Before we dig into the scriptures or laws and rules let’s start with one simple truth:
THAT WHICH YOU LOVE, YOU WILL SUPPORT.
This is true in every area of your life but today we are specifically talking about your home church. Whether or not we believe that the New Testament teaches tithing doesn’t change the fact that we are called to support the house of God. Bills must be paid, doors must stay open if we are to function as a body. There’s no arguing that the days of marketplace ministry are long in the past. Sure, there are pockets of believers who will pray for an old lady at a local Walmart and there are still teen ministries who practice “treasure hunting” but truly, the days when Peter would stand up in the town square and speak to 3-5 thousand people are no more– at least in America.
Instead we hear daily reports of hate-filled “Christians” spewing anything but Christianity to anyone who will hear them, yet the true followers of Christ remain silent outside of the Church. Although we all agree that this needs to change and we must get outside of our four walls, for the time being the building we call the church must remain open as a source of ministry. So how do we do that without giving?
In order to determine what Christ truly says about tithing and giving in the New Testament we must first combat a fairly new false teaching that is rampant throughout the Body of Christ. There seems to be a common question of “Did Jesus say it? Or did Paul say it? Was it in the New Testament? Or the Old Testament?”
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (emphasis mine)
Everything found within the confines of the 66 books of the Bible are words spoken by Jesus. Before time began, Christ existed and He was/is/and always will be the Word of God. The books of John, Corinthians, Romans, Genesis, Malachi, etc. were not created at the time they were penned by the hands of men. They have always been there. If this is true, then we must also believe the words Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16…
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 (emphasis mine)
So, what does the Bible say about tithing? The idea of tithing has existed before Moses ascended or descended from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. It existed before the instructions were given to the Levites regarding how to conduct themselves as priests. It is first found in Genesis when Cain and Abel made a sacrifice of First Fruits.
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. Genesis 4:3-4
It is also found in Genesis 14:20…
And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered. Genesis 14:20
Thus, beginning at the beginning we see the concept of giving to the LORD the first of all that we gain. The argument starts when we believe that Christ is the WORD of the New Testament but not the WORD of the Old Testament. It is twisted when we try to use His Word against His Word. Since He came to fulfill the law and give us grace instead, we believe that there is only grace left. But what is grace? Grace is the POWER to uphold the law, is it not? Grace is not simply forgiveness and it is certainly not an excuse to do wrong. Grace empowers us to do something we could not previously do. We could not perform under the sacrificial system without the grace of God. The entirety of the Old Testament proves that. We all agree that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice with which we were redeemed from the duties of the Old Testament, but does this include tithing?
Since we as a society are so bent upon the red letters in the Bible and have elevated them to a place of importance above the black letters… what do the red letters say about tithing?
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Matthew 23:23
These words are found in red in the book of Matthew. Jesus scolds those who would tithe to the penny yet ignore other important values that any God-fearing man should abide by. His words “You should tithe,” stand alone as a clear response to how we should conduct ourselves regarding finances in the New Testament world we live in.
If this isn’t enough, (because I can already hear people saying… “Yes, but this was before Christ took the cross,”) let’s see what the rest of the New Testament says about giving–remembering that Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ.
This will be a lot of scripture, but please read it all in it’s entirety so that we can find ourselves faithful to obey God’s desires for us as a body:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
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. 2 Corinthians 8:1-8
We as a Church try so hard to not be legalistic, yet by claiming that we don’t have to tithe because the New Testament doesn’t teach tithing makes us legalistic. Paul teaches the church how to give based on LOVE. LOVE is what should set us apart from the rest of the world. Paul teaches to GIVE GENEROUSLY! The book of Acts teaches us to GIVE GENEROUSLY. For some of us 10% is a lot, which is okay– our lives are meant to be a sacrifice. But to others 10% of our income doesn’t even register as a loss to us. In this area, do we still attempt to live by the New Testament? If 10% is generous to you, then give 10%. If 10% isn’t generous giving in your life, then the New Testament teaches that we should give more.
…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. – Luke 12:48b
Allow me to encourage you with this thought one more time. If you LOVE Christ, then LOVE His Body… His Bride. It is impossible to love a man without also loving his wife. We can’t claim to love Jesus without also loving those whom Jesus loves. If you love something, you will support it.
Support your local Church. Give generously.