6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
The Old Testament
The scripture above is the favorite text given by most Christians to ‘prove’ that we should tithe. Now when interpreting scripture, we should always look things such as the context. Who was it written to? What was the culture? Because even though all scripture is FOR us, not all scripture is TO us. So if we look at the scripture above, who was Malachi writing to? Was it to everyone? Well we only have to go to verse 6 to see the it was the children of Jacob. In other words, Jews. It was not a blanket command to everyone.
The first mention of tithing was in Genesis 14:20 where Abraham ‘gave tithes of all’ to Melchizedek. but notice how Abraham did this freely and it was not a commandment from God. Then in Genesis 28:22, Jacob decided to give a tenth, again not a commandment from God. Then the next mention of tithing is in the mosaic law in Leviticus 27.
Now exactly what was the tithe? Well according to the Levitical law, the children of Israel (apart from the tribe of Levi) had to give 10% of the increase of their land and livestock, to the Levite priests and this would also go to help the poor. As a matter of fact, they would have actually tithed around 23.3% annually because they were required to present two tithes yearly of 10% each of agricultural produce and livestock (Numbers 18:21-32 and Deuteronomy 14:23-27) , and a third of 10% every three years of agricultural produce only (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) ….but I don’t see many churches or Christians rushing to tithe 23.3%!!!
All the scriptures about tithing are either in the old testament or refer to the old testament laws and was mainly about agriculture. Hence why it talks about the storehouse (NOT your church) which was simply a room in the temple. (See 2 Chron 31:11, Neh 10:38-39; 12:44; 13:12). And the opening of ‘the windows heaven’ simply meant that God would let it rain abundantly on the crops and he would not allow the devourer (i.e locusts) to destroy those crops. That is it. Nothing super spiritual about it. All you have to do is look at the context and read it for yourself.
So what happens when you take Malachi 3 out of context? You get video ‘challenges’ such as the one below
Malachi 3 DOES NOT mean that if we give a tenth of our income, God is guaranteed to rain down monetary or any other blessings on us as some teach. Some even teach that nothing will ‘devour’ your finances as if tithing was some sort of insurance policy.
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. 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?
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.
Many people are living in bondage to tithing, giving out of what they don’t have and as a result, get into real debt.
Here is an example of the type of advice that you should NOT listen to
So basically Pat Robinson has told this writer to keep tithing at the risk of losing their home and being unable to pay their bills. This is very bad advice and if your church or Pastor gives you the same advice, do not adhere to it.
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.
For those of you in debt and are still tithing. Please watch this video and do not live in bondage to tithing. There is so much freedom in Christ.
So in conclusion, there is no where in scripture that expects or commands New Testament believers to tithe
BUT DONT TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. CHECK OUT THE SCRIPTURES FOR YOURSELF