I had this post in my draft for some time but after listening to Doug’s Podcast where he mentioned tithing, I have decided that I will put my case forward (hopefully in really simple terms) why I do not believe that we, as new testament believers, are obliged to tithe today. I will try and refrain from going into too much details about how Israel was to tithe
I will break this down into the Old and the New Testament
The Old Testament
The first mention of tithing was in Genesis 14:20 where Abraham ‘gave tithes of all’ to Melchizedek. Notice how Abraham did this freely and it was not a commandment from God. Then the next mention of tithing is in the mosaic law in Leviticus 27. I did a previous post called ‘What do we do with those old testament laws today which you can view here where I broke down the various laws in the old testament. I believe that tithing would come under civil law and is not binding on us today.
The New Testamant
So what about the new testament? Is tithing mentioned? Well we can see Jesus apparently endorsing tithes in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42……or did he?
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matthew 23:23)
These scriptures are the ones that people use as proof text that Jesus commanded that we tithe today, but while Jesus was alive he was still operating under the old testament laws and the new testament had not fully been ratified. How do we know this? I would say for two reasons.
Firstly, when Jesus healed people, one of the first things he told them was to show themselves to the priests (Matthew 8:4, Mark 1:44, Luke 5:14, Luke 17:14). This was part of the levitical law (Leviticus 14:2) and we do not have to do this today.
Secondly, Hebrews 9:15-17 makes it clear that a new testament can only come in place after the death of the testator.
15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
The other references to tithing are in Hebrews 7 which just reference the old testament stating historical fact so again, they are not a commandment to us.
So what is the new testament pattern for giving?
I believe that 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 give us the principles for giving today.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity (which tithers do); for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:7)
In a sense, it is harder to give from the heart as God sees the motives for why you are giving.
There are many people giving tithes to the church out of what they don’t have and as a result, get into real debt. I think the bible says something different.
11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality , that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. (2 Cor 8:11-14)
If you are in serious debt e.g. arrears in loans, then you should be doing what you can to pay back that money to the loan company and then when you can, then give . This is called good stewardship and should not be seen as ‘not putting God first”. If you don’t have, you can’t give and should not be made to feel guilty for ‘not paying your tithes’. As the scripture above says, there should be equality, but that it not what we see these days. A lot of churches are getting fatter financially and their members are suffering as a result.
So there you are. That is my case for why I believe that we do not have to tithe today. God is not so much interested in the amount you give but more the heart and motive in which it is given, whether that be 10%, 1% or 20%.