Sunday 12 October 2014

Are Christians required to tithe?

I have already written an article discussing whether or not Christians are to observe the Torah, specifically Gentiles rather than Jewish believers.

The article can be found here:

You can also find the video adaption here:

I am going to tackle some of the objections raised by many individuals, be they some Messianic groups who put Gentiles under the law (Judaizers) and of course the false group 7th Day Adventists.

Let's tackle these.

Jesus tells us to tithe
The context in which Jesus addresses the subject of tithing is when he confronts the Pharisees on the subject of their traditions. Let's read:
"Luke 11:42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone."

"Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."

Jesus is tackling the Pharisee's hypocrisy and is rebuking them for such evil. While they may be meticulous and careful carrying out the rituals in the Torah, they neglect actually taking care of others or having a heart for God, both of which the Pharisees lacked. While Jesus is using tithing as an example of how the Pharisee's fall short of righteousness, he is not saying that his future Gentile followers are to tithe. To read into Jesus' words that Christians are required to tithe is miss the point he is making.

Before anyone tries to accuse me of inconsistency, read the article posted above and also read this article:

What about the book of Malachi?
Let's read it shall we?
"Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

YHWH is speaking to the people of Israel and chastising them for not tithing and brining their offerings to him and condemning their apathy in this area. However, this is not a proof text for Christians to tithe as this is NOT a command that applies under the new covenant, BUT, there is the principle of giving, which is totally different.

"2 Corinthians 9 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”[a]

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Here there is a principle of giving to God not in the sense of being forced to give, but rather a case of only giving if you want to give. This isn't to say you shouldn't care, but it is to say that you are supposed to give out of gratitude to God rather than begrudgingly give it.

Sin of Omission
Those who advocate tithing for Christians often claim that you are to give 10% of your income to God, but what they fail to mention, either due to ignorance or deception (let's hope it's the former and not the latter), that tithing is NOT limited to giving money over to God, it consists of other things, namely what Jesus said in the context of Matthew 23 but also in Leviticus and Numbers, which address tithing:

"Leviticus 26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household."

"Numbers 18:21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”"

What the Israelites had to grow in their fields also had to be handed over to God as part of the tithe. The equivalent today would be to hand to God what ever was grown in our allotment or our backgarden.
So are we required to tithe? The answer is a resounding NO.

This article isn't saying that tithing is necessarily bad, but is pointing out that tithing is not required of Christians, though giving to God is still needed.

If one is going to teach tithing to a Christian congregation, they must teach BOTH the blessing and curse.

Answering Judaism.

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