What’s the Question?

February 2, 2023

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 NKJV

Personal note: This particular post has been unusually difficult to write. This tithe project started 5 years ago, and I feel a great urgency about it now. Part of the enemy’s strategy in this last hour is to undermine the finances of the Body of Christ, both individuals and the local church. Part of that plan is to attack the concept of tithing. The financial system of the world is going to get increasingly chaotic. God has been teaching us about faith for finances for at least half a century. We are about to find out why. For that reason, I am going to press forward, even though I expect to catch a lot of grief. So forward we go!

A little over 40 years ago, I worked with a woman who had a bad attitude about church. She had been raised in a very conservative Christian home, and her experiences had left her embittered. I was a new Christian, so I was probably a little overzealous, but we managed to coexist amicably. One day she overheard me discussing paying tithes with another employee. He was skeptical, and happy to tell me so. He was fine with Jesus, but thought He should be able to get by on less than 10%.

When Miss Agnostic heard us, she broke into the conversation: “Well, I don’t understand it, but I can tell you it works. My parents were tithers, and we somehow managed to weather every storm and our needs were always taken care of.” This lady wasn’t sure she believed in God, but she was willing to testify to the power of the tithe. The logic of that escapes me, (Who did she think was doing the providing?) but she couldn’t deny what she saw with her own eyes. I pray she eventually got to know the God of the tithe.

Personal experience is a great thing, but it’s not a good way to determine what we believe. We start with the Word and allow it to inform our experience. Just because I see something happen, I can’t just pick out some verses that agree with my observation, then say that this is what the passage means. Unfortunately, all of us do it: “Aunt Mathilda died. I prayed that she would be healed. It must have been God’s will for her to die sick.” That’s not true, but to know it’s not true you have to start with what the Bible says and work forward to explain the experience.

Before we look for answers, it helps to find the right questions. When I am asked if I believe in tithing, I tend to respond with a loud, “Yes!” The question is never, “Do I have to tithe?” I want to know, “Do I get to tithe?” You see, I love Jesus and I want others to know Him. I love the local church and I want the leadership there to have the resources they need to fulfill what God puts in their hearts. I’m always going to give more than 10%. My question is, “Can I expect to enjoy the benefits attached to tithing?” As with my unbelieving coworker in 1980, I can testify from personal experience that the answer is, “YES!”

In pursuit of clarity, let’s ask some fundamental questions: The usual approach is, “Do we still have to tithe?” That is the wrong question. Another misleading question is, “If tithing was under the Mosaic law, aren’t we redeemed from the Law?” Here are a few questions designed to move us to useful conclusions:

  • “Do I still get to tithe?” The promises and protections of the tither are wonderful. Can I still enjoy them?
  • What do we mean by the term ”Law?”
  • “What does it mean when we say we are redeemed from the Law?”
  • “What was the purpose of tithing under the Law?”
  • “Do those purposes translate to the New Covenant, and how are they fulfilled?”
  • “Are there other things that were part of the Mosaic law that are still valid under the New Covenant?”
  • Are there examples of tithing that are not under the Mosaic covenant?
  • “If the tithe is applicable to the New Covenant, how does God view it? Is it “a law” or is it something else. What are the repercussions of not tithing?”
  • “If the tithe is not for the Church, then how is the work of the local church supported? Is our paradigm completely off?”
  • If the tithe is a New Testament practice, what about practical issues such as how to figure the tithe and where to put it?

There are more, but these will get us started. We know that the Mosaic law required tithing. We also see references to the practice of giving a tenth before the Law and after the Law. For other parts of the First Covenant, Jesus had some interesting interpretations. For instance:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. ”

Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV

When we look at instructions given to Israel we have to ask ourselves, “Why did God include this in the narrative? What are we supposed to learn about how this would look under our New Covenant of grace?” Surely we don’t believe that Exodus 20:13 has passed away, and we can now kill folks with impunity! No, under grace, that command increases in scope to include hatred toward another person: it’s a matter of the heart. In evaluating the tithe, we need to give serious thought to what God was teaching them, and us, about financial responsibility as part of His people. In our New Covenant, with the singular commandment of love, does God want us less generous?

Somebody Said: I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. C.S. Lewis

Here’s the Point: Jesus told the Pharisees that the rules in the Law about divorce and remarriage were given as a concession to them because their hearts were hard. (Matthew 19:8) What if the tithe was instituted under the Law because men’s hearts were hard, not inclined to care for the needy, the clergy, or the house of God? Could it be that 10% is a concession to cheapskates with a fallen nature? I’m not saying that’s true, but shouldn’t we try with all our heart to understand the purposes of God in the matter? Let’s spend some serious time asking, “Lord, what am I supposed to learn from what You said about the tithe?”

Next time we’ll take a brief look at a fascinating question: “Of all the amounts in the world, why did God choose one-tenth as the number? What does the number “10” tell us about God and His tithe?” It will be good, I promise.

Pastor Virgil

3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.

Tucson, AZ 85741


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