Summary: The Church was never commanded to tithe. Grace giving in response to God’s love is today’s standard.
GIVING UNDER GRACE
(2 Cor. 8:1 - 9:18)
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One of the most abused areas of the Scriptures by legalistic pastors and believers is the issue of giving. Ministers stand in their pulpits and say the most horrendous things in order to increase what goes into the collection plate.
They distort the Old Testament Scriptures by telling their congregations that if they don’t give a certain portion of their income to that local church, that they are "robbing God." As a result, many believers give money out of guilt or fear, not as a response to God’s love and grace.
Such pastors often tell their people that they won’t be blessed unless they tithe. They also may say that if you give 10% of your income, God will return twice as much or more to you as a blessing. Consequently, many of their members give 10%, in essence, to "bribe God." Even an unbeliever would give money under those conditions, if promised that it would be doubled or even more.
Legalistic pastors often have their members give "tithing testimonies" ("bragimonies" is a better word) in direct violation of the Bible’s command to give in SECRET. They dole out guilt rather than grace to the very people who they are suppose to shepherd, the people who support them. One of the clearest signs of a legalist and self-serving pastor is a strong insistance on tithing. Perhaps it’s difficult for them to objectively teach a doctrine that ultimately affects their salaries.
If that seems harsh, consider the mean-spirited attitude of pastors who have the gall to tell their flocks that they are "robbing God", just to get them to put more money in the plate (I won’t use the term "offering plate", because money given under that kind of guilt is hardly a free-will "offering").
I once attended a service where the guest pastor began with verses from 2 Cor. 8 and 9, verses that clearly and beautifully teach giving by grace. However, as he went through his lesson, he gradually turned the verses into a sermon on tithing. He did it so cleverly and gradually that no one seemed to notice his devious manipulations of the Bible from what the verses did say, to conclusions that were the direct opposite. This was despite the fact that tithing was never commanded of the Church. While the epistles contain verses on giving, none command or even mention tithing. In fact, tithing is the opposite of what the epistles teach about giving.
After a strong tithing message from the pastor of a church I once attended, a woman who was a member there came up to me and started to cry. She told me that she would tithe if she could, but was on a fixed income and couldn’t even pay her bills. I told her to keep her money, and showed her in the New Testament that giving is now by grace, based upon what you HAVE, not what you DON’T HAVE. This particular church happened to be the only Christian organization that I have EVER seen that actually mentioned "tithing" in their statement of faith, in the list of basic doctrines they believe in the most.
In my experience, I’ve seen a number of dishonest manipulations of church members by legalistic pastors, aimed primarily at increasing the giving. Here are some examples:
Pastor: "The reason we celebrate the Lord’s Table at night is because that’s when Jesus and the Apostles celebrated it." (The truth from trustees of that church: church attendance and offerings were higher for a Sunday night service if the Lord’s Table was celebrated).
Pastor: "To celebrate Mother’s Day, we’re having the children do their musical in the service that evening, so that the moms and grandmoms can see their kids honor them." (the truth from trustees of that church: attendance at the Sunday evening service on Mother’s Day would be horrible, and so the offerings would suffer, unless the childrens’ concert was held as a strong inducement for people to attend).
I’ve seen lots of examples in various legalistic churches of things done with a certain pretense of spirituality, but the real motive of increasing or maintaining giving.
I’d like to show you today that "tithing" is not a requirement in the current Church Age, and that it’s a sure sign of a legalistic, manipulative, and spiritually immature pastor-teacher.
1. GOD COMMANDED THE TITHE FROM ISRAEL. Tithing was commanded during the Age of Israel, which ended at Pentecost. It was a TAX required of all who lived in the nation. It was NEVER AN OFFERING in the spiritual sense of something you give of your own free will to show your love for God. It was required of all persons living in Israel, even if a person was not a Jew. The Old Testament makes a distinction between tithes and offerings. (Gen 14:20, Lev 27:30-32, Num 18:21,24,26,28, Deut 12:6,11,17, Deut 14:23,28, Deut 26:12, 2 Chr 31:5,6,12, Neh 10:37-38, Neh 12:44, Neh 13:5,12, Ezek 45:11,14, Amos 4:4, Mal 3:8,10, Matt 23:23, Luke 11:42, Luke 18:12, Heb 7:5, Heb 7:6, Heb 7:9)