Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tithing vs Giving

  Now, this one may be foreign to some so please stay with me. For those who may not be from the church world I'll explain tithing briefly. It was established by God for the Jewish people as an offering system that would use 10% of their cattle, livestock, grain, vegetables, etc. to take care of the temple and those who took care of said temple such as the Levites. Instead of farming or some other trade these men spent all of their time taking care of this temple. This system helped sustain normal living needs for these guys. Now, if you look back through the Old Testament before all the temple rituals and such we see a guy named Abraham. The first man to ever give a tithe. Genesis 14 describes Abram (before his name change from the Lord) just freshly out of battle. Along comes a Priest named Melchizedek offering these tired soldiers bread and wine. Abram's response to such a blessing is to give a tenth of all their spoils from war. 

    Let's take a look at a few things here:

1. Abram's tithe was a response to the Priests kindness. If you would've just finished up kicking ass and taking names, you would probably be ready for a beer and bologna sandwich too. 

2. This tithe was not of Abram's income. It was from someones belongings whom of which he had taken their life and then all their stuff too.

3. You never see Abram tithe again.

  A lot of church leaders like to use this as leverage to say that tithing was initiated before the law of Moses. That's fine if you see it that way, but then people should only be tithing once in their life and it should be from someone else's belongings essentially...right?
Let's move on...

  Later in Genesis 28 we see Jacob making mention of giving a tithe to the Lord after his wrestling match through the night, but once again it's AFTER he saw the Lord and received a blessing AND his promise is to tithe off whatever the Lord gives Him IF the Lord keeps him safe. So apparently we can put conditions on tithing?

  Let me just say something here. I believe the tenth had very little to do with the giving as a whole. They were responding to something. A blessing from another or from the Lord himself. Their response was whatever they desired, not something God demanded. Now I'm not going to even touch the levitical law of tithing because when you dig deep enough you see it never amounted to money but more agriculture and sometimes it ended up being more than ten percent. Also, if you were say, a blacksmith you didn't tithe at all. My personal favorite tidbit of info is found in Deuteronomy 14:24-26. If you lived too far from the temple you could exchange your agricultural tithing gift for coins, take those coins and buy food and strong drink (beer), and basically fellowship before the Lord.

  By the time you reach the New Testament tithing is only mentioned in conjunction with Abrams generosity because he wasn't commanded to do it, or Jesus' message to the Pharisees about remembering the tithe but forgetting justice and mercy to the poor and needy. NONE of which describes financial income! Jesus fulfilled all of the law and the prophets. He put His temple inside of us where He can dwell forever. The tithe is obsolete and we give from our hearts. Generosity is mentioned several times in the New Testament in reference to taking care of the poor, widows, and orphaned. Also, the Apostles and other leadership were given to out of generosity. 

  So without boring you any longer I'll say this, I quit tithing years ago. I do give to ministers and ministries who have helped me grow and learn, and I give to the poor as often as possible, but every time I get a pay check I do not look at my gross income and make my God contributions. Jesus gave to us because he loved. The early church gave to the needy out of love and compassion and to the apostles out of love and appreciation. Giving within the new covenant is out of love not command. It is not given a percentage only guidance from the Holy Spirit. Let Him guide you in ALL financial decisions and you'll never lack. I used to tithe and like everyone else my finances fluctuated. Now, that I don't guess what? Nothing has changed. Unless you're counting the fact that I don't worry about God smiling my bank account if I don't give every single Sunday. I believe in giving to churches, ministries etc. I just don't believe in pressuring people to do it and making sure people give an exact percent for God to recognize it. Give what you desire and give because you LOVE.

P.S. Malachi 3:8-12 is not a bludgeoning weapon to be used to threaten non tithers. Those robbing God mentioned in this passage were Priests taking more then their fair share. It has absolutely zero to do with new covenant giving. It's a misuse of authority to use this scripture in such a way.

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