How Tithing Has Been Incorrectly Taught
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“You can’t afford not to tithe!”
This is a lie from someone who sees God as a graceless, merciless, two-faced, give-to-get deity. Even if they don’t see it that way, this is how they’re painting our Heavenly Father. It’s lies like these which confuse a lot of Christians, and plainly stated, makes the world hate us even more. It’s not the gospel. It’s not Jesus. It’s aggressive, pressure-filled, twisted garbage–no different than pagan tribal religions.
It’s just plain wrong, but it’s coming from self-proclaimed Christians. I’m not saying they aren’t Christians. I’m saying their theology isn’t biblical.
The truth is, tithing was grain, not cash for church members, in the passage from Malachi 3. Yes, the tithe was more than simply grain, it was animals and spices too, but in Malachi 3, grain is the context. This is why it says storehouse, as this is where grain was stored. Also in Malachi 3, the floodgates being opened was rain for crops, not financial success. This is why it says there will be no room to store it. Store what? Grain. Grain needs water. God provides rain. “Floodgates” for rain come from the sky. God controls the sky, and rain. So give your grain to the Levites and stop robbing God.
This go-to chapter for the “tithing principle” was about storing grain so the Levitical priests could have food. They weren’t allowed to work, so this was how they ate. People tithed food to the priests from the tribe of Levi. Malachi was delivering God’s message to Jewish people who were struggling with greediness.
Context matters. This wasn’t directed at New Covenant believers. We are Christians. We live after the Cross. We are not Jews under the Mosaic Law. The Jews would laugh at us for even reading the Law. We were not invited. We were outsiders. They viewed non-Jews–Gentiles–as pigs and dogs who were unworthy of Law observance (see Ephesians 2:12, Matthew 7:6).
What’s more, if someone wants to use the Law to establish a number to give, there were three types of tithing not just one, which equaled close to 23%, not simply 10% (see Numbers 18:21-26, Deuteronomy 14:22-27, 14:28-29).
Tithing was, and is, a matter of the Law. The Law is still in full force for unbelievers, but not for believers (see Matthew 5:17-19, 1 Timothy 1:6-11). Christians are not under the Law because we’ve believed in Jesus (see Galatians 2:19, 3:12, Romans 6:14, 7:4).
There are only two mentions of the tithe in the New Testament. Neither are commanding a Christian to give 10% nor an offering above a mandated 10%. Here are both:
- Luke 11:42, Matthew 23:23. This is the same event written through the perspective of two different people. Both Luke and Matt are referring to food, not money for a church. The first church building wasn’t even erected until approximately 200 years after Christ. So “giving to your church, and/or ministry of choice” is off base. In these passages, Jesus is chewing out self-righteous Pharisees for neglecting weightier matters of the Law. What does that tell us? Tithing is included with the Mosaic Law. And again, Christians are not under the Law (see passages from above, as well as 2 Corinthians 3). This is before the Cross. Jesus is speaking to Jews under the Law. This is not a commandment for a Christian to tithe. We cannot use this passage for such because such is not the context. Start from the beginning of the chapter, read down, and it’s clear to see who Jesus is barking at–legalists who say, “Look at how much I give.”
- Hebrews 7. Abraham is mentioned tithing a tenth of his spoils of war to a priest named Melchizedek, who appeared before the Law was established. This is not cash, check, or credit to a church, but booty from a plunder. It’s people’s stuff Abraham took after a battle, not food, not money. Melchizedek was an early appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, more than likely (see Genesis 14). This chapter, Hebrews 7, is saying Jesus is greater than the Levites because the Levitical priests came from Levi, and Levi came from the loins of Abraham. Abraham tithed Melchizedek, honoring him. Law, which is represented by Levi, honored grace by honoring Melchizedek with the tithe. Jesus is grace (see John 1:17). Grace is represented in this mystery priest because he had no human lineage like Abraham. Therefore the New Covenant is greater than the Old Covenant. Grace is greater than Law. Read all of Hebrews 7 to see this. Hebrews is written to the Jews–the Hebrews–not us Gentiles, like other letters such as Ephesians, Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, and more. Gentiles were never given the Law, so the author of this book never had to unsell us from what was established in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Jews were stuck on what Moses wrote about Abraham and refused to believe in Christ as Messiah. This chapter has nothing to do with a Christian tithing. It’s a comparison for the Hebrew people to see Jesus as the greatest person ever. Why? So they would repent from believing in Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Levi, Moses, etc.–all of their religious patriarchs–and turn to believing Christ.
So, that’s it. No more references of tithing in the entire New Testament. Don’t you think that if tithing was so important, Paul, James, John, Peter, Jude–any apostle–would have mentioned it when writing their epistles? Yet it is completely absent.
Am I saying don’t tithe? No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying, let’s not put a number on our giving. Let’s remove the word tithe because that’s a number and God isn’t looking for a number.
Give, don’t tithe.
Our churches will survive and they’ll survive for the right reasons.
I’m saying what Paul said, “Give freely, from the heart, not under pressure” (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). The tithing pressure doesn’t work anyway. It only creates fear and anxiety, or hypocrisy, none of which are from God. The reality is, most don’t tithe and those who give don’t give a full 10% (see Church Giving Statistics, July 2018).
I’ve also heard, “The tithe is just the beginning for New Covenant believers, we are to give more than 10%.” This is not true. Such would make the New Covenant more stringent than the Old, which had 613 regulations to follow perfectly in order to be blessed perfectly (see Deuteronomy 4:2, Matthew 5:48).
We can’t do this. That is, make Christ a slot machine by creating New Covenant Law.
Friends, we don’t give to get. We don’t give to be blessed. We don’t give because a really good salesman on stage says God will give us a promised return on our investment. We don’t give because a person is going crazy on stage either, sweating profusely, or telling us about their success from giving. Giving ROI testimonials are nearly demonic (videos of success from tithing shown before the tithe is asked for). God isn’t pleased with them. His blessings can’t be bought.
Nor do we give because the person up front is nice, gentle, and calm while explaining how God will give success back to you through your giving. This creates just as much pressure as the guy with the sweat-rag. Some people deliver pressure in a berserk way, some in a smooth way, some in a funny and entertaining way, and others in a passive-aggressive way. It’s all pressure the same. Pressure is a red flag for Christians to pause. It was for freedom that Christ set us free and pressure takes our freedom away, momentarily, in our minds (see John 8:36, Galatians 5:1).
One last thing. Tithing does not break any curses. That threat by pastors must stop. Tithing is a matter of the Law and Christ took on the full curse of the Law in Himself so that we believers could be free from any curses (see Galatians 3:10-13). Children of God cannot be cursed. It’s impossible because of the Cross. In fact, we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 1:3).
So today, my friends, know this: We give, not tithe, because we are giving people at heart, because we have new hearts–hearts like God. By having the same heart of God we are natural givers because He is the greatest giver ever (see Ezekiel 36:26, Romans 6:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 1:4, John 3:16).
A prayer for you: Father, thank you for everything you’ve given me. It’s like Grandma used to say, “All good things come from above.” I know that’s true, but even deeper, you aren’t above me, you are in me. Thank you for giving me your Spirit. I am so wealthy I don’t know what to do with all the blessings, of you. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For a lot of them, they’ve been taught they need to give you money so they can enjoy you giving more money back to them. I ask for you to mature their understanding of just how great and gracious you are. It is you who wants to continually give, freely, and in Christ you’ve given us the most precious gift of all time. He’s worth more than anything in the universe and beyond what we can see in our physical realm. We’re so grateful for your Son. Thank you. Amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!