I have been hearing different people that I respect give divergent views on the issue of giving tithes in the New Testament time. Some are of the opinion that tithing is not required whiled others think it is necessary. I will appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks
@Alkabat In the Old Covenant which God had with Israel the Israelites were required to give a tithe to the Lord - a tenth of everything belonged to God. This tithe was used both to make offerings to God and to provide for the priests, who had no other way of supporting themselves. As New Testament believers, we are not required to keep this tithe because we are under the New Covenant - we now give freely out of the love God has placed in our hearts and to the extent which the Spirit moves us to give.
Leviticus 27:30 - A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.
I truly believe that tithing is necessary. I give 10% of my paycheck. You should at least, as the bare minimum, offer some of your money to the church. You can’t have a ministry if you don’t have the money to help fund it. I would never beat someone over the head if they didn’t tithe or give offerings, but that should be a time then of self-reflection on their part. They would have to ask themselves: “Wow, do I really care that much about saving money instead of giving money to the one who has blessed me with it?” Also, make sure tithing always comes from the heart.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
My favorite answer to this question comes from Erwin McManus in his book An Unstoppable Force:
I was sitting on the hearth of the fireplace with an individual who was considering becoming part of Mosaic. He turned to me and asked if Mosaic was a law church or grace church.
It was pretty obvious to me that he was setting a trap, so I thought I would go ahead and jump in. I said, “Well, of course we’re a grace church.”
“I thought so,” he replied. “I was concerned that you were one of those law churches that told people they had to tithe.”
“Oh, no,” I said. We’re a grace church.
The law says, ‘Do not murder.’ Grace says you don’t even have to have hatred in your heart; you can love your enemy.
The law says, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but grace says you don’t even have to have lust in your heart for another woman.
The laws says, ‘Give 10 percent,’ but grace always takes us beyond the law. You can give 20, 30, or 40 percent. We would never stop you from living by grace.”
He looked at me and said, “Oh” – a profoundly theological response.
Consider also 2 Corinthians 8:8-9:
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
The example of Jesus is what, first, changes our own hearts; and second, becomes the standard which we aspire to imitate.
I grew up in a tithing church background, not in a legalistic way but a fairly clear 10% was taught.
A little bit of a light bulb moment for me was from Andy Stanley, who shared he also grew up with this background.
He basically said he does not teach tithing as a standard to reach because then a person starts to view the 10% as Gods money and the 90% mine to spend on myself.
His way of encouraging people to start is with a small deliberate percentage that you work into your budget - pre planned giving, and then always be willing to help people with once off needs or things that come along. If a person has never had planned % giving start with 1, 2 or 3%, keep it sustainable and work up from there.
This eliminates a ‘law bound’ tithe which I have to do to please God, and changes the thinking all around towards good stewardship of all our resources.
This was helpful to me to be free to choose to have good stewardship and view resources as things to use for others, but making sure I look after my responsibilities to support and feed a family, invest in relationships by going on holidays etc as well.
He balanced this up with an illustration of two neighbors lawns. If I always water my neighbors lawn and look after their garden, and mine is dead or full of weeds, then I have my responsibilities out of balance. If I neglect to feed my kids, while giving 95% to the church it’s probably out of balance and poor stewardship.
This was helpful to me to make giving and resource management a positive thing. Just a few thoughts.
As far as I can tell, when people ask the question, “Should Christians tithe?” they very often mean, “Do I have to tithe?” There is an important difference: The first question may be one of genuine curiosity or about what to teach, whereas the second is basically asking, “What is the least I have to do in order to get into Heaven?” Such an attitude, regardless of whether one tithes or not, displays a foundational problem with the heart.
Growing up, I heard a lot of arguments for tithing that, looking back, were steeped with prosperity theology (or “it’s-not-prosperity-theology-but-really-is”). That said, I believe that Christians should make tithing a habit, not because it will get them into Heaven or bless them here on earth, but because the work of the Kingdom is a priority in their lives. Scripture repeatedly reminds us of the dangers of loving money and materialism. For example, I Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV):
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Christ taught us to store up treasure in Heaven rather than on earth (Matthew 6:19-21), to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and that we cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6:24). If that philosophy does not extend to our pocketbooks, then it amounts to little more than empty words. While I don’t believe that we should exclusively tithe (i.e. give up 10% and then assume that we don’t need to do anything more), I do believe that faithful tithing is a good starting point for cultivating the attitude that our money is a gift to be used for building God’s kingdom, not an end in itself.
Just to add another dimension to the conversation, I thought it would be worth including some statistics related to tithing and giving in the Church (source: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/).
- Tithers make up only 10-25% of a normal congregation.
- Only 5% tithe, and 80% of Americans only give 2% of their income.
- For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing.
- Christians are giving at 2.5% of income; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%.
- The average giving by adults who attend US Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
- 37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to church.
- 77% of those who tithe give 11%–20% or more of their income, far more than the baseline of 10%.
These statistics suggest a few things to me: First, that most Americans (as well as most Christians in America) are pitifully skimpy in their generosity; second, that having more money actually reduces the likelihood that one will tithe (so the claim “I’d tithe if I only made more money” really doesn’t hold up); and third, that most people who practice tithing actually do adopt a heart of generosity that leads them to give beyond 10%. There may be some additional factors at play that I’m not considering, but overall, I think these conclusions are both intuitive and compatible with what we’re told in Scripture.