Why don’t we emphasize tithing?
The topic of tithing has gotten very much attention from our listeners since it is often emphasized by churches across America. What is surprising, however, is the fact that the New Testament never requires us to give a tenth of our income as an offering to the Lord. You can look back for yourself. It just isn’t there. If tithing is so important why isn’t it mentioned several times in the New Testament?
Why is tithing not commanded in the New Testament?
The word “tithe” refers to a tenth of produce and livestock prescribed by the Old Covenant as the duty of every Hebrew to pay in order to support the Levite priesthood who were not permitted to earn wages; to pay for maintenance of the temple; to provide sacrifices in worship. All these needs have been done away with under the New Covenant initiated by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. All believers are priests because we are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Each believer is now the temple of God since God gives us the Holy Spirit to indwell us at the moment of regeneration. There is no need to make sacrifices to cover our sin because through Christ’s one sacrifice of Himself all of our sins (past, present and future) are forgiven. Since the national system of worship in Israel is obsolete, the role of the tithe is ended. That is why the Bible does not require believers under the New Covenant to tithe. It’s just not there. (Eph. 3:12; I Cor. 6:19; Heb. 10:14)
What about the example of Abraham?
The only other time “tithe” is referred to is the incident where Abraham paid a tenth of his goods to Melchizedek. However, that was a one time gift Abraham gave of his own free will as a public act of thanksgiving for a military victory, not as an act of obedience to a command of God. Furthermore, the fact that something was practiced before the Law does not make it a permanent command of God. If we use Abraham as an example for tithing then we need to follow him in other areas as well, such as circumcision and animal sacrifice. It’s funny that those last two areas are rarely mentioned along with tithing. (Gen. 14, 15 & 16) The real point of this incident as quoted in the New Testament is to show the supremacy of our priesthood in Christ represented by Melchizedek over the priesthood of Levi, a descendant of Abraham. (Hebrews 7:1-10)
If we don’t have to tithe, why give at all?
In other words, what is God’s pattern for giving under the New Covenant? The pattern is Jesus Christ Himself (2 Cor. 8:9). He walked as a living sacrifice in total dependency on the Father (Phil. 2:5-8). What are we to do? The very same thing (2 Cor. 8:5; Romans 12:1-2). So then our giving of money is to be a natural overflow of God’s love in service to others as we are controlled by His Spirit. Can that be 10% of everything we make? Certainly, and perhaps more or less as God works in our hearts individually. That is the freedom we have in Christ. For your own study read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.
2 Corinthians 9:8
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”