To tithe or not to tithe

Many, many years ago, I asked a friend for a ride to our Christian fellowship. I had just been paid the day before and in my pocket was $5 for my ‘tithe.’ I was so excited. I loved to give and help move the Word of God. During the drive I noticed my friend’s gas gauge was on empty. I asked her about it. “No, it isn’t broken. I am out of gas. But don’t worry. I’ll get you there and back,” she laughed, “I prayed for God to spit the gas tank.” In my heart I knew what I had to do and I was excited about doing it. I gave her my ‘tithe’ money. And we praised God.

Maybe I shouldn’t have done it, but later that day, I shared with someone how excited I was to have God work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. Rather than rejoicing with me, I received a lecture about my first fruits always going to God and the ministry that feeds me spiritually. And not just the 10% tithe, but more, because, after all, we live not under the law, but under grace. That $5 should have gone to God first, not gas money.

My joy was quickly replaced by the Law that I was being taught. The teacher was sincere, but he was also very, very wrong.

Interestingly, too many religious leaders who understand grace and the tithing of the Old Testament, also understand that Christians today are under no obligation to honor the tithe, nor are they required to give to any organized religion or church. Even though they know this, these leaders will still teach tithing as law and something that has to be done to gain God’s favor. And why do they teach this lie? Some don’t know any better. They teach tithing because they really believe it is something we have to do and they sincerely want us to have God’s blessings. Then there are some leaders that actually believe that they are the new Levites and tithing is our obligation to them. Of course some teach tithing because they simply want your money, and they are good at talking people out of it. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ; And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13,14)

So, is tithing a bad thing? No, not at all. God has called us onto good works. God says if we don’t sow we will not reap. God says give and He will give unto us.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

God has called us to a life of giving and receiving.

Matthew 10:8b freely ye have received, freely give.

Giving is something every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ should do. Giving is a response to our thankfulness. Giving is a cry of, “Here am I, Lord,” in response to God’s love and generosity.

My problem with tithing isn’t the giving. God wants us to give and give generously. God will honor the tithe if it is given cheerfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

My problem with tithing is that many religious leaders teach it as law, as something that you have to do to gain God’s favor. These religious leaders teach that 10% giving was old testament. In this age of grace, they teach, you are cheating God if you don’t give 15%, or even 20%, of your increase. It seems that every time the tip standard goes up in the service industry, so does the tithing requirement in these churches. Too many churches imply, or flat out teach, that if you aren’t tithing you are wasting your time praying because God’s hands are tied. They teach that God wants to answer your prayers, but He can’t, because you don’t tithe. That is a wrong teaching and one that causes oppression and pain for God’s people. The tithing teaching limits God in our lives, setting up a yours and mine mentality when in fact every thing belongs to Gods. We are stewards of what He gives us and we should learn to allow Him to work in us to do of His good pleasure, not ours.

We are called to give, and God will honor our giving, but who we give to and how much is given is between the individual and God.

I recently read an amazing work called GIVING AND RECEIVING (Not Law—But Grace), by Victor Paul Wierwille. I would suggest clicking on the red letter title and going to the article. Then take your bible and go to each of the scriptures he references and reading everything in the context. Dr. Wierwille documents from the Word of God the many, many benefits of giving. He expertly shows that giving is something God definitely wants us to do and he makes the statement, “A believer’s unbelief usually shows up most clearly in the category of money.” It is true, if you don’t trust God to take care of you, you will hold onto your money out of fear, or pride, or any other cause of unbelief that enables us to fall short of God’s calling and blessings.

In the article, Dr. Wierwille uses Ananias and Sapphira out of Acts 5 as examples of people who cheated God and the consequences of doing so. But read it yourself and think about it. I don’t think the consequences they suffered were about whether or not they gave money; whether or not they tithed. The consequences were about the heart they gave the money with.

Act 5:1-10

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back [part] of the price, his wife also being privy [to it], and brought a certain part, and laid [it] at the apostles’ feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried [him] out, and buried [him].

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband [are] at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying [her] forth, buried [her] by her husband.

Dr. Wierwille uses Ananias and Sapphira as examples of cheating God in the context of tithing. But I think as you reflect on what is written, you will see their sin was not whether or not they gave. “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” Peter is saying, ‘Look, no one asked you to sell your land, but you did. Then you were dishonest about how much you sold it for. You just wanted to look good for these people and you lied to God to do it.’ The sin wasn’t in not tithing, the sin was they lied about it. It was a heart thing.

Do you see it? It didn’t matter if they gave the money or not. Peter wasn’t asking the people to tithe. Read Acts 4. The giving was in response to thankfulness and a desire to help others. Look at what was going to be done with the money. And notice, they are talking pluralities. They were not selling what they needed. They sold what they had too much of.

Acts 4:24,35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

People were responding to their thankfulness. Ananias and Sapphira saw what Barnabas did and they wanted in on the praise. They sold the land. It was theirs, the money was theirs, to do with as they wished, so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was their honestly. They were being deceitful. Satan filled thine heart to lie to the God.

So, what about Paul’s confronting the Corinthians about giving in 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9? Those chapters are often used to teach tithing. Dr. Wierwille used these chapters in his article. He wrote, “Read II Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 and note carefully verses 3 and 4 of chapter 8. Note very carefully II Corinthians 8:7:”

2 Corinthians 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every [thing, in] faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and [in] all diligence, and [in] your love to us, [see] that ye abound in this grace also.

The Corinth church was abounding in many things, as seen in verse 7, yet they failed to abound in giving and receiving. Although, one year before it was the zeal of the Corinth church that inspired and motivated the Macedonians and others to give in the first place!

2 Corinthians 9:2 (New Living Translation) For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.

A year before they were very zealous and said they wanted to give. But a year later they still hadn’t given. The truth is Paul wasn’t concerned with whether or not they ‘tithed.’ Paul was concerned with whether or not they were keeping their word and doing what they had already said they would do. He was concerned with the Corinthians being the example they themselves had set themselves up to be. When we say we will do something and then we don’t, we open ourselves up for all sorts of darkness in our lives. Guilt, condemnation, pride.

James 5:12 KJV But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Chapter 8 gives more insight into Paul’s care for the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (New Living Translation) Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it.

Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.

Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.

Paul is saying, ‘Finish what you started. Give what you can, in proportion to what you have.’ That is God’s heart for His people; Give in proportion to what you have. The more God gives you, the more you give.

2 Corinthians 8:8 … to prove the sincerity of your love.

2 Corinthians 8:24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love…”

‘You said you loved these people and wanted to help. Now, stop with the lip service, and prove it. Follow your words with your works.’ Paul wanted to see the Corinthians keep their word. This has nothing to do with tithing. Paul knew the blessing they would receive when they proved the sincerity of their love. Paul wanted them to have this blessing more than anything! God wanted them to have this blessing more than anything!

3 Jonh 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

God wants us to give. Bountifully. So He can bless us. Bountifully.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work:

God wants us to abound to every good work. He will bless our giving, so that we can bless others with our giving. It is so beautiful. But we can only have His blessing if we are people of integrity. We can’t say one thing then do another if we want to see the greatness of God’s Word live in our lives. Paul knew this and he is teaching it to the Corinthians. And look at the grace! It was a year of inaction before Paul laid it out in writing. Some churches today jump on you after a few Sundays of not giving. Paul isn’t saying, ‘why aren’t you tithing, Church of Corinth?’ Paul is saying, ‘Do what you said you would do. Keep your word.’

Does God want us to give? Absolutely. Does He want us to tithe? If that is what you and He decide to do, He is 100% supportive.

But let me say this: How dare any man tell me that my God won’t bless my giving because I don’t religiously keep their law of tithing to a church! We are saved by grace, unto good works. God wants to work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. God will provide for all our need according to His riches in glory. Why? Because He promised He would. AND, so that we have to give; give to whomever God lays on our heart to give to. Quite often in my walk that giving has been to the organization I am thankful for and blessed by. You might call that ‘tithing.’

One other thought about the article: Dr. Wierwille quoted Acts 20:35. He quoted it as, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to … remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What he wrote is true. He makes a valid point, a point God definitely wants us to understand. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

But Dr. Wierwille left out the phrase, “support the weak.”

Read Acts 20:35 in its completeness, as God wrote it in His Word:

Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

God says that as you are labouring ye ought to support the weak. And as you are supporting the weak you should remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Many churches teach that supporting the weak is a ‘good’ cause before God, but the ‘best’ cause is tithing. That is NOT what this verse says. The best cause is God’s cause. According to God’s Word, we should support the weak, the sick, those people that need our help. God wants to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. If God is working in your heart to tithe, then tithe. But if God says ‘give her gas money,’ then I would suggest listening to the spirit of God within and give her the gas money. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

To tithe or not to tithe? That is up to you.