What are your thoughts? Is tithing a NT mandate? Is it necessary to give 10% to the church? Is it just an OT issue? Does the church really need our money? Before we get into the nitty gritty, here some videos about tithing that should make you laugh.
Tithe Rap (Farm Version)
Interestingly enough, tithing is so ingrained in our Christian culture we just naturally assume that an “good” Christian gives 10% of their gross income to the church or at least to a worthy charity.
However it seems as though giving is down from the past few decades….way down. According to Barna Research in 2007,
Among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income.
So, if only 9% of born again Christians are tithing 10%, whats the hitch?
Probably three things…..first, the economy is down; way down. Secondly, religious commitment and reverence towards Christianity has slid deeply. Thirdly, pastors and educators in the current post-modern world are taking a hard look at the New Testament to see what it actually says about tithing and actually being honest about the facts.
What are the facts you ask? Here are some quick facts about money and the Bible.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
(Matthew 6:24 NIV)
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Luke 6:38 NIV)
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. 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.” (Matthew 23:23 NIV)
There are many more verses in the NT about money. But you will notice that only Mathew 23:23 shows Jesus affirming a giving of the 1/10th. However, it should also be noted that he was talking to the Pharisees and was dealing with the matters of the Law and the hypocritical nature of the religious leaders. It might be helpful to point out Acts 15:23-29, which is the message that the Jewish Christian leaders sent to the new Gentile converts of Paul and Barnabas about the issue of observing the Jewish Law and customs.
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
It is interesting that they did not mention funds……
Analyzing the Bible and money
NOW, lets switch gears and think critically about this. The OT tradition of giving the tithe goes at least as far back as Abraham when he gave a tenth to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20. His grandson Jacob also carried the tradition and promised to give God 10% towards the building of “HIS house,” which was just a pillar at the time he made the promise.
One interesting shift is when the Israelites escape from Egypt and God give HIS instructions for a building project, it goes a bit differently. He requests, not 10%, but a “free will” offering of any one who has a heart to give. (Exodus 35:4-5) So why not 10%?
What you may not know is that 10% was an Ancient Near Eastern standard that the patriarchs followed along with the rest of their culture. Paying duties to a shrine or deity of 10% would have been a normal concept. That explains why it was so natural for Jacob and Abraham. But we see that (as with the NT teachings of Jesus) God is concerned with the heart, not duty. He wants people to give freely, out of the love and devotion of their hearts.
So does God require 10%?
No he requires your heart; the only question is how much of your heart does he have?