Can We Ignore Tithing in the Old Testament?
As we continue our series ‘Tithing on Trial’, let’s evaluate another argument used to defend tithing.
All Scripture is profitable, so we can’t ignore tithing in the Old Testament.
2 Timothy 3:18 states this, “All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
If this passage applied to half of the Mosaic laws in the Old Testament (OT), I’d be okay with using it in this context; but considering how 2 Timothy 3:18 is not a common source used to validate any of the other 600+ Mosaic laws, then using this verse to defend a single OT law makes one look desperate.
If we really believed that 2 Timothy 3:18 can be used to defend tithing then there are many other OT laws that would drastically change how the Church functions today. Here are a few examples below
- Deuteronomy 23:2 would not allow illegitimate children into Church services.
- Exodus 21:20-21 would allow us to own slaves as property and beat them within an inch of taking their life.
- Leviticus 19:19 would not allow you to wear clothing made with polyester and cotton nor spandex mixed with silk.
- Leviticus 21:5 would not allow ministers to shave any part of their head. Maybe this included the beard ( i don’t know? )
- Leviticus 21:16-23 would not allow anyone with a physical defect to give offerings.
- Numbers 8:24 would not allow ministers to serve in the Church more than 25 years.
- Leviticus 20:9-10 would sentence rebellious children and adulterers to death.
I think you get my point now.
How Profitable is the Old Testament Law?
Galatians 3:24-25 states, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Although our schoolmaster is retired and we are not longer following the law as our master, this does not render the Old Testament useless. There are many other universal principles that can be taught through the Old Testament, but the ordinances were nailed to the cross and left there
Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”
Although Old Testament laws were taken out of the way, this doesn’t mean there aren’t principles to be found within the practice of them. We can find universal principles taught in the New Testament with references to Old Testament laws. Circumcision, altar sacrifices, and burning incense are all referenced in the New Testament. Here are some scriptural references of how Old Testament laws are applicable in the New Testament
- Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
- Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
- Philippians 4:18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
We know that neither circumcision, nor sacrifices need to be enforced in order to teach principles behind the matter. In regards to tithing, we can read that tithing is neither a necessary nor exclusive practice used to teach principles of stewardship.
What About Giving in the New Testament?
Here’s a concise list of passages in the New Testament that describe how giving should be administered throughout the Church.
- 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first [day] of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 [So let] each one [give] as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity;
- Romans 12:6-13 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them]:…he who gives, with liberality…distributing to the needs of the saints
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-8 …their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to [their] ability, yes, and beyond [their] ability, [they were] freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints…. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.
- 2 Corinthians 8:12-14 For if there is first a willing mind, [it is] accepted according to what one has, [and] not according to what he does not have. For [I do] not [mean] that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, [that] now at this time your abundance [may supply] their lack, that their abundance also may [supply] your lack–that there may be equality.
After reading the above passages you will see that there is nothing to advocate tithing in the New Testament. Although, I have bolded some words above to emphasize how giving should be influenced. You will see phrases such as- ‘liberality’, ‘freely willing’, and ‘not by commandment’. This form of giving in the New Testament does not fit with the form of giving found in the Old Testament, so this puts us in a bit of a quandary if we wish to honor the whole scripture.
Ignoring the Cross
I think people get all messed up on this issue because they ignore the cross. It’s not about ignoring the Old Testament or the New, it’s about Calvary. The greatest example we have of giving found throughout the entire bible should answer this question for us. The ironic thing is that neither of us have doubts on whether we ought to be praying or reading more even though I don’t see anyone enforcing minimum amount of praying or the minimum amount of bible reading. When we reflect on what Jesus did for us, we challenge ourselves to pray and read more. Some of us may incorporate personal benchmarks that help us perform this duty, but these benchmarks all vary and have different effects for everyone.
When scripture said pick up our cross and to give up our lives as a sacrifice, i don’t believe that he meant for us to legalize the process with our petty milestones.
Now that the evidence has been given in this court of law, it is your turn to decide; Can we ignore tithing in the Old Testament – guilty or not guilty?
YOU BE THE JUDGE