Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Tithing for Christians Today?

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7 - NIV)

How can you give cheerfully and not under compulsion of you are taught that you are obligated to tithe? The answer of course is - you can't.

Many churches teach that tithing is something that Christians should do if they want God to bless them and want to obedient to God. Some churches go even further and tell people that if they don't tithe that they are robbing God.

They often base this on the scripture passage in Malachi which says:

"Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." (Malachi 3:8-10)

I've never heard a preacher mention the preceding verse 6 though which gives us the context - God speaking to the "descendants of Jacob" - i.e. God was speaking the nation of Israel. But even without that verse the passage is from Malachi which is part of the OT and God was speaking to the nation of Israel - the Jews who were under the Mosaic covenant.

As Christians we are not under the OT Mosaic covenant. We are not under the OT law - we are under the law of Christ, and the OT law has been "set aside". Some of the OT laws happen to coincide with NT laws - such as 9 out of the 10 commandments. (The exception is the Sabbath which is not part of the law of Christ and the NT specifically says we are not to consider any day as more holy than another.

New Testament Proof Text

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (Matthew 23:33)

What were they told to tithe here?

Food - spices - mint, dill, and cumin.

Was Jesus speaking to Jews under the Mosaic Law or to Gentiles who are not under the Law?

These were teachers of the law and Pharisees - Jews.

This is the only passage in the NT that points toward tithing and it was before Jesus went to the cross and established the New Covenant. We are no longer under the old covenant now - no longer under the law of Moses. The OT Law has been "set aside". We are now under the "law of Christ."

Mega Churches and Ministers Getting Rich

Mega churches tend to push the tithing doctrine strongly - some more so than others. And then you've got ministers like Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar who have become millionaires from their preaching, along with mansion houses and jet planes. Recently Creflo Dollar has been fundraising for a $65 million private jet. It's so absurd it's obscene. (See Creflo Dollar: The Devil is trying to discredit me - CNN). It's not the devil trying to discredit you Creflo - it's sane people who can see through the way you're wasting money and getting rich off the vulnerable and gullible. Creflo has even joked about needing money for a billion dollar space shuttle so he can preach the gospel to aliens on Mars. (For the Creflo and Aerosmith mashup video see here)

The OT Temple

A lot of money was spent on this for the glory of God - so I do see a place for church buildings. But the NT model is not about temples, but meeting from house to house and preaching the gospel.

For Further Reading / Research:


  1. I think some of these tv evangelists should be arrested. But we have to be careful that we make giving an integral part of our entire system of faith. My church offers an imcredible amount of free services to the public, many of who are not members of our church or even Chrisitan. Our pastors are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. This money does not come from the air. I am not actively clothing the homeless and feeding the poor, but my church does do just that, with my giving.

    1. Thanks for your comment Joe. What you've said shows the need for New Testament style generous giving, but not the legalistic need for tithing. Also one has to be careful not to have a whole lot of projects going on that are good but aren't doing what God wants the way He wants. For example giving food to homeless people is a great thing, but if it isn't coupled with sharing the gospel it would not be effective and could create an unhealthy dependence.