Bible · Christianity · church · God · Holy Spirit · Jesus Christ · New Testament · Old Testament · tithing

Free from the law of tithing

Did you know that Christians are never commanded to tithe?  This is something that religious leaders would never want you to know but Christians are not required to give a specific percentage of anything to the church.  We are free to allow the Holy Spirit lead us in the amounts we should give, when we should give, and who we should give to.  All of everything we have belongs to God and as his stewards (managers) we are free to give what we have purposed in our hearts to give; not grudgingly, or of necessity (2 Corinthians 9:7).  The term “of necessity” refers to someone being compelled by a rule or regulation like the law of tithing.  When this verse is quoted, it is usually out of context.  Paul wrote this to encourage saints in Corinth to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem, not to cover the church building mortgage.

In Philippians, the church is commended for giving towards Paul’s ministry expenses as a missionary, which would have included travel, lodging, food, and clothing, not for building a huge sanctuary or ministry complex for the glory of a man or a congregation.  Furthermore, Paul calls the gift of the Corinthians a “grace” (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, KJV).  If something is done by the law, then it ceases to be grace, whether it’s circumcision, tithing, keeping the Sabbath, etc.–

“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:3-4)

Unfortunately, too many modern day believers have supposed that gain is godliness when, in fact, godliness with contentment (over what you already have) is great gain (1 Timothy 6:5, 6).  This mentality has been accepted by church leaders, so in order to get the luxuries they covet for their ministries, they use the tithe as a way to tax and spend.

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8).  God will provide what we may lack in his own time without attempts to manipulate people by using the tithe.

Why did Jesus talk about tithing?–

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)

Jesus was speaking to religious leaders who sought to justify themselves by the law.  He was pointing out how they fell short, because if one attempts to fulfill the law, offending in one point is equivalent to breaking the whole law (James 2:10).  Jesus also told the parable of the Pharisee (who bragged about tithing) and the tax collector to illustrate that one cannot be justified before God by the works of the law (Luke 18:9-14).  Additionally, Jesus had not died yet, so the Mosaic law was still in effect for the Jews.  If Christ had wanted tithing to continue for the New Testament church, the apostles would have repeated it in their writings as they did for Christ’s other commandments.  Christ fulfilled the law for us so we wouldn’t have to.  Paul did not even mention tithes in 1 Corinthians 9 when he discussed the rights of apostles and others who work in the ministry to receive financial benefits from other saints.

What about Abraham and Jacob who lived before the law and paid tithes?  Yes, they tithed, but it was of their own freewill, not by commandment of God.  Abraham did not tithe of his personal possessions, but of the spoils of war once his whole life (see Genesis 14:5-20).  Jacob tithed to fulfill a vow he made to the Lord.  If we use the argument that tithes preceded the law as its validation, then what about the sabbath (Saturday) or circumcision?  They preceded the law also, yet we have no obligation to keep them.  This is proven by the apostles’ writings when they refer to these practices as works of the law (see Acts 15:22-29 and Colossians 2:16).

Christ said several times he desired mercy rather than sacrifice (Matthew 9:13, 12:7) if the choice had to be made between fulfilling a law or meeting a person’s needs.  When it came to giving to the temple, he blasted the religious leaders’ tradition of encouraging people to give instead of meeting the needs of family members (Mark 7:11-13).  If the choice has to be made between giving to the church or providing for one’s family, in spite of what law or tradition might say, charity must begin at home because “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

There have been times in my own life when I had to withhold giving to the church to meet the needs of family members.  I gave it freely because I had it and afterwards had nothing left for the church.  After helping out my family, do you think I worried about what I would give in church?  No way, because I knew God was aware of my situation.  As a matter of fact, I believe God prompted my relatives to ask me for money and prompted me to give it to them freely.

What about Malachi 3, the oft-quoted robbing God scripture?  Malachi was speaking to Levites who were neglecting their duties in temple worship and its upkeep.  God told them in Malachi 3:3 that he would purge them so their sacrifices would be pleasant.  They were causing the whole nation of Judah to suffer because of their irresponsibility.  The Levites were responsible for placing the tenth of the people’s tithes into the storehouse (see Nehemiah 10:38), but they kept it for themselves.

The days of Levites being in charge of worship and upkeep of a physical temple are over.  All Christians are God’s temple (“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” [1 Corinthians 3:16]) and his royal priesthood (“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” [1 Peter 2:9]).  Therefore, commandments about religious routines given to Levi under the old law don’t apply to us.  Our new covenant with God is better than the old one.  The book of Hebrews discusses this fact thoroughly.

In summary, God has given us the freedom to use the resources he entrusts to us in any responsible way we see fit.  Whether or not we give 10% of our earnings (gross or net) to the church is up to us.  God has not obligated us to tithe.  We are free to give more than 10% or less than 10%.  We can give to our local church body or to a neighbor in need.  We can give an amount one time per year or every week.  However God moves us, that’s what we should do.

–Harry A. Gaylord–

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8 thoughts on “Free from the law of tithing

  1. Good to read this teaching, as it’s an area that many of us do indeed struggle with. While I say I “tithe” I don’t hold to any fixed amount, and try hard not to get caught up with guilt at times when I don’t at least manage the 10%, so it’s a good reminder that we are to give willingly regardless of the amount. Bit like prayer – God will bless 5 mins of sincere prayer much more than an hour of reptitious, thoughtless, or uncaring requests. Thanks for posting this :).

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  2. You’re welcome, tikkiro. I’m all about living in the freedom of Christ and shedding man’s attempts to keep us in bondage. As someone who grew up in organized religion and had wrong teachings told to me over and over, after careful study of God’s word for the benefit of understanding God better, I’m having to unlearn some of the things I was told.

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  3. I agree, that tithing is not required. I believe God requires more from us. The answer Jesus gave to the rich young ruler applies to all who want to inherit eternal life: “Go and sell all that you have and give to the poor.” God requires that we be willing to give Him 100% and recognize that 100% is His.

    (Interesting Note: Jesus didn’t tell the rich man to give to the temple? But He did require 100%.)

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  4. I am happy to read this article as I have been thinking the same.But how many are we to make a difference like that?
    In the church where we are trying to settle ,the pastor is planning to build a massive building and requires an exceptional giving from the church. along with the tithe and offering.
    I am ashamed of inviting friends in the church bcz there is such an avidity to recieve money from the people.It is like a gangrene…I understand that the church needs to pay for the bills, the pastors and the others full time workers…and what we call tithe can contribute to that but the church have forgotten community and people’s need and have traded our desire to serve God into a sort of self pride to be seen as a powerful church in our community.
    There is a lot of good thing,but it seems it doen’t seems right to me all this money giving

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  5. I wanted to share a thought regarding your comment that Jesus
    “fulfilled the law”.

    We are called to confirm/fulfill the law. Years of misunderstanding the meaning of “fulfilled” is a result of “abolishing” the law. The days of the “trampling under by the gentiles is about over” (Luke 21:24, Rom. 11:12). Shortly, the body of Christ will understand its position as “one new man”.

    Like Jesus, I too choose to be a “law fulfiller”. I cannot obey the law under my own flesh. None-the-less I am called to be holy because He is Holy.

    Praise God that He has written the word on our hearts. By the death of the living word, Jesus, we are able to receive the engrafted word.

    (Jer. 31:33; “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts.”)

    Without the word being supernaturally written on your heart you are under the task of the law. You must remember what is right and focus your human energy on doing the right thing. Yet, God declares that even “your righteousness is only a filthy rag.”

    Now consider that the word law comes from an original Hebrew word, Torah which means teaching. We all want to live by good teaching because it keeps us safe and directs us into all good things.
    Yet, even better is the day that brings Heavenly teaching and wisdom into our hearts supernaturally; such a day as to know how to live correctly without being taught.

    I recognize that God remains the same yesterday, today, and FOREVER. This being true we must realize His definition of Holiness. Holiness is defined in the Old Testament Torah and further explained in the New Testament by Jesus and the apostles. Jesus went so far as to expound upon the laws making them even harder to follow by pointing out that sin begins in the heart.

    Here is my conclusion:
    Jesus confirmed (fulfilled) all that God had declared to be necessary to approach him in His Holiness.

    (Matthew 5:17; “Don’t think I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish but to complete/fulfill/confirm.”)

    Jesus by His very life acknowledged and confirmed the law as found in Duet. 27:26; “A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah by putting them into practice.”

    Likewise we are called to be joint-heirs, fellow citizens, brothers of Christ and also confirm the law.

    Romans 3:31 states, “Does it follow that we abolish Torah by our trusting? Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah.”

    All of this information causes us to recognize the intensity of our calling to a Most Holy God. The teachings/Torah/laws are impossible for us to obey ….ever. They are only sign posts to the perfection of our God.

    The command is that we, like Christ, be Torah confirmers. Let us never think the law is not in effect. It stands, resurrected in new power to judge in the end of days. We must show the world what New Jerusalem looks like. What Kingdom behavior is all about.

    We must appropriate the blood of the cross to cover our sins, the sacrificial lamb who was crucified, because we do not have what it takes to ever be holy.
    We must accept the engrafting of Christ into our lives as the Comforter/Spirit in order to recognize that “perfect law of Liberty”.

    I pray blessings to you.

    ps.
    Regarding the tithing discussion, do realize Malachi 3:6-12*; Numbers 18:26; Nehemiah 10:38;

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  6. Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which He places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfillment, then deliverance from law means that He no longer requires that from me, BUT HIMSELF PROVIDES IT. Law implies that God requires me to do something for Him; deliverance from law implies that He exempts me from doing it, and that in grace He does it Himself . . .The trouble in Romans 7 is that man in the flesh tried to do something for God. As soon as you try to please God in that way, then you place yourself under law, and the experience of Romans 7 begins to be yours. Now tithing is trying to do something for God to recognise you.If you skip a month or two you feel guilty like someone under the law. So you automatically get cursed…Ha! But under grace you are not compelled to pay a determined figure 10% but God will bless us abundantly and he will speak to our hearts how much we should give freely and not under compulsion. So in the end each one of us should be fully persuaded in their hearts of what they want to do. If your heart says give 10% go ahead and give 10%. If your heart says give an offering instead go ahead and give an offering.For anything we do without faith is sin before God and without faith it is impossible to please Him.

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  7. Even under the Old Covenant, tithing on money was never commanded. And the priestly family of Aaron did not pay tithes, although lower-ranking levites paid tithes of the tithes they themselves received from the laity of Israel. When Christians pay tithes, they are repudiating their own priesthood in Christ Jesus (seeI Pet.2:5,9).

    Seems to me greed is behind this insistence that tithing is the only Old Testament ceremonail ordinance still binding on believers today. Sad, isn’t it?

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