Frequently Asked Questions
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Isn’t tithing only fair?
Tithing is never mentioned as being fair. Contrary to popular belief, all Israelites were NOT commanded to tithe. The command to tithe was directed to those who farmed the land or raised 10 or more animals. Those that had less than 10 herded animals were NOT required to tithe. Also contrary to popular belief and practice, the tithe was NEVER money! The tithe was either produce from the farmed land or livestock that some Israelites raised. Israelites had other occupations like fishermen, masons, metalworkers and others. None of these other occupations were required to tithe.
God did promise some blessings for their obedience of all of the laws and a specific blessing (Read Robbing God.) for tithes and offering in Malachi Chapter 3 but that promise and the curse does not apply to Christians. We have a better covenant (Romans 7:22) because of God’s plan of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.
Aren’t we robbing God if we don’t ‘tithe’?
No, not at all. It is true that God told the Israelites that they were robbing him in tithes and offerings in Malachi Chapter 3. In order for us to be robbing God now we would have to still be under the law of tithing and well as the other laws God gave to the Israelites. We are no longer bound by all of those laws. We are free to be generous. Read “Robbing God” We should give as directed in 2 Corinthians 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.” Just because you ‘tithe’ doesn’t mean you are a cheerful giver.
Didn’t Jesus teach us to tithe in the New Covenant?
Absolutely not! In Matthew 23:23 Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law that they should tithe and keep all the laws God gave to the Israelites without overlooking justice, mercy, and faithfulness. As Christians we are not required to keep the Mosaic Law. Jesus was NOT telling New Covenant Christians that they should keep all the laws God gave to the Israelites. He was speaking only to Israelites which were still under the Mosaic Law until his death, burial, and resurrection.
Isn’t ‘tithing’ God’s way to make Christians prosperous?
Absolutely not! With all the sermons that are given about how important it is to tithe it may seem to some that tithing is the way to get blessed financially. Not so. Of all the wealthy people in the Bible none of them prospered or got rich by tithing! Not Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and not even Solomon who was the richest man in biblical times. God just decided to bless Solomon 1 Kings 3:7-14 and 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 as God responded to Solomon’s prayer for wisdom.
Abrahams tithe was a one-time spoils of war gift. Read The truth about Abraham’s Tithe.
‘Tithing’ is not God’s way to prosper Christians. God does not require that we pay him first before he will bless us. In the New Testament, ‘tithing’ is never taught to Christians and it is never demonstrated as a way for Christians to guarantee riches from God.
Doesn’t the book of Proverbs teach us we should ‘tithe’?
Absolutely not! The book of Proverbs teaches us a lot of different ways we can be blessed but tithing is clearly not one of the ways. The book of Proverbs states many things can make a person prosper like wisdom, diligence, giving freely, being generous to the poor, being righteous, and humility, just to name a few. If Christians practice these things, we give God the opportunity to bless us financially.
Why does almost everybody else teach that we should ‘tithe’?
I can’t say for certain why almost everybody else teaches that Christians should ‘tithe’. Speaking for myself, as a child I was always taught that we should ‘tithe’ and much later was taught that I must ‘tithe’. Almost every pastor or Bible teacher I know of teaches that Christians should/must ‘tithe’ in some form or another. I suspect that a lot of people teach ‘tithing’ because that is the only way they themselves have ever been taught. I believe that most people teach ‘tithing’ because it is what they really believe. Some teach it out of fear because they believe it is the only way they imagine they can keep the church operating.
The fact that everybody else doing it does not make it right. It only makes it popular. Don’t just believe what I am saying. Read the Bible for yourself.
Are you telling me I shouldn’t ‘tithe’?
No, I am not telling you that. You are free to give 10% if you wish. In fact, if that is what you really believe then you ought to do it. What I am saying, and have also demonstrated, is that a lot of reasons we were taught that we should be ‘tithing’ are incorrect. You have to decide for yourself if you want to give freely or whether you want to continue to try to ‘tithe’. God is not sitting in heaven giving good marks to those that ‘tithe’ and bad marks to those who don’t. As we can see from Jesus’ words (Matthew 23:23), just because you ‘tithe’ does not mean you are pleasing God. For many of us, we were taught that because we ‘tithe’ that ‘we are OK with God’ when in fact that is contrary to what Jesus spoke. Your faithful ‘tithing’ is no guarantee of pleasing God and certainly no guarantee of financial riches to come.
Aren’t we cursed if we don’t ‘tithe’?
Absolutely not. In order for us to be cursed we would still have to be under the law God gave to the Israelites. We are not under those laws. Not for tithing, not for obeying the Sabbath laws, not for burning sacrifices, not for any of those things the Israelites had to do.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (NIV)
Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. God is not going send his son to be cursed for us and then curse us himself because we don’t tithe. The curse mentioned in Malachi 3:8-11 was for the Israelites because they were still under the law and the law required them to tithe. Read Robbing God.
What should be our main purpose for giving?
What I see demonstrated in the New Testament is giving to the poor, helping other ministries that help the poor in their assembly, and supporting those that teach us the Word of God who are also in need. Clearly the common thread is giving help to those in need. (Acts 2:25; 4:35; 11:29)
The gospel is to be preached without charge and we can see that Paul was only given support when found in need while he insisted on earning his keep (2 Cor 11:7 – 9; Phil 4:10 – 19).
Giving a ‘tithe’, ‘sowing a seed’, or just giving to get some supposed guarantee from God are all out of line with the Bible. As Christians we should NOT be giving to get blessed but instead give to bless others in need.
Can I give to the poor myself without first giving to the local church?
Yes, you can. In fact there are plenty of times you should just reach into your pocket and help a stranger that you believe really needs the help. At the same time, you should be able to trust those given the responsibility in the local church handle the money. Unfortunately there are many churches that do not have giving to the poor as one of their top priorities.
Should a believer ever give less than a ‘tithe’?
Yes, absolutely. The ‘tithe’ is neither the high water mark nor the low water mark concerning a person’s giving. The whole point of my web page is that believers need to be free to be as generous as God leads them. Sometimes it will less than 10% and sometimes not. Sometimes it will be more than 10%. God doesn’t expect everyone to give the same amount nor the same percentage. Even if two different people earned the same amount of money God doesn’t expect them to give the exact same amount. Our gifts are different – both natural gifts and spiritual gifts and only God knows how generous he has enabled each person to be! On top of all that, God can give us the grace to be even more generous (2 Corinthians 8:6-7).
That’s fine for mature believers, but what about new believers?
Several church leaders I have talked to agree with me a little but they stop when it comes to what to teach new believers. I have been told ‘you have to give them a guideline’ meaning you have to teach them to ‘tithe’ because they are so new they can’t hear from God themselves. Not true. If a sinner could not hear from God at all then a sinner could never be saved! The new believer, in fact all of us, only need to listen to our hearts so far as ‘do we enjoy the amount we are giving?’ If we truly don’t enjoy the amount we are giving – big or small – then it is not the right amount for us. 2 Cor Chap 9 tells us we should give cheerfully and not under compulsion. That, I maintain, is how even a new believer can tell if the amount they are giving is correct or not!
Doesn’t the book of Hebrews teach us we should ‘tithe’?
Absolutely not. In fact it teaches that Christ is superior to everyone and everything else including the prophets, angels, Moses, and Joshua. Christ is superior to everything else including the Old Covenant priesthood, the Old Covenant and all the laws God gave to the Israelites. It teaches us that all those laws have been set aside because God has made a new covenant. Read Study of Hebrews.
My pastor teaches that everyone must ‘tithe’. What should I do?
I can’t tell you what you should do. You have to be convinced in your own mind that the Bible teaches New Covenant Christians that we should be giving freely and not ‘tithing’. Let’s put things in perspective. ‘Tithing’ or giving – neither one by itself is going to make the difference between whether you go to heaven or hell. To keep ‘tithing’ when you believe you should be giving is something you will need resolve in your own mind. I’d be more concerned about what God thinks of my lack of obedience rather than the pressure from friends and leaders. I understand the pressure will be great but on the other hand it is very minor compared to the persecution Christians suffer in other places around the world. Most of us are not being asked to risk our lives demonstrating the love of God through giving to those in need.
Won’t the church be hurt if I don’t ‘tithe’?
Let’s define ‘church’. First there is the overall church to which all believers in Jesus Christ as the one and only son of God and his redemptive sacrifice for our sins belong. Then there are ‘Christian’ denominations, not all of which accept Jesus Christ. Then there are the local independent Christian churches. The overall church would not be hurt. In fact, according to the examples in both the Old and New Testaments, if people started listening to God about how and where to give there would be adequate money for church buildings to be built (Old Covenant Giving), there would be no poor people in the local churches (NT Giving), and there would be adequate money to help other churches in need (NT Giving). It is very likely that some denominations as well as local churches would not have as much money as they want but I don’t believe that God’s definition of church includes every leader having a church building with all the expense that goes with it. From what I hear from other places around the world, a church building isn’t always necessary or beneficial for the gospel of Jesus Christ to spread to those in need.
Should all Christians prosper financially all the time?
No. Financial prosperity all the time while still on the earth is not guaranteed for all Christians. There are plenty of verses that teach us that God will provide all we need so I won’t cover those. Please keep in mind that ‘all we need’ is often far less than ‘all we want’ – especially for Americans. God is not our genie where we just present him the right formula supposedly from the Bible and he in turns blesses us so we get everything we want. Many people teach various sure-fire formulas that are supposed to guarantee that God will in turn bless us. The formulas do not work. We must remember what it says in the book of James:
“3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)
Asking God for things for our own enjoyment is clearly the wrong motive – the wrong reason to ask God. This does not mean that we shouldn’t have any pleasures on earth. The problem is that for Christians in America and many other countries influenced by western culture we have lost track of real needs and real wants. Many of these Christians brag about the extra houses, cars, computers, jewelry, vacations and other stuff that God supposedly blessed them with. What really happens is that God blesses them with extra and they in turn consume it on themselves. There’s plenty of rich Christians that will argue that they give a lot more than a ‘tithe’ to God’s work on earth. I don’t doubt that they actually do what they say. The issue is not how you and I measure their generosity but instead how God judges their generosity and motives.
I will point out a few other verses to provide another perspective. For starters, Jesus said in Matthew 26:11 ‘The poor you will always have with you, ….’. Some of those poor will know Jesus as Lord and Savior and some won’t. Also in 2Corinthians chapter 8 there is a short discussion about equality. The bottom line is that God’s definition of equality includes sometimes not having as much as you want or need! You can occasionally suffer a shortage of something and still be prosperous!
Should Christians be giving money as firstfruits?
Absolutely not. This is just another twist of Old Testament scripture that encourages Christians to ‘give-to-get’. It doesn’t matter whether the preacher is telling you to give it at the first of the year or the first of the month or the first of the week. Don’t give your hard-earned money to someone because they have convinced you that you must or should give firstfruits for any reason!
Every mention of firstfruits in the Old Testament (except for Psalm 78:51, Psalm 105:36, and Jeremiah 2:3) has to do with the Mosaic Law which Christians are NOT instructed to observe. Giving firstfruits simply meant honoring God with some of the first of the harvested food. Here is one place it is mentioned:
“2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name
3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our forefathers to give us.” (NIV)
The law of tithing should NOT be updated or changed (money instead of crops or herds, preachers instead of Levites, local church instead of temple) in any way and neither should the law of firstfruits. The law of firstfruits is based on an agricultural economy just like tithing was and neither needs to be ‘updated’ and taught to New Testament believers. The Law was very clear so far as where the firstfruits were supposed to come from. The verse above tells us that firstfruits come ‘from the soil’ and they go to ‘the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name’ – which was Jerusalem. In addition a person could not be an OT priest other than through the line of Aaron. Preachers today do not come from Aaron’s line.
Please understand that the concept of firstfruits is certainly an excellent one – that is putting God and the top of the list of your obligations. Unfortunately too many Christians have been taught to put their church at the top of their obligations. As I said before, many churches do not have giving to the poor – which is actually giving to God – at the top of their list. Remember Jesus’ words:
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)
So is their some special blessing for those that have been taught to give firstfruits to some church or ministry? No there isn’t!! Neither is there any special blessings for Christians that have been taught to ‘tithe’.
“Tithing works for me!”
‘Tithing’ really doesn’t work for you. That’s just what you think and you are in error. What you are doing is not really tithing anyway. In order to tithe according to the Mosaic law you would first have to be an Israelite or a convert, live after the Mosaic law was put into effect and before Jesus rose from the dead, give your tithe of food (Lev 27:30) and animals (Lev 27:32) to the Levites, travel several times a year to Jerusalem? to observe the festival tithe, tithe again every third year (Deut 14:28), understand when you yourself are supposed to eat the tithe (Deut 14:23) etc. Any blessings you receive is because of God’s grace being extended to you and NOT because of your ‘tithing’.
God is pleased when believers trust him but there is no amount like 10% that will guarantee blessings from God.
You can’t force God to bless you by ‘tithing’.
God has provided a better way (Heb 7:22). If the Mosaic Law – which tithing is just one part of – provided all that we needed and all that God desired for us then there would have been no need for Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
Should believers agree to ‘tithe’ as a condition of church membership?
You are free to do that if you wish however I don’t think it is a good idea. One of the problems is that many think that their relationship with God is OK because they ‘tithe’ especially in this case since agreeing to ‘tithe’ accepts you into the local church. I personally don’t think it is a good practice for several reasons including the fact that it excludes many people who really can’t ‘tithe’ therefore it is a religious club which then only seeks to gain ‘like-minded-with-suitable-income members’. I agree with one reader who wrote me to say that ‘some believers who promise to ‘tithe’ as part of church membership may be hurting themselves and many believers who God may be calling to leadership are blocked from using their gifts because of the “tithe”.
Aren’t you just trying to hurt all of Christianity by your teaching?
No, not at all. I am pointing out what Bible teaches about giving. From what I can see in the bible, God does his best when we obey what he speaks to our hearts about giving. (Old Covenant and Before) I also believe that if we were taught to give properly that there would not be as much abuse with some church leaders almost forcing people to tithe.
How should a person give when their income is very small?
I believe the things I teach about giving are true no matter how much or how little money a person has coming in – and no matter what the different sources of money are. Social Security, welfare, regular job or whatever the basics are the same. The question is the same – ‘how much can you give and actually enjoy the fact that you are able to give?’
Every situation is different. God is the judge of a person’s generosity, not the local congregation. The poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) is NOT the example for poor Christians to follow. Read “The Truth About the Widow’s Gift“. The poor widow was being plundered by the religious leaders. As for what you personally should give you first have to ask yourself ‘what is in my heart?” Do you desire to be generous or do you desire to keep all you can get because you don’t get too much? Only you and God can answer that.
You have to look at your own situation with a clear mind free of all the guilt messages that have come before now. Since you are on a small income, the resource that you likely have an abundance of is probably your time. Ask God to show you where you can spend more of your time helping others who need your help. Even if you had no known natural gifts you can always help someone who is worse off than yourself.
What about the ‘first mention rule’ as it applies to tithing?
It doesn’t apply.
According to the Biblical Research Studies Group, The Law of First Mention is the Fourth Rule (Biblical Research Studies Group- Fourth Rule The Law of First Mention) of interpretation as it applies Bible doctrine. The key word is doctrine. Tithing is NOT a doctrinal issue. A partial list of doctrinal subjects would include things like God, Man, Christ, Holy Spirit, Sin, and Salvation. It might also include things like repentance, faith, justification, and sanctification.
Even if a person wanted to argue that tithing is a doctrinal issue it still wouldn’t prove that tithing is somehow for New Testament believers. Abraham tithed the spoils of war and he didn’t even regard it as his own money. Read ‘The Truth About Abraham’s Tithe’. The fact that Abraham gave 10% to Melchizedek in no way sets a principle for all Christianity. Abraham did that just one time. He was already rich and he didn’t get that way by tithing.
Giving 10% is a good place for Christians to start giving?
Absolutely NOT! That assumes that giving 10% is some sort of legitimate starting point for ALL Christians. It is not. Most Christians have been lead to believe that a believer has to give at least 10% to please God. It is based on the assumption that under the Law that ALL Israelites were required to tithe. All Israelites were NOT required to tithe. Also read FAQ #1 above.
Also contrary to popular teachings, everybody doesn’t have money to give. There are plenty of ‘poor’ Christians who really can’t afford to give. Many of these are still taught that they need to give a ‘tithe’ as if they can buy their way to a more comfortable life. God gave everything we need through Jesus Christ.
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (NIV)
2 Peter 1:3
“3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (NIV)
The problem is not that God needs to give Christians more but rather that Christians need to be taught correctly about Jesus’ finished work on the cross and what it really means. Religious leaders are plundering the poor by telling them that they need to ‘tithe’ in order to get God to bless them.
Matthew Narramore, in the close of his book ‘Tithing: Low Realm, Obsolete, and Defunct’ said the following:
When your doctrine is cleansed of tithing and soundly based on the finished work of the cross, you will enter a whole new level of spiritual strength, authority, and boldness. You will experience a new dimension of love and gratitude toward God for all he has done for you in Christ. You will begin to taste the glorious freedom of real life in Christ. You will start to be fully alive in Christ as you were created to be. It will be the beginning of a lifelong journey toward full-statured maturity as a son of God in Christ.
The gospel is the message of the finished work of Christ and our sharing with him of his resurrected life. If we would preach that message we would see more faith, more commitment, and more action from Christians. We would also see more money given to support the work of God than the tithing message has ever produced.
By the grace of God, let’s leave the obsolete mentalities and patterns of living that were given to men who lived before the resurrection. Let’s enter the realm of true spiritual life in Christ and begin to express his life through us now. The glorious life that God intended is far better than the status quo of religion, but we have to turn loose of the old to enter into the new.
Giving a ‘tithe’ proves that I am a good steward, doesn’t it?
Absolutely not. It does prove that:
You believe that giving a ‘tithe’ makes you special to God. Jesus never indicated anyone was special just because they tithed.
You are likely trying to be obedient to what you have been taught. That is good. Unfortunately, you have been taught wrong.
You don’t understand the big picture of what God has already done for us so your ‘tithing’ is an attempt to earn God’s grace. If you deserve to be blessed because you earned it by ‘tithing’ then it is not grace.
If you’ve ever listened to a presentation about stewardship and left there feeling confused or guilty then listen to this. There is nothing wrong. You are supposed to feel that way when you hear a message that tries to tell you that you will be cursed if you are not a good steward by your faithful ‘tithing’.
The average ‘stewardship’ sermon is often just another way to force Christians to ‘tithe’.
The reason, then, that you felt confused is because that is the way you are supposed to feel when conflicting messages are presented. Either Christians are under grace or we are under Law. Tithe has to do with the Law the same as the curse stated in Malachi 3:8 – 11.