Again this is a continuing entry so if you haven’t read the previous ones I suggest you begin here.
In this, the conclusion of my story, I answer the question how should we then give, if tithing isn’t the answer what is?
How Should We Then Give?
People seem to automatically assume that if I do not support the tithe that I do not support giving and that could not be further from the truth. After God brought this revelation to my wife and me, we continued to give to our church but we did it according to the guidelines set down by Paul:
2 Cor 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
If I am completely honest there was an initial over reaction to not give or to give just enough to get by, I was upset that I had never seen this before, it felt very similar to the feeling of when I was first told the real Gospel. “Why had no one told me the truth before?” “Why have I just been fed religious garbage” but I quickly overcame that somewhat ungodly reaction and came to the conclusion that people were simply illinformed. My wife and I continued to give as God led us to our church, to Stand True, to Mars Hill, and other ministries.
It is simply amazing how much more rewarding giving can be when one does it freely and not under compulsion. I have heard many pastors quote the second part of that verse and tell people to simply be happy about what they are forced to give, but if you read this book to understand the context you simply see that Paul was not requiring any particular amount from the people he had brought into the family of God.
In fact you find no scripture requiring tithe from New covenant believers, what’s more the only references you will find in the New Testament are those found in Luke and Matthew where Jesus is speaking to people living under the Mosaic Law, and in Hebrews where the author is comparing Jesus to Melchizedek but never enforcing the tithe on the church. Historically speaking the tithe was not formally adopted by the church until 787 under Pope Adrian I, although they were discussed at the councils of Tours and Macon in 567 and 585 respectively[i].
The guidelines for giving that are set down in scripture are simple, give according to what you have, not what you do not have (2 Cor. 8-13), give cheerfully. I do not use my new found freedom to no longer give but I do use it to give to other ministries that I support without feeling guilty. I believe Paul also makes it clear that he who preaches the gospel and feeds you spiritually is worthy to receive a material harvest from you. (1 Cor 9:11) And although he denied himself this right V14 says “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” Pastors are supposed to be supported, perhaps not the extravagant levels of some ministers but supported none the less.
In conclusion, I don’t believe there is any doubt as to my position on the tithe. If we are to require it of the church I believe it should be done in a biblical fashion, applied only to agricultural products and land owners, amounting to perhaps 33.3% but at least 20%, and only given as support to the Levites, aliens, widows and orphans. We are no longer held under the law and required to give a certain amount of money in order to receive God’s blessing, which was accomplished through Christ, how could Christ be made a curse to someone? If they have faith in him but do no tithe he has become a curse to them, bringing the vengeance of God down on top of them.
I believe it is the responsibility of every believer to give, not only to the church or ministry that feeds them spiritually but to those in need, giving precedence to those of the household of faith.
I have known men who thought “If I can not give all 10% I might as well not give at all” while this is flawed teaching even if you support a required tithe I believe this freedom will open the door for more believers to give with a joyful heart and not out of compulsion but joyfully knowing you are fulfilling the desire of God
[i] “Tithe.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Sep 2006, 01:00 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 Sep 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tithe&oldid=73857410>.