You’ve heard this statement before – “if it looks like it, if it acts like it, then it is it”. This statement comes to mind when I think of those who have trouble categorizing tithing under Old Testament law. One thing I need to clarify is that when I mention the ‘law’, I am talking about Old Testament rituals that have no place within the New Covenant Church. Of course God has laws that are eternal. I would consider eternal laws principles that transcend the old and new Testaments.
Now that that’s past us, let’s look at a few key points that prove why looks like and acts like an Old Testament law.
Tithing is a precise command
Did you know that the gift of giving is the only Spiritual gift that has a minimum standard? What I don’t exactly comprehend is if tithing controls our giving, then why should something that isn’t defined by the Holy Spirit even be considered a Spiritual gift? Another thing to consider is if Israel gave offerings above the tithe without the Holy Spirit, then what would we need the Holy Spirit to guide our offerings for?
The Old Testament had laws that regulated how ministry was operated. For instance, only a certain tribe was called to serve, they only served the temple for 2 weeks out of the year, they could only serve for 25 years, and they had no inheritance of property. We could use these guidelines on how ministers should serve today, but we conveniently rely on the Holy Spirit to ordain and make up different guidelines for our ministers. Unfortunately, we don’t have the faith to believe that the Holy Spirit has the capability to ordain sacrificial givers to finance the Church. ATTENTION PASTORS & MINISTRY LEADERS: I don’t think it’s by mistake that we scour the Old Testament in search of regulations to keep money coming in; and yet you use the anonymity of the Holy Spirit to keep your power and position.
Some may think that my analysis of tithing is focusing on the letter of the law and not the general spirit of the law. But what they fail to realize is Jesus himself condoned the Pharisees for their meticulous tithing habits. The truth is that Jesus lived under the regulations of the Old Testament laws. Jesus confirms the authority of the law earlier in the same passage here in Matthew 23:2-3 “Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do . . .“
Tithing doesn’t bring perfection Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 10:1
There’s no guarantee that 11% or even 12% is the overall amount that the Holy Spirit is asking you to give, so why should 10% be a rule? Tithing is not a teacher of new testament stewardship. It is like Galatians 3:24 states, it is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. A schoolmaster is not a teacher, it is more like a babysitter. As Vine’s Expository Dictionary states, “The paidagogos[schoolmaster] was not the instructor of the child; he exercised a general supervision over him and was responsible for his moral and physical well-being”.
Our guide, our tutor, our helper is now the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only tutor that understands our strengths and weaknesses, and can privately tutor us with custom stewardship lessons. Every child of God learns at a different pace. In the Old Testament tithing was fine because there was no access to a private tutor. The Israelites could not cross the Holy of Holies and be granted access to communicate with God.
Tithing can’t prove what’s in your heart
STOP, and SLOWLY think about this next question I’m about to ask . . . . . . . . Can you name me any other requirement, besides tithing, that the Pharisees meticulously followed that is also required today? If you look at what the Pharisees meticulously obeyed, it should give us a pretty solid answer as to what is NOT required today. For instance, circumcision, clean/unclean meats, work on the Sabbath, and washing hands, were the trophies of the Pharisees and yet, we do not follow these guidelines. I can’t think of anything that the Pharisees had bragging rights for that we can actually say is required today. For some reason, there’s one exception to that rule, and it’s – tithing. Even in the book of Matthew, Christ condones the Pharisees for their meticulous tithing but rebukes them in the same sentence for exclusion of justice, mercy, and faith.
I’m not saying that tithing shouldn’t be considered a sacrifice, or that you don’t have the right heart if you do tithe. But if we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter, what makes us believe that serving 10% is in the newness of the spirit?
Tithing was commanded under the Old Covenant
This is the most obvious reason tithing acts like an Old Testament law. The first argument that comes to the defense of tithing is that Abraham tithed before the Mosaic law. Tis true, but tithing was not a ‘requirement’ before the Mosaic law. If it had been a requirement, then Jacob in Genesis 28 could not have the opportunity to make a tithing vow. Most people believe that Jacob was just trying to fool God and that God overlooked his foolishness, but as we see in Genesis 31:3 God did not overlook Jacob’s vow. This puts a big hole in the argument that tithing was required before the law.
Once you have biblical proof of tithing not being required prior to the Mosaic law, you can then look at historical records and see that Abraham was required to tithe because of a law in the land of Canaan that required a 10% tax on the spoils of war (1 pg. 127)(2 pg. 235-236).
Tithing is not commanded under the New Covenant
This is probably the second most obvious reason. Of all the bible verses recorded under the new covenant, you do not see a single reference to tithing alongside any commands on giving. In Hebrews 7, tithing is mentioned, but it is not attached to a command on giving. Another important thing to remember is that Hebrews was written to the Jews, who would have been well aware of the practice of tithing anyway, but struggled with understanding the purpose of the law. The gentiles, who knew the least about tithing, never received any instructions on tithing whatsoever.
Some principles found under the new covenant show that giving should be, ‘liberal’ 2 Corinthians 8:2, ‘free’ Romans 8:32, ‘sacrificial’ Romans 12:1, and ‘cheerful’ 2 Corinthians 9:7. There are no hints to show our giving should have a starting point, or a minimum.