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INTRODUCTION The last hundred years have witnessed an emergence of erroneous teachings regarding biblical views of money, particularly the tithe. Most of what is taught from today s pulpits is a re-teaching of what has been retaught time and again over the last century, requiring both ministers and congregations to disregard historical fact and accept embedded tradition as truth, thereby maintaining conformity with the current church culture. For the last half century, 4000 years of documented, accessible, historically accepted truth regarding the tithe has been ignored and ridiculed, while the same Judaizing which the apostles rebuked is modernized and fitted to replace the foundation of sound Christian giving. Just as the Romanized church persecuted and excommunicated those who questioned its authority hundreds of years ago, today s self serving charismatic/evangelical doctrines of submission keep many Christians in fear of simply questioning their leaders when the pulpit s precepts don t line up with the entirety of scripture. Instead, most continue to move ahead and do as they are taught, ignoring the fact that they do not know why they do what they do. They are taught that submission to current church affiliation and doctrine has greater value than enforcing Godordained scriptural stewardship. While the fullness of Christ includes divine health and prosperity, today s teaching of prosperity has been a blatantly amateur and naïve application of scripture. The goals of this book are threefold. First, to remove the context of modern Christianity and bring the reader to an accurate understanding of what the tithe actually was to the nation of Israel and early Christianity. This book presents facts accepted and known for thousands of years. It is not a new revelation, but simply the facts that are both passively ignored and creatively spun upon by today s ministries. Secondly, this book will give a clear understanding of correct and incorrect Christian giving as the
CHAPTER 1 - The Three Gifts to God CHAPTER 2 The Three Tithes CHAPTER 3 Israel s Tithes CHAPTER 4 - Getting Practical CHAPTER 5 What Christians Say CHAPTER 6 What Would Jesus Do? CHAPTER 7 How Shall We Give CHAPTER 8 EPILOGUE
Bible, Christ, and past saints have taught. Finally and most importantly, it is written to encourage Christians that they are called and enabled to give well beyond any tithe or financial offering. To limit their giving to a tithe or Mosaic offering also limits God s acting in their lives. The goal of this book is not to eliminate a tithe or support to ministers, the goal is provide proper teaching on Christian giving. S.M. Simpson.
CHAPTER 1 THE THREE GIFTS TO GOD The difference in opinions regarding how Christians are actually supposed to give and the different ways one can read scripture to support prejudiced views is surprising. Few have (in recent times) taken the time to review the whole word of God for a complete understanding of Christian giving. Many operate on the premise that if one or two Bible verses (or witnesses ) can be found that support certain beliefs, they may brush off the audience of 30-40 verses shouting against their convictions. The teaching on Christian giving over the last half century is the teaching of a teaching of a teaching, which at its core ignores many scriptures that oppose it- it resembles the photocopy of a photocopy several times over. To begin, there were 3 classes of Holy gifts, or Corbanim, offered by Israel. 1)Sanctuary Maintenance- Property, Gold. Animals The first class of gifts, known as the dedication gifts, furnished and maintained Jehovah s sanctuary. Property, gold, and animals used in the daily sacrifices were included. Several verses in the book of Numbers give examples of this first type of Corbanim. Numbers 7:3, 11-13, 77, 31:50- And they brought their offering before Jehovah, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle And Jehovah said to Moshe, They shall offer their offering,
each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar. And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon-ben-Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah: And his offering was one silver platter, the weight being an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels (after the shekel of the sanctuary); both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Pagiel-benOcran We have therefore brought an oblation for Jehovah, what every man has of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before Jehovah. . All of these gifts were presented in accordance with the Mosaic law and were used only for the maintenance of the sanctuary 2)Levites Maintenance Numbers 18:21 And I have given to the sons of Levi all the tithes of Israel for a possession, for the ministry in which they serve me in the tabernacle of the covenant. This second class of gifts, which was dedicated for the maintenance of the Levites and priests, is this book s focus and includes first fruits, firstborn, and tithes. There were restrictions placed on this second class of gifts. With the exception of a firstborn man- they had to be mainly agricultural, and included cattle, sheep, grains, olives, etc. If one was to truly obey this law of first fruits and tithes, no offering of money, silver or gold was allowed, as those non-agricultural gifts were to be used towards the maintenance of the sanctuary, not for the salary of those ministering at the altar. Leviticus 27:30-33 And all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land, of the fruit of the tree, is Jehovah s: it is holy to Jehovah. If a man redeems his tithes, he shall add one fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or
of the flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to Jehovah. He shall not search whether it is good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he changes it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
3) Altar Sacrifices Finally, the third class of gift was also agricultural in nature but was offered directly to God by being placed on the altar and consumed by fire. Another limitation placed on this class of agricultural/livestock offering is that man s labor had to be involved in it. Wild grapes and olives could not be offered, but wine and oil could. While wild game was prohibited, livestock raised by the man was allowed. The important point of these gifts given directly to God was that some part of the man s soul, his time and effort, had to be involved in the offering; it was to be intimate and sacrificed a part of the man s life. In addition, the entire gift was given to God and was usually totally consumed in the flames. These Three classes of gift were distinct and separate: The Tithes were not used to maintain the sanctuary (for they were agricultural), the altar sacrifices were always totally destroyed (not given to priests), and the sanctuary gifts were not used by the priests. Any violation resulted in serious consequences.
CHAPTER 2 THE THREE TITHES One of the gifts of the second class was called the tithe, meaning tenth and there were three different tithes which represented what was known as the whole tithe . The blessings related to tithing in the Old Testament resulted from presenting this whole tithe, or 30%. An Israelite could not come before God, bringing only the Levites tithe, and procure the blessings of the whole tithe. The law was a whole, and had to be obeyed fully. Thousands of years before God instituted the tithe in Israel s worship it had been customary for ancient kings to receive a tithe tax from their subjects, as is the case when Abraham honored Melchizedek, though in his case there were more spiritual implications. To give a tenth of one s increase was considered a commonly practiced way to honor a man whom one had respect towards. Giving a tenth in antiquity was akin to our practice of bringing money to a wedding or tipping a waiter, it is an acknowledgement and proper etiquette. In ancient Lydia a tenth of cattle was offered to the gods; the Arabians paid a tithe of incense to the god Sabis; and the Carthaginians brought tithes to Melkarth, the god of Tyre. The payment of tithes was not only a moral but a civil custom payable to the Hebrew kings, the rulers of Babylon, in addition to being mentioned among the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and later the Muslims. In both ancient and modern times, giving a tithe was made law by many nations because it was an issue of un-debated morality and common courtesy, just as many of today s laws are enacted. Abraham lived in the area we know as Babylon, or present day Iraq. He was most likely familiar with the esretu, the standard Babylonian 1/10th tax. The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has several examples of this mandatory Babylonian tax from
writings of the period: ...eleven garments as tithe (on 112 garments) ...(the sun-god) Shamash demands the tithe...four minas of silver, the tithe of [the gods] Bel, Nabu, and Nergal... he has paid, in addition to the tithe for Ninurta, the tax of the gardiner... the tithe of the chief accountant, he has delivered it to [the sun-god] Shamash...why do you not pay the tithe to the Lady-of-Uruk?... (a man) owes barley and dates as balance of the tithe of the years three and four...the tithe of the king on barley of the town... with regard to the elders of the city whom (the king) has summoned to (pay) tithe... the collector of the tithe of the country Sumundar... (the official Ebabbar in Sippar) who is in charge of the tithe... Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek because it was customary and moral to do so in his era, just as not murdering and not stealing were. His gift had nothing to do with Abraham obeying God s written law (there wasn t one yet) but rather was the result of God s will already being written on his heart, resulting in God s law being fulfilled. Paul speaks of this in his letter to Rome: For the hearers of the law are not just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness. - This was the case with Abraham. The Mosaic Law was God s command given exclusively to Israel to perform that which was already commonly acknowledged as good, in order to prove that it could not be done, and that even God s chosen people needed a different righteousness. This law (including tithing) was not so much given as a means to gain protection and improved standing before God, but was meant as the vehicle in which Israel was to learn that they did not have the ability to gain God s providence through action. The righteousness Israel sought had their own obedience as the root and righteousness as the fruit- self righteousness. What God had actually
commanded was the opposite: an imputed righteousness as the root (the faith in God alone which Abraham had) with obedience as the fruit- Christ righteousness.
Now, in regards to Israel s tithe, Easton s dictionary states what scholars and theologians have known for millennia but is not taught in many of today s churches: every property owning Jew was required by the law to pay three tithes of his property: 1.one tenth for the Levites; 2.one tenth for the use of the temple and the great feasts; and 3. one tenth for the poor of the land.
threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. You also shall offer an heave offering to Jehovah of all your tithes, which you receive of the children of Israel; and you shall give Jehovah s heave offering to Aaron the priest. Out of all your gifts you shall offer every heave offering of Jehovah, of all the best thereof, the hallowed part thereof out of it. You shall say to them, When you have heaved the best from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the winepress. And you shall eat it in every place, you and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. You shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall you pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest you die. These and other verses make it clear that that this tenth was solely for the ministers and their families sustenance, a solid principle carried over and practiced in many churches today. Even Paul, when writing to the Corinthians acknowledges that it is an ordinance of Jesus that those who minister the Gospel have the right to live by the Gospel, though he makes no mention of the tithe. In addition receiving this tithe, the Levite/priest was not allowed to own any property, a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance This prohibition of property was as much a part of the law as the preists right to receive the tithe. The Levites and priests were to have no property of their own, so the offerings other than the tithe were to be used towards the maintenance of the sanctuary, and a tenth from land owners was to maintain them In addition, money or precious metals was forbidden in the Levite s tithe, only agricultural products were accepted. Many examples of people giving money in the temple are mistaken for the tithe; Jesus wasn t giving a tithe when he pulled the coin from the fish and paid his temple tribute, nor was the widow when she gave her small offering. Edersheim writes that he believes that this prohibition of money/gold in the tithe was done to prevent religious leaders from
1)The Levite s/Priest s Tenth Not much elaboration is needed on this tenth because, regardless of the debate over whether Christians are bound to giving a tenth or not, all agree that Israel s priesthood and Levites were commanded to receive a tithe. Numbers, chapter 18, verses 23-32 states: But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer- an heave offering unto Jehovah, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. Jehovah spoke to Moshe, Speak to the Levites, and tell them, When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an heave offering of it for Jehovah, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though the corn of the
becoming greedy and profiting materially from their positions over the flock. This tithe given to the Levites was not to be from the first, or best of the harvest, it was simply 1/10th. Teachers today confuse the first fruit and first born offerings with the tithe when they tell congregations that the tithe is to be the first, or the best tenth. In the case of livestock, for example, the tithe was to be the exact opposite-the last tenth, or every tenth animal, whether good or bad. If the giver switched animals and gave a good one instead of the tenth bad one, he would be accursed, having violated the law: Leviticus 27:32-33 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. He shall not search whether it is good or bad, neither shall he change it. Now, using a monetary tithe to support ministers has merit in principle and Christian tradition, wheras the literal application of Mosaic law forbids it. Congregations which require a tithe or some other donation from their members to pay the full time clergy are doing so on solid moral grounds. However, when today s ministers teach that a Christian is obligated to provide a tithe for their sustenance based on obedience to Old Testament law, those same ministers should also be realizing that they are forbidden from owning any property and that they are not allowed to receive money or Gold as payment of that very same tithe law they are promoting; the command for Israel to give a tithe to the Levites is in the same chapter that commands Levites not to own property, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Those Christians who say, but we re not under law as their justification to ignore what they consider to be the obsolete ordinances that sit hand in hand with the tithe while promoting only the tithe, are unable to define where they get their discernment of which parts are still to be obeyed and which aren t, other than their leader s telling them this is how it works. Confusion
has resulted because of this handing down a belief that has been taught by others who have been taught, and so on: The blurred photocopy of a photocopy- no one has the original anymore! There is nothing wrong when a pastor requests, or if a congregation requires a tithe to the overseer as compensation for the pastor s service. It is a solid Biblical, human, and even pagan principle, an undeniably good idea. The problem in today s church is not the lack of desire to provide payment for services rendered but rather it s preoccupation with obedience to God s law as the means to obtaining blessing, over the matters of the faithful heart and faith in Jesus Christ alone as the only end to any righteousness. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees- hypocrites! You pay tithe of mint, anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier issues of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith. These you ought to have done, and not left the others undone. 2) The tenth to be consumed by the family After Israel gave the Levites a tithe as just described, a second tenth was carried by the head of the household to the sanctuary to serve as a sacred feast for his family and the Levites. Deuteronomy 14:22-26- You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed that the field brings forth year by year. And you shall eat before Jehovah Elohiym, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear Jehovah Elohiym always. If the way be too long for you so that you are not able to carry it; if the place be too far from you, which Jehovah Elohiym shall choose to set his name there when Jehovah Elohiym has blessed you: Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go unto the place which Jehovah Elohiym shall choose, and you shall bestow that
money for whatever your soul lusts after: for oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires, and you shall eat there before Jehovah Elohiym and you shall rejoice, you, and your household. Contrary to what is often taught today, the firstborn and first fruits were to be brought to this feast in addition to the 2nd tithe as a separate offering- not as part of the best or first portion of the tithe. It is humorous to note that those ministers who use verse 22 as a justification on why the Christian is commanded to bring a tenth to their minister alone, also ignore the commandment in the following verses instructing the very same giver not to give this tithe to the minister, but to go out and spend it on themselves as God intended, whatever your soul lusts after: for oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires, and you shall eat there before Jehovah Elohiym and you shall rejoice, you, and your household 3) The Trienniel Tithe At the triennial tithe, a third decimation was made and a third tenth part was consumed at home by the family, the Levites, the strangers, and the poor. This triennial year was called the year of tithes, and occurred once every three years. Deuteronomy 14:27-29- And the Levite within your gates; you shall not forsake, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase the same year, and lay it up within your gates. The Levite, (because he has no part nor inheritance with you,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow within your gates shall come and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Jehovah Elohiym may bless you in all the work of your hand . Deuteronomy 26:12- When you have made an end of tithing all your fruits, in the third year of tithes you shall give it to the Levite, and to the
stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your gates, and be filled. This 3rd tithe was not taken to the sanctuary or temple, but was kept in the tithe givers own storehouse -within the gates of the person giving the tithe. Remember, when the Mosaic law was given there were no storehouses in the temple because there was not a temple- only a portable sanctuary. The storehouse referred to in this third tithe was usually privately owned property (Luke 12:18). Those less fortunate and the Levites were invited to the person s house and all were filled. Proponents of the single 10% tithe for the minister usually have not explored these other scriptures which promote the additional 20% being consumed by the congregation, or they have purposefully skipped past them because they go against belief that the church organization alone receives the tithe. Most Christians are quite content with what they are being taught: If I you give 10% God is obligated to bless and protect you, if I don t, you are cursed. With this teaching we still have some level of control over our financial righteousness, forgetting that the purpose of God s law is to bring us to repentance, not righteousness. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness is by the law then Christ is dead in vain. Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, that you are now made perfect by the flesh?
CHAPTER 3 ISRAEL S TITHES Having already established how Israel gave tithes using the bible as a primary source, we can also look back at historians over the millennia who recorded how Israel s tithe was applied. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian and general who lived shortly after Jesus and recorded Christian and Jewish events of his day. In his book, Antiquities of the Jews, written in the 1st century, we find him offering advice to other Jews on how exactly the tithes were to be given in his day: 1) Book IV, vs.8:8- Let there be taken out of your fruits a tenth, besides that which you have allotted to give to the priests and Levites. This you may indeed sell in the country, but it is to be used in those feasts and sacrifices that are to be celebrated in the holy city; for it is fit that you should enjoy those fruits of the earth which God gives you to possess, so as may be to the honor of the donor. 2) Book IV, vs. 8:22- Besides those two tithes, which I have already said you are to pay every year, the one for the Levites, the other for the festivals, you are to bring every third year a third tithe to be distributed to those that want; to women also that are widows, and to children that are orphans. But as to the ripe fruits, let them carry that which is ripe first of all into the temple; and when they have blessed God for that land which bare them, and which he had given them for a possession, when they have also offered those sacrifices which the law has commanded them to bring, let them give the first-fruits to the priests. But when any one hath done this, and hath brought the tithe of all that he hath, together with those first-fruits that are for the Levites, and for the festivals, and when he is about to go home, let him stand before the holy house, and return thanks to God, that he hath delivered them from the injurious treatment they had
in Egypt, and hath given them a good land, and a large, and lets them enjoy the fruits thereof; and when he hath openly testified that he hath fully paid the tithes (and other dues) according to the laws of Moses, let him entreat God that he will be ever merciful and gracious to him, and continue so to be to all the Hebrews, both by preserving the good things which he hath already given them, and by adding what it is still in his power to bestow upon them. What is important here is that Josephus seems to be calling to remembrance the blessings and curses which God promised in Malachi chapter 3, but only if Israel brought in all of their dues and the whole tithewhich here plainly indicates all three tithes, not just one tenth. Josephus reminds the Jewish people that in order to come before God and claim all of the blessings and protection he promised them, they would have to be faithful to all three tithes, which includes the 2 tenths they are to consume themselves. Only bringing 10% does not fulfill the law as God commands, and as such does not entitle an Israelite to any protection or blessing from God. There is no dispute, nor can a Christian reconcile that according to the Old Testament, he has no right to claim he is being obedient by bringing only one tenth to church.
Tobit 1:6-8 Written in the 2nd century BC, Tobit is the fictional story of a righteous Jew who lived in the 8th century BC. Though a fictional story, it gives insight into the practice of giving three tithes in the time before Christ s birth: But I alone went many a time to Jerusalem for the festivals, as the Scripture commands all Israel in an everlasting decree, taking with me the first fruits and the tenth parts of my crops and my first shearings, and I would give them to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. A tenth part
of all my produce I would give to the sons of Levi, who officiated at Jerusalem, and another tenth I would sell, and go and spend the proceeds in Jerusalem each year, and a third tenth I would give to those to whom it was fitting to give it, as Deborah my grandmother had instructed me for I was left an orphan by my father."
specified amount because it will do no good. The Christian, he implies, is called to give all, just as Christ did, for even giving half of all you have ( as Israel did) achieves no great thing. Jerome (345-419), lived at the same time as John Chrysostom. In his book, The Sacred Tenth- 1908, Henry Lansdell writes, After Josephus we have the testimony of Jerome, who, like the preceding two witnesses, lived in Palestine. He says one tithe was given to the Levites, out of which they gave a tenth to the priests; a second tithe was applied to festival purposes, and a third was given to the poor (Commentary on Ezekiel 45:1, 565. quoted in McClintock and Strong, 10, 434). The renowned 19th century scholar Alfred Edersheim writes in The Temple- its Ministry and Services: According to another Rabbinical arrangement different degrees of sanctity attached to different localities. The first, or lowest degree, belonged to the land of Israel, whence alone the first sheaf at the Passover, the firstfruits, and the two wave-loaves at Pentecost might be brought; the next degree to walled cities in Palestine, where no leper nor dead body (Luke 7:12) might remain; the third to Jerusalem itself since, besides many prohibitions to guard its purity, it was only there lawful to partake of peace-offerings, of the firstfruits, and of the second tithes; The Talmud The Talmud was the chief source of how Israelites were taught to observe the laws during Jesus time, and gives another example of how the nation Israel offered tithes at the time of Christ 1) Lansdell states in The Tithe and Scripture: In Book VII (chap I, section I) on Maaseroth, or the first tithe, we find it stated as follows:
John Chrysostom (354-407) Homily 64, Matthew 19:27 As the Bishop of Constantinople in the 4th century, Chrysostom is known as the greatest preacher of the early church. People listening to his sermons took copious notes on what he preached, as they did with this observation of his on Jewish giving: And how much did they bestow in alms? one may ask. For this very thing, I am minded to say now, that they who do not give may be roused to give, and they that give may not pride themselves, but may make increase of their gifts. What then did they give? A tenth of all their possessions, and again another tenth, and after this a third, so that they almost gave away the third part, for three-tenths put together make up this. And together with these, first fruits, and first born, and other things besides, as, for instance, the offerings for sins, those for purification, those at feasts, those in the jubilee, those by the canceling of debts, and the dismissals of servants and the lendings that were clear of usury. But if he who gave the third part of his goods, or rather the half (for those being put together with these are the half), if then he who is giving the half, achieves no great thing, he who doth not bestow so much as the tenth, of what shall he be worthy? With reason He said, There are few that be saved Again we see the common knowledge in the early church that Israel was commanded to give three tithes, and then much more on top of that- up to half! As all other proponents of true grace attest, Chrysostom continues on that a true Christian is not obliged or commanded to pay the tithe, or any
This general rule has been handed down about the tithe: whatever serves for food, is worth keeping, and grows out of the ground, is subject to tithe: and another rule handed down is, that whatever is eatable at the beginning, as well as when fully grown, although customarily kept till it is mature, is subject to tithes, be it small or grown large. But when, in its early stages it is not an ordinary article of food, but becomes so later, it is not subject to tithe until fit to be eaten 2) ibid: Let us now proceed to deal similarly with the book Maaser Sheni, or the Second Tithe, which has also five chapters and contains fifty-four sections. We read of the second tithe in Deuteronomy 14:22-27. It consisted of the yearly increase of the land, which was to be eaten with firstlings of herd and flock at the ecclesiastical metropolis; but if this place were too far from a man's home, he might turn his increase into money, and take the money to this central place of worship, and there spend it at the religious festivals. Accordingly Chapter I begins: They do not sell the second tithes, nor pledge them, nor exchange, nor weigh anything against them as an equivalent; neither does any one say to his neighbour at Jerusalem, Take of my wine and give me of your oil, or the like with other products. Men may, however, give to each other reciprocal presents. The Talmud, with all of its specifics on how to obey Moses law is very clear that money can not to be brought as a tithe. If one didn t have crops or livestock, then one didn t tithe, unless they owned food or meat which they learned hadn t been tithed from. There were no provisions for carpenters, fishermen, or other trades to offer tithes of their monetary gains, though they were permitted to pay temple tributes, taxes and give other offerings with gold or furniture. If the distance was too far to carry the tenth of crops and livestock, one was permitted to exchange it for money. When the person arrived to present or consume their tithe they
did not offer the money, they repurchased the equivalent offering and presented (or consumed) it . There is nothing wrong with a religious leader requiring a set amount of money for their services if the congregation expects the person to serve them full time. However, even Jews today know not to collect a tithe because they can t- there is no temple nor are there Levites. Instead they require set donations in their synagogues.
Albert Barnes - from Barnes Notes (electronic edition): [Matthew 23:23 "Ye pay tithe"] A tenth part. The law required the Jews to devote a tenth part of all their property to the support of the Levites, Num 18:20-24. Another tenth part they paid for the service of the sanctuary, commonly in cattle or grain, but where they lived far from the place of worship they changed it to money, Deuteronomy 14:22-24. Besides these, there was to be every third year a tenth part given to the poor, to be eaten at their own dwellings Deuteronomy 14:28-29; so that nearly one-third of the property of the Jews was devoted to religious services by law. This was besides the voluntary offerings which they made. How much more mild and gentle are the laws of Christianity under which we live!
Barnes here does mention that the bible allows the tithe to be converted to money if the distance was too far; these verses have been wrongly taught as proof that God accepts money as the tithe. The fact is that the money which one had received in exchange for their tithe was to be brought to the place of worship, and then that same money was to be used to re-purchase the livestock and produce of the tithe. Only this produce and livestock could be offered, not the money, and it was consumed by the person giving the offering. Quite frankly it was a violation of the law to give money as a tithe, unless one needed the livestock and agriculture themselves. In this case one could redeem or buy back their tithe by adding one fifth of the value to it.
McIntosh s Commentary on Deuteronomy, 14th chapter- The tithe of De 14:22-27 is clearly conditional to that spoken of in Numbers 18, which was to be given to the children of Levi for their service Then the chapter before us speaks of a second tithe, which is to be eaten before Jehovah in the place which He chooses to cause His Name to dwell there Then at the end of three years there is another tithe; it suggests the result of a prolonged experience of the wealth of the land. The third year is called specifically the year of tithing De 26:12. And this tithe is to be laid up within thy gates; and the Levite-for he hath no portion nor inheritance with thee-and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in all the work of thy hand which thou doest .
CHAPTER 4 GETTING PRACTICAL With a strong understanding of what exactly the tithe was, we shall examine the resulting disorder and double standards of the church s attempts to apply it practically today. First we must briefly cover who gave tithes under Mosaic law. Israel tithed 20%- 30% (depending on the year) of whatever food or meat they had; no money, gold, or treasures could be accepted. Every seven years there were no tithes given. However, only Jewish people who were farmers or who raised livestock could tithe, under the law workers could not pay their wages earned. It has been said that in modern times that we give 1/10th of our gross income, because we are no longer farmers. This justification bears no weight, however; In tithing times tradesmen did not tithe, nor did the hired help. Everything (vegetable/animal) was tithed one time. Here s a comparison: Old MacDonald has a farm that he just started. He plants some corn in the spring for the first time, and in the fall it comes up, a bumper crop. It costs him 1,000,000 dollars harvesting 100,000 acres of corn over the year, including watering, paying his help, etc. According to today s teaching, if he sells it for 100$ per acre, he makes 10 million dollars and gives a tithe of 1 million. In addition, all of his hired help and suppliers would also pay tithes totaling 100,000 dollars. So, in the end the church gets 1.1 million, Old MacDonald has 8 million, his helpers and supplies get 900,000. If he actually did it according to Old Testament law, the offerings come out different. One tenth of his crop goes to the priests and Levites, the second tenth feeds his family, friends, etc, and he ends up selling the rest
Thus far, there are facts enough substantiating that the whole tithe, from its institution in Moses day until the temple s destruction in 70 AD, consisted of 3 separate tenths. To summarize so far, regarding the tithes only: 1) The head of each household was to bring 1/10th of each year s harvest or new livestock, and give to the Levites 2) In addition, 1/10 was to be eaten with your family and shared with the Levite as a festival tithe. 3) 1/10th was to be shared with the poor, the widow, the stranger, and the Levite every 3rd year. 4) In the seventh year, there was to be no planting, no reaping, and no tithing. (Lev. 25:1-7) 5) The tithe was only to be livestock and agriculture, money was not allowed to be offered.
for 8 million; he s given twice as much, helped more people, even consumed some himself. And yet has the same amount in the end. According to the bible and other sources, the first thing he does before he ever gives a tithe is to take a portion of this as a first fruit offering to the Levites. That s about as far as I can describe the first fruits because despite the fact that all of today s televised preachers have such knowledge on the subject, my research indicates that most reputable scholars are unsure as to how much of this field counts as first fruits, nor has anyone left any reliable details about it. Had it been the livestock, the first born from any animal s womb was given to the Levites; but in the case of crops it just isn t known if it was the whole first harvest that a field produced, or just a portion of it. Returning to the tithe, it is important to understand how much was actually given in quantity- NOT VALUE. Old Macdonald has spent 1,000,000 dollars harvesting 100,000 acres (He has invested 10$ per acre). He takes the first 10,000 acres of produce and gives it to the Levites. Next, he takes the second tenth, and eats it with his family, the Levites, and his friends in celebration to God for his bumper crop. As for what s left over from this second tithe, he probably stores some up, gives some away, etc. Now, if it s not the year of the third tithe. He takes his 80,000 acres of remaining corn and sells it at the market for 100 dollars per acre just as before, making 8 million$. Does he tithe off of that? According to Old Testament law, absolutely not! He has already given 20% of his gross harvest. In plain dollars, he tithed 20% (200,000$) worth of crop; that s what it cost him to harvest it. He did not tithe off the value of the crop. Most Christians today would have given a tithe of $1,000,000 in cash instead of Old McDonald s 20% investment ($200,000). Though the Christian gives ten times more money, they are disobeying the law by bringing in only 1/10th! In addition, Old MacDonald now has 8 million dollars (instead of 7.9), has actually given twice as much to the Levites AND the people, and his help
has an extra 100,000 in their pocket because they don t tithe in addition to what Old MacDonald has. More was given, yet everyone ended up with more- Now that s biblical giving. The reason Israel did not tithe money is because God never intended it to be a commercial society. Edershiem writes, There can be no question that, according to the Divine purpose, Israel was not intended to be a commercial people. The many restrictions to the intercourse between Jews and Gentiles, which the Mosaic Law everywhere presents, would alone have sufficed to prevent it. Then there was the express enactment against taking interest upon loans, (Le 25:36,37) which must have rendered commercial transactions impossible, even though it was relaxed in reference to those who lived outside the boundaries of Palestine (De 23:20). Again, the law of the Sabbatic and of the Jubilee year would have brought all extended commerce to a standstill. Nor was the land at all suited for the requirements of trade. (Sketches of Jewish social life, chapter 13). In short, Edersheim points out that God never wanted us to be so money focused. Many examples of people giving money in the bible really have nothing to do with the tithe, but are various other freewill offerings, or annual temple taxes. These monetary gifts were expected of all Jewish people, but the tithe was limited to the produce of one s land: agriculture or livestock. Who were the beneficiaries of Israel s tithes? As mentioned earlier, they were the widows, the strangers in the land, the Levites, orphans, and priests. In Offerings Sacrifices and Worship in the Old Testament, Kurtz points out: And since they had, as strangers, no relations to fall back upon, they were urgently commended in Deuteronomy to the especial protection of the authorities, in common with the widows and orphans; and because they had no inheritance in the holy land, and could not even acquire landed property, they were to be admitted to the festal and tithing
meals along with the poor of the nation 16:10, 26:11).
(Ex 12:48; Nu 9:14; De 14:28-29,
he now owes them protection because they have given him 10% -not even the 30% whole tithe God requires to be blessed! In Malachi 3 God tells the Levites and the priests to get the whole tithe into the store house. His address is to the religious rulers of the day, not the people. At that time God s ministers and people were not all bringing the whole tithe as he had instructed them to; they may even have been bringing in only one tithe. Note that, contrary to today s teaching, the store house was on one's own property, and the second tithe was to be brought there and shared by the storehouse owner with his family and others, promoting fellowship. In Malachi, God s priests had displayed by their own actions that they thought partial obedience was acceptable- they were not teaching and enforcing the whole tithe, and were being rebuked for teaching only particular verses and commands, not the whole of scripture. The result was that the people came before God, week after week, bringing the priests tithe, confessing the blessings of the law over the whole tithe when it wasn t all being brought in. Today, the whole tithe (30%) is not brought in, nor do the faithful stop tithing every seven years as commanded. Most come to church, stand before God and demand blessings because they have been obedient by bringing in one tenth to the church (just like they did in Malachi), while not doing the thing he has commanded in his word to get that blessing (bringing in the whole tithe-all 3 of them to share with others). Many would rather give 10% so they can feel justified, than actually give 100% of themselves as God requires today. Most Christians don t know why they are picking and choosing parts of the law and throwing away others, they are simply doing what they are told as a matter of being under a certain level of grace and out of submission. Because their Christian leaders already seem to know what scriptures are to be obeyed and which may be disobeyed, they conveniently delegate responsibility and promote a mild form of
Those who received the tithe did not tithe, nor were they allowed to as they did not own land (with the exception of the Priests and Levites). Jesus does, however, commend the scribes and Pharisees for tithing everything they ate. He was pointing out that even though they may not have owned land, they made sure that they tithed, just in case the landowner who sold their food to them didn t tithe it correctly. Tradesmen didn t tithe money from their income as it was against God's law. Servants and hired labor who worked in the fields of landowners did not have to give a tithe of their paychecks as it was the landowner s responsibility to give tithes from his crops. This system of tithing prevented people from tithing 4-5 times, keeping them from being overtaxed by religious rules. People are taught today to tithe everything. First, there is 10% of one s gross paycheck. If there is a tax refund many are under compulsion to tithe off of the money they re getting back which has already been tithed on. Others, who may be given an expensive gift like a car, pay 2000$ to their church because that is the tithe of the value of the car. People have received loans to purchase something and tithed off of that, in addition to tithing on the money they earn to pay back the tithed loan. While there is nothing wrong with giving large sums of time and money to a church or any organization one is committed to, many give out of compulsion; there is a genuine fear, taught using only portions of scripture, that God will lift his hand and allow curses to fall. This cannot, by any means, be considered an offering. In the simplest sense it is a bribe, or protection money; if the money isn t paid, bad things will happen. Many people freely and joyfully give 10% and more out of a free heart and genuine desire to give more. Other Judaized Christians give 10% so that the curses of the law will not fall and so they can come to God believing that
Gnosticism. The New Testament says: For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all, and Christ is become of no effect to you, those who are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. I have heard some proclaim that to be blessed we must perform Deuteronomy 14:22, Thou shall truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field brings forth year by year, and at the same time say that curses will fall if we ate our own tithe, even though the very next verse commands us to, And you shall eat before the Jehovah Elohiym, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear Jehovah Elohiym always ? Upon reviewing that last verse, God is clear that that the way to learn the fear of the Lord is to rejoice in him and eat one s own tithe. Why obey the first verse without the second; what rules are being followed in deciding which commands must not be obeyed? The true answer is that there is no logic or tradition being followed, only fear of being different, and a drive to have some involvement in our own righteousness; an unwillingness to acknowledge God s ability to operate and act apart from our own actions. Why do you tithe? Do you really know what you are doing? Are you cursing yourself by using Malachi as the grounds to be blessed, when you are doing the very thing that caused Israel s rebuke ? Back then, everyone partook of the tithe and everyone was blessed; the Levite, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. Farmer MacDonald was blessed sowing 20%-30% of his crop (costing him 200,000$ instead of tithing 1,000,000$), profiting million dollars and feeding his neighbors. Even the land was blessed and received rest for 16 months every seven years. How does this compare with how our tithe today? MacDonald shells out
$2 million in combined cost and tithe instead of $200,000 worth of crop, much of it going straight towards maintaining the church infrastructure, not the people as God intended. While the church receives the tithe, more and more is spent on maintaining the ministry than on ministering outside its walls. Using portions of the Mosaic law, widows, the poor, and the sick are told that the only way God can bless them is by giving their tithe to the church while the parts of the very same law that exempt them from the tithe are ignored! I have watched the pulpit publically tickle the ears of the rich and affirm that they are blessed because they gave a million to the church this year for the new sports facility. At the same moment I have sat with the humble, prayerful mother feeding her children Macaroni and cheese, trying to keep a humble smile on her face that God is with her since she also tithed. I believe most ministers are not teaching a flawed message of giving out of malice or greed- they are merely ignorant. They cannot be blamed anymore than a blind person trying to be helpful describing the color red. They are held accountable, however, when truth has been brought to them and they will not pursue it out of fear that they will be going against the grain or may suffer financial loss. Let us conclude this chapter with one more statement: Jesus did not tithe his income, nor was he even allowed to under the Mosaic law he perfectly followed. If he did give a tithe of his income he violated God s law, is no longer sinless; and died on the cross in vain. The last two thousand years of church history and the deaths of millions of martyrs have been a waste of time. One seemingly small wrong teaching can tear down the core of salvation. Jesus paid taxes; he paid the ½ shekel at the temple from a fish. He commended when people tithed food and animals as they were required
to do. He blessed the widow who brought her offering (it was not a tithe). His parents obeyed the law by bringing his redemption price to the temple (he was a firstborn and had to be redeemed) when he was born; and not the offering of a rich family as some will teach, but the offering which the law allowed for the poor. Yes, Joseph and Mary were poor, or else they lied to God by their offering; they were also probably fed at times by the second and third tithes of others. The verses in God s word that go against everything being taught should not be ignored. God s word, as a whole, works perfectly if only wrestled with long enough. More often than not it is man s willingness to be led and told what to do, rather than a desire to know God, that misleads us. Submission is a virtue often molded into the idol of apathy. Jacob was left alone; and there a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, unless you bless me. And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.
CHAPTER 5 WHAT CHRISTIANS SAY Hopefully, it is understood what the tithe is and who was allowed to offer it. If, by now, sufficient evidence has not been presented that today s tithe is misrepresented, than the rest of this book will be a waste of time. By this point, however, these facts should be established: 1) The Old Testament laws of tithing are only partially taught and are misrepresented by clergy and flock alike 2) Jewish landowners alone tithed. Being under a new dispensation and most likely, not being Jewish landowners, Christians have no claim to any curses or blessings related to the tithes of the bible. 3) Many Christian organization s operations are tied to this wrong tithe; neither applying Jewish law properly, nor removing it altogether would be a benefit and would either leave a spiritual and financial vacuum in its absence or re-institute Judaizing altogether. 4) Proper teaching must be brought about without sacrificing God s word in the least, nor jeopardizing his church. If you consent to these four points you are ready to move on, if not, you are encouraged to research yourself what has been presented. Admittedly, the intention has been to destroy old beliefs about tithing in order to make room for truth- a better, fuller form of giving. There is little room for mixture here: the church must give under grace and repent from being the Galatian church for the last 50 years in regards to money. This section will examine what the church s attitudes toward tithing has been historically, and whether our current tithe was taught and endorsed by Christ and his apostles, or instituted by man in order to perpetuate religion.
Ignatius, the early church father and student of the Apostle John, (c. 105) wrote, If we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace. He considered tithing as part of this law, as Jewish law is a whole law. To endorse tithing and not endorse stoning to death for disobeying you parents back then, would be like us trying to have a swim competition without any water; both are integral to the whole idea. In volume 5 of the Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible, mention is made that the 2nd century Church fathers, Irenaeus and Epiphanius, believed that the emphasis of the church should be strong on the freedom and liberality of Christian giving. Irenaeus goes so far to say that Jesus gave a stronger commission than just tithing; that we are to give all: And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], You shall not commit adultery, forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, You shall not kill, He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. (c. 150-200 Against Heresies, book 4, chap. 13). He also said, [The Jews] had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him. In contrast, those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord's purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things..... Note that Iraneaus describes Christian giving as being in contrast to (the opposite of) the tithe, and involving all their possessions , not just 10%. Around the same time (c. 150-220), Tertullian wrote on how the early church collected and distributed finances, Our presidents are elders of proved worth, men who have attained this honor not for a price, but by
character. Every man brings some modest coin once a month or whenever he wishes, and only if he is willing and able; it is a freewill offering. You might call them the trust-funds of piety; they are spent on the support and burial of the poor (Apology, XXXIX, 1-18). It is worth note that there are no mentions of the church tithing in early Christian literature, besides those newly converted Jews who still felt it necessary to obey Moses law while the temple existed in Jerusalem. All indications are that donations were voluntary, and went towards ministering to the flock. Churches met in private. Unlike today, most funds went directly back to the saints and not into maintaining a building. The family of Christ was intimate, meek, and valued people more than the institution. Continuing on in his Apology, Tertullian writes on Christian worship, We do not now deal with the Law any further than [to remark] that the apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished - by passing from shadow to substance. That is, it has passed from figurative types to the reality, which is Christ. Though we have our treasure chest, it is not made up of purchase money, as of a religion that has its price. Rather, on the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation - but only if it is his pleasure and only if he is able. For there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. Around the year 248, Origen writes, We do not regulate our lives like the Jews. For we are of the opinion that the literal following of the laws is not the thing that conveys the real meaning of this legislation. In describing Christian worship and giving of his day, in his First Apologychapter 67, Justyn Martyr writes, Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by
the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. The tithe began to enter the church and appear in church doctrine after Constantine s successor effectively made Christianity the state religion of his empire. This had the effect of creating a celebrated institution where persecution and secret, intimate worship had previously existed. All institutions need to be financed, and the empire s treasury paid for much of this initial establishment. Over time, as cathedrals were built and the clergy s payrolls increased, it became necessary to establish regulations, insuring not that true religion could be promoted, but that the institution would be strengthened. At this period in time the church s influence in government grew, with The Council of Tours in 567 and the 2nd Council of Macon in 585 advocating the tithe. The tithe was made mandatory by civil law in the Carolingian empire in 765; Pope Adrian I formally recognized it in 787, followed by England by the 10th Century. While many claim that the tithe was practiced in the early church, they should ask themselves this: Why was it necessary to have so many councils on instituting a tithe 35 centuries after Christ s death, if it already existed in early Christianity? In 2000 years this thought process would allow future historians to use all of the current political debates over gay marriage as evidence it was accepted and practiced already. The Reformation did not abolish tithing, it allowed the state to collect and distribute the tithes to the churches. It should be noted that many
European countries did not abolish remnants of the tithe tax until the mid 1800 s, with England abolishing them in 1977, and Scotland in 2000. Austria, Germany, Italy, and Finland still collect and distribute tithe taxes to churches. In a sermon delivered on August 27, 1525, Martin Luther had this to say about the tithe, But the other commandments of Moses, which are not [implanted in all men] by nature, the Gentiles do not hold. Nor do these pertain to the Gentiles, such as the tithe John Wesley preached a sermon in 1744 entitled, On the Use of Money, where he said, give all you can; or in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint yourself, like a Jew rather than a Christian, to this or that proportion. Render unto God not a tenth, not a third, not half, but all that is God's (be it more or less) by employing all on yourself, your household, the household of faith and all mankind, in such a manner that you may give a good account of your stewardship when ye can be no longer stewards; in such a manner as the oracles of God direct, both by general and particular precepts; in such a manner, that whatever ye do may be "a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour to God" [cf. Lev. 8:21], and that every act may be rewarded in that day when the Lord cometh with all his saints. Wesley s words form the crux of how the Christian should be giving today, and mirror John Chrysostom s words mentioned earlier. Converted in 1920, Ní Tuòsh ng changed his name to Watchman Nee and spread the gospel throughout China. He was jailed by the Communist government in 1952, and spent the rest of his life there until his death 20 years later. In his book, The Normal Christian Life he takes the churches offerings a step further: It is right for the brethren to give occasional gifts to the workers, as the Philippians did to Paul, but they must not bear the responsibility of any. The churches have no official obligations regarding the workers, and the latter must see to it that the former do not take such obligations upon themselves. God permits us to accept gifts, but it is not
His will that others become responsible for us. Gifts of love may be sent to the workers from their brethren in the Lord, but no believers must regard themselves as under any legal obligations towards them. Not only have the churches no official responsibility towards the workers; they are not even responsible for their board, lodgings, or traveling expenses. The entire financial responsibility of the work rests upon those to whom it has been committed by God 2 Corinthians 7:2; 12:14; 1Thessalonians 2:5; 3:8 From these passages we see clearly the attitude of the apostle. He was not willing to impose any burden upon others or in any way to take advantage of them. And this must be our attitude too. Not only should we receive no salary, we should be careful not to take the slightest advantage of any of our brethren. While Watchman Nee uses Paul s example as a justification for not imposing a burden upon others, he neglects that Paul received wages from an outside congrecation while ministering, and said that a ministers right to live off of the gospel is an ordinance of the Lord. Leonard Ravenhill from Heart Breathings: Our present Christianity sputters along on the two cylinders of tithing and token commitment instead of speeding along on the eight cylinders of total commitment. One of my favorite preachers of the 20th century still has a weekly radio broadcast that I strongly recommend. In his Thru the Bible Commentary Series, J. Vernon McGee states: 1) Galatians (p.23) Paul now calls the religion in which he was brought up the "Jews' religion." Paul was saved, not in Judaism, but from Judaism. 2) Malachi (p.84): Under grace God wants you to give as you are able to give. For some people that would be less than the tithe. And I m of the opinion that a great many in this affluent society ought to be giving more to God.
3) Malachi (p.85): Again I would remind you that we are not under the tithe system today. There are many humble believers with very little income for whom a tenth would be too much to give. 4) Malachi (p.86): There is no such thing today as that which is called storehouse giving. That s not quite the way we give, because Israel s giving was in the form of produce. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association states: the question as to whether to tithe from one's net or gross income is not answered in Scripture, nor is the question of whether to give it all to the local church or to include other ministries. We feel that such decisions should be based on personal conviction It is not mentioned in the New Testament except where it is describing Old Testament practices or in the Gospels where Jesus is addressing people who were under the Old Testament law. Note Jesus' comments to the Pharisees in Luke 11:42 A New Testament teaching on giving which may be helpful to you is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2: "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately. The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances. He knows when they are beyond our power to direct and control. The important thing is that we see giving as a privilege and not a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, but rather out of love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom advanced. Second Corinthians 9:6-7 says: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. The deeper question, you see, is this: What has priority in our lives? Is Christ really first--or do we put ourselves and our own desires first? Make sure Christ is first in your life, and then ask Him to guide you.
Jewish Rabbis today (those who should know the Mosaic Law better than Christians), do not collect tithes because they know only the Levites can collect the tithe. Because the genealogical records were destroyed in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, they cannot determine true Levites. They use a patron system of so many dollars for each seat in their synagogues to raise funds for the maintenance of their synagogues. Of course, the more prominent seats command a higher price, but they do not tithe. The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: The early Church had no tithing system ... it was not that no need of supporting the Church existed or was recognized, but rather that other means appeared to suffice. It also states: In the Deuteronomic code the tithe is limited to grain, wine, and oil (Deu. 12:6, 11, 17; 14:22). These texts more or less equate the tithe with other ritual offerings and sacrifices.  No law of tithing is found in the New Testament, although the principle of church support is laid down in Matt. 10:10 (see also Luke 10:7) and echoed in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14. The tithe was to be kept in a storehouse at the tither s home, as many translators can attest: In 1Cor.16v1-3 Paul tells the Corinthians, Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him. The following Greek scholars make it clear that this statement of the 1st century church says the storehouse is located within the Christian s home: 1) Bloomfield translates this, Par heauto, by him. French, chez lui, at home. 2) Alford's Greek Testament translates it, let each of you lay up at home in store whatever he may by prosperity have acquired (lit. whatever he
may be prospered in: i.e. the pecuniary result of any prosperous adventure, or dispensation of Providence). 3) A.T. Robertson writes in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, Lay by him in store, ( par heautoi titheto thesaurizon ). By himself, in his home. Treasuring it (cf. Matt.6v19f. for thesaurizo ). Have the habit of doing it, titheto (present imperative). As he may prosper ( hoti ean euodotai ). Old verb from eu, well, and hodos, way or journey, to have a good journey, to prosper in general, common in Septuagint. In N.T. only here and Rom.1v10. and 3John.v2. We should also review something else Paul said; that those who live ministering to others have the right to live by them. The 17th century puritan theologian, Richard Baxter, sheds further light on this in his letter to English ministers, The Reformed Pastor. Baxter believed that full time ministers should be provided for by their congregations, but that this was not to motivate them in their calling, Think not of being rich; seek not great things for yourselves or your posterity. What if you do impoverish yourselves to do a greater good; will this be loss or gain? If you believe that God is the safest purse-bearer, and that to expend in his service is the greatest usury, show them that you do believe it.
CHAPTER 6 WHAT WOULD JESUS DO Let us now go to the source of our faith and look into how he gave, and how he instructed we should give. It is important to remember that often times Jesus was talking to Jewish people who were still under the law and, since he had not died yet to remove them from the law, he encouraged them to obey the law- including the tithes. What he also did, however, was address the heart issues which should precede obedience. In his life, he fulfilled the law perfectly in our place and made us righteous in regards to the law. In addition, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have now been empowered to live perfectly, not through obedience to the written law (which purpose it was to prove we needed another form of righteousness) but to the Spirit: I say then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary to one another so that you cannot do the things that you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Eph 5:1618) Matt 17:24-27 (see also Exodus 30:13) And when they came to Capernaum, they that received the didrachmon (temple tax) came to Peter, and said, Doesn t your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. When he came into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Whom do the kings of the earth take taxes or tribute from, of their own children, or of strangers? Peter said to him, Of strangers. Jesus said to him, Then aren t the children free? Regardless, so that we don t offend them, go to the sea, cast an hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when you have opened his mouth, you will find a piece of money. Give it to them for me and for you.
This story is an example of the temple tax that was given towards the upkeep of the temple, and was paid once a year by all Jewish males over 20 years of age. Peter was approached by men who, most likely, weren t as much concerned with him paying the annual tribute as they were with entangling Jesus & him in a brilliant trap; if Jesus didn t pay the tax they would have something with which to the stir people up against him, but if he did pay he couldn t still claim to be the son of God, because sons didn t pay taxes to their fathers. These men approached Peter away from Jesus, and when Peter came into the house where Jesus was, our savior already knew how to handle it. Before Peter said a word Jesus asked if children of the King are obliged to pay taxes, to which the obvious answer was no. Christ establishes 3 important principles in this verse. The first is while servants and subjects pay tribute, the son s have no need to. Many Christians today give out of an attitude of servant-hood not yet recognizing they have been adopted by God. Other Christians use their son-ship as a reason not to give, but they miss the mark as well. A true son, though not under the same obligation as the servants, will pay tribute and serve his father more than all of the servants if he loves his father. The second principle Christ establishes is a Christian s making sure that their freedom in Christ does not cause another to stumble. Jesus did not pay the temple tax because he acknowledged any servant-hood or obligation, after all, was he to pay taxes to himself? He paid the money for himself because it was better to pay 2 days wages than give Satan anymore foothold into these men s hearts. This is another example of a Christian valuing the condition of the heart over the legal aspects of God s rules; love must be the root of our obedience. The final principal Jesus establishes is responsibility and accountability. Having now taught that neither Peter nor himself are obligated to pay the temple tax, he teaches that they also should not offend because of it ; Jesus proves his Lordship by paying both of their temple taxes-not out of
his own purse -for how can Christ deny his son-ship - but from the mouth of a fish, thereby not paying the tax himself and also crushing offense. Jesus not only taught Peter the truth, but took care of the moral conundrum which his teaching produced: how to pay the tax so as not to offend but also not deny Christ s authority by paying it. We, as fellow brothers, are called to teach one another and then bear one another s sufferings, not teach someone and leave them hanging. If a brother needs advice or help, we are called to step down from our platform of intellectualism and authority in order to mentor others; we must get bloody and dirty doing their work with them. In the context of our book we may draw from these verses this point: The Christian has no legal or moral obligation to fulfill in his giving to God, other than the perfected worship and unreserved tributes of a grateful son. Matt 19:16-23 (see also Mark 10:17-25, Luke 18:18-27) And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but one- God. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him, Which? Jesus said, You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said to him, All these things have I kept from my youth up. What do I lack still? Jesus said unto him, If you will be perfect, go sell what you have and give it to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Truly, I say to you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. This young man approached Jesus, not out of sincerity, but in order to prove his own righteousness. Can there be any doubt that when he asked
Jesus what he must do, the young man already was convinced he had been perfect in his obedience to the law? His question does not seem to arise from lack of knowledge, but more from a need to be praised for his righteousness- something is missing. To hear Jesus words at first must have been a delight to his ears, a justification. Deep inside, however, something had moved; after just being told he had done everything right, the young man asks, What do I lack still? ; he knows in his spirit that something is amiss despite our savior s confirmation of his obedience to the law. This man had done everything right, and in our church of today would probably be looked at as one of the people we should emulate; a successful, prosperous, giver of god s prescribed offerings- a good Christian. Yet he had not given all to Christ s work, nor was he willing to. We should recall a similar man who, most likely, was just as obedient to God s law, but did it out of a right heart with God. This scribe had been listening to Jesus debate with the Pharisees, Herodians, and Saducees, about giving to Caesar and about marriage (Mark 12). Unlike the rich young man, this scribe, a man of the law, was not trying to justify but understand: vs. 28-34- And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the chief commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord and You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength , this is the main commandment; and the second like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There are no other commandments greater than these. The scribe said to him, Well, Master, you have said the truth, for there is one God; and there is none other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings
and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. On the outside these two men (the young rich man and the scribe) would have looked very similar in their walks with God, both would have probably appeared faultless. The difference was in their giving and surrender to God. While the rich man did everything right (including his giving), he had not surrendered all to God, and that was the only thing that Jesus asked of him to get into heaven; he valued his earthly riches over eternal life and had to face that fact. The scribe, while justified under the law as well, did not see that as the means to approach God; he recognized that total love and surrender to God was more important than the entire law, or in his words, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Christians need to change the view that obedience to God s law is the vehicle which empowers them to profit. While obedience has its advantages over disobedience, it must be paired with a right heart. Without the Spirit as the source, mere obedience is a limitation when compared to the gain in Christ s perfect law, But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. We may draw this conclusion from these verses: Christ has called us to love others and give all to him; obedience to the limitations of God s laws is subservient to surrendering everything to him. Matt 21:12-13 (see also Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17, Mark 11:15-17) And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves, and said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.
Jesus cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. Both instances addressed the same issue; the religious leadership was approving and endorsing what appeared outwardly to be obedience to religious duty, but which in fact was rooted in their own greed. Jews would come from around the world to Jerusalem for the various offerings, and since they would bring different currencies, it was the money changers job to exchange their coins and offerings for approved temple currency to eliminate debate as to the value of offerings one gave. Rabbinic sources detail the corruption and greed at these events; the money changers and religious leaders intended to make a profit. Jesus rebuke in these verses was directed not at those obedient people who were just trying to give their offerings the way they had been taught, but at the religious leaders allowing wrong principles and attitudes into their oversight, and for promoting a money oriented religion in the people. Notice that the religious leaders did not confront Jesus and tell him he was wrong; they knew they were guilty of what he accused. They simply sidestepped the issue and asked what gave him the authority to cause this trouble among them. This belief of the Pharisees manifests today with the church s default doctrine, Give money to the church and God will give you back more. From this statement stems all sorts of wrong teaching and covetousness, taking one or two verses out of context in order to build an entirely new doctrine on how to give so I get more back. When confronted with their misdirected teachings and attitudes on Christian giving, many church leaders will react in much the same way the Pharisees did; They avoid entering into a common sense scriptural debate that they know they will lose by side stepping and questioning the accusers authority or motives, using their ministry position to justify some greater anointing that others do not have on the issue- they need not explain themselves.
Have you ever heard the untrue statement, Jesus talked about money more than hell ? The unchecked message that carnal Christians hear is that money is more important than salvation. We have been conditioned so that that whenever the terms sowing and reaping are brought up, our carnal minds shift to giving MONEY in order to receive more MONEY. We are taught, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap , without the next verse, For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal 6:7-8) What about Luke 38? is the objection, Even Jesus said, Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Reading the entire chapter it is obvious that Jesus is speaking about giving mercy and love, not money. In regards to money he says that if we lend we should not expect to get back. He does not promise more money in return, but instead persecution, and at best, with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Another objection is heard, but the bible says He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Yes it does, and though Paul is speaking of money, in these same verses (2 Corinthians 9) he goes on to clarify (if the entire chapter is read) that our giving produces fruits of righteousness, and that giving not only supplies the saints but is returned in thanksgivings and glory to God, not money! Let us not fall into the false teachings of today s church that our main end use of Jesus Christ is to be provided for, for if that be the case than Paul and the martyrs died out of Christ s will. Matt 22:15-22 ( se also Luke 20:21-25, Mark 12:14-17)
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. They sent out their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth, neither do you care for any man: for you regard not the person of men. Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt me, hypocrites? Show me the tribute money. They brought him a denarius and he said to them, Who is this image and superscription? They said to him, Caesar s. Then he said to them, Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar s; and to God the things that are God s. When they had heard they marveled, and left him, and went their way. With these verses the mainstream teaching has been that Jesus is telling the people to make sure to pay your taxes, and also to make sure that God gets what is his- the tenth of our income. This cannot be the case. As already covered earlier, the law does not allow a tithe of money, gold or copper- it has to be crops or livestock. When a minister uses these verses to support his belief that Jesus is telling people to tithe off of their paycheck, he is in effect telling his flock that Jesus sinned by encouraging people to disobey God s law,- and by consequence is no longer qualified to be the unblemished lamb sacrificed in our stead. In addition, the full tithe is not 10%, it is 30%. Finally, most Christians are not Jewish and are therefore forbidden from giving a tithe under Old Testament regulations. If Jesus had been telling the Jews to give a tithe of the Roman coin then he sinned and we are no longer redeemed, a reiteration of how one small error tears at the root of our very Salvation. Jesus is actually teaching these leaders just the opposite of what today s church has taught these verses mean. Jesus says render to Caesar what is Caesar s- that means money and gold. The leaders of Jesus day had begun to reject God s law and had begun putting more value on actually receiving cold, hard, cash, instead of the correct offerings. He is telling them to stop
collecting money, even though it is more convenient and useful, and return to God s ways. Money is not God s creation, it is man s. Jesus tells us to give to God what is rightly his (meaning everything he created, the tithes of crop and livestock, etc) and leave the things the world values back to the world- its gold and treasures. It only benefits us when things are put in this perspective, but man somehow projects his own beliefs onto God -that money is as important to him as it is to us. God says that his thoughts are not our thoughts. There is a legend that St. Dominic the preacher was being given a tour of the treasures of the Vatican. The Pope proudly referred to Acts 3:6 and said, Peter can no longer say, Silver and gold have I none. Dominic turned, and looking straight at the Pope said, No, and neither can he say, Rise and walk . Remove the money and insert in its place a heart fully submitted to Jesus Christ and his power, and you will shut up the heavens, cast out demons, and raise the dead. It may not be on television, but it will fill heaven instead of stadiums. Matt 23:16-23 (see also Luke 11) Woe to you blind guides, which say, Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a bound to the oath! Fools and blind, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, Whoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is bound. Fools and blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Whoever, therefore, swears by the altar, swears by it, and by all things on it. Whoever swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells in it. And he that shall swear by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him that sits upon it. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
You pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith. These you ought to have done, and not left the others undone. These verses can be broken down into 2 separate issues (swearing by the temple and tithing), but Jesus uses both of them to make the same point; that because of the love of money and self-righteousness, the scribes and Pharisees had their priorities wrong. First is the issue of swearing by the temple, the altar, or the gift on the altar. Jesus points out that in all of their minute legal interpretations of Moses law, the religious leaders believed that an oath made with an offering (or money) had more value and was more binding than an oath made upon the temple or altar. Jesus takes it a step further saying that there should be no distinctions in the efficacy of one s oath. Whether accompanied an offering or not, they are all oaths before the throne of God himself, and the religious leaders ought to recognize that just because a gift to them is included with an oath, it doesn t mean the gift is of greater worth to God. This is quite a contrast to the mainstream charismatic teaching which often encourages worshippers to make offerings to make their worship and oaths more efficacious to God. The second matter which Jesus brings forth (tithing) addresses the same core problem; that again, the Pharisees spent too much time on the trifling matters of religion because their hearts were far from God and focused on carnal things. In both of the issues Christ rebukes here, we see a parallel in today s church. Much time is spent on the importance of giving money and bringing your tithes before God as a matter of obedience to him and a way to be able to come before God and say, OK God, I ve done my part, now do yours- bless me! The teaching that says there is something we must do in order to gain from God, for all practical purposes, negates the work of Christ on the cross, and perpetuates the same error of the Pharisees which is here rebuked.
If there was any intrinsic value solely in acts of obedience, we would be made perfect by it. Hebrews 10 says, however, For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect and also, For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. Jesus Christ was our tithe, he was our first-fruits, he was the fulfillment of every offering, we have been perfected. The message to today s church from these verses is simple: Do not let you obedience overshadow the weightier matters of Christ, and do not esteem the gifts and treasures more than God s throne. Worship him alone. Matt 26:7-13 (see also Mark 13:3-9, John 12:1-8) Now, when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat. When his disciples saw, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood he said to them, Why do you trouble this woman? She has wrought a good work upon me. For you have the poor always with you; but me you will not always have. In that she poured this ointment on my body, she did for my burial. Truly I say to you, where ever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, also shall it be told what this woman has done, for a memorial of her. This incident is another example of Jesus confronting those who regarded money as more valuable than the weightier matters of worship. The difference between this example and the last is that this time the religious leaders are not the Pharisees trying to perpetuate their blind religion (Judaism), but the very disciples who will be responsible for carrying on God s new work! Just as the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus when
he confronted their greed, so was the case here. Immediately after Jesus spoke these words about the woman s offering, Judas left the room and conspired with the Pharisees, agreeing to hand Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver. When any religion becomes institutionalized, money becomes the guiding force behind spiritual discernment. His disciples had begun valuing the institutions of Christ (feeding the poor, helping people) over worshipping Christ himself. Mark 12:38-44 ( see also Luke 21:1-4) And he said to them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts. They devour widows houses and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. There came a certain poor widow and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing, and he called his disciples and said, Verily I say to you that this poor widow has cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all of them gave out of their abundance; but she of her lack cast in all that she had, all her living. Out of all the wonderful verses on full surrender this one is, perhaps, the most embellished and abused from the original meaning. Ridding ourselves of preconceived notions let us read what is perhaps the most accurate and well understood commentary on this widow by Alfred Edersheim: Passing for the present from the cavils of the Sadducees and the gainsaying of the Scribes, we come unexpectedly on one of those sweet pictures - a historical miniature, as it is presented to us - which affords real relief to the eye amidst the glare all around we turn to the silent worship of her who gave her all, and to the words with which Jesus owned it, all unknown to her. It comes to us the more welcome, that it exhibits in deed what Christ had said to those hypocrites who had discussed it, whether the
tribute given to Caesar was not robbing God of what was His. Truly here was one, who, in the simplicity of her humble worship, gave to the Lord what was His! Weary with the contention, the Master had left those to whom He had spoken in the Porches, and, while the crowd wrangled about His Words or His Person, had ascended the flight of steps which led from the Terrace into the Temple-building. From these He could gain full view into The Court of the Women, into which they opened. On these steps, or within the gate (for in no other place was it lawful), He sat Him down, watching the multitude. The time of Sacrifice was past, and those who still lingered had remained for private devotion, for private sacrifices, or to pay their vows and offerings provision was made for receiving religious and charitable shaped boxes (Shopharoth); somewhere here also we must locate two chambers: that of the silent, for gifts to be distributed in secret to the children of the pious poor, and that where votive vessels were deposited. Perhaps there was here also a special chamber for offerings. These trumpets bore each inscriptions, marking the objects of contribution - whether to make up for past neglect, to pay for certain sacrifices, to provide incense, wood, or for other gifts. As they passed to this or that treasury-box, it must have been a study of deep interest, especially on that day, to watch the givers. Some might come with appearance of self-righteousness, some even with ostentation, some as cheerfully performing a happy duty. Many that were rich cast in much - yes, very much, for such was the tendency that (as already stated) a law had to be enacted, forbidding the gift of the Temple of more than a certain proportion of one s possessions. And as Jesus so sat on these steps, looking out on the ever-shifting panorama, His gaze was riveted by a solitary figure. The simple words of St. Mark sketch a story of singular pathos. It was one pauper widow. We can see her coming alone, as if ashamed to mingle with the crowd of rich
givers; ashamed to have her offering seen; ashamed, perhaps, to bring it; a widow, in the garb of a desolate mourner; her condition, appearance, and bearing that of a pauper. He observed her closely and read her truly. She held in her hand only the smallest coins, two Perutahs, and it should be known that it was not lawful to contribute a less amount... But it was all her living, perhaps all that she had been able to save out of her scanty housekeeping; more probably, all that she had to live upon for that day and till she wrought for more. And of this she now made humble offering unto God. He spake not to her words of encouragement, for she walked by faith; He offered not promise of return, for her reward was in heaven. She knew not that any had seen it - for the knowledge of eyes turned on her, even His, would have flushed with shame the pure cheek of her love; and any word, conscious notice, or promise would have married and turned aside the rising incense of her sacrifice. Jewish tradition, though it ever had painfully thrusts forward the reward, has some beautiful legends, allegories, and sayings about the gifts of the poor... But to all time has it remained in the Church, like the perfume of Mary s alabaster that filled the house, this deed of self-denying sacrifice. More, far more, than the great gifts of their superfluity, which the rich cast in, was, and is to all time, the gift of absolute self-surrender and sacrifice, tremblingly offered by the solitary mourner. And though He spake not to her, yet the sunshine of his words must have fallen into the dark desolateness of her heart; and, though perhaps she knew not why, it must have been a happy day, a day of rich feast in the heart, that when she gave up her whole living unto God. And so, perhaps, is every sacrifice for God all the more blessed, when we know not of its blessedness. Would that to all time its lesson had been cherished, not theoretically, but practically, by the Church! How much richer would have been her treasury: twice blessed in gift and givers. But so is not legend written. If it had been a story invented for a purpose or adorned with the tinsel of embellishment, the Saviour and the widow would not have so parted - to
meet and to speak not on earth, but in heaven. She would have worshipped, and He spoken or done some great thing. Their silence was a tryst for heaven.
CHAPTER 7 HOW THEN SHALL WE GIVE? At this point in reading, you will have one of many responses to what has been understood.
Luke 12: 31-3 But instead, seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which do not grow old; a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches, nor moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. After telling those around him to not lay up treasures for themselves, nor seek what they shall eat or wear, Jesus begins these verses by contrasting God s kingdom with the world by saying, But instead seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you. He says INSTEAD! He is not saying that God shall not provide abundantly, he is saying not to seek after those things, to give all for Christ s kingdom. Spend all, sell all for the kingdom of God he says, and you are sowing into a treasure in heaven. This concept has been twisted, however, and much teaching of today will tell us that if we want something here in this world we must sow something in this world also, usually to the church. If we sow for worldly provision, we must be aware that we forfeit our heavenly treasures. We sow a seed to get something we need and wait for years wondering why it doesn t manifest. The answer is clear: we are commanded in these verses to sow into the eternal, not the temporal. So many today sow into the money pit of worldly blessing, and in the process cancel any investment they have into their heavenly reward.
The first type of response goes, I knew that there was something wrong with how I was taught to give a tithe. Now I know I m under grace, I don t need to give the way I have been! How right you are, but notice- now that you realize you are loosed from the legal obligation to give 10% of your income, your carnal nature takes over and you see this release from God s law as a reason to do less instead of more, revealing the true state of your heart; you are using his grace as a means to justify your sin instead of as the means of doing more for him. The true disciple of Christ, once freed from the bondage of law, learns that they are a slave to righteousness, that they can do all things through Christ. Instead of giving less than 10%, the Holy Spirit echoes the words, Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. The freed saint realizes that God does not want 10%, but everything; Protection over your remaining 90% that the tithe once offered is gone. As you are made more of a slave to righteousness, not by the law but by the Spirit, your burden is truly greater in the realm of what the Spirit teaches; it places more severe requirements of your life; you may wish to go back to the minimal requirements of Moses (30%-50%), or even the church (10%) Another type of person, after reading thus far will think, I can t let go of giving a tithe, I am convinced that I will only be blessed by tithing; obedience is required, after all. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law. Well, first of all, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with giving a tithe of your money to church; it is a principle birthed out of a generous heart. Many have given much more, on the basis that there is a simple moral issue that even heathens have adhered to for thousands of years: Bless your religious leaders! This has nothing to do with the Law of Moses;
it is a law written on the heart, an issue of personal (not corporate) obedience towards God, a requirement placed on one s self to simply pay for services rendered by a pastor. How dare we, however, add a falsehood of man to this by bringing God 10% of our income and then tell him that he owes us because we are obeying his rules. We are in fact breaking them by only bringing 10%, and bringing on the curses which are in the same verses as the blessings we so ignorantly tell God he must give us. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Gal 5:14-16) Still, another person (including myself), after reading this book says, The institution of the church and today s ministry requires fixed amounts of money to cover expenses; we cannot budget off of people s giving out of their hearts. If the church is to remain strong, we must have money. To this I heartily agree, but with a hint of sarcasm. Yes, the way it has been institutionalized, the church does require money; unfortunately most of that money often goes towards infrastructure not Christ s ministry. In this chapter let me first spend some time on how we are to give and show how, if we give the way Christ and his apostles taught, the church will thrive as never before with Christians gladly giving more than everything towards his work. Much of how the early church gave has been covered, but there are many ways that we are commanded to give that require the common Christian to give more and supply their ministers beyond what Moses law ever required. One of the benefits of the tithe is that it still allowed personal ownership of all else. The spiritual laws of Christ, however, require all, leaving nothing as your own! And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. All that believed were together and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple and
breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Giving to the Ministers Moses law clearly and specifically outlined exactly who was to give, and how they were to give it. In the end all who received can be broken down into 4 types 1) Those without means to support themselves in the Nation of Israel; the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. 2) Those dedicated to serving God- the Levites and priesthood of Aaron 3) The giver and his own family were supported. 4) Offerings were made to God, and him alone. The bible, and Christian writers of the first 4 centuries after Christ s resurrection, gave very concise, clear instruction on how giving was to occur. It is amazing how the tithe is absent from all early Christian sources, but how we try to still keep it in effect. First, lets look at how Paul describes teachers are to be paid in Galatians 6:6 (KJV) Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teaches in all good things. This is a very poor translation of the word communicate. A word study will reveal that the word really means, Be a partaker with, share, become a partner in. Paul uses the word in Romans, Phillipians, and Galatians, in regards to monetary giving. The word is also used in the bible in partaking of someone s sin with them, and having fellowship in suffering. To say that this word only means to share jointly doesn t even scratch the surface; other versions have translated it better: CEV- Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God said.
NIV- Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. NLT- Those who are taught the word of God should help their teachers by paying them. NCV- Anyone who is learning the teaching of God should share all the good things he has with his teacher. WEY- But let those who receive instruction in Christian truth share with their instructors all temporal blessings. YLT- And let him who is instructed in the word share with him who is instructing in all good things." So those being taught are to share ALL things with the instructors- much more than just a chosen few giving a tithe of their land or livestock, and even more than a Christian s giving 10% of their money. This New Testament verse instructs all to share their food, money, and provision to those who teach us. It is the fulfillment of the law originating from a right heart towards God. It is the difference between the person who loves speeding but obeys the speed limit out of fear of getting caught, and the person who follows the speed limit out of love for those around him; same end result (obedience) with two different motives (fear versus love) Another example of a minister s receiving a wage from the church can be found in Paul s 2nd letter to the Corinthians in chapter 6: Have I committed an offence in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages to do you service. And when I was present with you, and lacked, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking, the brothers which came from Macedonia supplied While some use this verse to prove ministers should not be paid by the church (as Watchman Nee also says) the fact remains that while Paul was working as a tentmaker and evangelist, other Christians were supporting him and paying him. Further on in Corinthians, Paul quotes Christ and says
that it is Jesus own ordinance that ministers be provided for by their congregations. The Principles Behind the Rules God s original intention for instituting the three tithes was for the continual maintenance of people, not his religion. Other offerings were required that would maintain the temple and sacrifice to God himself, but the tithes specifically went to feeding all of his people, with the Levites and priests sustenance being primary. Knowing all men s hearts, God instituted rules that prevented the priest s and people s tithes being used as an opportunity to profit. Historically, and in principle, there can be no morally correct argument made that man does not have the right, to receive payment for services rendered, even in spiritual matters. In addition, the church of Christ exists for the purpose of worshipping him, and ministering to his saints. If men of God keep Jesus and the act of ministering at the forefront of their financial decisions instead of the institution s growth, all will be spiritually well. Giving to God The best example of how to give can be taken right from God. While the laws of Moses were a shadow of things to come, Christ was their fulfillment; For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God gave his best, and did it without condition. We should follow suit, remembering that while we may benefit from God s giving his best, he has no need of ours. Our best sacrifices to God are like the messy, incoherent attempts at finger painting our children proudly bring home. While laughable and messy, they are given as a token of love, and should we ask for another it will be given. Children do not bring their art before us, boasting of the
parents need to give them back 100 fold because they have been faithful in making a mess. But Oh, the poor parents! The child s heart is right, and because of that mess, now dripping down the refrigerator, the father gladly gives all the praise and blessing back. It is not an earned reciprocation; it is all love, both ways. That is the principle behind the tithe, not a child fearing punishment and cursing should his painting be found only partially acceptable! Just like the joyous worshippers of Hezekiah s day experienced, offerings can be done the wrong way according to the rules, yet still be right with God.
EPILOGUE It has been shown that the true disciple of Jesus Christ is called to sacrifice and give everything he has for the work of The Kingdom; anything less is unacceptable. The church must get away from the false teaching that in order to be protected from the curses of the law, we must partially obey the law. Countless millions of Christians are inadvertently placing themselves under the law and cursing themselves because ministers teach portions of the scripture they understand, while having to ignore other parts of the bible to prolong the life of this wrong teaching. Knowing and dwelling with Christ results in perfect obedience to him and his principles; a disciple operates in a realm better than the law, and therefore is not held to it. A Christian has been given access to all heavenly treasures, God asks for all in return. Our best offerings are but rags compared to his, yet upon releasing all of our rags we are clothed in new garments. The hypocrisy being televised over the airwaves today is greed disguised as Christ.
We must release all, that s the deal.
Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you do not want, neither have pleasure in; which are offered by the law. Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first that he may establish the second. By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ