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 for 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 does the New Testament say about giving?
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 about whether we ought to be praying or reading more even though I don’t see anyone enforcing a 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
Ignoring it would not be smart as “All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” I think its great instruction. after all, if we could keep the whole law perfectly… anyway, Romans makes my point much better then I could. We have the old testament for a reason, but as you clearly point out, it is not so we can be under the yoke of the law. Grace giving is the way to go! Ignore tithing?, no, follow it? no way!
R. Renee says
In terms of ignoring tithing in the Old Testament it is important for the Christian church to come into an understanding of what tithing is within the CONTEXT of biblical scripture. The Bible makes it clear that giving under Grace replaced tithing under the Law. The church should not focus on tithing but rather focus its energy on teaching people how to give under Grace, and how to develop a heart of giving. Spirit-led, voluntary giving is the way.
It shouldn’t be IGNORED. But it has been REPLACED.
replaced with what?
In as much as I’ve read so many article on your website and also many comments from both sides, in all sincerity I’m more confused than when I started.
Firstly, those propagating “No tithing” are looking at tithing through a singular mind set which is under the law; and understandably classified their findings under this view point. Supposing tithing start before the law? Does it still make it debatable?
Secondly, I’m not too confident when the ‘church’ start putting our Christian values and believes on a singular source other than that of Christ, which is Paul. Have we researched into what Peter, James, John and others have to say on tithe?
Thirdly, Jesus died for our sins, paid the price in full and he told the accusers that when the bridegroom is gone, then there would be need for the followers (disciples) to get serious. The church started after Jesus’ accession and followers in that generation gave their possessions (i.e. 100%). So giving is everything to sustain the church, preach the gospel, attend to the needy, support and help the widow, orphan etc. and finally maintain preacher. And we are still debating on what to do to carry out the assignments???
Knowing human nature and in line with the scriptures quoted above in the write up “Tithing on Trial” how many people would be willing in our generation to follow the example in the New Testament (or Covenant) and give cheerfully their possession (100%) for the assignment???
In my personal opinion I will humbly advise different writers of articles, blog and books on this subject to prioritise how to make people a giver rather than discouraging people to give, once you say something is not needed that’s the end of story.
Jared Brian says
i understand your call to encourage giving rather than discourage tithing. I believe tithing is a chain on the lives of believers. You can scream and yell at a slave as much as he wants to live a full life, be free and generous, but until you break the chains that are keeping him tied down, you’re wasting your breath until his bondage is broken.
Stan Skaggs says
The fact is that a truly committed Christian gives as the spirit directs him to give in what manner is needed and conveyed as such. What I have seen (at least within myself anyway) is a giving of greater than the proverbial 10% “tithe”. The concept of tithing that I see as somewhat dark is when ministers or a church body begins to salivate when a wealthy person begins attending their church: Dreaming of the possibilities of that extra cash-flow. I have seen this so many times where a doctor or banker is pawned over, while the mcdonalds worker is simply ignored on his first attendance. This should be case enough to outlaw the concept of tithing and how we attend to those visiting our churches and meetings.
Many times I have had cases where the spirit lays on my heart to help fund a project such as homeless mothers or elderly folks… I will not only give my cash, but roll up my sleeves and go elbows deep (I see only handing over money as a cop-out to the reason for giving). In our world today, the church needs our monetary help, but our labors as well (we are the body of Christ, and this has to be exhibited).
I have found it therapeutic for my soul to spend time on a Saturday cleaning the church sanctuary and building as a labor of love to not only God, but my fellow believers as well… mowing the yard, picking up leaves, etc.. I think God wants our time and efforts, not just a wad of cash.
If we are looking at this topic as a way to avoid giving to God’s missions for us, we just need to stay home on Sundays and give it up: We are fooling ourselves… That is not what it is all about at all.
Michael Gibbs says
Well said, Stan.