Is the tithe for today?

Is the Tithe Required Today?

The question of the tithe is one of those questions that illustrate the struggle we have with money.

Do we really need to give 10 percent? As we look at the tithe in the Bible, I’d like to start with three things that I believe are biblical and true – and I hope you agree with me:

1. All that we are and everything that God has entrusted to us belongs to him, and we are stewards of his blessings. …everything was created by him, and through him, and for him (Col 1:16).

2. God’s kindness toward us in Jesus, and all that that means, should consume us and be the heartbeat of every aspect of our life. We should have transformed minds that do away with being controlled by the urges of this world (Rom 12:2).

3. We should live lives that focus on bringing glory to God because the gospel is, by far, the most precious thing in the universe. Paul said that even the most mundane things of life, like eating or drinking, should be done for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

So, is the tithe a requirement? No.

Four points about using the tithe as requirement:

  1. The Old Testament priesthood is gone. The tithe, at least for the most part, was in place to support the Levites and the whole system of the priesthood. Now, since Jesus, the perfect High Priest, has replaced the Old Testament priesthood, the tithe is no longer needed or even advocated in the New Testament. When the tithe is mentioned in the New Testament, it’s connected to Jesus’ scathing criticism of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, or to amplify the status of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7.
  2. Paul doesn’t lean on the tithe. When Paul emphasizes the need for giving, he doesn’t talk in terms of the tithe. Instead, he urges Christians to give as God has prospered them (1 Cor 16:1‑2) and he wants to make sure they know three things about giving in 2 Cor 9:7: 1-Generous giving means generous blessing. 2-They should give after thoughtful consideration and not because of coercion. 3-Giving should be done with joyful hearts.
  3. The tithe can become a giving maximum. While for most, tithing would mean giving more, it’s easy for the tithe to become a false and maximum target. So once the 10 percent goal is achieved and their duty is done, the 90 percent belongs to them. So the tithe as a requirement is usually considered the minimum or the maximum. For some, tithing might be oppressive; for others it’s a ridiculously small amount.
  4. There is a better way. Not an obligation but a shared vision. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, Christians share God’s vision for the outcome of their salvation, existing for the glory of God.
The tithe is a command that removes the heart from God.

Rule-making often reduces our ability to function as God intends – in Spirit-led freedom. I’m not saying that we must give 100 percent of our income to the church and missions. I’m saying that 100 percent of everything we have is important. It all belongs to God and we need a good foundation of truth when we think about giving.

We should be praying about our financial decisions. The house we buy, the car we own, the food we eat, the clothes we buy, and the way we think about college costs and vacations, and retirement are all important because the glory of God is involved in all of this.

When we think about the tithe in the Bible, the coming of Jesus brought a paradigm shift. The question “How much must I give?” is entirely out of place for the Christian. Hopefully, we’re praying, “God, make me aware of the value of the gospel, and help me glorify you in every financial decision I make. Help me be a good steward of your gifts. I want to care about what you care about.”

Tithes and offerings

Disciples align with Jesus and give.

It’s common for church leaders to use the phrase, tithes and offerings. This usually means that we believe in the ten percent as a requirement, and then it would be great if we give more. So, if you’re “dirt poor” and can barely put food on the table, you’re still shirking your duty if you don’t give 10 percent.

After really praying about this, some might start by working toward a 10% giving goal. But not because there is something magical about 10%. For others who are making big money, you need to be asking, why are you only thinking 10%? What are you doing with the 90%, and is that good stewardship?

Following Jesus in our giving

So, here’s a basic New Testament concept about giving – Being a disciple means giving because disciples follow Jesus.

be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us… – Eph 5:1-2

I’d like to finish this up with a verse from the end of the book of Hebrews. After the author of this fantastic letter speaks of Jesus and his salvation and how Jesus is superior to, and the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system and the profits, and after he warns the readers against leaving Jesus, and speaks about perseverance, he says this:  

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Heb 13:5

God is our life-giving treasure, and he does not die, and he is the purpose of everything, and he loves you and will care for you and will see you home. While this world and its empty promises will leave, Jesus will not. And he will not turn his back on us. We don’t need to fear missing out on anything here, and we must not be serving money. We have Jesus, and he will care for us.

John Calvin said, As long as we have such a helper, there is no cause to fear.

So, those who have been given new life shouldn’t be asking how much must I give and how much can I keep? We should be asking how much can I give and how much must I keep?

Here is an article that you might like – 4 Truths About Christian Giving

2 thoughts on “Is the Tithe Required Today?”

  1. Mthandeni Mathabela

    In context of this passage, if tithe fell with the old system of priests; does the blessing of Malachi 3 also fall away for those who practice tithe?
    Also, Abraham prior to the law did offer tithe; and we also find tithe practice in new testament; if this is done outside of old testament Mosaic law, did it really fall away? What about Pastors today, dont they represent the priests in that we should fund their mission?

    1. Thank you so much for your question,

      When we consider Malachi 3, we need to carefully understand what it meant in the original Old Testament context and the Sinai Covenant. And then we must carefully and prayerfully apply it to ourselves as we consider all that Jesus has done. And, we often need to separate the permanent (God and God’s overarching design) from the temporary (in this case the human priests and the sacrifices and the tithe).

      So, how does Malachi 3 connect to us today? With Jesus as our perfect sacrifice and with Jesus as our permanent priest, can we still rob God? Absolutely! We should exist for the glory of God. Everything we are and everything we have is his, and we are stewards of his goodness and not owners. When we live self-focused lives, we rob God of his glory because we make life about us and not Jesus.

      Also, it’s vital that we don’t look at a pastor as the New Testament version of a priest because Jesus has that role. We no longer need a human priest (Hebrews 9:11-12), and we don’t want to minimize Jesus’ work for us. Pastor’s are shepherds and not priests, and we should be uncompromising about this.

      The thing many miss about the tithe discussion is that as those who have been born again have the mind of Christ emerging in them through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. We should regard our lives and everything connected to them as for the glory of God. There is absolutely no need for the tithe when everything is about the Kingdom and we’re aligned with Jesus’ purpose and vision.

      The vision is not for us to give 10% to God and keep 90% for ourselves. The vision is that 100% is God’s. Now, through prayer, God can direct you in what you do with your money.

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