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  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15 

 

Tithing

Tithing - 'The Tenth'

Lots of churches focus on financial support from their congregation - all do to varying degrees, because, how else would they get their money to support their work?  What differs between churches is the focus and emphasis given to the requestmoneytreehand (sometimes almost as a demand) from church members to give money.  This is typically called the 'tithe' which refers to the 'tenth', that is, one tenth of what you have - which typically means an implied (or not so implied but put forward more explicitly so) request for one tenth of your weekly income.

Where did 'tithing' come from?

It's true that in the bible there was a command to give one tenth of what one had - however this is often incorrectly emphasised. The command of tithing is found in the Old Testament, in scriptures such as:

'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD.  And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.  And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.' Leviticus 27:30-32

and,

 'Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.' Numbers 18:26

Infact there were a number of different 'tithes', one for the temple, one for the poor, one for the priests, and so forth.

What was tithing all about?

In the Old Testament time, there was no tax system, so essentially what tithing was, was the system of taxation.

Notice how it involves such things as the temple (ie a public building), the poor (ie what today would be welfare), public servants and so forth.

Tithing is or rather was essentially the method of taxation.

Is the 10% tithe biblical?

No way! We are paying taxes today, which is equivalent to the Old Testament tithe.

Tithing is not taught in the New Testament

The only mention of tithing in the New Testament is in reference to the hypocritical Pharisees and in Hebrews concerning the Old Testament command for Israel to support the priestly tribe of Levi. There is NO command for the New Testament church to tithe.

When Jesus founded the New Testament Church

Today, when one thinks of a church, one can often think of ornate buildings, or buildings with plush carpets, or top notch air conditioning, or massive stained glass windows. The New Testament church is, or rather was intended to be something quite different.

First of all, as born again believers, the temple of God is no longer in a building, but rather, Jesus left us with a gift of when we are born again believers that we have the HOLY SPIRIT living within us. WE – The CHRISTIAN is the temple of God.
‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ 1 Corinthians 3:16
Furthermore, and not to get sidetracked, this is one of the reasons, indeed a HUGE reason, why as Christians we should try to respect our bodies, what we put into it (poisons like alcohol, excessive food over a lengthy period etc), as the temple of God is holy.

The Christian him or her self is the temple.

The New Testament Church – When believers gathered together

Let’s look at some examples of the New Testament Church, which Jesus founded,
‘And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house;’ (Philemon 1:2)

Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.’ (Colossians 4:15)
Notice what’s in common here, the churches were in PEOPLES HOUSES! You can have a church ANYWHERE! In your OWN HOME, in some rundown building somewhere, in your or someones garage.

The word Church comes from Greek, one is ek which means out and a derivative of the word kaleo which means to call. Combining these two produces ekklēsia which means a called-out group.

That is what the Greek word for church is – ekklēsia – a called out group. It is a called out group – called out from the non-believers to assemble together under His name!

You can have a Christ honouring New Testament church anywhere!

So what does the New Testament tell us about giving?

After the death of Jesus which fulfilled the law, no where in the new Testament are we told to adhere to a legal system of tithe. What it does talk about though is that people gave what their heart told them to. We are to give when we are able, and we are to give sensibly.

Some of the believers in Acts sold everything they had and gave the money to THE NEEDY,
‘Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.’ (Acts 4:34-45)
And taken into account with James shows that purity of the ministry is to help the poor in their affliction,
‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ James 1:27
Ultimately, we are told this:
'Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.’ 2 Corinthians 9:7
Do not give that which will make you unhappy, or that which you feel you are pressured to, or obligated to, for God loveth a cheerful giver.

There is some support for supporting someone who works in the ministry of the Gospel

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul speaks about how he preaches the Gospel full time, and it is not unexpected to have support to do this, as it is essentially his job, ie, a soldier does not go warfare at his own charges, and Paul says this:
‘Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ (1 Corinthians 9:14)
Notice that Paul says make a living off the gospel, he does not say prosper so that he (or a preacher) ends up having more money and things than the typical person in the church or on the street, never mind ministers or ‘tele-evangelists’ who make millions!!!!

As Jesus said,
‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money). (Matthew 6:24)
A preacher should take what is needed to LIVE. Something is wrong if your minister has a bigger car than you and goes on more holidays than you! A preacher should only have what is required, and look spiritually to be sustained. Having too many objects – big cars, nice house(s), well heeled clothing and furnishings may even be at risk of taking the place of having that which is needed for physical food rather than also looking spiritually for spiritual food.

Be cautious?

How you give is up to you, and up to each person, no one has to give a certain amount, you may feel comfortable giving a lot, or moneynotesgiving little. Biblically speaking, unless a minister of God is taking the word of God out to the people – ie regular door to door soulwinning, handing out flyers, approaching people on the street about the message of the Gospel, then he’s not doing what was called for in the New Testament, what Paul was doing to live off the Gospel.

The same is true for charities – many charities pay their board member salaries in the 6 digit figures. A charity by definition is for those in need, not for a substantial part of your giving to go to 6 digit salaries and fancy office space and what have you. Having a quick look at this link http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/13/worried-about-where-your-charity-donations-are-going-heres-what-you-need-to-know-5562425/ contains details of a report where one in five charities spent less than 50% of your money on good work!  Looking at the 5,543 charities which raised more than £500,000 last year, it claimed that one in five spent less than 50% of their donations on charitable work!
'Looking at the 5,543 charities which raised more than £500,000 last year, it claimed that one in five spent less than 50 per cent of their donations on good work, and that 292 charities spent 10 per cent or less on charitable activities. Gina Miller, founder of True and Fair Foundation, called this an ‘utter disgrace’.

The study, which was first reported by the Telegraph, claims the British Heart Foundation only spends an average of 46 percent of its money on charitable work, while Age UK allegedly spent 48 percent.' - Metro newspaper quote

Conclusion

It’s good to support a minister who truly is doing the Lord’s work, and it’s biblical to give to the poor, to our enemies if they thirst or hunger, and to the man of God who is FAITHFULLY preaching the Gospel, and to our children and their children, but we are NOT commanded to pay ‘a tithe (tenth)’ or commanded to run ourselves short of money giving to ministers who are looking for TOO much or are not faithfully preaching the Gospel.

Charity begins at Home

There’s some wisdom in some old sayings, not least because a lot of them are based on the bible, at a time when people were typically more God fearing and believing, and that's the expression of ‘Charity begins at home.’
'But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.' (1 Timothy 5:8)
That is, if you’re giving to ‘tithing’ to such an extent that it’s harming your welfare, harming your ability to pay for your family, for their education and so forth, then this is sinful.

I would suggest we should be careful and sensible with how we give, and that this is biblical.

And we can always pray on a matter if we are not sure,
'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.' James 1:5
Amen.

 

 

 

8th June 2017

 

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