In view of the recent controversies and debate on tithing, I dug up a piece I first wrote and published in 2013. It still rings true and even more so with this latest debate.
Key Passage: Malachi 3: 8-12
Key Text: Malachi 3: 10 – “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”
Half knowledge can be dangerous. Those who profess to know must understand that they have a great responsibility towards those they are leading. Recently an article was published that said ‘every Pastor that receives tithes is a thief’. The arguments the writer espoused were quite compelling and in most of the parts rang quite true. Also, he was in a sense ‘playing to the gallery’, because he like many others are totally fed-up with the ostentatious lifestyles of some of the Pastors and church leaders in that particular country. Some Pastors have either bought private Jets or have been ‘blessed’ with one. This appears too much for a country where most of the citizens are living under the breadline. Worse still, is the simple fact that most of the church members are poor and perhaps the arguments that these resources could be used more judiciously to alleviate some of the poverty issues in the church, are justified. I am not going to call this one or judge, as I personally know that these church leaders are accountable and know that they would give account. I also believe that they have acted in their best judgements, based on the demands of their ministry.
But the issue of tithes is a contentious one, and most people believe that pastors are fleecing the sheep, by demanding the tithe. This is the issue. The tithe is 10 percent of your produce. It was widely practiced in the Old Testament and Jesus spoke about it once, in a sense affirming the practice, but also instructing the religious leaders to pay closer attention to the weightier matters of the law.
I would clearly say here, that Pastors should not demand the tithe quoting Malachi 3, and scaring the believers with the curse. This is a stretch of the truth and as such should be stopped. No one is cursed because they are not tithing. People in the old testament were under the law and as such, they were compelled to tithe. But Romans 10:4, tells us “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Those who profess Christ as Lord are no longer under the law nor are they bound by the law. But does that make the law wrong?
Here is my view; the bible is the whole counsel of God. Whatever is in it is for our admonition and direction. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” So if you chose to obey a command of God, not as trying to fulfil the law, which is actually a sin, but as a principle and an evidence of your changed life and heart, then you cannot be wrong. Let’s look at something quite extreme. The Law commands us not to murder. But because we are not under the law does not make it right to murder, but because we are saved and redeemed, the law of God works naturally in us, so we do not murder or steal or commit adultery etc.
Again in 1 Corinthians 10:11 – the bible tells us “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” Referring to the Old Testament as it relates to the New Testament believer. Abraham was a ‘tither’, I am sure Isaac tithed and clearly we see that Jacob understood the principle and pledged his tithe.
Let me say this unequivocally; Tithing is a biblical principle and practice that is steeped deeply in the honour of God and the worship of God. It’s origins are based on men who clearly placed a premium on their worship of God and were moved by the awesomeness of God to decide that the first tenth of their income belongs to God. So is this practice wrong .
Also in Leviticus 27:30-32 -we read the following:
“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.”
The tithe belongs to the Lord. It is His own and though we are no longer under the law, we nevertheless, respect God enough to honour His word and honour His name. So we tithe, not as a way of fulfilling the law, but as an evidence that God is our God and what He says we do.
I totally disagree with the Pastors that teach tithing as a law to be fulfilled. Who bludgeon the people of God with the word of God scaring them into feeling they have committed a grave sin if they chose not to tithe. Some even go as far as ostracizing the non-tithers in the church. This is shameful and deplorable and I abhor this. Tithing would not make you a child of God. It will not take you to heaven. And most certainly does not make you a member of the church of Jesus Christ.
However, I totally affirm the principle of tithing, as a voluntary act of worship and honour to God. I believe that it truly has spiritual dimensions beyond just giving. It shows where one’s heart is. Jesus said clearly where your treasure is there your heart will be. So as a ‘tither,’ you have elected to practice the principle of ‘God First’ and you give this tithe as an act of worship and honour to God.
So it is a matter of choice. Albeit and informed choice, that some of us tithe. We also recognise that the ministry is not cheap and needs to be funded, so we willingly pleadge and give our tithes to the local church as part of our personal act of worship and honour to God, whilst we understand that what we have given will help sustain and resource the ministry and work of God. We are not bound to tithe, but we bind ourselves to the principle of tithing. Period.
So please continue to worship God with your tithes and offerings and remain blessed!
Let’s pray: Father God, We thank you for your word and the liberty we find in the understanding of your word. Father, please help us to throw out that which is not good and hold on to eternal truths. Help us not just to be hearers of the word, but doers also. Thank you for the grace to be a tithing member of the body of Christ. Keep my heart pure and undefiled, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.