Summary: Many preachers demand that the members of their church tithes whether they are poor or rich. What does the Scriptures teach?

Tithing - Is If For Today

As I have presented this to people before they got totally the wrong impression of what my intentions are so I am going to begin this paper explaining a little bit of what I intend. This paper isn’t written to come down on anyone who is tithing because they are led of the Lord to tithe. If God has led you to tithe then keep tithing, but don’t tithe with the attitude that you’re trying to keep the law. Giving to the church is a good thing and I encourage those that can to give to the church and give to the poor. Many pastors teach that tithing is necessary. Many of those pastors have good intentions and believe they are doing the right thing. Don’t turn against your pastor just because he teaches you to tithe if after reading this paper you no longer believe in tithing. If God leads you, you should talk to your pastor about it, maybe his heart will be convicted and be changed. The intention of this paper isn’t to cause division but to lead people out of a deception that is going on in the church. I want to present this paper in love and hope others that believe this view point will do the same.

To understand tithing we need to look how it was used originally and look at the law that was established in the Old Testament. Many people use Abraham’s tithe to justify tithing for today.

Abraham’s Tithe

Genesis 14:16-24 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself." But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, "I have made Abram rich’-- except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion."

Many preachers will use Abraham’s example to tithe. There are several problems here. First of all, Abraham was tithing from the spoils of war, not from his income. Abraham said none of it was his in the first place and that it all belonged to the King of Sodom. It is also a one-time act of tithing for Abraham. Never is there an example of Abraham tithing from his income. We don’t see it as a commandment of God for him to tithe. By the way the text is written, we are led to believe that Abraham willingly tithed. Some argue that since Abraham did it, tithing was practiced before the law and therefore should be practiced today. Sacrificing animals was also done before the law and that isn’t practiced today. In fact, Abraham’s type of tithe probably would not be allowed under the law considering it was the spoils of war he tithe and not a tithe from his herd or field. More to come on this later when we discuss Hebrews 7

Jacob’s Tithe

Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

First of all, notice the ‘ifs’ in Jacob’s tithing: “If God will be with me”, if “God keep me this way that I am going,” if God “give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace.” Today we are taught that we can’t have any “ifs” when we give tithes. Many preachers avoid using Jacob’s example of tithing because of the “ifs,” or just simply don’t read it word-for-word. This would give the tither with an excuse not to tithe so they have to avoid this Scripture. God also did not chastise Jacob for using ‘ifs.” He still got his blessing and tithed from it. Remember though, Jacob tithed before the law. Remember it was Jacob’s vow, not ours. Jacob didn’t do it out of greed like many people today that would make vows to God. Jacob did it to show he was serious with God. If you read the context, God had made these promises to Jacob without asking him to tithe in a dream he had.

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Ian Mcalpine

commented on Nov 17, 2007

Excellent paper. Only one thing I can think of to differ on. In I Cor. 9 Paul uses the principle of the priests and Levites living off of the tithes and offerings of the people to say that there is a principle here that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. Obviously he is saying that some of the church's givings should be used to support full-time workers in the ministry. But of course they should not be greedy nor plead for funds, nor lay guilt trips on people about tithing -- again it should be as the Lord leads people in their hearts to give. This paper confirms what I have come to believe on this topic.

Gordon A Ward Jr

commented on Jul 12, 2012

Woah, did we miss the circumstances behind the Lord''s sacrificial system? And how Our Lords asking of the best firstfruits no matter what our financial standing? AND how Christ became the living sacrifice once for all?... please recall what the reason was behind christs sacrifice for us and how we show our thanks in our sinful righteous way.....

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