To tithe or not to tithe, that is the question. Should a Christian give a tithe, that is, ten percent of all of his or her income? Some preachers and teachers insist that a Christian must pay tithes or else that Christian will miss out on blessings and will not be fully serving Christ. The purpose of these writings is to show exactly what the Bible says about tithing and what the Bible says about Christian giving in the context of the Bible passages quoted here. The conclusion that I come to after carefully studying the scriptures on this matter is as follows: Christians are not required to give ten percent because the giving of the tithe is a part of the law, and not a part of the teachings given to Christians in the New Testament epistles. There is nothing wrong with tithing. If you chose to give ten percent and give it cheerfully, then you will be blessed, not because God requires ten percent from you, but because God loves a cheerful giver. Actually, as you will see in these teachings, if you are a Christian, God requires 100 percent from you. When you stand before Jesus to be judged for the things done in your life, you will be judged based upon the 100 percent standard, not the ten percent standard. Even under the law the Israelites were required to give tithes and offerings, which means that they actually were required to give more than ten percent. Anyone who teaches that you must tithe in order to serve Christ, is telling you to go back and live under a requirement of the law. The following was taken from my sermons on Malachi 3:7 and Malachi 3:8 in order to explain from the scriptures why Christians are not required to give a tithe.
The Bible says in Malachi
3:7, Even from the days of your fathers ye are
gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I
will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye
said, Wherein shall we return? We need to take this verse and understand it from the
standpoint of the children of
God said to
the children of
The solution to the problem of going away from God, or being out of fellowship with Christ is found in Malachi 3:7, Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Jesus is always ready to receive you back into fellowship with Him. The question is: are you ready to return? Jesus quoted from Isaiah chapter 42 and said in Matthew 12:20, A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. It also says in Second Chronicles 7:14, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. No one is ever turned away because of the greatness of their failures. This need to return to the Lord has the same meaning as repentance. The word repentance refers to a change of mind. A person is heading in one direction away from God, and they turn to Jesus and start going with God again. A Christian who has learned to walk in fellowship with Jesus every day has learned to live a life of repentance: always turning from his or her sins and turning to Jesus.
In Malachi 3:8 we get to a specific ordinance where the Israelites had been severely failing. It says in Malachi 3:8-10, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. For one thing this passage makes clear from the context that tithing was a part of the law. In the book of Malachi we are looking at the ways in which the Israelites failed to keep the law. The book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. The purpose of the book of Malachi is to show how much the Israelites failed to fulfill their part of the old covenant of the law. One of the ways in which they failed to keep the law was in tithing. Tithing was one of the outward observances of the keeping of the law. Other outward observances were the keeping of the Sabbath day (Saturday) as a day of rest, the keeping of other feast days, and the temple sacrifices as performed by the priests.
Under the old covenant Gods commandments regarding giving had to do with tithes and offerings. Notice carefully that it was tithes and offerings. Ten percent was not enough. It had to be ten percent plus extra offerings. In the New Testament, under the new covenant, instead of believers being told to give ten percent plus offerings, believers are told in Second Corinthians 9:6-8, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. The New Testament principle for Christians is no longer the rigid ten percent of the tithe. The principle in the New Testament is based upon the concept that the Lord guides each believer individually, including how much they give. This concept is more in keeping with the difference between law and grace. The law gives a hard and fast rule that you must obey. Grace has to do with Christ working in you the specific will that He has for your life. It says in Philippians 2:13, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. It says in Galatians 5:18, But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Under the principle of grace, it was the Spirit of God who led you to Christ. Now the same Spirit wants to lead you in all details of your life. This is a much different principle than the principle of law. As it says in Galatians 3:3, Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Someone might say, It is better to be under the new covenant instead of the old covenant because now I do not have to give ten percent. Not so fast. In reality the old covenants requirement of ten percent plus offerings is much easier to meet than the new requirement under the new covenant. If not ten percent, then what does Jesus want from you? He wants everything. After all, what He truly wants is your heart, and if He has your heart, then He has everything. Jesus gave the new requirement concerning giving in His teachings: 100 percent. The Bible says in Mark 12:41-44, 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. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. The New Testament standard for giving is not ten percent, but is one hundred percent. We see the principle again in Acts 4:36-37, And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. Barnabas did not bring ten percent of the money, he brought one hundred percent and gave it to the apostles. Notice carefully what is said in Acts 5:1-5, But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. Ananias and Sapphira did not want to give one hundred percent so they lied about it. They did not have to lie, but they wanted to boast about how much they had given. One of the problems with tithing and with letting others know how much you give is that it can lead to boasting; and there is no boasting in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus mentioned this problem in Luke 18:11-12, The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. This self-righteous Pharisee was using his tithing as a means of boasting. The same thing happens today among those who tithe and boast about it.
The amount that you give should be between you and the Lord only. That is one of the reasons that it says in Second Corinthians 9:7, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. What takes place in your heart is between you and Jesus. Some churches make a mistake in keeping track of how much everyone gives. The individual should keep track of his or her own giving. The truth to remember is that when Christians are judged by the Lord, we will be judged not by the old covenant standard of ten percent but by the new covenant standard of one hundred percent. The only way that you can give one hundred percent all the time is for all of your resources truly to be surrendered to the Lord Jesus. He knows that you must pay your mortgage and buy your groceries, etc; and so the real question is: have you surrendered one hundred percent to the Lord and are you truly led by the Spirit in all that you do including the amount that you give? As Ananias and Saphira prove, you can lie to man, but you cannot lie to God who sees your heart.
God said to the Israelites in Malachi 3:8, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. If those who lived under the old covenant robbed God when they failed to give ten percent, at what point do believers who live under the new covenant become robbers of God? Believers in Jesus become thieves whenever they do not give one hundred percent to the Lord. He shed His precious blood for you. He died for you. He gave all that He had for you, and He did it willingly. You do owe Him everything. Do you give Him one hundred percent? Under the old covenant, it is actually much easier to say, I gave my ten percent, now everything is fine. But under the new covenant the standard is much higher: one hundred percent.
It says in Malachi 3:8-10, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. This is a passage of scripture that is used by many Christian preachers to emphasize what they say is the importance of tithing. If you are familiar with the previous sermon that I did starting in Malachi 3:7, then you know that the new covenant in the New Testament puts an emphasis on the giving of one hundred percent, not ten percent. The point that I want to make with this sermon is to look at all of the evidence in this passage of scripture that reveals the fact that tithing was a part of the law. We know what the Christians relationship to the law is. It says in both Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:18, ye are not under law.
The phrase in question is Malachi 3:10 that says, Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing. Whenever we study the Bible, we must be careful to consider the context. One of the worse things that can happen when someone studies or teaches the Bible is to take a verse out of context. If you take something out of context, you can change its meaning. If you take something out of context, you can miss entirely the correct emphasis that God wants to give to it. A good student of the Bible always wants to ask the question, Is what I am reading part of the old covenant or the new covenant? That is not always as easy as it may seem. The Bible helps quite a bit in its basic division in that it is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. Of course, the word testament means covenant or contract. Never forget that the Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. God made that division for a reason. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Concerning the Old Testament, it is called the first testament in Hebrews 9:16-22, For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. The Old Testament is given that name in Second Corinthians 3:14 that says, But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
The time period of the Old Testament actually lasted longer than the period covered by the books of the Bible that we call the Old Testament. Malachi was the last of those books. But the period of the old covenant lasted many hundreds of years past the time when Malachi was written. The period of the Old Testament lasted into the life of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He ended the covenant of the law. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law in two ways: for one thing He lived without sin. Jesus lived under the law, obeyed the law, and fulfilled the law from a practical standpoint. That is one of the reasons that the Father spoke from heaven and said in Matthew 17:5, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.
The second way in which Jesus brought the covenant of the law to an end was by giving His blood on the cross of Calvary. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, For this is my blood of the New Testament. This verse means, For this is my blood of the new covenant. Once Jesus gave His blood, the new covenant came into effect, and the old covenant came to an end. The old covenant brought death to anyone who did not perfectly obey it. By dying and giving His blood on the cross, Jesus satisfied the demands of the old covenant, thus fulfilling the demands of law for all of those who failed to keep the covenant and who trust in Jesus for salvation. The law brings a curse. It says in Galatians 3:10-13, For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
The problem with the covenant of the law was not with the law itself, but was with human beings. This human life, including the human will and faithfulness, is known as the flesh in the Bible. One of the problems of the flesh is that it is exceedingly sinful and cannot and will not keep the commandments of God. That is one of the reasons that Jesus told us we must have a spiritual birth in order to see the kingdom of God. It is also at the center of what is being taught in Romans chapter 8 concerning the contrast between the spirit and the flesh. It says in Romans 8:1-4, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Is tithing (the strict requirement of giving ten percent) of the law or is it not? This passage in the book of Malachi chapter three is very strong evidence that tithing is of the law and therefore an emphasis on the strict requirement to give ten percent should not be taught to Christians. Of course, it is alright to give ten percent if you so wish, because you can give any amount that you are led of the Lord to give. You will be judged on the New Testament requirement of one hundred percent. You will be judged on your willingness to give one hundred percent. And you will be judged on how truly you were led of the Lord in what you gave. It is not wrong to give ten percent, but it is wrong for a teacher or a pastor to require you to give ten percent.
If we were to find one verse in the Bible that is used by modern-day legalistic preachers to teach that Christians are required to tithe, it would be Malachi 3:10. The requirement to tithe as expressed in Malachi 3:10 says, Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Lets list all the reasons to understand this verse as applying to those who were under the law, and not applying to Christians who are under the new covenant:
1. Malachi 3:10 is an Old Testament verse.
2. The book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, emphasizing all the ways in which the Israelites failed to keep the law.
3. The verse that introduces this teaching about tithing says in Malachi 3:7, Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. The word ordinances refers to the commandments of the law. What did the Israelites need to do in order to change their ways and once again start obeying the commandments of the law? They needed to start tithing once again. Anyone who teaches tithing as a requirement to please God is teaching the same thing that Malachi taught. They are teaching: you need to please God through the keeping of the law, and tithing is part of the law.
4. The result for the Jews of not tithing is given in Malachi 3:9, Ye are cursed with a curse. This is the result of not keeping the law. The law brings a curse because the law must be perfectly obeyed. If only one part of the law is broken, the curse is a result. A Christian can never be under a curse because of the great salvation that we have in Jesus. Listen to some of the curses that the law pronounces as found in Deuteronomy 27:15-26:
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Compare the statements from Deuteronomy with what was said in Malachi 3:9, Ye are cursed with a curse. This curse was due to not tithing. Tithing was part of the law because a failure to tithe resulted in a curse just like all breaking of the law. Christians are never under the law. It says in Galatians 3:10, For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. And it says in Galatians 3:13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. One of the many blessings of being saved by faith in Jesus is that a curse will never be pronounced upon us.
No verses in the New Testament that occur during the time of the new covenant tell Christians to tithe. Jesus did tell some Jewish people to tithe, but remember that Jesus lived under the law. The new covenant did not start until Jesus shed His blood on the cross of Calvary. Why is there not one verse in the New Testament epistles that tell Christians to tithe? That is because tithing is part of the law. The Christian principle for giving under the new covenant of grace is found in Second Corinthians 9:7, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Copyright; 2011 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved