Many people argue that tithing is not relevant under the new covenant as we are no longer required to be governed by the Old Testament law. According to those who hold to this view all that matters under the New Covenant is Spirit-led giving. What does the bible really teach?
A SPIRIT-LED LIFE
The New Testament talks not only about Spirit-led giving but about a completely Spirit-led life. And we know that when we are Spirit-led we will not be doing anything against what the Bible says and against God’s will. The Spirit of God always leads us to do that which God says – what the Bible already says and what He presently wants us to do in our everyday life; and what He tells us for our everyday life will never be against the written word.
So, essentially the Spirit of God will never lead us to lie, steal, dishonor our parents, ill treat people, lust with our eyes etc.. I think that is easy to understand. And, we understand that because we know well what the Bible says. So, similarly, the Spirit of God is never going to lead us to give less than the tithe, which God clearly states, in the book of Malachi, belongs to Him. The Spirit of God can ask us to give more or equal but never less because then He would be going against God’s word!
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE TITHE STILL BELONGS TO GOD?
Firstly, the law of the tithe existed even before God spoke about it through Moses. Similarly, the other laws existed before it came through Moses. The law, ‘Do not murder’ existed and that is why God punished Cain. A law existed for Adam and Eve, which is why they were punished.
The truth has always been written by God on the hearts of people. Those who really walked close with God, like Abraham and Jacob, obey it with His help. It is not for no reason that God called Abraham His friend; he understood God’s heart and followed it. The Spirit of God working on him then led him give a tithe of all he had. There is no other way he would have given exactly a tithe of all he had to the priest of God, Melchizedek.
Secondly, these laws that man needs to follow from his heart existed before Moses, continued through Moses, through the time of Jesus and continue even now. When the New Testament talks about the removal of the law, it is talking about the removal of the sacrificial system in the law given to Moses that God established for the forgiveness of sins. Since, Jesus Christ is the perfect Lamb of God no more sacrifice is required. And also when the New Testament talks about the law not justifying us, it is only saying that by keeping all of the law we can never be made right in the eyes of God; but, we know well that we still need to keep the law, we can’t go around breaking the law in the word just because Jesus has come and died on our behalf’s! Faith without actions is dead.
In fact, Jesus Himself said, I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He fulfilled the law by staying sinless through perfect love for God and sinful man. Jesus took each of the Old Testament laws deeper: Adultery now is the physical act as well as a matter of unfaithfulness in the heart, (Mathew 5:27-28), murder now is about physically killing someone and also hating your brother from the heart (1 John3:15), all the commandments in the Old Testament is now summarized in true love for God and man and so on . But again, we know that Jesus having taken it deeper does not mean that the physical act of adultery or murder is no longer sin.
Similarly, the death and resurrection of Jesus has taken the tithe to the deeper level of ‘cheerful giving’. But that does not mean that the basic law of tithe written upon the heart of man is removed and thrown away, as so many claim.
Jesus said in Mathew 23:23,
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
He said you should keep the deeper aspects without leaving the others undone.
Hebrews 7:8 says,
‘Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.’
He ‘receives them’ (Simple Present Tense, like, the ‘sun rises in the east’) implies Jesus the High Priest continually, even at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews and perpetually receives the tithes.
WHAT DID THE SPIRIT OF GOD LEAD THE FIRST DISCIPLES TO DO?
Acts 4:32-34 says,
32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
1. The Spirit of the Lord led them to give much more than the tithe; not less. He will not lead us to give lesser. He takes us deeper but the tithe is still the basic foundation from which we go upward.
Some people when they have just come to the Lord find it difficult to give much but we can at least teach them that the basic 10% belongs to God, just as we teach them the other basic aspects of the Gospel, and that they can increase it as the Spirit leads.
2. The Spirit of the Lord led them to bring it to the Apostle’s. There were people in the Church who had need but those who had much did not give it directly to those in need but brought it to the apostle’s and they distributed it. Not that we should never give to those in need directly but first we need to bring the tithe and offering (offering is anything over and above the tithe – our giving) to the Church from where we receive spiritual food and then it is the responsibility of those in charge to distribute according to the need they see fit. The reason the Lord tells us to bring the tithes and offerings to the Church (storehouse in Malachi Ch 3), is because the leaders are financially supported by it (Numbers 18: 8-32, especially v 8, 21,24,26), and also they can see better where the need is greatest in the church.
We need not worry about whether they are doing the right thing with the money or not; it is between them and God, we only need to obey what the Bible teaches us. Another man’s obedience or disobedience should not determine our obedience or disobedience.
TITHE AND OFFERING- AN ACT OF GRATITUDE
There is also nothing wrong in bringing your tithe and offering or whatever else you may determine to give to the Lord, to the Man of God who ministers to you because it is him that God is using to build you in Himself. It is an act of gratitude to the person who is building you up. Paul wrote in 1Cor 9:11,
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
You will hear some people say that the tithe and offering should only go the Church, as to the Levites in the Old Testament, and not the any particular Man of God. But is it not basic common sense(or should I say spiritual sense) that if I have been blessed with the ministry of a particular servant of God there is nothing wrong in me showing my gratitude to him by giving him an offering? So, as long as your heart is right and your heart is filled with gratitude to God and the instrument He has chosen to use in your life, and your heart is obeying Him in the aspect of tithes and giving, God will be pleased.
We give to the Church or the Man of God first and not to the poor, also because the Gospel comes first, not the poor. When Mary took the costly oil and anointed the feet of Jesus, Judas said that it could have been sold and the money given to the poor, but then Jesus himself justified Mary saying, ‘you will always have the poor with you but Me you do not have always’. God will always give us plenty, so, after we have given in the storehouse we will still be left with plenty to give to the poor and also for many other purposes. But if we do not give the tithe and offering, and do not give it where it belongs, we are putting our money in a bag full of holes. Then even though we may seem to have plenty still it will evaporate and we won’t even know how or where.
Therefore the tithe and offering, is not only about just a law but also about having a grateful heart towards God first, for the spiritual food and blessings that we receive.
TITHE AND OFFERING – AN ACT OF FAITH
The tithe is also about our faith in God. Whether a person is poor or rich, when right at the beginning of the month, before he spends for anything else, he keeps aside what belongs to God, according to the commandment and according to what the Spirit of God says, it shows the persons faith in God. It shows the persons’ faith that in spite of keeping aside that money for the Kingdom of God, He believes that God is still able to take care of him with just the remaining amount that he has. That is why in Malachi 3:-10, God asks us to prove Him or test Him by bringing in the tithe. He said when we bring it in He will open the windows of heaven and bless us.
Therefore it is clear, as we study the Bible as a whole, that Spirit-led giving under the new covenant involves the tithing. So, bring your tithes, offerings and whatever else the Holy Spirit tells you to the Lord and His storehouse and be blessed!
- The Spirit of God leads us
- He will lead us to obey the command of God
- The command of God written in the heart from the beginning is that the tithe belongs to God.
- Jesus took every law deeper, brought us to the spirit of the law
- So, now the tithe is not removed but goes further into giving.
- Therefore the Spirit of God will not lead us to give less than the tithe but always more – in line with God’s word. He will lead us to bring the tithe and offering to the church or the Man of God from whom you receive your spiritual food – in line with the Word of God and the purpose of God.
- Giving (the tithe and offering), is an act of OBEDIENCE, GRATITUDE AND FAITH.