Tithing stresses the protestant church out! What is a tithe? Tithe literally means 10%. What do you give ten percent of– money, time, goods, everything?
The first occurrence of a tithe is long before God gave Mosaic Laws and set up a covenant with the Hebrews.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)
19 And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 20:18-20
The question is why 10%? All the men in the story above seemed happy with the voluntarily given amount. The cultures surrounding Abram at the time specifically Salem ( later Jerusalem) were part of the Babylonian religion that required a yearly tithe.
Abram’s gift may be a reflection of the local customs. Nowhere in the scripture at this point does God ask Abram for a tithe. As we see later in the story, God walks and talks with Abraham as a friend.
Old Testament Tithe During Mosaic Law
Jumping forward to the Moses, the tithe changes dramatically. In the Jewish law, there were three tithes.
Levitical Tithe: Numbers 18-24, This 10% annual tithe is intended to support the priestly tribe of the Levites who could not own land.
Festival Tithe: Deuteronomy 12:17-19, 14:22-27, 26:10-16, This 10% tithe was used to host religious festivals in Jerusalem during the year. Each household maintained control of this tithe to use to prepare for, to attend during and to eat “their hearts desire”.
Charity Tithe: Deuteronomy 14:28-29, This 10% tithe was only offered every third and sixth year–specifically to benefit widows, orphans, foreigners and supplement the Levites.
Adding all of these tithes together equals 23% of the Israelites income being gifted in a tithe. At no time were the Israelites expected to only give 10% of their income to just one place.
God directs the Israelite’s in the Festival tithe to throw a party, take a trip and enjoy each other’s company with great food. This sounds like Christmas to me.
Does the Cross fulfill the Mosaic Tithing Laws?
Most Protestant churches teach that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the need for further animal sacrifices for our sin.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
Jesus is the fulfillment of the law of the Old Testament. His body became the needed sacrifice to atone for human sin, no more animal sacrifices needed. Jesus also becomes the mediator by which humans have direct access to God, no need for a priest to intercede.
Finally, Jesus spoke of his own body as the Temple. After his death, his followers would be sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of them. The indwelling of Jesus in his followers eliminates the need for one specific scared place of worship and festivals.
“…the tithe function in the Mosaic Law was connected to the temple, Levites, priesthood, festivals and sacrifices. The once and for all sacrifice of Jesus should therefore among other things be viewed as constituting the fulfillment of this specific Mosaic Law. Dr. David Croteau, You Mean I Don’t Have to Tithe
The tithing by Mosaic Law standards, giving of 10% of cattle and crops, is no longer binding to Christians. Plus “tithing” always included relationship–to God, family, and community. Dropping a check in the offering plate as a “duty” to God was not the spirit of the law. Jesus spent extensive time talking to the Pharisees about this very issue.
How much Do I Give to Make God Happy?
Are we asking the wrong question of ourselves and God? Just like a child in a parent’s house, we believe we “own” our homes, cars, jobs, 401k’s and ourselves. The Scriptures tell a different story.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
All that we see around us. All that we possess. All that we work so hard for is created by God for God’s purposes.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine. Psalm 50: 10-11
11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. 1 Chronicles 29:11
God’s sovereignty extends to our very bodies and minds. God created us for communion with Him in the Garden of Eden. When the sacred trust in the Garden broke, God create a bridge back to Himself through Jesus.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Like children in the house of a parent, we are provided with all our needs through God’s creation. Does God need us to give back a tithe? No.
Does God offer us the opportunity for a relationship with Himself and others through generous giving and living? Yes!
A Child in My Father’s House
I am presently in the stage of raising children. Under my roof are two young men that need food, clothes, shelter, guidance, fun, toys, sports equipment, health care, and love.
Do I love them only if they remember to hug me 10 times each day and clean-up after themselves? No! The same is true of God.
Caring for the gift of my children is a joy that I will gladly do the rest of my life whether they “perform” the way I want or not.
I did not have children for what they can give me, but for what I could offer them. God seeks to be in a relationship with us; the same way, I wish to be in a relationship with my boys.
The fellowship of giving to my boys is both natural and learned. As I wash their clothes, fix meals, help with homework, watch movies, and play games, I am creating a relationship.
My husband and I do “own” everything the boys have access too. We do have family rules and expectations. We are molding these boys to live in the community, to be productive, hard-working individuals, to show compassion, to be good future husbands, and serve God with all their hearts.
Just like God, we want their respect and love for us to be poured out because we first loved them. We want them to give generously because they are treated generously.
What are the Real Questions We Need to Ask Ourselves About Tithing?
Why are you tithing?
Is tithing increasing my relationships with others and God?
Do I see myself and all that I own as a gift from God?
Is writing a check the extent of stewardship responsibilities in church?
Paul tells us:
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 1 Corinthians 9:7
Follow the next articles for a life-changing look at generous giving. Why are you finding yourself giving or not giving?
More Thoughts on Giving
A Crazy Thing Happened on The Way to the Offering Plate