You did it. You fell for my clickbait title. Maybe you knew it was clickbait, but still came here anyway. Maybe you genuinely are interested in this topic. Maybe you are disgusted at my title. Perhaps you are a loyal subscriber to my blog. However, if you are here because you are looking for someone to support your desire to not give to your local church, you probably need to close this tab - and fast! If that is not you - no matter the reason you are here, I am glad you are. I know in all likelihood you will skim the five reasons below before reading the contents within – but I ask you try to read this from top-to-bottom and allow it to encourage and/or convict you to what I consider “a better way.”
1. Tithing is Old Covenant Law
Tithing in Hebrew is “Ma-aser” which specifically means a tenth. Also it leads to mean ten percent of the produce or spoil of the land. Typically, in a seven year span, the Israelites would give closer to fourteen “tithes.” This means that the “tithes” as we see it today would actually be closer to 20% and not 10%. So if you want to live and die on tithes being a required New Covenant law – then you need to be doing a minimum of 20% of your income.
This is the best way I can describe it – tithing was God’s taxes on His people to establish His Mosaic Covenant/Law. Literally the tithes were to support Levites/Priests, which we ought to know – we do not have today (if you are a Gentile). He established the other “tithes” for their feasts and celebrations – because tithes were not typically money, they were foods.
We are no longer under Mosaic Covenant, but a New Covenant. We no longer look to (one-time) examples like Abraham and Jacob, rather to the New Testament generosity. I once heard, “If you do not teach your people about tithing, you are robbing them of God’s blessing.” I agree with the sentiment but not the actual language. Rather, we should say something like, “If you do not teach your people about giving and why to give, you are robbing them of blessing God.”
Giving is for God's glory, not our own.
Tithing was and continues to be a rule in need of following. The New Covenant has principles that are adopted by those found in grace. Giving is now a principle and a characteristic of a New Covenant believer. We can quote ideas like “sowing and reaping” but really, generosity and giving is for God’s glory and not in hopes that God will in turn bless us back for giving to His church. If you are tithing or giving in hopes of God blessing you back, you are completely short of Christ's intent.
2. Tithing is not for New Covenant Believers
We take the last point and go one step further. Yes, I know Jesus did not abolish the law – but fulfilled it. In fact, Jesus told us to “not neglect” our tithes (note Matt. 23:23 and Luke 11:42). But He also told us to offer sacrifices in the temple (note Matt. 5:23-24). So what is it? Why are we still not offering sacrifices in the temple? This is because Christ was walking a fine line between living in the Old Covenant world while establishing that the New Covenant would complete and perfect the Old. Tithing in and of itself is not bad – but it is the lesser law. The New Covenant has a purer and more perfect way. "Test me in this" is now taken a step beyond its intent from the Old Covenant.
As I said before, tithing was a taxation on Israelites for God’s Mosaic Law. If you are reading this - I doubt you are Jew, and if you are – I pray you are under the guidance of the New Covenant and not established with the Old. I hope you understand me, I am not disregarding the Old Covenant but rather saying Christ came to perfect it. So if we cling to the Old Covenant and don’t understand the alterations Christ accomplished, then we don’t think the Old Covenant needed any form of perfecting. Simply, this isn’t true. The Old Covenant needed to be perfected – and it was! We need to figure out how it was (it is all found in scripture).
3. Tithing Limits Yourself
Tithing absolutely limits yourself. Not only because most American Christians only give 10% but also because it completely misses the relationship we each have with God. If you want a rule and you want to follow that rule to a science – go ahead, tithe. But also know that tithing is generally believed to actually be 20-23% so stop doing 10% it is a disgrace to Old Covenant tithes. Sorry if that seems harsh, but to me, it is the reality of tithes.
For those of us that are excited about breaking free from a religious rule and desire a relational choice – we move into the idea of this limitation. Please review an often quoted passage from the scriptures. 2 Corinthians 9:6-13
"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them…” 2 Cor. 9:6-13
We are to give as decided in our heart. Not under compulsion or with frustration. God only desires our cheer. Giving to the church (yes, church – not the homeless) is a sign of your gratitude and thankfulness for what God has accomplished in your life. As you see above, we don’t sow to reap material things – in fact it only says we will have “sufficiency in all things at all times” (note Matt. 6 as well) and that if we are “enriched in every way” is to be “generous in every way.” If you are well-off, shouldn’t you desire to give more than if you are merely ‘sufficiently making it.’
If God made you wealthy on Earth, it was probably so you could give more abundantly.
I love this paragraph from Christianity Today [link at bottom] –
“In many ways the standards of the New Testament are a lot stricter in some ways, or a lot loftier, let's put it that way. So we're required to give generously, to give sacrificially, to see the relief of the poor, the support of the ministry, the spread of the gospel through all nations. So I don't know. There may be some people for whom giving 10% is unwise. There are probably many people in America for whom giving 10% would be actually pretty easy, and in fact it wouldn't really be sacrificial or generous.” - Chistianity.com
Please, I beg of you, if you have read this far – do not limit yourself. Every single Sunday (yes, every Sunday) pray to God and ask Him what you are to give. If He is stretching you, great! If He is passing grace, then so be it! But do not merely have a certain percentage set aside every paycheck. You are robbing yourself of a more pure relationship with Christ. Last example that I feel was placed in my head. Imagine you and God are going out for a date. Thankfully, His Son on the cross allows you to finally be together – and He is so glad you are together. Now, you have to pay for the date with your money. Do you take God out saying, “Okay God, I only have $75 for our date – let’s go get dinner and see a movie.” Or do you say, “I have $750 in my bank account, what do you want to do?” With His response He says, "Can we bring others to dinner and a movie with us?" God wants to expand His Kingdom. By limiting what you give God before even speaking to Him – you thus limit the relationship you have with Him.
4. Tithing Limits Ministries for God’s Kingdom
This is the reason we give – so it needs to be addressed. If you are a faithful tither (10% as we know it) to your local church, I applaud you. So many American Christians to this day are not even giving that. This is not to make you feel like you’ve been a bad Christian for the past 10 years but rather to explain to you the importance of breaking free from a religious rule and diving into a generous lifestyle committed to the work of the Father. You do well, but there is still a better way.
Paul often writes he wishes that elders would earn their wages from the Gospel (note 1 Cor. 9:9-14, 1 Tim. 5:17-18, Gal. 6:6-7). Some may argue, “Paul was bi-vocational.” The reality is Paul was only vocational. He made his living by making tents (he was a tentmaker, as they say). He did this in order to not be a hinderance to the Gospel and burden certain groups of believers. I love how John Piper says it in a YouTube video-
“He was essentially in sin for the sake of the Gospel. He chose to go against God’s will because he feared that people would think he was greedy.” - John Piper
The same applies for today – when Pastors have to be bi-vocational, they are no longer solely committed to learning scripture, shepherding, teaching, mentoring, counseling and so on. Take a cruise through my “Support RP” page – you will be able to read several passages where Paul calls for Pastors to live from the Gospel. John Piper adds-
“Pastors should not be rich or poor. They should live a life similar to their congregation. They should be just as well-off as the average Christian attending their church.” - John Piper
Here are my convictions, if we no longer “tithe” to Levites and feasts and benevolence storehouses – but rather we give – in the New Covenant – for what?
Support those in need (homeless, widows, and those struggling)
Ultimately all leading to - Support the advancement of the Gospel message (or Kingdom of God)
When you view New Covenant giving as, “Okay, I made $1,500 this check – we need to give $150.” I will say it again, You completely miss the point. Rather, I love the way Francis Chan says it (I’m giving a long quote here, entire video in the links below).
“Oh Francis thinks we should all live in poverty and give to those who are in need. You know what? I don’t think you’re required to do anything. What I’m saying is the same thing Paul is saying here, is you have this awesome example in Jesus. Who was rich… in heaven and what He does is becomes poor- He makes Himself nothing so that we all in this room could be rich. Right? I mean why are you here today – because someone left all of His riches, came down and gave you a pretty awesome life… I’m just overwhelmed by this love of God, that are you kidding me – I am a friend of God? I am an heir, a fellow heir of all of His riches? So He came down and sacrificed and He made me rich! And so as followers of Christ, all I’m saying is that desire should be in us. That’s all I’m saying. It’s not a command you gotta give. Gosh, doesn’t it just prove to you that the Holy Spirit is in your life... that you actually have the same desire of Christ? Wow I saw what He did for me, I would love to empty myself and help these other people. It’s the response of having giving your life over to God.”
Whenever you give, you should not be doing math in your head. Rather, the more perfect way is to reflect on everything God has done for you – ask yourself, do I believe in this ministry? Do I believe this minster/ministry is making an impact in God’s Kingdom? Is this ministry advancing the Gospel message? Then, going to the Lord in prayer and saying, “All that I have is yours – what do you desire for me to give?” Always give and always give with a heart full of gratitude and excitement toward the Gospel message. We give for the advancement of the Gospel. Don’t you want that?
5. Tithing Misses the Mark
I’m going to leave this as simple as possible and then give you a conclusion. As you can see from the above four points, I believe a simple tithe is not the New Covenant way. I believe in generosity and honest gratitude. The Gospel saved you from eternal damnation – don’t you want to invest in to ministers/ministries that are reaching the lost and advancing the Kingdom? All that you have is because of God – don’t you want to invest in His bride? Tithing is not sufficient. Giving what we can, when we can is best.
I also know many people will argue to stop giving if you are broke, poor, or in debt. While I agree, I also will disagree. Because Americans have a terrible view on “broke.” In Ghana, many give with next to nothing. I have heard it said (by multiple sources) if you are able to buy yourself a cup-of-joe or eat McDonald’s then you are able to give. In America, we are so abundantly blessed, I believe if you have a roof over your head – you should be giving to your local church. If you choose to not give, I am worried where your heart is (Note Matt. 6:21– “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also”). Also, note 2 Corinthians 8:2-5
“their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
As you can see, if your heart is in the right place, you can give beyond your means and the Lord will still provide for you.
“So the principles are we want for our people [is] to be radically devoted to sacrificial service in this world. John Wesley said, 'Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.' And when he died, I think he only had a silver spoon to his name… I would never tell someone to not make a lot of money, I would tell them not to keep it.” - John Piper
I also want to end by saying, giving/generosity go beyond giving to your local church (it does START there). This isn’t the article defending why you give to the church (which is also very scriptural) but why we should move past tithing. Once you have given what God has purposed in your heart – whether that is $10 or $10,000 – we need to continue to be generous and give in other ways. Giving of your time (time is money, as they say), giving of your talents, giving of your material possessions, giving of everything around yourself. If someone wanted to donate their 50 inch TV to the church, I’m sure we could use it for God’s glory somehow – rather than Netflix. If someone gave all their old clothes that didn’t fit anymore, I’m sure the church could start a clothing closet for homeless people to give out. If someone wanted to invest 20 working hours to help clean and restore the building, that would be great! If someone wanted to take the Pastor out to lunch and pay for their meal – what a blessing that is! Generosity, giving of oneself in any way possible – that is New Covenant and it is the more pure version of Old Covenant tithes.
All in all, I guess I'm with Francis Chan. I'm so excited for God's Kingdom, I already have everything I could ever want or need - I want to invest my time, money and life into God's Kingdom and one of the best ways to do that (scripturally) is to give to your local church and ditch Old Covenant tithes.
Think on it,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cs0gRxzKpY – Francis Chan on Tithes
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/7-reasons-christians-not-required-to-tithe/ - Gospel Coalition, 7 reasons Christians are not required to tithe
https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-life/what-is-a-tithe-meaning-and-importance-of-tithing-in-the-bible.html - Christianity.com, What is a tithe?
https://www.ramblingpreacher.org/support - Rambling Preacher, passages on supporting Ministers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXCh6GTxBlo – John Piper on Pastoral Salary