by Fred C. Rochester, Pastor. To Tithe Or Not To Tithe? Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved
My point is simply not to manipulate you to tithe. Neither is it my objective to discourage any one from tithing.
My objective is to address extreme teaching and hopefully dispel the confusion by the Scriptures.
You have to decide whether or not you want to tithe.
According to Proverbs 3:9-10, when we give the Lord the first-fruits of our increase, we honor Him. While the word “tithe” is not used in these verses, it would be dangerous to draw a direct line and conclusively declare that these verses of Scripture specifically talks about tithing. It could be talking about tithing but it could be talking about any kind of giving as far as offerings is concerned.
Without question, first-fruit is about giving to the Lord your very best.
This Scripture talks about giving to the Lord the top and the best of what we produced as a result of our labor. We must remember, it is the Lord that gives us “physical strength” to get wealth (look up that word “power” in the Hebrew).
In the NT, we do not see a clear mandate as far as chapter and verse in the NT for believers to tithe.
When you read 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, it is not about tithing. It is about giving. The circumstances surrounding the kind of giving that was to be done was about sending relief supplies to needy believers in the Lord.
Tithing wasn’t mentioned one time.
However, we have manipulated tithing and giving by including certain Scriptures in a failed attempt to bolster tithing. I called this “applying elasticity to the Scriptures.” In other words, people stretch the Scriptures beyond contextual boundaries to sell a false doctrine. Or at the very least, take a valid doctrine and use it manipulatively.
The economic times of our day is challenging many believers not to tithe.
Since the monetary crisis hit the world, the believer and the church is affected as well. It is estimated that giving is off by between 20% to 30%. All across the United States, believers are pulling back on paying tithes and giving offerings.
The obvious reasons is job losses, reduced salaries, personal debt, and high cost of living increases. Additionally, many of us have failed to take heed to beware of covetousness.
Many of us lived beyond our means and called it a “blessing.” Not realizing that a famine in “Egypt” was coming. A Joseph moment was in the atmosphere.
The Joseph principle (see Genesis 41) is clear.
In times of abundance, store up. Because times of leanness is coming.
Many of us didn’t pay attention and we “ate, drank, and were merry.”
Not realizing the the Lord was warning us, we went ahead and bought everything the world offered to us. Even pastoral empires bought more church than what they could reasonably pay for. This caused many pastors to be escorted off the property, or become very harsh toward people to give beyond their ability. Or, they become very crafty in their preaching about money. To command people to give when their personal bills were past due.
For many people, debt was a “blessing.”
Take out a loan and put it on a card.
Sarcastically, “It is God!”
Prominent preachers want you to buy their books and other paraphernalia. When they come to preach, they have their staff ready to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express or other credit cards, putting you in debt for a product. Or when you know that you have a bill to pay, you write out a check or use your ATM card to buy some teaching. And sometimes people buy this stuff and they never apply any of its principles. Or it is so manipulative that you attempt to put it into operation but nothing happens. Just like the “no money down” real estate deals.
You use money to buy a book or DVD series instead of exercising wisdom to pay your tithes, utilities, rent, mortgage, groceries, etc.
Sadly, and pathetically, some preachers go home to their “mansions” while some of God’s people go back to their much coveted roach and rat infested, paint pealing, leaky ceiling apartments. Looking for that “hundredfold” return that seemingly escapes them every week.
Do not get me wrong.
There are many miracles out there when tithing and giving is done correctly and is not a result of manipulative means. There are many believers that have powerful testimonies because they’ve tithed and gave offerings. But with the right motive in mind from the pulpit to God’s precious people.
Some pastors have machines in the vestibule of most churches so you could pay your tithes and offerings by ATM.
The choice of payment and what you decide to give is totally up to you but we pastors should never be putting other believers into a system of debt to get them to purchase a product. A system of convenience is more costly than the old fashioned way of doing things. The wrong kind of convenience has long tentacles.
Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Sadly, some preachers do not believe in this any more.
While it is true that Paul said that the “Laborer is worthy of his hire,” we preachers should never be looking to “pull” on people to pay for every little thing. I still believe that God knows how to take care of His own.
I am convinced that when God stops paying for a ministry, it is time for its doors to close. It is time to transition into something else. What He calls for, He provides for, however, when the Lord stops the provision there is no longer a need for that vision. Pastors must draw the line and never place an unnecessary burden on the believer to take from them or to put them further into debt. When God speaks to a believer to give, it is always in accordance to what they have and never according to what they do not have.
Somehow, many preachers do not believe what Paul said, let alone what he meant by that.
It is the same at Prevailing Word. The moment the Lord stops providing for the vision is the moment Prevailing Word closes its doors forever. The work is His, not mine. Only God knows how to pay for it. And it makes no sense to try to make Him pay for something that He is discontinuing or never called for in the first place.
You give offerings, not because you want to be blessed but that the Lord blessed you with it to give. That blessing was enough to pay tithes, give offerings, pay bills, and to save some of it for another time of famine.
With credit, we were able to buy things now and pay later or pay the minimum over a long time. However, things got tight. Interest rates increased. We couldn’t resist the items advertised. We went and bought more than our paycheck could handle.
We all maxed out on all 200 of our credit and store cards. Like a boneheaded sucker, that “ten percent off” discount offer at the checkout counter was an attractive drag queen (I’m talking about the offer, not the checkout person at the register).
The discount offer looked like a lady but a closer look revealed masculine facial hair and a deeper voice than usual.
For the believer, it should have been a clear sign that something was about to happen to our financial system that would directly affect tithes and offerings.
Now there are many believers that question tithing.
When things weren’t tight, tithing was never a problem. Now that gasoline prices are beyond reason, buying food is beyond a normal bi-weekly salary. Financing a car is near impossible. Even with a great credit score of 780. Mortgages? Forget it. This is a system that is as dysfunctional as it gets.
Candy bars now are taxable in many states. Not that we need to eat them but the mere idea of taxing a food item is ludicrous. As it stands now, there is no relief in sight and the vultures are flying over head every day. Waiting to devour the next carcass.
As far as tithing is concerned, many believers are now walking away from tithing. The arguments for walking away from tithing are from the usual responses.
1. The preacher is taking the money and using it.
2. Tithing is OT not NT.
3. You won’t get cursed because we are not under the law but we are under grace.
4. Tithing is a manipulative way to finance a pastor’s church empire.
5. I can’t afford to tithe. I got bills to pay. I don’t want to lose my home.
In more cases than not, some of these arguments is valid.
However, you will never see God’s Word telling you that tithing was evil. That tithing was of the devil. That tithing is not the will of God. That there is absolutely no benefit in tithing.
You see the opposite.
Then there are those that do tithe that will argue that they tithe only the net, not the gross (see Proverbs 3:9-10).
They “shortchange” God.
There are clear Scriptures in the book of Genesis that declare that tithing occurred before the law of Moses. The argument that non tithing believers use is that tithing is under the Old Testament law.
It is true that in the New Testament, Jesus never mandated that believers in the church or assembly must tithe. However, we see Jesus instructing the Sanhedrin that they should be concerned with the weightier matters of the law while not leaving the other things (including tithing) undone (see Matthew 23:23-24). As a point, the four gospels is not the beginning of the NT. Remember, Jesus operated as the last OT Prophet. His death fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law (see John 19:28-30 and Romans 10:4).
Even the Lord Jesus told Paul, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Why didn’t the Lord Jesus mentioned that it is more blessed to tithe?
However, their argument continues…
I am a NT believer and I am not subject to tithing under the old covenant. The law was fulfilled in Christ and was done away with by His death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, I am not under the curse of the law because Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” Therefore, the curse of Malachi 3:8-10 doesn’t apply to me.
This argument almost seemed plausible but let me point something out.
Remember, money is the issue.
Remember when Jesus was confronted by the Jews about whether it was right or not to pay taxes to Caesar (see Matthew 22:15-22)? They asked Him a very pointed question. But the Lord responded, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
If the inscription on the coin is Caesar and it is his money, what belongs to the Lord?
Where did the material that made up the coin come from? Who put the substance there so that somebody could make a symbol of value out of it?
Remember, it takes money to get things done. When the children of Israel returned from exile, they needed money to rebuild the wall and the Temple (see Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).
So, how would this get done without money?
What happens when you do not give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar?
We all know what will happen. So what do you think should happen when we do not give to God what belongs to God?
Read Haggai chapter 1, Zechariah chapter 5:1-5, and Malachi 3:8-12.
You will note that the first incident of tithing occurred with Abram.
Well before the law.
It is clear that when a covenant is established before the law, it is out of a covenant relationship that we honor God. This is precisely what Abram did.
For argument’s sake, Genesis is one of five books of the law. However, the book, in and of itself, has no recording of the law. The recording of the law took place in the second book of the Pentateuch called Exodus. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Pentateuch is a Greek term meaning “five-volume”. In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we see detailed instructions on how the nation of Israel is to tithe out of the law.
After Abram returned from the battle of the kings to rescue Lot, Melchizedek, king of Salem brought Abram bread and wine. Abram gave Melchizedek tithes or ten percent of the spoils of war (see Genesis 14).
Melchizedek gave Abram a test. “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” Abram answered wisely, “…I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…that I will not take anything that is yours,”
Melchizedek served as the high priest. Abram recognized Melchizedek’s authority and right as high priest and rendered to God what was God’s to the high priest. When you fast forward to the book of Hebrews, you will see that the High Priest of the new covenant is the Lord Jesus and according to the writer of the book of Hebrews, it is declared that the High Priestly ministry of Jesus is like or patterned after the ministry of Melchizedek (see Hebrews 7).
In Hebrews chapter seven, the issue is not just about tithing. The main issue is about the High Priestly ministry of Jesus. I know that many well intentioned believers accuse pastors and preachers of using this Scripture in Hebrews manipulatively but there is no manipulation in the clearly stated fact that the Lord Jesus is our High Priest.
There is nothing manipulative if you choose to honor your High Priest by paying tithes to your High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe you are in covenant with the Great High Priest, you choose to honor Him with 10% of all your earnings. By giving your High Priest what is His, you are rendering to God, what is God’s.
Some of you Bible scholars will note that there is a Biblical Hermeneutics Principle called “The First Mention Principle.” When a principle is mentioned for the first time, it becomes the standard all the way through the Bible.
Tithing was mentioned in Genesis 14. We see tithing again in Genesis 28:18-22.
These two incidences is the “Witness Principle.” When two persons say the same thing in two different places and at two different times, it becomes an unrehearsed corroborated witness, and it becomes an “established” word (see Deuteronomy 19:15 and 2 Corinthians 13:1).
It is impossible for Abram to get with Jacob to corroborate tithing.
So, you not only have two different witnesses, you also have the fact that tithing was clearly established before the Law of Moses.
The conclusion is simple.
Tithing is a matter of a man willfully entering into covenant with God to render to God what belongs to Him. Because Jesus is our Great High Priest, we honor Him with 10% of all our increase. We give offerings, not to be blessed but because God blessed us. This is called the law of reciprocity according to Ecclesiastes 11:1-6, Luke 6:38, and Acts 20:35. The rate of return is commensurate with how and what you give according to 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 and Galatians 6:7.
According to 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and 9, we give according to what we have and not what we do not have, and tithing is no where recorded or discussed in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. We operate in wisdom by giving to God what belongs to Him and then we exercise discretion in paying all our bills. Whatever is left, we store up for the season of famine that is to come and we do not overspend.
We do not look for the “hundredfold” on our return because there is no such return of 30, 60 or 100fold. We look only to be a blessing as a result of God blessing His people.
We must understand that if we fail to render to “Caesar” what belongs to him, we know what will happen. In the same manner, if we fail to render to God what belongs to Him, we know what will happen.
Now you have to decide what you want to do. I will not tell you what you must do.
In light of these Scriptures, you have the opportunity to tithe or not to tithe.