I would like to ask for guidance regarding the doctrine of tithing. I have heard some arguments that it is really not a command or something like that. But in church, we are taught about how we are to give a tenth of our income to God. I am somewhat confused and would like to know more. Thank you and God bless you more and more.
Great question, and I also know that most of us won’t see eye to eye on this one.
1) The actual tithe according to the Old Testament is more like 23%. A tithe does mean “tenth” in Hebrew, but there were many different tithes back then. While the final numbers are vastly argued, the very fact that it’s argued by scholars show that we don’t know what a “true tithe” really is. If we’re settling for 10%, why not the 23%? Because the first one is easier?
2) I believe that biblically we are no longer under the Old Testament commands. While the Law is good and obviously has a timeless principle for us today, it was made for a specific people in a specific time to relay specific information about God. We are now in a relational union with Jesus Christ made possible by his cross and resurrection, so that our obedience is through a dynamic of love. The Law is important, but it is a chapter of God’s narrative that has given way to a new chapter.
3) It’s too easy to clear our consciences by saying, “I gave what the pastor said, I’m doing my religion right.” It’s awesome if you give 10% to the church, because most people do not, but I don’t see this as a grading scale for our faithfulness. Too many people make it exactly that.
4) While I believe in generously giving to our churches, I think tithing can also happen by charity or generosity. If I see a certain people in need, whether sex-slaves or the poor or those in prison or orphans or widows or disaster victims, I’d rather give them what I can. Some would say, “Do both,” and that’s cool too, but it would be foolish to say that someone is sinning because they only give to charity instead of tithing.
5) Too many preachers coerce tithing by guilt-trips or making wild promises about “God will pay you back.” This is absolutely atrocious and false. If one more guy misquotes Malachi 3:7-10, I will flip a dang table in half.
6) If you are barely scrapping it together to pay bills, then ten percent is a lot for a low income. While I understand the logic of “Do it now or you never will,” I don’t think it’s right to manipulate a bunch of low-income churchgoers into giving their hard-earned money with promises of “God’s storehouses raining down.” I remember visiting a megachurch that showed a video of church members (business owners) who claimed their faith was made better when they gave their tithe, and they felt “spiritually unfit” when not. I felt nauseated and nearly walked out.
7) Here’s the silly part. While I don’t believe that we’re biblically required to tithe, I do it anyway. For all my tough talk, I give at least ten percent back to my church. Some of that’s because I want to be a good example as the associate pastor, and some of that’s because I feel obligated. But I do want to obey the authority of my church, and more than that, I also believe in what my church is doing.
Tithing also protects me from greed and sets my mind automatically to consider that my first portion belongs entirely to God, including my own finances. Of course, my church does not demand this of me (my last one did and I felt like crap every time). But more than ever, I am convicted to give, and ten percent is a good minimum to work with.