Why tithing is not mandatory for Christians
Many Churches teach that tithing is still mandatory.
The Southern Baptist churches: we read in The Baptist Faith and Message (1963) the following statement: ‘God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth. Gen. 14:20; Lev. 27:30-32; Deut. 8:18; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 6:1-4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Rom. 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9; 12:15; Phil. 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19 (XIII. Stewardship). Please note that even though the word ‘tithe’ is not mentioned, the following verses Gen. 14:20; Lev. 27:30-32; Deut. 8:18; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 23:23 are quoted to uphold tithing.
Presbyterian Church: ‘Giving has always been a mark of Christian commitment and discipleship. The ways in which a believer uses God’s gifts of material goods, personal abilities, and time should reflect a faithful response to God’s self-giving in Jesus Christ and Christ’s call to minister to and share with others in the world. Tithing is a primary expression of the Christian discipline of stewardship.” (Book of Order … W5.5004)
The United Methodist Church: ‘Tithing has been the traditional minimum standard of giving for Christians. The United Methodist Church has taken the official position that tithing is the standard for United Methodists, and the practice of tithing is to be actively encouraged in every local church’ (Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, 1991, Abingdon Press)
The Church of the Nazarene: ‘The Scriptures teach that God is the Owner of all persons and all things. We, therefore, are His stewards of both life and possessions. God’s ownership and our stewardship ought to be acknowledged, for we shall be held personally accountable to God for the exercise of our stewardship. God, as a God of system and order in all of His ways, has established a system of giving that acknowledges His ownership and human stewardship. To this end all His children should faithfully tithe and present offerings for the support of the gospel. (Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:24-34; 25:31-46; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 12:13-24; 19:11-27; John 15:1-17; Romans 12:1-13; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Hebrews 7:8; James 1:27; 1 John 3:16-18). Storehouse tithing is a scriptural and practical performance of faithfully and regularly placing the tithe into that church to which the member belongs. Therefore, the financing of the church shall be based on the plan of storehouse tithing, and the local Church of the Nazarene shall be regarded by all of its people as the storehouse. All who are a part of the Church of the Nazarene are urged to contribute faithfully one-tenth of all their increase as a minimum financial obligation to the Lord and freewill offerings in addition as God has prospered them for the support of the whole church, local, district, regional, and general’ (From the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene, Part III, Paragraphs 38-38.1)
Most of the Pentecostal Churches teach tithing. Here is what some Pentecostal Denominations teach about tithing.
Assemblies of God: ‘The Assemblies of God has always been a proponent of tithing (or giving one-tenth of one’s personal income to support the work of God). We believe tithing is a recognition that everything we have comes from God. The practice checks our greed, promotes personal discipline and thrift, testifies to our faith, promotes God’s work in the world, and alleviates human need. While we do not believe tithing to be a condition for salvation, we do believe it is a very important biblical model, one which should set the minimal standard for Christian giving for people in all income ranges. Though some people believe tithing was an Old Testament practice not intended for New Testament Christians, the Assemblies of God believes and teaches that tithing is still God’s design for supporting the ministry and reaching the world with the gospel. Our bylaws state, “We recognize the duty of tithing and urge all our people to pay tithes to God” (Article IX, Section 7a.) It is true there is no direct commandment in the New Testament saying, “You must tithe to God one-tenth of your income”; but there is also no statement declaring the Old Testament plan as no longer valid’ (From: http://www.ag.org).
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel: ‘We believe that the method ordained of God to sustain His ministry and the spread of the gospel after His command is ‘Tithing’ and is generally accepted throughout all Foursquare Churches, not only as God’s method to take care of the material and financial needs of His Church, but to raise the spiritual morale of His people to the extent that God must bless them. We are commanded in Malachi 3:10 to ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Declaration of Faith, XXII).
The Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee): ‘… Tithing is the paying of one tenth of our increase into the treasury of the Church. It began with Abraham, continued under the law and received Christ’s approval. Giving differs from and is in addition to tithing. Both are part of God’s plan to finance His work on earth. Read Genesis 14:18-20; 28:20-22; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23; Luke 1 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1 6:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9; Hebrews 7:1-21’ (From: http://www.thechurchofgod.org/)
Even some sects teach that tithing is still mandatory. Here is what some of them say about tithing.
United Pentecostal Church International (the members of this sect are called also ‘Oneness Pentecostals’ and ‘Jesus only’): ‘We believe tithing is God’s financial plan to provide for His work, and has been since the days of Abraham. Tithing came with faith under Abraham, Moses’ law enjoined it, and Israel practiced it when she was right with God; Jesus indorsed it (Matt. 23:23); and Paul said to lay by in store as God has prospered you. Do not rob God of His portion, viz., tithes and offerings’ (UPCI Ministerial Manual, 1995, Articles Of Faith Of The United Pentecostal Church International, pages 19-27).
Seventh-Day Adventist Church: ‘The gospel plan for the support of the work of God in preaching the everlasting gospel is by the tithes and offerings of His people. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has followed this plan from its earliest days. The biblical basis for the returning of tithes and giving of offerings will be found in the following references: Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 23:23; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 2 Cor. 9:6-15. Observe also the following from the Spirit of Prophecy: “The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth – that God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and that to Him man’s gratitude is due for the good gifts of His providence.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525. “Tithes and offerings for God are an acknowledgment of His claim on us by creation, and they are also an acknowledgment of His claim by redemption. Because all our power is derived from Christ, these offerings are to flow from us to God. They are to keep ever before us the claim of redemption, the greatest of all claims, and the one that involves every other. The realization of the sacrifice made in our behalf is ever to be fresh in our minds and is ever to exert an influence on our thoughts and plans. Christ is to be indeed as one crucified among us.” – Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 479. “The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work.” – Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 249. “He has given His people a plan for raising sums sufficient to make the enterprise self-sustaining. God’s plan in the tithing system is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. All may take hold of it in faith and courage, for it is divine in its origin. In it are combined simplicity and utility, and it does not require depth of learning to understand and execute it. All may feel that they can act a part in carrying forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and youth may become a treasurer for the Lord and may be an agent to meet the demands upon the treasury. Says the apostle: «Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” – Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 388, 389. “That which has been set apart according to the Scriptures as belonging to the Lord constitutes the revenue of the gospel and is no longer ours. It is no better than sacrilege for a man to take from God’s treasury in order to serve himself or to serve others in their secular business.” – Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 246, 247. “Every church member should be taught to be faithful in paying an honest tithe.” – Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 251. “This is not a request of man; it is one of God’s ordinances, whereby His work may be sustained and carried on in the world. . . . No one can excuse himself from paying his tithes and offerings to the Lord.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 307. “God has made the proclamation of the gospel dependent upon the labors and the gifts of His people. Voluntary offerings and the tithe constitute the revenue of the Lord’s work. Of the means entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion, – the tenth. He leaves all free to say whether or not they will give more than this.” – The Acts of the Apostles, p. 74. “God has given special direction as to the use of the tithe. He does not design that His work shall be crippled for want of means. That there may be no haphazard work and no error, He has made our duty on these points very plain. The portion that God has reserved for Himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which He has specified. Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord’s work.” – Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 247 (Church Manual, pages 151-152)
Mormons: ‘Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion, ‘For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church. ‘And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. ‘And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 119:1-4).
The followers of Herbert W. Armstrong: “God raised up the CHURCH, not only that its apostles and evangelists go into all the world announcing the GOOD NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God, but also, as the very means for the general body of lay members to develop God’s own holy righteous CHARACTER — by means of GIVING — giving their continuous prayers for the apostle, giving their encouragement, tithes and offerings!’ (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Incredible Human Potential, 1978 edition, page 120)
Now I am going to show you from the Scriptures that tithing is not mandatory for those who are in Christ Jesus, and consequently those who teach tithing are greatly mistaken.
The reason why God commanded the Israelites to give a tenth of their income to the Levites
In the law of Moses it is written: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord ….. The entire tithe of the herd and flock – every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod – will be holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30,32 – NIV). This is the commandment concerning tithing the Lord gave to Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites. To whom did the Israelites have to give a tenth of their income? According to the law of Moses, they had to give a tenth of their income to the Levites. Let us see, therefore, the reason why God commanded the Israelites to give a tenth of their income to the Levites. In other words, let us see what was the use of tithes under the law.
God, after He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, commanded the Israelites to make a sanctuary for Him. That sanctuary was made just as God had commanded. It consisted of two rooms: the first room was called The Holy place and in it there was the lampstand, the altar of incense, the table, and the showbread; the second room was called The Most Holy Place and in it there was the ark of the covenant with the mercy seat. The Holy Place was separated from The Most Holy Place by a veil. Outside the sanctuary, before the door of the sanctuary, was the altar of burnt offering, and between the sanctuary and the altar there was the laver with water in it for washing (Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet whenever they entered the sanctuary or approached the altar).
God chose Aaron and his sons that they might serve Him as priests, for He said to Moses: “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests” (Exodus 28:1 – NIV) Aaron and his sons came from the tribe of Levi, precisely from the family of the Kohathites. From Levi came Gershon, Kohath and Merari, and from them came all the Levites. However, while Aaron and his sons were separated from the children of Israel to serve God as priests, the rest of the Levites were separated from the congregation of Israel and given to Aaron and his sons so that they might take care of all the furnishings of the tabernacle of meeting, performing all the duties of the tabernacle. Each family of the Levites had to perform a specific duty, as it is written: “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, …. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things: And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar. And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar: And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon: And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it. And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. … And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, …. This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens: And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve. …. As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers; From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation. And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden. This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation…” (Numbers 4:1, 4-15, 21, 24-26, 29-33).
Now, since Aaron and his sons as well as the Levites had to perform the tasks assigned to them by God and they did not do any other work, God provided for them and for their households in this way: to Aaron and his sons He gave all the holy offerings the Israelites gave to God, and to the Levites He gave all the tithes in Israel. Let us now look closely at this right Aaron and his sons as well as the rest of the Levites had.
As for Aaron and his sons, it is written that God said to Aaron: “Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever. This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons. In the most holy place shalt thou eat it; every male shall eat it: it shall be holy unto thee. And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it. All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee. And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the LORD, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thine house shall eat of it. Every thing devoted in Israel shall be thine. Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem. And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. And the flesh of them shall be thine, as the wave breast and as the right shoulder are thine. All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee” (Numbers 18:8-19). Aaron and his sons were anointed to serve God as priests, and thus they had the right to eat what was offered on the altar and the firstfruits the Israelites offered to God as well as the meat of the firstborn of an ox, a sheep or a goat. Bear in mind that God said to Aaron that He gave all those things to him and his sons “by reason of the anointing,” which means that God had given them that right because they had been anointed to serve as priests.
As for the Levites, who had to do the work of the tabernacle, the Scripture says that God said: “And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Numbers 18:21). Therefore the tithes which the Israelites had to pay to God belonged to the Levites. However the Levites on their part had to give a tenth of the tithes to Aaron the priest, for God said to the Levites: “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. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’s heave offering to Aaron the priest. … When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation” (Numbers 18:26-28, 30-31). As you can see, the children of Israel were commanded by God to give a tenth of their income to the Levites, who, according to the law, had a commandment to receive tithes from the people and to give a tenth of the tithes to Aaron.
To sum up, God gave a wages to Aaron and his sons as well as to the Levites for their work. The wages for Aaron and his sons consisted of the most holy offerings that were kept from the fire which the Israelites gave to God, all the land’s firstfruits, and the firstborn of every ox, sheep or goat, and a tenth of the tithe received by the Levites. Whereas the wages for the Levites consisted of nine tenths of all the tithes paid by the children of Israel. This was the use of the tithes under the law: they were used for rewarding the Levites and the family of the high priest for their work. However, it must be said that the tithes paid by the Israelites were used not only for supporting the ministry of the priests and the Levites, but also for helping the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who were among the Israelites, as it is written: “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
According to what the Scripture teaches, when the Israelites ceased to give a tenth of their income to God, God ceased to bless them and cursed them with a curse, sending the devourer to destroy the fruit of their ground. This, because since God had said: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30 – NIV), withholding tithes was tantamount to robbing Him. This was the reason why God, through the prophet Malachi, said to the Israelites who rebelled against Him: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9 – NKJV).
We are not under the law of Moses, but under the law of Christ
Now someone may ask, ‘Now, under grace, that is, under the New Covenant, are we Gentiles by birth, who have believed, bound to pay a tenth of all our income, as the Israelites were under the law?’ The answer is, ‘No’. Someone will ask, ‘Why?’ Let us turn to the Scripture in order to understand the reason why we are not bound to tithe under grace.
It is written: “On the basis of it [the Levitical priesthood] the law was given to the people” (Hebrews 7:11 – NIV); the Italian Bible Riveduta Version reads: “Su quello è basata la legge data al popolo” that is, “On it [the Levitical priesthood] is based the law which was given to the people.” Therefore the law which God gave to the children of Israel was based on the Levitical priesthood (remember that it was the Levites who had to receive tithes from the people). However, since perfection could not be attained through the Levitical priesthood, God raised up for us another Priest according to another order, that is to say, not according to the order of Aaron but according to the order of Melchizedek. Furthermore, you know that this High Priest, that is, Jesus, did not descend from the tribe of Levi, to which the priesthood belonged, but from the tribe of Judah, “of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood” (Hebrews 7:14 – NKJV). The thing to which I want you to pay attention is this: inasmuch as the priesthood has changed (and the law was based on the Levitical priesthood), of necessity there was also a change of the law, as it is written: “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law” (Hebrews 7:12 – NIV). As a consequence, we are no longer under the law of Moses (which was based on the Levitical priesthood), but under the law of Christ (which is based on the priesthood of Christ), which does not command us to tithe.
We are now bound to keep the law of Christ; therefore we must know the commandments of this law concerning giving, yes, because the law of Christ, too, commands us to give. Jesus Christ knew very well the commandment of the law concerning tithing, yet He did not command His disciples to tithe. Someone may say, ‘Did He command to tithe, through His apostles, after He was taken up into heaven?’ No, He didn’t after He ascended to heaven either.
Let us see then how much the High Priest of our confession commanded us to give, keeping in mind these things: first of all, “the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19 – NKJV) and Christ came to complete it for it was incomplete; secondly, the law of Christ is called “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25 – NKJV), for we under the law of Christ are free to give how much we want and are able to give. Brothers, in order to understand why the law of Christ is superior to the law of Moses, we must always remember that the law of Moses was incomplete while the law of Christ is complete.
Jesus said: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and 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” (Luke 6:38). Brothers, we all disciples of Christ must give. Now Jesus said that with the same measure that we use, it will be measured back to us, which means that it will be given to us according to the measure that we use when we give to the Lord. Under the law of Moses anyone who did not give a tenth of all his income to the Levites (even if he gave just less than one-tenth of his income) was cursed by God for He robbed God (and God had said: “You shall not steal” Exodus 20:15 – NKJV) and did not give according to the measure prescribed and commanded by the law. Now, under the law of Christ, God has not promised He will curse those who give less than one-tenth of their income. How could God curse with a curse all those who don’t keep this commandment of the law, when it is written that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13 – NKJV)? Of course, Jesus did not state that anyone who doesn’t tithe will be cursed, however it is clear that if we don’t give to the Lord even a tenth of our income we will be rewarded by the Lord according to the measure we use when we give to Him. God cannot be mocked, for He is just and He commits no injustice even when He rewards those who give to Him. That each one of us will reap according to the measure he used when he sowed was confirmed by Paul when He wrote to the Corinthians: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6 – NKJV). He who is wise knows that in order to reap much he must give much and not little, and thus he bewares of covetousness and sows bountifully, for he knows that the Scripture says: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24 – NKJV). Paul also commanded the saints to give; listen to what he wrote to the saints of Corinth about the collection for the poor among the saints: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…” (1 Corinthians 16:2), “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). As you can see, Paul urged the saints of Corinth to give what they had decided in their heart to give (that is, as they purposed in their heart), according to the prosperity God had given to them. However, he urged them to give not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God does not take delight in a giver who gives to be seen by men or a giver who gives grumbling for he is not glad to give. God loves a cheerful giver, therefore we must give joyfully to please God; and the words of Paul to the Corinthians are in agreement with these, which he wrote to the Romans: “He who shows mercy, [let him do it] with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:8 – NKJV). Notice that Paul did not say that he who sows sparingly will be cursed by God, but only that he will reap sparingly, which is different. When we speak of Paul, brethren, we must never forget that he, according to the flesh, had been a Pharisee, that is, a member of the strictest sect of Judaism, which did not bear those Jews who refused to tithe. Remember that Paul knew very well the commandment concerning tithing, for he knew the law and he had kept it scrupulously when he was a Pharisee, and for this reason he could say to the Philippians that he, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, was blameless; yet nowhere in his epistles did he command the saints to tithe. Paul gave many commandments in his epistles, but among them there is not the commandment concerning tithing. Did he forget to write it, perhaps? Certainly not! Do you know why Paul did not impose this precept of the law on the saints? Because he used the law lawfully and not unlawfully.
Jesus gave His disciples also the following commandment: “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34 – NKJV). And after the Holy Spirit was poured out on His disciples, they put it into practice, for it is written that they “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:45 – NKJV), and there were no needy persons among them “for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostle’s feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need” (Acts 4:34-35 – NKJV). One of those who put into practice this commandment given by Christ was Barnabas, who was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, for it is written: “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-37 – NKJV). I want you to notice that Barnabas was a Levite, that is, a descendant of Levi. Now every Levite knew very well that according to the law of Moses the Levites had a commandment to receive tithes from the people and to give God a tenth of the tithes they received from the people, and thus Barnabas also knew well the commandment concerning tithing. However, when he sold the field he owned he did not bring just a tenth of the proceeds of the field he sold, but he brought all the proceeds. What Barnabas did indicates very clearly that he – as a Levite who believed in Jesus – did not feel himself bound to tithe any longer. We know that we must lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and not on earth, for this is what the Lord has commanded us, and we know also that we lay up treasures in heaven by giving alms.
One day a rich young man came and said to Jesus: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22). As you can see, at first Jesus said to that young man that if he wanted to enter into life he had to keep certain commandments which were written in the law, and that young man answered that he had kept those commandments from his youth, but he wanted to know what he still lacked, for he asked: ‘What lack I yet?’ (Matthew 19:20) Jesus knew what that man lacked and He said it to him: “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:21 – NKJV). These words which Jesus spoke to that young man confirm that He did not come to destroy the law but to complete it. Notice that Jesus told that man what he had to do in order to become perfect, but notice also that when the young man heard what he lacked, he went away sorrowful for he was very rich. That young man could have become perfect and laid up for himself a treasure in heaven, but he refused to keep that commandment of the Master for he had set his heart on his riches and he had no intention of giving up his numerous possessions. Perhaps he would have been willing to keep some other commandment of the law which did not entail the selling of all his possessions, but he was not willing to keep that commandment given to him by Jesus. I am sure that if that man had to pay a tenth of all his monthly income and make some offerings to someone, in order to be perfect, the Lord would have told him and he would not have reacted in that way, but the Lord did not tell him to give up just a part of his possessions but all of them. Jesus Himself gave up all the things He had and became poor for our sakes, therefore He gave us an example even in this. Who can say that Jesus did not leave us an example in certain things? He said: “Learn from Me” (Matthew 11:29 – NKJV), and: “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40). Let us see then what Jesus did to become an example even in this to all of us. Paul said to the Corinthians: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 – NKJV). We know that Jesus was very rich in heaven but when He came into this world He became poor for our sakes; and if we now are rich (for we are heirs of the Kingdom of God) it is because Christ became poor. Yes, Jesus, the Son of God, lived poor on the earth for our sakes; no one can say that He was rich materially or that even though He was poor He sought to become rich and He became rich through His ministry. Why then is this commandment of the Lord not taught, while the commandment concerning tithing is taught? Why is what should be taught under grace not taught, while what should not be taught any longer is taught? Why is this commandment of the Lord concerning the selling of our goods much less known than the commandment concerning tithing? Because the commandment concerning tithing entails a much less sacrifice than the selling of a house or a field. Brothers, let us see that we do not conduct ourselves cunningly toward our neighbour.
Through the above mentioned Scriptures I have showed you that the law of Christ, unlike that of Moses, is perfect and complete.
Those who preach the Gospel have the right in the Gospel to be supported financially and materially
At this point, since the commandment concerning tithing is imposed by some for they say: ‘The pastor is devoted to preaching and teaching, he has not a secular job, therefore we must give him a wages’ I want to tell you how we should conduct ourselves under grace with regard to this.
The Levites taught the Israelites the law, as it is written: “They shall teach Jacob Your judgements, and Israel Your law” (Deuteronomy 33:10 – NKJV), and they were supported by the people through tithes for God had said: “I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform” (Numbers 18:21 – NKJV). So, under the law, the Israelites had to pay a tenth of their income for God had taken their tithes to give them to the Levites who performed the tasks He had assigned to them. Therefore, the right to be supported by the children of Israel which the Levites had was in the law of Moses which they taught to the people. In other words, the Levites received their living from the law they taught.
Now under grace those who preach the Gospel, that is, the ministers of the Gospel, have the right to be supported financially by the saints, but their right is in the Gospel and not in the law of Moses, for it is written: “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14 – NKJV). Brothers, the Lord has commanded those who preach the Gospel to live from the Gospel, therefore He has commanded them to use this right which they have in the Gospel. Let us see now what the Gospel says with regard to this.
When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, He said to them: “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 10:9-10 – NKJV), and when He sent out the seventy He said to them: “Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:4-7 – NKJV). As you can see, Jesus Himself said that the laborer of the Lord is worthy of both his food and his wages, which means that he has the right to eat and drink, and also the right to receive a wages in return for the work he performs in the house of God. Paul, speaking about the elders, has confirmed clearly the words of the Lord, for he said to Timothy: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5:17-18; cf. Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7). In this case Paul has quoted a verse of the law of Moses and a verse of the Gospel to support the right which the elders have in the Gospel. Notice that Paul stated that the elders who labour in the word and doctrine are to be counted worthy of double wages.
It is obvious that if on the one hand those who preach the Gospel and teach the Word of the Lord have this right, on the other hand there must be someone who, according to the Gospel, is bound to give them the food they need and the wages of which they are worthy, and this ‘someone’ is the one who is instructed, for Paul said to the Galatians: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Galatians 6:6 – NIV). As you can see, he who benefits from the service of the minister of the Gospel is bound to share in all his good things, and not just a part of them (such as a tenth of them), with the minister of the Gospel. This is confirmed also by the passage of the Scripture which says: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4 – NKJV); for in this case also he who benefits from the work of the ox must not muzzle the ox which treads out the grain, so that the ox may eat part of the grain it is treading out. The system is the same as that which was under the law, however there is a difference for under grace believers are bound to share in all their good things, and not just part of them (a tenth part of them), with those who have been appointed by the Lord to teach the saints. Therefore, they are bound to give to their instructors more than what the Israelites were bound to give to the Levites according to the law.
It is evident therefore that if those who are instructed in the Word refuse to share in all their good things with their instructor, they commit a sin, for by so doing they muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain; in other words, they ride roughshod over the right that those who teach the Word have in the Gospel. Remember that it is true that the elders are bound to do several things on behalf of the church they shepherd, but it is also true that the Church is bound to do several things on behalf of the elders, and one of these things is to meet their needs so that they may lack nothing.
Therefore he who preaches the Gospel has the right to receive wages from the Church. However, pay attention to this: that does not mean that he has the right to impose tithing on the saints, for his wages must be formed of money which is given freely and cheerfully by the saints, as it is written: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 – NKJV), and not of money extorted from the saints playing on the commandment concerning tithing (saying to the saints that those who tithe will be blessed by God, whereas those who refuse to tithe will be cursed) in order to compel them to give one-tenth of their income (and thus to keep them from giving less than a tenth of their income) and thus to secure at least their tithes.
Let us see now what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the right of support from the saints he and Barnabas had too, and why Paul and his fellow workers did not use that right at Corinth and Thessalonica.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Have we not power to eat and to drink? …. Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:4, 6-14). As you can see, Paul said to the Corinthians that he and Barnabas had the right of support from the saints. However he and his fellow workers did not use their right. Listen to what Paul said about the right that the ministers of the Gospel have: just as one does not go to war at his own expenses, for he is paid by him who enlisted him as a soldier, and just as he who plants a vineyard has the right to eat of its fruit and he who tends a flock has the right to drink of the milk of the flock, so he who preaches the Gospel while on the one hand is bound to sow spiritual things, on the other hand has the right to reap the material things which belong to the saints. This right that the ministers of the Gospel have is confirmed also by the law, which says: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4 – NKJV), and also states that those who ministered the holy things ate of the things of the temple which were offered to God, and those who were appointed to kill the animals to offer them to God ate of the things which were put on the altar. Obviously, he who uses this right has the right to refrain from working in order to devote himself exclusively to preaching and teaching. So Paul and his fellow workers had this right in the Lord for they were called by God to preach the Gospel. However, as I said before, he and his fellow workers did not use this right at Corinth; yes, because Paul, the apostle who could say to the Corinthians: “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15 – NKJV), refused to be supported financially by the saints of Corinth. Why? We find the answer to this question in the following words he wrote to the Corinthians: “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we” (2 Corinthians 11:8-12). Let me explain to you these words of Paul. In the Church of Corinth there were some false apostles, who were not a burden to any member of the Church and they boasted of the fact that they were not a burden to anyone; so Paul, in order to keep those false apostles from boasting that they were not a burden to anyone, decided not to be a burden to anyone at Corinth (even though he had the right to be a burden to the saints of Corinth) giving up his right of support from the saints of Corinth, so that those false apostles might be considered equal with him and his fellow workers in the things they (the false apostles) boasted about. The saints of Corinth did not ride roughshod over Paul’s right as an apostle, for it was Paul who decided not to use that right of his at Corinth, and for this decision he had taken he asked the saints of Corinth to forgive him, for he wrote them: “How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!” (2 Corinthians 12:13 – NIV). As you can see, Paul, by deciding not to be a burden to the Corinthians, put them in a position of inferiority because while on the one hand he had decided to be a burden to other churches on the other hand he had decided not to be a burden to the Church of Corinth, and for this reason he asked them to forgive him that wrong. I would like you to notice that according to what Luke says, at first Paul in Corinth worked with his hands to meet his needs, for it is written: “So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them [Aquila and Priscilla] and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:3 – NKJV), but afterward, when Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, he ceased to work in order to devote himself exclusively to preaching, as it is written: “When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:5 – NIV). When Paul said to the Corinthians: “And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed” (2 Corinthians 11:9 – NIV), he referred to the second part of his stay at Corinth, when, even though he did not work, Silas and Timothy who had come from Macedonia supplied his needs.
Paul did not use the right to refrain from working at Thessalonica either, and he explained to the Thessalonians the reason why he did not use his right: “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 – NIV). Paul, Silas and Timothy were not a burden to the saints of Thessalonica, not because they did not have the right to be supported financially by them, but simply because they did not want to use their right to refrain from working. They worked day and night with their hands in order to make themselves an example of how the Thessalonians should follow them. In order to keep those who did not want to work from thinking that they had the right to refrain from working and to be busybodies, the apostles decided not to use the right to refrain from working they had. They gave up their right lest they should hinder the Gospel. This is the reason why Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12 – NKJV). Obviously Paul had a reward, for he said to the Corinthians: “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it” (1 Corinthians 9:18 – NIV).
Pay attention to this: not always Paul gave up his right, for he took wages from some churches so that he might devote himself exclusively to preaching; he makes this clear when he says to the Corinthians: “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you” (2 Corinthians 11:8 – NKJV).
Let us now see how Jesus (and His apostles), in the days of His flesh, after He left His work in order to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, used this right which is in the Gospel. Luke says: “After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:1-3 – NIV). As you can see, Jesus also used the right to refrain from working so that He might devote Himself exclusively to preaching and teaching; the Master also lived from the Gospel when He began to preach the Gospel, for many women followed Him, providing for Him and His apostles from their substance. In the conduct of those women we see the fulfilment of the Word which says: “Anyone who receives instruction in the word, must share all good things with his instructor” (Galatians 6:6 – NIV).
Let me explain those verses of the New Testament which refer to tithing
At this point I want to explain those verses of the New Testament which refer directly or indirectly to tithing, so that you may understand, by the grace of God, that these verses cannot be quoted to say to the saints: ‘You must tithe, for if you do not tithe you rob God and you will be cursed with a curse’ (as some do among the congregations of the saints because they are deceitful workers or because they do not know the Scriptures), for they do not support the imposition of tithing under grace.
● The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: … And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth” (Hebrews 7:5,8).
First of all, it must be said that those mortal men who receive tithes (Hebrews 7:8) were Levites (therefore they were Jews by birth) who, at that time were still receiving tithes from the other Jews in obedience to the commandment of the law of Moses. Therefore, since we are not Jews by birth and among us Gentiles there are no descendants of the tribe of Levi, the fact that the Levites received tithes does not concern us. Perhaps someone will say, this passage says: ‘Here men that die receive tithes”, therefore if the verb is present that means that even under grace the saints in Christ had to pay tithe!’. I answer you by saying that the verb is present not only when the Scripture speaks of tithe, but also when it speaks of the gifts and the sacrifices which were being offered (at that time) in the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem by the Jewish priests, for it is written: “For if he [Jesus] were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:4-5) and again: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11). Furthermore, note the expression “according to the law” because it refers to the law of Moses and not to the law of Christ, for the Levites received tithes from the people, and the priests offered gifts and sacrifices in the temple according to the law of Moses. But remember that those who did those things were Jews by birth, who were still under the law and had not yet been set free from the law, while we have been set free from the law by Jesus Christ. Then, since the verb is present even in relation to the sacrifices of goats offered by the Jews for their sins, shall we also offer upon an altar in an earthly sanctuary dedicated to the worship of God sacrifices of fat animals for our sins? Certainly not, for it is written again: “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which [the earthly sanctuary] were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience” (Hebrews 9:9) and also: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Hebrews 10:1) and: “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” (Hebrews 13:10). Therefore, the fact that the priests and the Levites offered sacrifices for the sins and received tithes from the people, even after Jesus was taken up into heaven, does not mean that the Gentiles, under grace, were doing or had to do (at that time) the same things, even though these things were done by them in accordance with the law God gave to Moses for all Israel.
We who are Gentiles in Christ Jesus, who have turned to God, are not a people without law, who live as we like or according to the law of Moses, but we are a people who live according to the perfect law of Christ.
I give you an illustration: in this country we must keep the Italian law, that is, the law of the country in which we live and of which we are citizens, and according to this law we have rights and duties. Now it is clear that between the Italian law and the law of another country there are some differences, even if there can be some laws which are the same. However, the fact that there are some laws which are the same in both legislations, does not mean that the Italian citizen in his country must keep all the laws of the other country. He takes note of the fact that even in the other country the law is the same or very similar with regard to a certain thing, but he takes also note of the fact that all the other laws of that country are very different and apply only to the citizens of that country.
Now, between the law of Christ (according to which we must live) and the law of Moses (according to which all the unbelieving Jews live) there are some laws which are the same; I mean that there are some commandments in the law of the Jews which we who are Gentiles by birth must keep, for they are still valid for us who are under grace. I refer to the following commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind …” (Matthews 22:37 – NKJV; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5); “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 – NKJV; cf. Leviticus 19:18); “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them …. “ (Leviticus 19:31 – NKJV); “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Leviticus 19:17 – NKJV); “You shall not take vengeance” (Leviticus 19:18 – NKJV); and many others which I do not mention one by one. However, there are many other right laws which God gave to the children of Israel which we Gentiles in Christ Jesus are not bound to keep lest we become slaves of the law of Moses, from which we have been delivered; I refer to the law of circumcision, the law concerning the observance of Sabbaths and New Moon and feasts, the dietary laws, the laws concerning the sacrifices and also the law concerning tithing.
● Jesus said to the scribes and the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23.23 – NKJV).
Jesus said these words to the scribes and the Pharisees, who sat in Moses’ seat, who whereas on the one hand paid tithe of mint and anise and cummin, on the other hand neglected the weightier matters of the law, that is, justice and mercy and faith. These words of Christ show that according to the law of Moses, to pursue justice and mercy and faith was more important than to tithe; nevertheless Jesus did not say to the scribes and the Pharisees that it was wrong for them to tithe, but He told them that they should have practiced the more important matters of the law (justice, love of God and faith), without leaving the others undone. “The others” include also tithing, for in addition to tithing there are other things which the Jews did not have to neglect. For according to the law, neither the Sabbath day, nor the Jewish feasts, nor circumcision, nor the dietary laws, nor many others could be neglected. If I said to you: ‘Brothers, we must pursue the justice and the love of God and the faith of which the law speaks’, I would tell you to do what is right for us also who are Gentiles in Christ Jesus to do; but if I added: ‘Without neglecting the other things of which the law speaks’, I would make a mistake, for in this way I would impose on you the circumcision of the flesh, the observance of the Sabbath day, the Jewish feasts, the dietary laws, tithing and other precepts, and thus I would use the law unlawfully. Why? Because Jesus said that “the Law and the Prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16). For this reason we must neglect certain things of the law, lest we be entangled again with the yoke of bondage, that is, lest we be enslaved by the law again (from which law we have been delivered), and we fall away from grace. Furthermore, provided that Jesus endorsed tithing, He certainly did not urge His disciples, who were Jews by birth, to tithe to Him!! For even though at that time the commandment concerning tithing was in force, it was the Levites who had to collect tithes from the Jews. Jesus had no right to collect tithes from the people – in that He was not a Levite nor was He ministering in the temple. Thus if He had urged the Jews to tithe to Him, He would have violated the law.
The apostle Paul said to the saints of Ephesus that Christ has destroyed the wall which separated the Jews from the Gentiles, for he said to them: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” (Ephesians 2:14-15 – NIV), and he said to the saints of Colosse: “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross …” (Colossians 2:14 – NKJV). Brothers, what was that middle wall of separation which divided the Jews from us who are Gentiles? Consider the burnt offerings, the fellowship offerings, the sin offerings, the Sabbath day, the New Moons, the Jewish feasts, the circumcision of the flesh, the dietary laws which forbade the Jews to eat certain foods, tithing, the commandment which forbade a Jew to marry a Gentile: ‘Were not these precepts together with many others written in the law the middle wall of separation, which was between the Jews and the Gentiles, and the enmity? Of course, they were the enmity which was between us and the Jews. But Christ, through His death, abolished the enmity in that He nailed all these precepts to the cross. Yes, He destroyed the middle wall of separation! Tell me this, ‘How could some Jews eat, drink, and worship and sing to God together with us who are Gentiles by birth and uncircumcised in the flesh, if that middle wall of separation had not been destroyed? It would be impossible! But thanks be to God through Christ Jesus for He, when the fullness of the time had come, broke down the middle wall of separation!
However, it must be said that though Christ broke down the middle wall of separation, afterward some Jews tried to rebuild it, for some Pharisees who believed said in the presence of the apostles and the elders at Jerusalem (around 50 after Christ): “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5 – NIV). But the apostles and the elders realized that if they had commanded the Gentiles to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses, they would have built again the things which Christ had destroyed and they would have made themselves transgressors; and thus they did not yield submission to those Pharisees, so that the truth of the Gospel might remain with us.
Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that since at Jerusalem the apostles and elders did not impose tithing on us who are Gentiles (for they did not consider it to be so necessary and so important, unlike some preachers of the Gospel who are Gentiles who are among the saints), and since Paul, the apostle and teacher to the Gentiles, in all his epistles did not command expressly the saints to tithe to support the work of God, no minister of the Gospel has the right to impose tithing on the saints. Anyone who has decided to impose tithing on the saints, has decided to go beyond what is written and to command what the apostles did not command to the churches of the Gentiles. For sure those who impose tithing on the saints bind a heavy burden, hard to bear, and lay it on the shoulders of the saints. Do you know why? Because they compel the saints to be enslaved by one of “the weak and beggarly elements” (Galatians 4:9 – NKJV).
● Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 9:13 – NKJV)
This passage also refer to the tithe, for the tithes under the law were brought into the temple and were eaten by those who ministered the holy things in the temple. However, we can’t affirm that these words mean that we who are Gentiles are commanded by God to keep the commandment concerning tithing. By these words Paul remembered the Corinthians that even under the law, those who were called by God to perform a holy task in His house, lived on the material things which were offered by the people to God. He explained to them thus that we should not be surprised that under grace God has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should live from the Gospel, for under the law also those who ministered the holy things in the temple of God lived on the things which were offered in the temple.
Furthermore, if these words of Paul meant that we must tithe, what did Paul mean when he said: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24 – NKJV)? Did he mean perhaps that we must go to the stadium to run in a race in order to obtain the prize? Certainly not! For by those words Paul remembered the Corinthians that they had to run the race that was set before them in such a way that they might obtain the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and in order to remember them that thing he spoke of those who ran in a race for he knew that the Corinthians would understand that comparison at once.
Let us explain those verses of the Old Testament which refer to tithing
Let us examine now the verses of the Old Testament which are quoted by those who impose tithing on the saints, in order to understand whether it is right to quote them to urge the saints to tithe.
● In the book of Genesis it is written: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).
This incident took place after Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings. Now provided that Abraham did a right thing in the sight of God in giving a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek, who was priest of the Most High God (this incident is mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews as well); and provided that the tithe Abraham gave to Melchizedek was received in heaven by the One who lives forever and ever; it must be said that it is wrong to quote this passage in order to impose tithing on the sons of Abraham. Why? Because if we take the fact that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in order to impose tithing on the saints, we must take also the fact that Abraham was circumcised in the flesh at God’s command in order to impose the circumcision of the flesh on the saints. We know that it was God who commanded Abraham to be circumcised, for it is written: “Every male child among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:10 – NKJV). What shall we do then? Shall we let ourselves be circumcised in the flesh, for Abraham was circumcised in the flesh? Certainly not! Do you not know that Paul said to the Corinthians: “Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him …. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised” (1 Corinthians 7:17,18 – NIV)? How is it that Paul did not impose the circumcision of the flesh on those believers who were uncircumcised? Why did he not impose circumcision? Paul knew that it was God who commanded Abraham to be circumcised, yet he said that “circumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:19 – NIV). Paul knew that it was God who wanted Abraham to be circumcised, yet he said that he who was uncircumcised when he was called by God, should not be circumcised. Why? Because he used the law lawfully and divided rightly the word of truth. He did what many today do not want to do. That’s why we should not be surprised that Paul did not impose tithing on the saints playing on this incident which took place during the life of Abraham, or that Paul did not impose circumcision on the Gentiles taking the circumcision received by Abraham as an example. We respect both the fact that Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek, and the fact that he was circumcised, but we refuse to conclude that it is lawful to impose tithing and circumcision, for we know that this persuasion does not come from Him who has called us to liberty.
● It is written in the book of Genesis: “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis 28:20-22).
Jacob made this vow as he journeyed to Padan Aram, precisely after he had a dream at Bethel. Now provided that Jacob did no wrong when he promised he would give the tenth to God if God was with him and kept him in that way he was going, and gave him bread to eat and clothing to put on so that he came back to his father’s house in peace, we say that it is not lawful to take the vow made by Jacob in order to impose tithing on the saints, for Jacob made a vow and was not commanded by God to tithe. Rather the vow made by Jacob should be quoted to teach that under grace it is lawful to make a vow, through which we promise to God that we will give a tenth of our income. Yes, for we believe that there is nothing wrong with promising to give God a tenth of one’s income to support a specific ministry in the house of God (to help the poor, the widows, the orphans, or a minister of the Gospel). However, I want to make it clear that if a believer makes this specific vow for all his life, he will be bound to keep his word for all his life lest he be judged by God, for it is written: “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. …. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth” (Deuteronomy 23:21,23).
● After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, Nehemiah and the leaders of the people and the Levites made a covenant before God through which they bound themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the law of God given through Moses and to obey carefully all His commandments. Here is what Nehemiah wrote about that covenant: “And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it. Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah: these were the priests. And the Levites: both Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; And their brethren, Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodijah, Bani, Beninu. The chief of the people; Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zatthu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hizkijah, Azzur, Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabeel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hashub, Hallohesh, Pileha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, And Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, Baanah. And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law: And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD: Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God: And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God” (Nehemiah 9:38; 10:1-39).
We have nothing against the decision which was taken by Nehemiah, the priests, the Levites and the rest of the people, rather we are glad to read that after the children of Israel came back from the captivity they decided to walk according to the law given by God through Moses on Mount Sinai. For sure what they did was written for our learning and it serves as an example to us, but we can’t take the same decisions as they took, lest we be enslaved by the law (that is, lest we be burdened again by the yoke of bondage). As you can see, the Jews bound themselves not only to bring a tithe of their crops to the Levites, but also to buy nothing on the Sabbath or on any holy day according to the law; so if we were to return to the Lord as the Jews did at that time, not only should we give a tenth of our income but we should also keep carefully the Sabbath. But thanks be to God for we are no longer under the law, therefore we are not bound to tithe nor to keep the Sabbath. Fear not, brothers, for just as we are not commanded to keep the Sabbath (for it is – together with the feasts and the new moons and the dietary laws – a shadow of the things that were to come), so we are not commanded to tithe either. Those who quote the above mentioned words of Nehemiah in order to impose tithing on the saints do not use the Scripture lawfully.
● In the book of the prophet Malachi it is written: “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:7-12)
God had said to Israel that a tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruits from the trees, belonged to Him, therefore when the children of Israel kept the tithes for themselves and did not bring them to the house of God, God accused them of robbing Him. It must be said that the accusation was absolutely right for the commandment concerning tithing is very clear. However, God not only accused the Israelites of robbing Him, but also cursed them sending locusts and worms to devour their trees and the crops of their land. For God had said to the Israelites that if they refused to keep His commandments He would destroy their trees and crops: “You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them” (Deuteronomy 28:38-39 – NIV). So when the Israelites followed the stubbornness of their hearts and did not pay their tithes to God, God cursed them as He had promised He would do. Now, those who under grace quote these words of God to affirm that anyone who does not give a tenth of his income to God is cursed by God, wilfully forget the following things, of which I want to speak to you so that you may understand that the above mentioned words spoken by the prophet Malachi cannot be applied to us who are under grace:
1) The Israelites were cursed with a curse not only when they refused to bring their tithes to the house of God, but also when they refused to keep the Sabbath day, for Jeremiah said to the Israelites that if they did not hallow the Sabbath they would be punished, as it is written: “But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched” (Jeremiah 17:27 – NKJV). Therefore, shall we be punished by God if we do not hallow the Sabbath day the way the law of Moses commands? Certainly not, for the Sabbath day was a shadow of what was to come, and thus we are not bound to keep it.
2) If these people affirm that those who do not tithe are cursed with a curse for they rob God, then are cursed with a curse even those who receive the tithes but do not offer to God a tenth of the tithes, for they too rob God. Yes, they too rob God, for God said to the Levites: “When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering” (Numbers 18:26 – NIV). How is it then that these people never speak of this commandment which is closely linked with tithing?
3) If the supporters of tithing wished to keep carefully all the things which the law says about tithing, they should teach various things which are written in the law about tithing. First of all they should teach that the saints must give a tenth even of the fruits of the ground, such as fruits, vegetables, grain and other products (if a believer has an orchard or a vegetable garden), and a tenth of the herd and flock they have, and a tenth of every income which is not part of the salary (offerings or other income). As you can see, if we imposed these things on the saints we would lay heavy burdens, hard to bear, on their shoulders, for they would begin to think continually of the tithe they must pay and to keep in mind or to record all their income, of whatever kind they are, for fear of robbing God (as it is said to them by the supporters of tithing). One of the other things which they should teach, if they wished to keep the commandment concerning tithing, is this: “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). How is it then that they do not speak of this precept of the law? How is it then that they do not say that at the end of every third year the tithe of that year must be used in this way? Is it not because they want to speak of the things which are convenient for them and which they like the most? Is it not because they themselves realize how hard it would be for the saints to keep all the precepts about tithing?
4) The apostles knew very well these words written in the book of Malachi, and if they had believed that God will curse all those believers who give less than a tenth of their income, they would have written it and would not have omitted to teach the saints, whether by word of mouth or by letter, such an important thing. How is it then that there is no verse in all the epistles (thus, not only in the epistles of Paul) which clearly affirms that we must tithe as the Israelites tithed under the law? Do you think that God forgot to say to us through the apostles that we must tithe? I believe that if not one of those five sparrows sold for two copper coins is forgotten before God, God could not forget to tell us such an important thing. Let me tell you another thing: the supporters of tithing think that God uses them to remind us to tithe, but they are greatly mistaken, for we believe that if tithing had been mandatory under grace the apostles would have reminded the saints to tithe. For sure, when the apostles and elders met at Jerusalem to consider the matter which arose, that is, whether the Gentiles had to be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses, the apostles could have confirmed that we who are Gentiles are bound to tithe as the law of Moses commands. However, on that occasion it didn’t seem good to the Holy Spirit and to the apostles and elders to impose tithing on us. They were Jews by birth, at least twelve of those who were present had been with Jesus, they knew the law, they wanted to spread the Gospel and believed that the ministers of the Gospel must be supported financially by the saints, yet they did not think it right to impose tithing on us. But unfortunately, and I say it again, unfortunately, some Gentiles, who refuse to use the law lawfully, have thought it right to impose tithing on the saints!!!
5) We were all under the curse of the law before knowing God, but now in Christ we have been redeemed from the curse of the law. Why were we under the curse of the law? Because God said: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Galatians 3:10 – NKJV; cf. Deuteronomy 27:26), and we were among those who did not keep all the commandments of the law, the commandment concerning tithing included. However, now we are no longer among those who seek to be justified by the works of the law (therefore we are no longer under the curse of the law), but we are among those who believe that they have been justified by the grace of God (therefore we are blessed with believing Abraham) and they will be saved from the wrath to come by the grace of God and not by the works of the law. If we seek to be justified by the works of the law, we will fall under the curse of the law, for we will return to rely on observing the law. But we can’t say that if a believer gives less than a tenth of his income, he will be cursed by God, for we are no longer under the law but under grace.
6) Paul said: “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22 – NKJV); he did not say: ‘If anyone does not tithe, let him be accursed.’ And we know that those who do not love the Lord are those who refuse to keep the words of Christ, for Jesus said: “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:24 – NKJV), and not those who refuse to keep the law of Moses.
7) Paul said: “If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9 – NKJV). Therefore we know that those who preach another Gospel are accursed too.
We know those who are accursed according to the Scriptures of the New Testament, and since among them are not those who do not tithe, no one has the right to frighten the saints and to oppress them with the above mentioned words of the prophet Malachi.
A word of exhortation to those who impose tithing
I have showed you from the Scripture that it is not lawful to impose tithing on the saints, so I hope you will stop imposing tithing. If you are not yet convinced that it is wrong to impose tithing, I say to you the following things.
If you impose tithing for lack of knowledge, I say to you to search the Scriptures carefully and not superficially in order that the Scripture itself may convince you. I myself have been convinced by the Scripture of the fact that it is not right to impose tithing under grace. Therefore, since I am convinced that the Lord still opens the understanding of His disciples, that they might comprehend the Scriptures, I am sure that if you set your heart on seeking the truth about this subject, He will make you understand what many have already understood.
If you impose tithing for you are afraid you will close the balance of the Church with a loss at the end of each month, I say to you this: your fear does not justify what you do. Are you afraid that if you do not impose tithing on the saints they will give less than a tenth of their income? Fear not, have faith in God, for He will provide for you the money you need to pay the place of worship’s rent and to do every good work. If you learn not to impose tithing on the saints, you will see that some believers will give much more than what they are giving now, and you will realize how weak the commandment concerning tithing is. Furthermore, your fear indicates that you have a little faith in God. Jesus, in the days of His flesh, did not impose tithing on anyone for if He had commanded the people to pay their tithes to Him He would have transgressed the law, for according to the law it was the Levites who had a commandment to receive tithes from the people and He was not a Levite, yet He lacked nothing. Do you not believe that God can meet all your needs without you imposing tithing?
If you impose tithing for you are an extortioner and a lover of money I say to you: ‘Repent of your wickedness. God is the One who searches the hearts and minds, and He cannot be mocked. You can deceive the simple, who lack discernment, but you can by no means deceive God, who will punish you for your evil works if you keep oppressing the saints of the Lord with the words of the prophet Malachi concerning tithing. You are like the Pharisees, who lived in the days of Jesus, who sat in Moses’ seat; they taught the people to tithe (it was lawful for them to teach the people to tithe) and they themselves tithed, but they loved money, as it is written: “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him [Jesus]” (Luke 16:14 – NKJV). However, Jesus rebuked them sharply for their evil works. They paid tithe of mint and anise and cummin, but they neglected the love of God, faith and justice; and you neglect the same things as they did, for you are greedy for money. In addition to this, you are full of the ‘mania for greatness’ of which is full the heart of some who preach the Gospel. You also are seeking ‘temporal power,’ you also want to build wonderful cathedrals, you also want to appear great men of God to most people. You know how to achieve your aims; you conduct yourselves like those who looked out for their own interests in the days of the apostles. You refuse to humble yourselves; you are of the opinion that Jesus was a man who lost the occasion to become a highly respected man as well as a rich man like you; you are greatly mistaken. You are losing the occasion to become rich and great in the sight of God. You are spiritually poor; do not be deceived by the flattering words of your followers who consider you to be great men of God, for the facts are bitter. You prefer to have vast revenues without justice rather than to have a little with the fear of God. Why? Because you are not willing to humble yourselves before God and to renounce craftiness and the hidden things of shame. God is longsuffering toward you, do not despise His longsuffering nor His forbearance, or you will be punished by Him as you deserve to be punished.
A final word of exhortation
The reason why I have decided to show you that it is not lawful to impose tithing on the saints under grace is that I know that the imposition of tithing gives rise to disputes among the brethren, and not because the saints do not want to give, but because they think that the fact that some pastors have decided to take away from them a specific part of their income by imposing tithing on them is really annoying and oppressive. Some of these pastors even examine the pay packet of the saints to see if they have given exactly a tenth part of their salary: that’s a shameful and scandalous conduct!
Now I want to close this writing of mine with an exhortation, for I want to urge you to give, as did Jesus and the apostles.
Brothers, it is true that no one has the right to impose tithing on you, but it is also true that you must beware of covetousness. John said: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16 – NKJV). These words show that we are commanded to give all for the brethren; yes, we must give our life, as Jesus gave His life for us while we were still sinners. How much did Jesus give for us? How much did He give for the work of God? The answer is, ‘All!’ What can we say about the example Jesus left to us? Only that it is a perfect example, so let us imitate the Teacher, that is, the One whom we call Lord. How shall we imitate Him? Conducting ourselves as Paul conducted himself toward the saints, as he said to the Corinthians: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15 – NKJV). Let us lay down therefore our life for the good cause of the Gospel; let us employ what we have on the work of the Lord; let us share in our material things with the poor; remember those who instruct you in the Word sharing in all your material things with them so that they may lack nothing, for they are worthy to be supported materially and financially by you.
The apostle Paul, after saying to the Corinthians: ““So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 – NKJV), said to them: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 – NKJV); we trust these words; we have experienced them and we are sure that we will continue to experience them if we give with a cheerful heart.
Finally, remember that each one of us will reap what he has sowed, and that when the harvest comes no one of us will be able to say to God, ‘You have made me reap less than what I sowed,’ for God is right and commits no injustice.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His righteousness, which is very high. Amen.