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The Discovery that Changed my Life.

Many people have been asking me to expound on my understanding of the tithe. So I will attempt to do that here. I have a huge paper in the works but I hurried the last of it and I don’t like it so I am going to do smaller version here a little at a time. I am going to include the intro from my original here to get things started:

From the time I became a Christian I knew that I was to give monetarily to the LORD and when I arrived at Bible College I learned exactly how much I was expected to give. When our pastor asked “What is the tithe?” we responded in unison and in military fashion, “Ten percent of the sanctified gross income.” This was not something to be questioned and apparently there were dire consequences for those who refused God his share. For the past nine years I have been a faithful tither, meaning I gave ten percent off the top to the local church, without fail. I can not say for the most part that I was not living what most would call a blessed lifestyle but I did have my ups and downs.

It was not until recently that I truly felt the Holy Spirit ask me, “Why do you tithe?” This question lead me down a research path that has been terribly discomforting to say the least. This is not something I ever intended to question but when I realized that I really did not know the answer to that question it became something I had to examine, as I do not like to believe anything “just because.” I tried to do so as openly and honestly as I could and what I found was very interesting to me. I felt I really needed to get it out in writing so that I could have all of my thoughts straight.

This is a very scary road to travel as in many circles you would be safer if you questioned the divinity of Jesus than the issue of the tithe, however I have always wanted to be a seeker of the truth and I do not think Jesus has anything to fear from honest questions. My prayer is that this document gives some people the freedom to live their lives outside of religious traditions and legalistic Christianity.

I suppose I must begin with some hermeneutic statements, which are the way I understand the Bible to be studied. I believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired word of God. That being said I believe it to be the ultimate authority in the life of a Christian, prima scriptura, not sola scriptura. All things done and said in the name of God must be compared to the scripture. While not a full fledged dispensationalist I believe that the New Covenant means just that a New covenant as Hebrews 8:13 says “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” As New Covenant believers we are not bound to the Law but do find value in it. I believe it still holds the value it always has, pointing us to our faults and making us realize we can never be perfect and therefore must fully rely on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our redemption.

So with that out of the way I want to briefly walk through my thought process as I began to explore the doctrine of the tithe. I began by looking up all biblical references to the word tithe. I found a lot of things in the Old Testament, many of which surprised me. For instance Deut 14:22 tell us we should eat our tithe in the presence of God as a celebration of his goodness. I have NEVER in my life heard a sermon on that scripture. Could you imagine a pastor telling you to take ten percent of your income and throw a party, including alcohol to celebrate God’s goodness?

I also discovered that the only two appearances of the word tithe in the New Testament are Matthew 23:23 and its sister verse Luke 11:42 where Jesus is telling the Pharisees that while being so careful with the tithe they neglected the larger issues of the Law. This is the hallmark verse for those who contend that the New Covenant believer is required to tithe because Jesus said:

“How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things”

 

But in this passage Jesus is correcting the Pharisees on how to live in the law which, Paul is clear doesn’t apply to Christians.

I also looked online to find out if I am the only one asking these questions only to discover that I am not. However the research I found was very disheartening. Everyone who argued that the tithe was for the New Covenant Church had very little scriptural argument, on their side, and what they did have was full of fallacy. I am no expert in the art of debate but I recognize a bad argument when I see one. Many of their arguments simply boiled down to “Why would you want to cheat God”, “It is all his anyway”, “Malachi 3, Malachi 3” or “If the tithe wasn’t required people wouldn’t give at all.” So, my goal became to do the research my self and write a definitive answer to the question “Why do you tithe,” the following is the result of a great deal of research and prayer.

I would greatly appreciate that if you read this you leave me a comment. I greatly want to know what people think on both sides.

The Discovery that Changed my life I
The Discovery that Changed my life II
The Discovery that Changed my life III
The Discovery that Changed my life IV
The Discovery that Changed my life V

16 replies on “The Discovery that Changed my Life.”

Wow, well… I am reading this at midnight, and I am responding “off the cuff” since that is how we usually have our discussions. First of all… Thank you again Jason for making me think. You never have ceased to challenge me, and that is why I love to have you around.

Tithes huh?? You little David, could you pick a bigger Goliath? Tithing comes from Abraham, and his gift of 10% after Lot was rescued. It continued on down so that the Levites could be taken care of as they took care of ministering to the Israelites. That is where the tradition came from and why ministers’ income comes from tithes. That being said, how was Paul supported in ministry? Peter? Timothy? They are setup as our Biblical examples for ministers, that is where we should get that answer from. And they were tentmakers & fishermen, they fended for themselves.

The church exists to support the believers. PERIOD. The church is the original welfare system. It exsists to help those less fortunate. The church needs money to pay for these people. Where does that money come from? Tithes (to a greater extent). Here’s the thing, they are to be provided for from the overflow of the belivers. The excess goes to the need.
Sure sounds like alms, or offerings, not the tithe.

I am too tired to finish all of my thoughts, I’ll be back…

Read your article. I can sense your genuine desire to hear from God on the issue.
The big question I have is, is it worth it? It is obviously very controversial.
Personally I am more concerned with reaching out to people that dont know God, and I assign my mental,spiritual and physical resources accordingly. This argument is one that I see as not really helping anyone. There are many other theological conversations or debates that are worth fighting over!!For my part if somebody doesnt want to tithe or give to the work of God, it’s between them and God.
I think there is a deeper issue here, that of what role does organised religion/denominations play in our walks with God. Obviously the local church cannot survive financially without the people that call that church home, giving to the work there.
I wil say this I am glad that God spoke to you about “why do you tithe” and not “why do you only have one wifer”.
Jason you are my brother, I love you, and I hold the the Rob Bell principal of the doctrinal trampoline, we can’t just stand and defend the wall, we must invite people to come jump, and explore. Knowing who you are, I think this is what you are doing.
I howeer don’t here God challenging me on why I give. I have had no issue with it to this point in my walk, and don’t feel an urgency to explore the issue right now.
As a paid pastor, my salary is paid for by the tithes and giving of the members of our church, if there was someone who didn’t feel that I was doing a good job, in no way would I want them to pay my wage. Speaking from personal experience I can say that I walk by faith as far as my salary goes. Here in the BIG United States of America it is a faith walk that is very secure, our church is very blessed financially . However pastoring in Australia for 10 years, there were several years that my salary was paid for by ANOTHER church, and at one point I filled cigeratte machines for money, as the church could not pay me!! (Now that is a controversial subject).
Anyway walk your walk and search the scriptures, I know God and I know you. You will be fine.
Love ya man.
Simon.

I knew you had this idea but I didn’t realize you had this much scriptural backing. You have given me somthing to think about.

For the record, I believe a person should give to the people who feed him spiritually, Paul states that very clearly. But it seems that people like to equate the tithe as giving; when I say I question the tithe many hear “I don’t give” which is not true at all.
I will be continuing to post the my studies and I hope you all continue to read.

Wow — Simon asks “is it worth it”. Then mocks you by saying he’s glad God doesn’t challenge you about having one wife? I had more respect for Simon before reading that.

Simon says he would rather focus on ‘reaching people’ than questioning the tithe, but I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that his church requires tithing as a condition for membership and employment? I believe that is why he begins with “is it worth it”.

Simon asks how it helps people to question the tithe. I ask how does it help people to preach the tithe? If tithing isn’t a biblical mandate, then preaching it as one is wrong, and puts a burden on people that could be harmful for many. If it is a biblical mandate, then to not preach it might keep people from living a blessed life at best and according to some churches without salvation at worst. Since neither Jason nor Simon are laypersons but rather ministers, I believe this is just the kind of thing they should spend time understanding so that as ministers they can equip the saints as required by New Testament scripture.

How do we say that salvation is free, but membership is ten percent of the gross income? God loves you unconditionally but will only bless you if you give ten percent of the gross income? How do we reconcile our preaching on tithes with the scripture? The Old Testament requires tithes on live stock and crops but speaks nothing of income earned from services, dividends, or investments. The Old Testament requires tithing in a seven year cycle – the first, second, forth, and fifth year tithes are received by the priests, but the third and sixth year tithes are dedicated to the poor, widows, and orphans, and the seventh year is a Sabbath year in which the land is not plowed, and no tithes are given at all. When was the last time a preacher ever told his congregation to not tithe for a year?

If we hold the ‘Rob Bell’ principle of doctrine (see Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell), then questioning the tithe is not only acceptable, its expected. If its true it can stand up to questioning, but if its not, than it deserves to be questioned and removed from our sermons.

I have a few quotes to answer a few statements that have been made.

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.”

If the church would get a hold of this concept, they wouldn’t worry about making the TITHE mandatory and preaching doctrine that is not Biblically sound. Pastors worry about paying the church bills, paying the staff, paying this and that… but where is the higher calling that God has called us to? That being a life of FAITH! Where does your supply come from? Man or God? Obviously, if a person loves God, he will be compelled to give where He has placed His name.

“But my God shall supply all of my need according to his riches in glory”, not whether or not the people live under the misconception of tithing. People will continue to give regardless of a 10% rule. This is where they get the opportunity to have the Lord move on their hearts to give. And I would think the church would be ready for this. For it’s members to be talking to the Lord to find out what they should give. It is only if you are afraid the people wont talk to God that keeps us holding on to a guarantee of a 10% of everyone’s money. If this is the case, it would seem that we are back to Old Testament days when the law was given in place of the relationship God offered the people.

To site the above statement: God asked the people to approach Mt. Zion and he would descend upon it and talk with them. The people were afraid and sent Moses instead. They didn’t want to talk with God. You know what God did? He said if you don’t want to come up to talk with Me, you get rules to govern us. If relationship is not what you want, rules is what you get to keep us good. And Moses came down with the 10 commandments. But I digress, I am off on a tangent now. The tithe is taught today because our pastors and ministers don’t trust that the Lord will move on the people to give what is neccessary. They don’t trust that they will be praying and hearing from the Lord on what they should give. Or is it that they are too lazy to being praying that the Lord will move on the people or move on their behalf. To stretch their own faith to see the church’s needs met. Because should they trust the Lord, the helm of the ship is no longer in their hands. Which by the way, not to dig here, but isn’t the ship supposed to be lead by God?

It is a shame that we bring people to Jesus based on it being a free gift of salvation, but once they get saved and become members, we tell them to continue or to be able to give back to the church or minister in that church in any capacity that they must give 10% of whatever they make. Sounds like the government, politics and a club… not the church that Paul was trying to build in the name of Christ.

Just saying is all…..

I’m noticing that, with regards to this particular topic, emotions tend to rise and tempers may start to flare on both sides of the debate. That tends to skew the tone of the discussion from one of debate and disagreement to that of argument and ultimatums.

I’m not going to come down on one side or the other on this issue. However, I have a few observations that I would like to make:

1) Fish, I think it’s fair to state that you have come to this current conclusion on tithing based on what you know, now and where you are in life, now, and what you feel the Lord has spoken to you, thus far in your walk with Christ. As such, it’s probably also fair to state that over the next 40, 50 or even 70 years, you may come across new insight and revelation that could change your mind. Maybe, maybe not. But considering the volatile nature of the issue, I would warn against touting this “revelation” as the be all, end all on tithing for several reasons: 1) the point I mentioned just above, 2) your level of influence with younger believers that are drawn to your natural charisma and leadership, and 3) because since you do not currently stand in a Pastoral role you do not want to set yourself up adversarily against other ministry gifts (i.e. Pastors, Teachers, etc.) who are being held accountable for the people that God entrusts to their Pastoral care.

2) Good and honest men and women of God teach different doctrines, and have different, even opposing views on tithes and offerings. So any conversation on the topic certainly warrants a bit of humility, regardless of the side of the issue you are on.

3) The issue of spiritual authority comes to mind. If God has directed you to be a part of a local church or body, then you are to a certain extent, held accountable to support the vision of that house and submit to the authority over that house. And if God directs you to be part of a local body that believes and supports tithing, then keep in mind that God already knew that this particular local church believed in and supported tithing before He sent you there. In other words, He knowingly sent you to be part of a vision that supports a particular doctrine. Logic would dictate that if you are to follow His direction in your life, you will go into this work supporting vision as best you can, which would include their doctrine on tithing. Now obviously, one could take the concept of spiritual authority to absurd extremes and I am not advocating that, but one should keep the concept in mind regarding this discussion.

4) “Escape clause” Christians. Fish, I think you are doing an OK job of this, so far, but always keep in mind that there are many young Christians, who don’t know Scripture, who don’t yet know how to mature in the Lord, and they will only half-read your “discovery” and come away thinking it means “I don’t have to tithe, erego, I don’t have to give.” Now I know that’s not what you’re saying, but any believer looking for a financial “escape clause” could potentially find one in your writings. I’ve always believed that it’s not only important what you say and how you say it, but also who you say it too.

5) “Study to show thyself approved.” Folks, don’t just take Fish’s word on this. Don’t just take your favorite preacher’s word on this issue either. But be willing to take ownership of your own spiritual development and study out the issue scripturally. Prayerfully look at both sides, and with humility, seek counsel from your Pastors and spiritual fathers.

6) Perspective. I wonder if we would even be having this discussion if we all lived in debt-free houses, drove debt-free cars, made 20 million dollars a year, only only needed two-thousand dollars a month for living expenses. If a person was in a position to give or “tithe” at a rate of 20, 30, 40 or even 50%, then would we be having this conversation? So how much accountability should we as believers be taking with regards to our own financial stewardship (i.e. staying out of debt and being good stewards)?

7) Love – do all that you do in a way that allows you to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Hmm well i’ll give it to ya jayson (do you still spell it that way) you got me an admitted bible beater babtist to open up the ole bible to find an answer (or at least a reply to that).

Unfortunately The best i can find to support what i believe is in the old testament EXODUS 25:2 “Speak unto the children of Isreal that they bring me an offering of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” I’m saying based on that the 10% thing outta be right out the window. If you ask me to give 10% then i’m not giving willingly with my heart am I? I DO believe that to be a guideline that would be expressed to someone completely ignorant on how much to expect to give.

Here is annother that supports my arguement in the new testament Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, Cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: FREELY YE HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE.” You have been blessed give what you can!! i don’t think we need to relive the temple with the poor woman who gave all she had but it’s the thought that counts here including what is said to the pharasees if you need to show compassion and help a poor starving family that god has called you to help i believe that to be better than a regular donation to the church. give what you can give where you can and……

Luke 6:38 “GIVE AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOU ; good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” The more you give the more I’ll give is the promise Jesus made here. I give to you to do my work the more you do that the more you can be trusted to handle more.

that’s where i am on the subject Yeah you should ultimately give 10% as a guideline but if you can’t because you need it for other places in gods work do it. There’s more in there too about doing god’s work as part of your tything but my eyes are going cross eyed just looking at it now. i’m not looking it up. 10% of your free time mayhaps??

good luck and let me know how you make out further.

Firstly, I in no way wanted to mock Jason with my “one wife comment” apoligies if taken in this manner. I have a warped sense of humor, and blogs don’t seem to filter that well.
I was just trying to make lite of the subject, since one day we will all be sipping latte’s with Jesus, regardless of this topic.
I’m a simple Irish-man and to be honest I have a hard time dealing with some of Jesus fundemental teachings without kicking into this stuff.
For the record if I was the Snr Pastor of a church I would not be keeping records of peoples giving, or would I require a set amount of their income. I would however expect that if God had called us to walk together and serve together that the level of giving would match the needs/vision of the house.
And honestly if I had it my way, I wouldn’t have been a pastor, I’d be much more comfortable being BONO!
Cheers

Interestingly, nobody is really bringing up the point of clarifying tithes from gifts.

In truth, tithes were just the beginning of what folks gave. There were offerings beyond tithes, gifts beyond tithes and offerings. One study I saw said that for the more wealthy in the ancient Jewish society, the tithes plus offerings (the cost of the bull or doves for sacrifices etc), and things like the “gleanings” they were to permit added up to a third or more of their (potential) income. (I say potential, since the requirement not to harvest “to the corners” and not to go over a field a second time upon harvesting but let the poor do that and keep it for themselves is more “lost income” than a gift in some matter of thinking).

Yet we don’t hear about this — do we?

Generosity — yes. Forced or obligatory giving? Meaningless. God loves the cheerful giver.

I am reminded of one of Brother Moore’s statements concerning the Rapture of church. Moore stated that he believed in PanTrib. For those schoolars well versed in Theology, you will undoubtably know that there is no such thing as PanTrib. Moore’s point was that no matter what happened it would all “Pan” out in the end.

The point applies here. I thing we worry too much about the law too much sometimes. Paul even says that the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Though tithe strikes the pocket book of the believer and is one of the fundalmental teaching of the modern, post modern… pick-a-modern christian. The bible says be a cheerful giver. If you can’t be cheerful about 10% because your lights are going to be turned off on Monday then try 5% or if your cheerful at 25% then go for it. George Muller and other ministers of the 1800’s are recorded as giving God 90% and living off of 10%.

So to sum up this long winded burlb, ask God. I would worry more about doing what God says do when he says it and worry about the minial stuff for long debates in Heaven. I’m not knocking the fundamental practice but I’m more concerned with the issue of the heart.

I personally (no doctrine foundation so take with a grain of salt)

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