To some Christians tithing is merely an Old Testament practice which has been done away with. But what if tithing existed prior to the law and was always performed ‘by faith’? What exactly is the meaning of ‘tithe’? What did Jesus have to say about tithing? Should we tithe today? Are preachers just after your money, as some claim? Carl takes the time to answer many of the common questions regarding ‘tithing’ and whether it’s scriptural for ministers to make their living from preaching a spiritual Gospel…
Here is a complete transcript of the podcast (below)…
Friend, today we’re going to talk about a topic so controversial that quite frankly it can divide the church. This topic is tithing and there are lots of arguments for and against it but I hope to add some clarity to this discussion today. Well of course you do because all preachers’ today want is your money, right? Wrong friend, but I will say that this whole message of giving to God has been abused down the years that’s for sure. To be honest with you, some people are so turned off about giving money to God, they don’t even attend church anymore and that’s really sad because Hebrews 10:25, makes it clear that, “We should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The day in this passage is the return of Jesus Christ and we should not forsake fellowship and our assembling together until that wonderful day.
Friend, let me start out by giving you a quick story along the lines of someone who was hurt and wounded regarding some preachers perceiving to fleece the sheep for too much money. I have a friend from Australia who’s a traveling Evangelist and this guy is unconventional to say the least but a really anointed man of God who’s been used mightily by the Holy Spirit down the years. Anyway, he was holding a series of revival meetings in Australia one time and while he was ministering, he reached down for his wallet after the service and noticed it was gone. To top that, his green card was in it. Now if you lose a green card friend you have to reapply for one and this can really impact your travel schedule. In fact, it can take years to get another one from the INS. It’s a serious thing but my friend Chris for some unknown reason didn’t panic but had peace in his spirit about the whole thing.
Sure, enough two days later he got a call from someone who’d found his wallet. He swung by the household, the next day. The person who answered the door was a bit gruff and direct with Chris, saying his dug had ruffled around by the riverside in the bushes and found Chris’s wallet. At the same time another person came to the door and inquired who it was. The man handed Chris his wallet and Chris was so pleased as he saw the green Card was still intact, he pulled a $100 bill out of his wallet and handed it to the man at the door as a thank you for finding it. Now the gentleman standing next to the man who answered the door, introduced himself as his brother and then he said this. “For years all my brother has done is watch preachers on TV ask people for their money, he says all they are is out to get your money and couldn’t give a hoot about you and it will be a cold day in hell when a preacher hands me a $100 bill!” Friend, that is exactly what happened, this man actually started crying and realized that God had heard his complaints and fulfilled the very words he spoke by a preacher who was sincere. Chris then led this man to Jesus right there and then at the door. Wow friend, this is a powerful testimony. God hears us friend, he hears all of our words, good and bad.
Friend, I know this story was a bit of a sidetrack but I wanted you to know there are wounded people out there who think most preachers are simply out to get your money and this is simply not true. I will apologize on their behalf if you are one of these people. But friend, this wound is stopping you from reaping the harvest God desires in your life because you cannot reap a harvest financially if you don’t sow seed. The law of sowing and reaping is outlined within the NT in Gal 6:7 and very much in effect today. And friend, let me tell you based on scripture and experience, God offers the greatest return on investment than anyone can offer. By choosing not to give anything to the Lord, acting out of a wounded heart you will greatly restrict what God can accomplish financially in your life. Friend, you can take it or leave it, but please take this message today and listen to what I have to say.
If there’s any trait that’s godlier than giving, then I want to know about it. God gave his only begotten son for mankind. God gave, as an act of love and there is no greater act of love than giving. It’s a physical manifestation of what you believe. Friend the practice of giving is found in natural law and even heathen nations like Babylon, Egypt and Assyria would even tithe to their false gods in a form of pagan worship, so we can clearly see the desire to give to God is innate in all peoples in the earth even if it is misplaced in these examples. Friend, one common objection to tithing is that because it was a part of the Mosaic Law then it’s been done anyway with because we’re no longer under the law. Well, it’s true that we are no longer under the law (thank you Jesus), but tithing began before the law. In fact, the first person to give tithe was Abraham. Abraham was well known for his generosity toward his tribe and even strangers. We also know that since Abraham demonstrated tithing before the Law of Moses was introduced, just like marriage and the remainder of the moral law, then these are indeed eternal principles which did not become invalid when the New Covenant was introduced at Calvary.
So, what does tithe mean exactly? It simply means “a tenth” but a more precise definition can be found in the Encyclopedia Americana which defines it as “the tenth part of produce or other income, paid voluntarily or under the compulsion of law for the benefit of religious institutions, the support of priests and pastors, and the relief of those in need.” Now, the word tithe is mentioned 40 times in scripture, 33 times in the Old Testament and 7 times in the New Testament. Tithing is mentioned several times within the book of Hebrews but never is it said we should not tithe in the NT. In fact, within our dispensation, Jesus owns everything and we are merely stewards of our possessions and money, to which we will have to give an account to Him, when we see him face to face.
In Genesis chapter 14, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek who’s a mysterious character from the Old Testament, to say the least. Some believe he could either be Shem or a pre-incarnate Jesus, but more on that another time. In Abraham’s case, his spoil of war was getting back that which was stolen from him and so he gave as tithe of what was already His to begin with, in addition to other gains from victory. Therefore, this act of giving is a biblical standard or eternal moral principle in place, before the Mosaic Law was instituted.
Under the Mosaic Law the tithe was given to the tribe of Levi in exchange for his loss of land and then a tenth of this was granted to the brothers of Aaron who served as priests in the temple. So, in the OT, the priests partook of the tithes because obviously they had no other means of income, or land or cattle, having dedicated themselves to the priesthood. It’s the same today friend. Ministers have given up their incomes to go into ministry commonly and because they perform spiritual duties, they therefore qualify to receive physical substance for their spiritual efforts. The apostle Paul spoke of this in 1 Cor 9:10-11, “Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” In years past some denominations thought it was an act of piety to keep their ministers as poor as possible but we know from the Torah, that poverty was one of the curses of the law, from which Christ redeemed us from, so God is not pleased with those denominations who act in this manner toward their ministers.
Friend, we can see from scripture (and there are at least four others I could have shared with you in addition to 1 Corinthians 9:10-11), that pastors or church leaders should be supported financially because they make their living in the Gospel. But again, the abuse comes from some egregious ministers who have a net worth in excess of $200 million and no-one knows exactly how this came about but again ministers can have businesses also if it does compromise their calling so that is not a sin either. In the case of others, they have told their board of Directors to cap their income and live off an acceptable income. It’s really up to each ministry how they deal with their Pastor. Friend, regardless of this, it should not distract you from giving to the Lord! No minister that I’ve ever met has gone into the ministry for money, that concept is ridiculous and stupid to say the least. There are so many better ways of getting rich in this life friend than being in the ministry friend, believe me friend. You should only enter the ministry if you’re called by God and for no other reason; otherwise, your priorities are way off base.
It should also be said that the tithe in the OT never consisted of money under Mosaic Law but primarily land, cattle and harvest gains. Indeed, the priests would live off these tithes and some of it was also used for the various annual festivals. It’s also postulated by some scholars that the poor were not required to tithe either, but I remember Mark’s Gospel chapter 12:41-44, lets read it now,” 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.”
Evidently Jesus watches over the offering friend and sees not only what we give but the manner in which we give and He still does so today. This woman was poor and evidently came to make her offering, but what caught Jesus’ attention, is that she gave out of lack, whereas the others were giving out of abundance. Friend along these lines Jesus observed the Pharisees tithing and never spoke against the practice. If he was against tithing, he would have said so, but he didn’t. Here’s an example where Jesus scolded the Pharisees for their obsessive manner toward tithing and I will read this passage to you from the NLT, Matthew 23:23, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
Friend, Jesus was for tithing, and the word of God has not changed on the matter. Some scholars don’t believe Jesus tithed because he was poor. But friend, Jesus never spoke against tithing and by implication it’s very likely he did tithe. Let me ask you this friend, if God is asking for ten percent of our substance in the OT and we are now in a better covenant, then surely, we should give at least the same amount to honor that better covenant, if not more? In the book of Malachi, God makes a profound statement which I have seen come to pass in my own life. He says (Malachi 3:10):
“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.”
Friend, God is challenging you today, to test Him with your finances. Remember ‘tithe’ means tenth, whether it’s the gross or net of your income, that’s your prerogative but technically it was always the Gross amount from the very beginning. Whether it’s gross or net that’s between you and God friend. If you look up the word “prove” in this verse, it means, ‘put to the test’ in the Hebrew language. God wants you to put Him to the test in this area of giving and friend, He won’t disappoint you, because he says He will open up the windows of heaven if you do, praise God!
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