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Tithing in the New Testament

December 4th, 2008 Comments off

tithe2The subject of tithing has come up again recently in my spiritual walk so I thought I would share what I believe God has been showing me.

I know for a fact that God had me not tithe for some time. I think the reason for it was that I had a wrong motivation and/or thought process about it. I believe I wrote a entry in my personal journal a week or two ago about wanting to tithe but then I dropped off in listening to The Word and that fizzled out. So here I am listening to it again and the biggest thing I feel coming at me is to start giving.

This is very different from what it has been.

Old Testament verses New Testament

To sum it up quickly tithing was an Old Testament law and is not clearly defined in the New Testament. The church as a whole preaches that you need to tithe or your are cursed. I do not believe this to be true. The Bible clearly states that Jesus fulfilled the law and that we are redeemed from it (Gal 3:13) – we are no longer under the law’s curse and we are not to live by the law.

If you think about it that same scripture does away with the 10 commandments as well. So does that mean that we can now go around robbing, killing, and stealing? No not really. Jesus gave us the new command which wraps all of these into one – Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). So instead of walking with God legalistically we are to walk with Him relationally. When we do that we do not rob, kill, or steal because we love our neighbor as we do ourselves. In other words we do not want someone to do that to us so we do not do it to them.

New Testament Application of the Law

In the same way that we would not do bad things to people because we would not want them done to us, we should do good things to people because we would want them to do that to us as well.

If I was a full time minister and I spent my days studying and spending time with God so that I could try to help people be closer to him I would hope that they would appreciate what I did for them. The New Testament is very clear in the scripture – A worker is worthy of their wages (Luke 10:7). Being a minister is not easy and I believe that they should be compensated accordingly. On the same note, church buildings do not build themselves and ministries do not get free utilities. They have to pay them just like you and I and that money has to come from somewhere.

For me, I have been at my church for some time and it has enriched my life. I know that I have NOT given back anywhere near to the proportion to what I have received from them. Despite that they still let me in the door.

I think that the natural process of growing in Christ will bring every Christian to the point where they will have to address tithing. Tithing is not a deal breaker with God. He loves us all and will continue to give and take care of us. But when we make a decision in our heart to give for the right reasons I believe that is pleasing to Him.

I see it the same way as the child that wants to follow in the same career path as their parent. It is not that the parent loves that child more then their one child that wants to do something different. It is that parent has a common interest with that child and that naturally draws them closer together.

People are at the center of God’s heart and getting the gospel to them is His chief objective. I believe the biggest reason the whole world isn’t saved and we aren’t all sitting in heaven right now is because there isn’t enough money to get the job done. I don’t want to hold that back.

Starting to Tithe in a Practical Manner

So now that I have the right motive in my heart and the green light from The Big Guy how do I start? The reality of the situation is that on paper I cannot afford to tithe. My mind says “Wait until you get money/raise/etc then start”. My spirit says “That will never happen, as soon as you get more money you will have more commitment that will eat that money up”. I know the latter to be true.

So this is what I am looking to do. I am going to tip toe into this thing. I have several different income streams and I am going to look to have them tithe one at a time. I am trying to be wise about this. When you start excising you don’t go and run 5 miles the first day. You have to work your way up to it. I am going to do the same thing with tithing.

The other thing that I am going to do is continue to build my faith – especially since I do not have the money on paper to do it. To continue to build my in faith I am going to need to continue in the Word of God.

The word says – Give and it shall be given to you, press down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom (Luke 6:38). I am not giving to get – that is not my motivation. I am giving because I want to give back for what I have already received. But, the spiritual law of sowing and reaping is still in effect even if that is not my motivation.

Using the same exercise analogy – the right motivation to exercising is to be healthy. A by-product of that is that you are probably going to look a whole lot better if you loose weight in the process. If your motivation is to look good you will never be happy because that’s a wrong motive. You will continue to punish yourself and never “look good” in your eyes. With tithing if your are trying to “get rich” by tithing you will never be happy because no matter how much money you have it will never be enough.

Motivation is the key here – why do you want to tithe?

Practical Steps to Start Tithing

Here are the steps that got me to where I am and where I am planning to go concerning tithing.

  1. Get into the Word of God

    I did this by downloading free podcasts from various preachers and listening to them at work. I did not do this so I could start tithing it was just a by-product of listening to the Word. Be careful who you listen to on the subject of tithing. I was listening to one Pastor who really started to get into the curse of not tithing and it messed me up for a while. The Bible says to test all spirits so if something doesn’t seem right do not be afraid to question its validity.

  2. Understand what the Word says about Tithing

    You will be cursed if you do not tithe IF you believe that you will be cursed, but the Bible does not say that. The New Testament says we are redeemed from the curse of the law. It also says that if you choose to live under the law then you are subject to ALL of the law. With that I believe that people can be tithing and giving but can be cursed at the same time because there are other aspects of the law that they are not keeping. What the New Testament does say is to be a cheerful giver, give because you want to, not because you feel you have to. 

  3. Pray about Tithing

    This may seem weird but I really felt that God had said no about tithing to me up until this point. I do know that my heart and my motivations are different now then they were before. In everything we do we need to get confirmation from God to make sure that our timing is lined up with His even if what we are looking to do is scriptural. 

  4. Start Tithing

    Once you get the green light from the big guy start tithing. You may be in a position where you can just write a check every time you get paid and your won’t feel it – awesome, go for it. For others (like me) writing a check for the whole amount is a stretch financially. My personal opinion is to start to give what you can and work up to the full tithe and possibly beyond. The key is to give when you first get paid as opposed to after you pay everything else because you most-likely will not have anything left to give. Even if you are giving just a little you are still giving and God sees your heart.

  5. Be Blessed

    Be blessed in the fact that you know that you are giving money that is going to be used to advance the Kingdom of God. If that was the only reward of tithing then that should be enough for you. If you have that perspective then when God does begin to give back to you it is even a bigger blessing because that is not why you gave. Remember it all comes down to perspective and/or motivation for tithing.

I believe that the first 3 steps are probably the most important aspects of tithing. The Word is essentially to anything that we do when it comes to God and Ministry. We need to understand what the Word Says and then actually connect with God to understand how that Word applies to our individual life and/or situation. God never designed His kingdom to try to work without His word, the two go hand-in-hand.

Final Thoughts

Giving to God’s work is an honor and its proceeds are essential to furthering the kingdom of God. With that said not everyone can give. There is nothing wrong with that. God does not love you any less and your salvation is not dependent on whether you give or not. God loves you and wants to bless you here on earth and in heaven. He will bless you and provide for you regardless of whether you tithe or not – I can attest to that personally.

We as parents don’t get down on our children because they can’t walk when they are infants or cannot add 2 + 2 together when they are toddlers. God does not get down on us if we have not come to the understanding about the tithe or have the faith to do it.

Even if our child gets older and may be behind the rest of their age group in walking or adding 2 + 2 together , as parents we do not condemn them. We love them and try to help them come to the understanding of the things that would beneficial for them to do. God is the same way.

He loves us, He is our father and He wants to bless us and see us happy. He does everything in His power to help us and bring us to understanding so He can bless us. We just need to turn our heart towards Him and be open to His instruction.

I hope this post is help to folks who are looking for answers on tithing. I do get a lot of traffic on this site for people looking for answers about New Testament tithing so hopefully this will help. I am open for discussions on this subject so feel free to comment below.