% -27%.
Many Christians believe we are still under the Old Testament tithing system, without realizing that the combined tithes are much higher than the giving of a tenth.
Personally, I believe we are no longer under the Old Testament system of tithing as it was done away with following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the elimination of the priesthood and animal sacrifices in 70 A.D.
Some will point to Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek as a proof text that the tithing system existed outside/before The Law, and therefore still in effect. However, Abram did not tithe under compulsion. He gave freely as he felt inclined.
At Countryside Chapel I don’t preach tithing. In fact, I avoid talking about money unless I am asked a question about it or come to passages in Scripture about giving while I am expositing a text.
The problem with tithing, other than the destruction of the temple and priesthood, is that the poorest among us feel a huge pinch when giving their tithes, while the wealthier can give ten-percent without feeling the squeeze from the tithe.
The Apostle Paul, when giving instructions for giving, removed all the emphasis on a specific amount, as well as removing the opportunity for charlatans to take advantage of the precious sheep in the body who financially support the church or ministry. He says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”
Paul did not want the preachers, teachers, leaders or anyone else involved in ministry, to focus on money. Instead, each week, in support of the saints, they were to set aside whatever amount they felt inclined to give.
As a pastor, I never tell someone how much to give. I do believe that all Christians should give, but the amount to be given should be left to the Holy Spirit to decide not to the whims of mere men. Thus, I am dismayed when I see the contrivances some churches use to separate people from their wallets. My view, and recommendation, is that Christians should pray the week before they go to church, asking the Lord how much, if anything, they should give. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you before you ever get to church. In that way, you have your offering ready to give when you arrive, without being subject to coercion.
Where God guides, He provides. Pray, John, and ask the Lord what He would have you give.