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Why I Don’t Believe in Tithing

Why I Don’t Believe in Tithing

 

When I told people at my church that this Sunday, I was going to preach a message called “Why I Don’t Believe in Tithing” – well, you can imagine!  A few people were a bit twitchy about that.

But the long and the short of it is that I don’t believe in tithing. At least not the sort of tithing that much of the church teaches us about.  Here’s why:

There are a lot of things I really like about the US of A – but their system of tipping isn’t one of them.

The original idea they tell me, is that tipping was supposed to turn every waiter, doorman and taxi driver into an “entrepreneur”. Great theory. I really like tipping people who go above and beyond.

These days though, unless you tip most of these people, they simply don’t earn a wage. So now, in effect – I’m obliged to tip. I really don’t like that.

In a sense, that’s a bit like the approach that some churches have to tithing.

God’s original intent with giving was that it should be something that comes from our hearts:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. (Exodus 25:1,2)

But now … now we seem to have turned giving into a rule. Whether we quite put it in these words or not, we’ve come to believe that unless you tithe your income, you’re simply not being a “good Christian”.

Now please understand something. I am not against giving 10% (or a “tithe) of our income to God’s work. I think that’s a great place to start with our giving. What I am against – is this idea that we have to tithe our income to the church.

Why?  Because it’s not what the Bible teaches. Here’s the executive summary:

1.  We’re Under Grace, Not Under the Law:

After I preached this message, one woman came up to me and said to me – rather angrily – How dare you preach a message like that?! Tithing is in the Bible.

Sure. It is. Absolutely it is!

But so is … selling your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7), the death penalty for working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2) and for adultery (Leviticus 20:10) and for planting two different crops side by side and sewing two different fabrics together. So is the requirement for men to travel to Jerusalem 3 times a year (Deuteronomy 16:16) … and a whole bunch of other things that we don’t observe today.

And the reason that we don’t observe them as Christians, is because we’re under grace, not under the law (Romans 6:14)

In fact, the moment we start applying “the law” to the grace and the freedom that we now have in Jesus Christ, then we are cursed:

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” (Galatians 3:10)

That’s reason number 1.

2.  The Tithe was there to Fund a Celebration:

Reason number 2 is that the original law talks about tithing not as something that is primarily there to support the work of the church (or its Old Testament predecessor – the priesthood). The original purpose of the tithe was primarily to throw a whopping great party in the Presence of God.

You can read the whole thing for yourself in Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – but here’s the nub of it:

In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose as a dwelling for his name, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. (Deuteronomy 14:23)

So, not only are we not required to tithe our income (reason number 1) but the thing that many churches teach us that tithing is primarily for, is not what the Bible teaches that tithing was primarily for.

 

3.  God Wants Our Hearts, Not our Wallets:

And finally, Jesus taught that our hearts are attached to our wallets and wherever our wallets are, there also our hearts will be (my paraphrase of His teaching in Matthew 6:19-24).

The thing is, that God wants us to follow His lead, to decide in our hearts to give to His work and then to give it cheerfully.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

So … what should we do?

I don’t believe for one moment that the Bible teaches us to tip God His 10% under compunction. In fact, that’s the last thing it teaches us to do. So instead, let’s do what the Bible actually does teach us to do.

God calls us to give generously (2 Cor 8:1,2), sacrificially (2 Cor 8:3-6), deliberately (2 Cor 9:6.7) and cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7).

Because when we do – here’s what happens. We end up giving more – much more – than we would have given were we just following a bunch of rules. Because now all of a sudden, it’s coming from our hearts!

Are you serious about following Jesus? Are you serious about deploying your resources – all your resources – for the glory of God?

Well, then why not take a quiet half hour or so, and listen to this. Be blessed as the Lord moves your heart to give:

 

Other posts in this series:

 

The Sort of Giving that Gets God Excited

Discover the Answer to Your Money Worries

Honest Answers Quick Poll – Attachment to Money

An Unsettling Story About Money

When Finances are Tight, It’s Time for a Budget

 


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51 Comments

  1. Thank God that some one let the cat out of the bag!!!
    Good on you Berni!
    Can you please send me the link to re send
    It wont send from the link ive tried
    Thanks again!

  2. Tank God for dis teaching. Its high time dos who practice tithing as a compulsion go back to d bible for better understanding. Tank u sir for dis great teaching.

  3. Well there are good points both ways. After reading all this I am still of the same mind I was before. I give whatever I can to whatever I feel is important for what jesus asked of us. I give to support the poor and also for the spreading of the Gospel and this is not nessecarily my church but I support it also. Not of obligation but because I want to, and Jesus said. Where a man puts his money there his heart is. This often means I give what’s not really mine as I always have bills waiting and I step out in faith and give far beyond 10percent. Often my finances appear grim but I trust God and not cash. Amazingly my bills always get paid on time and I am blessed with so much. I choose to give rather than buy expensive cars. The orphans of this world need it more than I and I trust in The Lord for my needs. I believe I am Blessed because I give, taken care of because I trust. it Is always a lesson of faith. Let me ask, Those who can’t afford to give much, is it because of personal luxuries? The bible says our wealth may be a witness against us. .Read james 5. So give rather than store up. step out in faith and look out for others. Miracles happen when we trust. God for our provision.Don’t get hung up on percentages and numbers, surrender your life to Christ including your money and be lead by the spirit , you will be looked after here and beyond. Blessings

  4. Thanks Berni for this message. A while ago I was tithing my 10% on my full pension, before rent came out….it was hard but I believe I was guilted into it from the constant preaching on giving and tithing and how much God would prosper those that did and then all the so called love offerings etc…It got to the point that I just could not keep doing it. At the same time I also had direct debits coming out monthly to my favourite places…..one being your good self, and to a radio show that reaches out to many people with the word of God. Don’t know if I can name them but I listen to you on it???? Another one was to UCB so I could contribute to the magazines for those who could not afford to but so they could still read a daily devotion that gets posted out to them. As animals are also God’s creatures and as an animal lover, I also have direct debits coming out for 3 animal welfare orgs…..I also send in other donations that I refer to as TOP UPS when I can to my favourite Christian places, as well as an orphanage in Africa, and to a fund treating returning Troops who have PTSD and their families. Now, that my financial situation is in rather dire need of boosting due to the rising costs of everything, I still have my direct debits but I no longer tithe. So I no longer am riddled with guilt because I do not tithe and I don’t for a moment think that all my monthly regular donations are in place of tithing. But give to these other places warms my heart and I do it gladly. I also understand that Churches who collect rather large sums of money support a lot of charities and many do good works, but when I see the leaders of the church driving very expensive cars (on lease) and always taking holidays and jetting around Australia and NZ etc and adding more fancy items to the church, I can’t help but feel I helped pay for that instead of it going to where God intended it. This is just my 2 bits worth.
    Keep up your good work Berni and may God continue to protect you.

  5. I love this message about tithing. I remember those sermons where the preacher said if you don’t tithe you are cursed. I used to be in bondage to that kind of legalism. No more. Now I give to my local church to support the work of the ministry and I give to the poor and needy in third world countries because I’ve been blessed and want to be a blessing so that mum’s and dad’s can have cataract operations, families can gets animals, people can get bibles, struggling women can get loans for their businesses….no longer is giving a burden but a joy…

  6. So true Donna, used to be worried for not giving 10%, there is not much love shown in my church, so i felt that God would be angry if i didn’t. for some time now, as I have grown to know God’s love, above all the rest, He has my all. It is God’s money, everything I have belongs to God. I lead a fellowship, and all that i have goes towards God’s work there, and i still have over, it seems, to give to my local church. we give with our hearts, and the knowlage of who and what we are in Jesus.

  7. Berni, my understanding is that last 15 years, US giving in Churches was around 4% of taxable income but has dropped to 2% while the standard of living and income for most people during the same period has increased not decreased (excluding GFC period).

    What does that indicate to you?

    • What does it indicate to me? That rule based giving doesn’t work. People’s hearts aren’t being engaged in the powerful work of the church. I see it all the time.

      Churches used to have a monopoly on giving. These days people can give in hundreds of different places. They give to three things: V.I.P:

      Vision – that’s inspiring
      Impact – something this making a real difference
      People – who they trust.

      If you don’t have those three things people won’t give … nor should they.

      Doesn’t matter how hard we beat the tithing drum.

  8. Tithing can change contextually over time. In Deuteronomy, like you said, it was a feast. (But also for the Levites, you missed that part). By the time of Malachi, tithing was not just for the Levites, but for the building project. The writer of Hebrews (New Testament) spoke of tithing as still occurring, & does not mention it being rescinded. (Heb7:8). Jesus told the religious leaders to not neglect tithing. I don’t think the grace dispensation has eliminated tithing.

  9. Good stuff Berni. Fact is the majority of tithers today are struggling financially. My Church teaches tithing as a principle to being blessed prosperously including financially.
    If this were the case, ALL tithing Christians would be blessed off their socks. Unfortunately this doesnt happen.
    Where one may be blessed, the next is not. Its plainly not across the board, so how can it be preached as such?!
    Tragic that so many of the Pentecostal churches have preached this for so long and still do. However, we should do as we feel we should do in regards to tithing. It should be between the individual and God.

  10. I don’t disagree with Bernie’s points on ‘giving’ – I simply believe that it is the responsibility of the church to teach spiritual disciplines. The discipline of giving must be learned, and it IS a discipline. We give because God is worthy, not because we are wealthy, not because we had a good week or feel blessed. So to those who say, ‘I give when I can’ – I hope that means you always give. Because as little as you think you have, you can always give something.

    Jesus said, ‘make disciples and TEACH them to OBEY everything I have commanded…’ – How else can generous, sacrificial, spirit led, cheerful and worship based giving be taught or imparted without setting a basic minimum standard for equal giving amongst believers? Percentages create equality – we all give according to what we have. Tithing is at best an elementary revelation on giving, generosity and honor towards God. So basic that much of the New Testament has little to say about it, many ague this is because the early church was already in the routine of giving the tithe. The idea conveyed under grace is that we should go above and beyond the tithe.

    I am not saying tithing should be taught as law to the mature – but it should be taught as a discipline to the immature, teaching them how to become faithful in giving so that as Paul hoped, they will eventually ‘excel’ in the grace of giving.

    Yes I tithe, but I give much more than 10%. The tithe is where my discipline of giving started when I was a teenager. Now I joyfully and cheerfully give above and beyond – on all occasions. i give every time the basket is passed because it is a privilege and a delight to give to the Lord. I for one am grateful to have had pastors and leaders in my life teach me to be generous towards God, towards his church and towards people. If the bar of 10% was never set as a minimum, I would never have given regularly to God or even considered exceeding such an amount. I have not many many Christians that don’t tithe, yet are generous on every occasion. In my experience, they simply haven’t learned how to give. It’s not a discipline they have embraced. The most generous people I have met in church, are the ones who started at the tithe but exceeded it as they grew in the grace of giving. It’s not about law or right and wrong, but about teaching people a starting point for how to give.

    If we want to take Jesus seriously as many on here seem to, perhaps a better title for a Sermon would be not ‘Why I don’t believe in Tithing’, but rather, ‘Why I believe in Giving beyond a tithe’.

    It’s not about being religious or Pharisaical or legalistic as many have accused. It’s about being a disciple. A student. Learning how to live by faith and with the Fear of the Lord. Giving is freedom. Giving enlarges the heart and amplifies worship as it announces trust and dependance on the kindness & faithfulness of God.

    May God bless you Bernie as you seek to serve Him and make the name of Jesus known, I pray you would continue to declare the love and majesty of Jesus until there is no breathe in your lungs, may he multiply to you every seed you have sown and cause many to come to mature faith through your ministry.

    I look forward to the days when God’s people put down the materialism of this world, say no to idolatry and in joy and faith begin to sell houses and land for the sake of Gospel.

    – Andrew

    • “Giving is freedom. Giving enlarges the heart and amplifies worship as it announces trust and dependance on the kindness & faithfulness of God.”

      Great stuff, (although I would suggest giving is not a discipline, it is a response. To give freely is a response to the joy of being cared for by, and trusting God, not something to be trained in.)

      The biggest question is, if I only give 9% ex tax does God love me less? Will I be less ‘blessed’? Will I suffer in any way? Will Gods work in me suffer?

      Cheers,
      Pete

    • I’m afraid I agree with What Andrew about giving being a privilege as we honor God through what we give and shows faith on our part that God will keep his end of the bargain in providing for us what we need and since He doesn’t lie and has been the same yesterday, today and forevermore, God is credible.

      I would like to contribute something to what Berni said about us living under grace and not under the law. That is 100% correct but what he has to keep in mind that not everyone is at the same level of spiritual maturity to be able to discern what that actually implies to the way they give and as appealing as it may sound he is actually not giving the whole picture of what the bible say about grace and the law.

      The reason why I’m saying that I was listening this morning to sermon by Dr Michael Youseff in which he clearly sets the picture for Godly giving and that which is not. He referred to 1st Corinthians 9 as the basis of godly giving. And one thing which Paul acknowledged in this chapter is the fact that we are indeed free under grace BUT it does not give us the right to be slothful in how we serve God.

      To make this point he compares to how an athlete trains and disciplines him or herself for the race, not based on how he/she feels but on what he/she has to do in order to win. Likewise I think that is what we should keep in mind that we should not give based on our feelings or how we would like to interpret the scripture but on what God says. We as Christians should know that feelings are deceiving and can be misleading.

      We are all in a race and each is accountable for what has been entrusted into our care, and for that we should be careful of what we say about the Word of God because it can mislead those who are still on spiritual milk.

      Of course we cannot ignore the fact that churches or leaders may misuse money or even “overemphasize” giving tithes but that is the problem of the “individual” and we should not blame God nor use that as an excuse to stop giving to the work of the kingdom of God where when we come to think about it there are really some genuine ministries that could really use our financial support in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ “effectively” where souls and lives are being impacted not only for this life but for the next. This is where Godly wisdom comes in and all of us should seek God’s wisdom cause He knows best.

  11. The Protestant Tithing is an unnecessary bondage, we don’t have that problem in the Catholic Church any longer God is not an Accountant.Tithing is one the main reasons I left the AOG where I had stayed 2 years a big burden was lifted of my shoulders and God is still blessing me eventhough I do not put 10% on the plate every Sunday !We should work towards Christian Unity rather than argue about legalistic nonsense.

  12. Excellent Berni, a 10% tithe is a 10% tax. Ask anyone who preaches for it whether it should be based on pre or post income tax and it suddenly all gets a bit vague.. Its either a law or it isn’t.. Steve’s 2 points earlier are excellent..

  13. Great text Berni. Whenever I hear preachers talk about tithing it turns me away, mainly because they always tell us what’s in it for us. I’d like to think that my giving is from the heart and prayer. If we are thinking of ‘what’s in it for us’ we aren’t following our Lord. To me that thinking is selfish and robs us from having the Holy Spirit work in that area of our lives. To give out of obligation rather than following our Lord’s direction may take away something else the Lord wants to do, or wants to bless you with. I believe in tithing, but let our Lord be the boss.

  14. I agree that tithing should not be coerced. If you cannot give cheerfully don’t give at all as far as I’m concerned. To become a member at a lot of churches tithing is one of the requirements. This I don’t agree with. To me the only real requirement for church membership should be a living faith in Christ. But I do believe that with giving there has to be a starting point when discipling someone. To the unsaved giving is not natural and once we come to Christ we really need help in this area. We know Jesus talked about money as much if not more that any other subject. Let’s face it this is a hot button issue becuase where you treasure is your heart is also.

  15. Be encouraged Bernie,
    Am grateful for the boldness of New Covenant preachers/Teachers, going back into the word and rightly dividing scriptures into context, and more importantly allowing Christ to be at the center of the Church, casting out the traditions of men, and preaching Grace….{The Ability of God in the believer},…one of the most sound men on the Grace message & Faith righteousness is Dr. Jim Richards of Impact Ministries Alabama USA,…check him out one of only a few people in the USA who pioneered the new covenant Grace message in the early seventies, pushing out of all the religious formula’s rules and regulations of that time until now,…be blessed.

    • Please do understand that I am not here to pick. Please correct me if I am wrong.
      Somehow I am getting the underlying message that the New covenant and grace teach that there is no Law. If the Law is not taught – where and how would people (general populace) know what is sin? Don’t junk the OT and think that NT answers everything. (consider this rather -OT raises the questions that are meaningfully answered by NT)

      If there were no markings on the road you would drive all over (as in some countries). Unless someone taught you previously to keep to the left or right of the road. The markings are guidelines for your safety. However, we can cross them if we have to in certain situations. Give more when and if you can. Or give less if you must. Don’t give so much to put your nose out of joint.Certainly God’s not impressed.

      So remember – the tithe, the Law, OT Rules are a guideline – For Christians now as well as Jews – An approximate tenth of your income is accepted without a punishment stringed along. Don’t go into debt – please do look after your needs as well.

      Think of teaching our children skills with do’s and dont’s. Not necessarily understood at that time but they will learn to appreciate those abilities later in life.
      Jesus- substantiated the laws with two of his own! Which are just as demanding and much more so.

      Teach the Law first prior to teaching Grace. Only thus we will have a full and complete understanding and appreciation of the guilt removed by Gods grace. Go’s grace ABOUNDS in giving, sharing- The Abundant Life! So we will exemplify HIS kind of giving – over and above without guilt.
      If I have hurt anyone please forgive me.

      • Romans 7:1-13

        Do you not know, brothers and sisters —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

        In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

        What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

        Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

  16. This s the single biggest issue why many Christians walk away from their church. Personally, I go to church to worship the Lord with other Christians, to learn, and to share fellowship. Any church leader or elder who ever demands XYZ amount of $ from me will come off 2nd best. I give because I want to, not because I have to. Guilt is the Devils tool, and so anyone who attempts to make you feel guilty with regards tithing is, in my opinion, misguided.

    Great thought provoking post Berni, as usual, not afraid to confront issues others shy away from.

    • Trevor, I think you hit the nail on the head there – Guilt is the devil’s tool. Those are wise words to remember in regard to tithing.

      Tithing is beautiful, going beyond a 10% tithe is beautiful too, but so is the widow’s Mite.

    • As an immature Christian, still learning thank you Trevor, your point on guilt being the devils tool is sorely needed in my life.

  17. As usualy i fully agree with you Berni. Tithing is good and helpfull but not a rule.It has to be done from the hearth , from love for our Creator and Saviour and people in need.

  18. I am sorry but I have to disagree in part. I do believe in being generous and giving more than tithing but I believe the principle of tithing is outside the law.

    The principle of tithing was first introduced before the law. Abram (latter called Abraham) gave King Melchizedek a priest of the most high God a tenth of everything he had (Genesis 14). This was an offering and was before the law.

    As we know Abraham was made righteous by faith and not the law (Romans 4:9 onwards). His offering to Melchizedek was made to the only king and priest in Israel’s history. That is until Jesus Christ. Does this not give us a model of which to follow.

    I agree that if under the law believers were to give 10% how much more should we give now that we are under grace. Not because their is an obligation but because we can.

    Malachi 3:10 is Old Testament but contains a promise that applies to Christians today. This promise is not a covenant promise and so is Yes in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Do we not rob people of this promise if we preach against tithing.

    I have personally found that when I faithfully tithe and give offerings at all times even during the difficult times I see God meet everyone of my needs. This increases my faith.

    I actually found that when I did give my tithe and offerings God truly had my heart and not my wallet. Up until that time I would give God what I had left over, what was in my wallet. I regarded this as tipping God.

    Should not our base level giving be a tithe and then we can give an offering over and above.

    • Tithing (the practice of regularly giving one-tenth of one’s income) was instituted under the Law so that the Levites could receive an income as they maintained the tabernacle, and later the temple, since they were not given any land and therefore had no other income. It also was a means of providing for strangers, widows and orphans in their midst. So tithing was instituted for the tabernacle; not for the church.

      Some would be quick to reply that tithing was mentioned before the Law and Moses. In Gen.14:19-20 we read that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, when he returned from recovering the people and spoil which were taken captive from Sodom. It is true that Abraham did give a tithe to Melchizedek, the high priest of Salem (Jerusalem). But let’s look at this.

      First, Abraham’s gift to Melchizedek did not come from his own money but other people’s money!

      Second, it’s bad hermeneutics to conclude that because a Bible character, like Abraham, did something that we are automatically obligated to do the same thing. If we believe that we should do something just because Abraham did it, then we should also give half of our possessions to our favourite nephew, as Abraham divided up the Promised Land between him and his nephew Lot. Also, when we go out, those of us men who are married should tell people that our wives are actually not our wives, but our sisters! Abraham did this too regularly!

      Thirdly, those who teach that tithing is the pathway to blessing should read carefully the order in this passage. First, Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek (14:19), and then he tithed (14:20). Abraham did not tithe his way into prosperity. He was prosperous because God had said from the start that He would bless him (Gen 12:1-3); and he was blessed before he tithed. Abram did not have to pay God to get the blessings promised. Gal.3:13-14 says that the same blessing is available for us now. Unfortunately the Church has believed that we have to somehow pay our way into getting God’s blessings by tithing or by “sowing seeds”. We get God’s blessing in our lives by having faith in Jesus Christ and not by faith in our tithing. See Phil.4:19

      • What About The New Testament?

        Tithing is mentioned only 4 times in the New Testament, three times in the gospels and once in the letter to the Hebrews. In the gospels, Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees were very careful about tithing (Matt.23:23; Lk.11:42; 18:12) to the point of over-emphasizing it. They were so focused on tithing that they lost sight of the great goal of the Law, i.e. love and justice to our fellow-man. Also, they trusted in their tithing to give them merit before God.

        Now remember that the Pharisees were under the Law, and by law had to tithe. All people in Israel were under the Law. When Jesus was crucified He ushered in the New Covenant, and the Old was finished. Tithing was established under the Law and has no place in the Church. It is no light thing to choose to adhere to the Law, even with a seemingly small issue as tithing. Every person who chooses to keep any part of the Law of Moses is obligated to keep the whole Law and is therefore exposed to its curse.

        This point is made in the solitary reference to tithing in the New Testament epistles, i.e. in Hebrews 7. Heb.7:5 reads “And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren [Israel]”. Note three things from this verse: 1) There was a commandment concerning tithes in the Old Testament; 2) They were to be given to OT priests (not the Church); 3) They were required by the Jews, not Christians.

        Hebrews 7:12 notes that “when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law”. In other words, that commandment that did exist under the Old Covenant has been changed, because the priesthood to which it related has now also been changed under the New Covenant.

        Hebrews 7:18 says that this commandment has now been abolished. That priesthood, because of its inability to bring perfection, is now annulled. The Old Covenant is obsolete, and the laws which required tithes to be given to the Levites are obsolete. These Hebrews, i.e. Jewish converts, were mixing the law with grace, and were told in chapter 7 to stop tithing! The Gentiles had no need of this message. The Gentile church was never under the law.

      • You are stretching the text in Hebrews a long long way…vs.8 says it is still occurring & by the way, it is not part of the law, it is pre law (Abraham) & in the ‘prophets’ Malachi. Malachi’s utterance on tithing is not from Deuteronomy, but a prophetic statement from the Lord.

      • @Steve
        Careful my brother, i am really concerned.
        Freedom doesn’t mean lawlessness !
        NT has its foundations on the OT.
        After curtain torn, Gentiles are allowed to enter His presence.They are freed from stigma – God’ s way of saying come! These kind of laws of separation and segregation were abolished. Now this released Gentiles to be a witness to the chosen tribe of Israel.
        When witnessing – you can only gain respect first, by exemplifying Christ who followed the law. Remember his own comments on the law & pharisees – Mt.5:17-22 this meant we need to discipline ourselves more rigorously than pharisees and avoid sin like the plague. The laws were given to give a shape “to identify what exactly is sin”. In a world where everything is a blur, the law stipulates the standard to which we need to achieve.
        So gentiles are NOT outside the law. Now gentiles are to be witnesses to the chosen Jews.
        And its NOT about how rigidly we adhere to rules but about how rigidly we avoid sin.
        So in effect is tithing causing you to sin – resist! If tithing is giving glory to God – then do it.
        The fact that there are so many varied comments pouring in shows that this subject is close to people’s hearts and concerns. Pretty interesting.

  19. I think too many people get caught up in the word tithe and I also think churches misrepresent the tithe. They say to give to be blessed. When we should give because God gave. If we give to get it is not giving it is investing. I think the tithe is the floor of giving for the new testament believer. Since we are under grace we have been given more than those who were under the law. We should not use mans misrepresentation of tithing as an excuse to give less. Also the 1st record of someone giving a tenth was Abraham before the law in Genesis 14:20 and Jesus said we should tithe in Matthew 23:23 but not to neglect the weightier issues of the law.

  20. Thank you for this, most sermons I have heard about tithing were based on Malachi 3:8-12, about robbing God, being under a curse, and about this being the only place in the bible where we are invited to ‘test’ God etc and seeing blessing come. I find your blog very freeing and urging us to think about generosity and about our hearts instead. what is your response to the verses from Malachi about robbing God, and testing Him to see blessing be released? I would be very interested. Thank you for giving me something to think about on this topic that is so often put aside by many.

    • Alan

      Malachi was writing to God’s people who were under the law. If you read the whole of Malachi, you’ll see that the problem was that God’s people had strayed from Him (again!).

      Read in context, we see that through what God says to His people in Chapter 3, He’s giving them a tangible opportunity to return to them. He’s challenging them to rediscover His faithfulness by obeying just this one part of the law.

      As always in the Old Testament, God’s judge,ent is redemptive. He is always calling His people back to Him.

      That’s what’s going on in Malachi 3. Context is everything in understanding the Scriptures.

      Blessings,
      Berni

  21. Berni, while tithing is found in the law, it also precedes the law in Abraham and Jacob. I believe that’s known as the law of first mention…

    In Genesis 28 Jacob has his dream @ Bethel – meaning the ‘House of God’. His response to this revelation is found in verses 20-22: Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (NLT)

    In this passage I see Jacob having a revelation of God (and His house) and making a commitment of faith in God, resulting in his promise to tithe ‘of everything God gives him’.

    I agree with your comments re generosity and not giving out of compulsion, but I believe tithing should be the starting point for a Christian, not something to speak against…

    • Robbo,

      Yes tithing is also found a couple of times outside the law. Abraham gave a tithe. No problem with that at all. No problem with the principle of 10% being a guide or a starting point. No problem with churches and pastors teaching people that giving to support God’s work is a discipline that needs to be learned.

      My problem is with “tithing should”.

      Berni

  22. Thank you Berni. The matter of tithing has always been a thorn in my side as I struggle to make ends meet as it is on a very low salary. I’ve felt so guilt-ridden that it’s literally driven me from my tithe-preachng church! I constantly feel “I owe God” and I so miss out in the fellowship I would otherwise have with other believers. I happily give to three Christian charities and now feel that this is my calling.

  23. How do you teach an immature person how to be disciplined in any part of their life without having a ‘rule’? Just as a son is considered a slave until he comes of age, even though he owns the whole estate. Tithing is how we teach Gods people to give, obviously it isn’t the end of giving – its only the start. If we taught New Testament giving as strongly as you teach against tithing no one would come to church. The early church sold land and houses. How many people are giving like that? How many preachers are telling their churches to give like that? Or perhaps like the Macedonians? Are we teaching that under grace (New Testament) that our overflowing joy should result in longing for the honor of giving into the work of the church just as Paul talks about to the Corinthians. They ‘pleaded’ for the privilege to give out of their “extreme poverty”. How many poor people is the church extracting an offering from? Are we teaching the widows to give their best and their last? Or are we just tickling the ears of the immature who are looking for a reason not to give? Are we feeding the pride and rebellion of those who don’t trust or honor their leaders and pastors by refusing to tithe and give offerings to God through the church. The early church took the money from the sales of land and houses and ‘laid it at the apostles feet’. Is the church teaching that? Does the prophet Habakuk have no implication on the church? Should we disregard the whole old testament or should we, like Jesus – extract the greater/higher truth behind the law? You have heard it said eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth but I say….. Did not Jesus say to the Pharisees in relation to the tithe and their lack of compassion for the hurting they should focus on helping people ‘without neglecting’ the tithe? And did he also not say ‘give to Caesar what it Caesars and to God what is Gods’? If we do not teach people the discipline of tithing we fail to teach them how to build generosity into their lives. Tithing is not Old Testament law – tithing comes before the law. Abel gave a pleasing offering, his gift pleased God. When Abraham rescued Lot, Melchizedek came and blessed him and so Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils – a tithe. Jacob said, if you will be my God and be with me then I will give you a tenth (a tithe) of everything I own. Tithing is not a law, its a principal of honor. Abraham honoured Melchizedek who was a type and shadow of Christ (see Hebrews). Jacob declared the tithe to be in honour to the God that would be ‘with him’.

    HERE’S THE KICKER: But because Israel forsook the Lord Moses had to TEACH them how to honor God. So the tithe which was already a principal of due honor was instituted as law to teach the immature children of Israel to honor God.

    How else do you teach people to become generous towards God without setting a bare minimum standard for giving?
    How else to we provide a platform for a demonstration of trust and belief in the the pastors and leaders of the local church if not by following the example of both Abraham and the Apostles – by laying our gifts to God at the feet of his priests/apostles?

    All this message does is give people an excuse not to honor God when they don’t “feel” like it. But honor should not be driven by emotion but by conviction. Hense David said, ‘Praise the Lord O y soul’ – because he knew his emotions weren’t lining up with the truth. God deserves our praise and our honor all the time. When we have much or little, when we are up or down, ‘I will but praise him’. Jesus was impressed by the faith of the widow – not by the large gift of the wealthy. Why? Because it’s about faith. We exercise faith in God to supply our needs by honouring him with the tithe – just as Jacob said, ‘if you will be with me then I will give you the tithe’. When we tithe, we confess our faith that God will be with us as he was with Jacob. Tithing teaching faith. Where your treasure is your heart will be also. Tithing teaching us to put our heart towards God. Tithing tests the heart of a worshipper. The only people who rebell against tithing are the ones who don’t desire to give to God in the first place. Why? because their heart is not towards God, it’s towards their own pocket and their own needs. Instead of trusting God, they trust in wealth. Instead of choosing to seek forst the Kingdom, to not worry & to trust God to ‘add unto them all that they need’ – they choose to put their trust in themselves and dishonour God.

    The result of teaching against tithing is in Malachi – God’s people begin to give half heartedly because they are undisciplined in the area of giving. They give carelessly without affection. They give flippantly without a desire or passion for the Kingdom of God. They give their left overs instead of their first fruits. The give what have at the end of the week instead of the start and in doing so the rob God. The word ‘rob’ used by Malachi means to ‘get around’ to ‘circumnavigate’ or to ‘avoid’ – When God’s people fail to tithe they are avoiding and getting around their proper response to honor and worship God whole heartedly. It has nothing to do with the money and everything to do with the heart of a worshipper. It is a complete lack of the Fear of the Lord that enables a person to dishonour God willingly.

    I agree that giving should be intentional. It should be cheerful. It should be spontaneous at times. It should be sacrificial. It should be deliberate. But I am gravely concerned that when we teach Gods people that they don’t have to tithe that we are setting them up for a rebellious life instead of a life of faith. Faith is something that is learned. It must be grown. It must be disciplined and practised by what we do says James. Tithing is God’s gift to us to teach us how to grow in faith through giving. When we tithe we confess our faith, we use our faith – especially when the 90% that is left is not much. But if a person cannot tithe regularly, faithfully, constantly & consistently how will they ever be generous on “all occasions” – let alone towards the God of heaven and His beloved Church.

    Tithing is the ground floor of giving. Then, we start to sell houses, give away cars, sell land and possessions… until the church is outrageously generous, we must teach the basics – giving 101 which is the tithe.

    • Hi Andrew, so, I’m guessing you tithe…….

      You raise some good points, but I don’t think Bernie is saying that we SHOULDN’T tithe. He is saying, that unless it’s done with a cheerful and generous heart, there’s no point. God is primarily concerned about the state of our heart. He doesn’t want to FORCE us to do anything we don’t want to do. Just as we come to God in repentance when we entrust our lives to Jesus WILLINGLY, so too, should we give because we WANT to, because we LOVE God, not because we HAVE to out of obligation.

      Giving out of obligation does not equal love.
      Willingness to give generously out of THANKFULNESS, to a God that
      has been OVER abundantly generous to US, through the gift of His Son- who endured humiliation, unthinkable torture and the excruciating pain of being separated by His Father while He endured the sins of the world for my sake and yours- I think that’s the kind of giving that God delights in.

      If a person is giving with these motives and that amount they CHOOSE to give is 10%, or even more, then God I’m sure would be delighted with that. If that amount given with the same motives, happens to be 5%, 3%, or 1%, I’m sure God would also be delighted with that. Yes, I agree with you that God can supply all of our needs and to give sacrificially is a good thing. But, it takes time to build faith and trust in God, when we don’t know Him very well (speaking about new and immature Christians). But I don’t think the answer is to tell them what they are OBLIGATED to do. I think the answer is to LEAD by EXAMPLE, not only in the way we give, but in the way we LOVE. If we show them love, teach them in love and guide in love, then they too will learn to love and give others love. We need to teach and show people love. Out of this love, will then flow generosity. It’s hard to love and give to others, when we ourselves have not been SHOWN by those teaching us what this LOOKS like practically on a day to day basis.

      God doesn’t need our money. God desires our LOVE. I think you’ll find if people TRULY LOVE Jesus, their giving will reflect that love.

      “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3).

      May God bless you Andrew and may you lead and teach whoever you do first and foremost, with love.

    • hi Andrew You are not alone in your perspective of tithing, all the years we have been made to see things like that, imagine i identify with your sentiments and had even booked an a session with my pastor to discuss the issue of tithing and today i read berni ‘s message and am satisfied.in galatians 3;21-25 the law was a school master to escort us to Jesus christ and bring us to faith.the law only makes us aware that we are going contrary to God,Before Moses God never told man that he was sinning but man still suffered the consequences of sin ,Since no-one kept the law God gave another law thru Jesus Christ whose blood on the cross completely satisfied the wrath of God
      May GOD bless you Andrew and may HE make you see Tithing from a different perspective. Hope we can share more as GOD leads

    • Andrew, are you are saying we cannot let people give willingly, we have to teach them giving as a duty (law), because we cannot trust them? That they wont discover the joy and purpose of giving in their own hearts as they mature?.

      Well why not make everybody use all their gifts 10% of the time as well. Or pray 10% of the time.

      The new testament covenant completely negates bondage to tithing. We don’t live under the law any more. Church leaders who teach a 10% tithe will need to explain that to God one day, as its not in the bible.

      I knew the tithe message was on shakey ground when I one day asked a senior pastor whether the 10% was pre or post income tax, being that I did not personally receive the untaxed amount, only the taxed amount. The answer was “Do as you feel led”. Which makes no sense.

      God does not need the money at all, He desires the heart, which is why Christ sacrificed himself instead of killing all his enemies.

      Lets face it, the 10% tithe mandate is a great way for an accountant type to run a church profitably. And look what has happened to the western church based on this model. Business people run them.

      I agree wholeheartedly with you Berni, I looked into this years ago and felt exactly the same way. I give, but willingly, not from duty, and more than just money.

    • Time to think….again! OT exists. It does seem just as the 10 commandments kept the Israelites in a heathen world – Rules existed to teach discipline. When confused about those extra requests and bequests – rest yourselves and don’t give because you have to.
      After my tithes are paid (my God allows me to give an agreed amount regularly as I am capable without my family going into “debt” -Rom 13:8 again another rule!) if & when the extra requests come, I give and I feel satisfied and comforted that God understands my giving. I am then not giving haphazardly and am not stressed nor do I feel guilty. So my tithe is not begrudged to God but done cheerfully. Anything that I give over and above is also very satisfying and not induced by guilt. No stress -all at peace. Being a disciple doesn’t mean slavery -discipline-“under obligation” Rom 6:17-19 but slaves “disciplined” unto righteousness. Freedom in Christ doesnt mean LAWLESSNESS. (Do Bible search for lawlessness and you will understand).

      So people! Andrew does have a thoughtful point.
      However, Berni makes a point too – see how easily communication towards a specific point alienates some of us against others. God has given us discernment to build and edify each other.
      If God is telling you HE UNDERSTANDS YOUR SITUATION then listen to Him. Rom 9:15-16. Not to the accuser Rom 16:17-18.
      Thank you Berni for talking to this concerning and sometimes heartwrenching topic. God bless you in Jesus who gave His all for us.

    • Andrew your logic is way off! You can certainly teach someone to give but why does it have to be 10%? Why not 5% or 15%? You’re still trying to justify tithing which can’t be justified after Jesus died & rose again. Tithing should never be recommended under any circumstances! You either believe in tithing or you don’t and it sounds like you do.

  24. Gosh – I’m grateful for this message so much but, belong to a church where they encourage Malachai 3:10 – I’m nervous – my heart is all for giving – we have 3 sponsor children and the 10% was crucial to me because I didn’t want to rob God and He promises protection and rebuke of the devourer – do I seek God now? that i’ve heard this? i give where led and make sure when i do – i do so with gratitude for all we have and gratefulness in my heart but 10% every week and month comes out of ‘any’ increase we get! at the same time we are also in financial need ourselves – i feel a bit confused Berni but am grateful for your message thank you – do i just seek God now and ask Him what He would have my husband and I do?

  25. Great message Berni. Yes, cheerful, not stingy; sacrificial, not legal; deliberate and planned, not haphazard. and a gift, not an obligation. 🙂

  26. Thank you, thank you for your message. I have always felt guilty when I haven’t been able to tithe thinking that I won’t be blessed. We had a difficult few months at the beginning of the year as my husband is a builter and the financial crisis has hit builders quite hard – no one’s building houses at the moment. Anyway I would scrape whatever I could that wasn’t bill money and tithe to our church because of the fear that things would get worse if I don’t. At least I can breathe easier when difficult times come knowing that I won’t be cursed if I don’t tithe my 10%.

  27. A very courageous topic! Tithing taught me how to give but I now know that the model taught is not Biblically sound. Abraham tithed in faith but it was only of the plunder not his own property. The tithe under Moses was to fund the nations social security system, a bit like our taxes but only 10%. A lot of struggling families live with the burden of paying normal tax plus another tenth to their church. Effectively removing 40% of their income. I don’t believe God wants to inflict hardship. How we invest our money (God’s money really) in the kingdom of God is a much better question for individuals to answer.

  28. Hi Berni,

    Very Very Very Well explained once again!!!

    What are we thinking sometimes??? (let’s read what God wants from us, and not what people wants from us)
    Do we really really think that the creator of the universe needs money?

    God doesn’t need or want money…, but our hearts…

    At the same time, all the money of the world couldn’t buy the holy spirit and salvation.

    If you give, and it doesn’t come from your heart, then it’s meaningless.

    Wonderful Post Berni.

    God Bless

    John

  29. Hi Berni,

    I love listening to your messages on UCB UK, and picked this up via Facebook. I was immediately interested to know what you had to say because I find your teaching very easy to understand.

    My understanding of what you’re saying is: 1. We’re under Grace not Law, 2. God loves a cheerful giver 3. It’s about giving from the heart not about the percentage (generosity not guilt). 4. This message isn’t letting us off the hook as far as giving is concerned, it’s about being tuned in to what God wants to do and enabling the church to do that through our giving

    Interestingly, when I’ve heard a sermon about tithing, it has usually been guilt inducing, it has usually been during a time of the church in question’s financial “struggle” (the savings account isn’t overflowing) and it has always been saying “You should give 10% of your salary”.

    My only question is why do churches still teach tithing in that way?

    • Thanks Cate. A good question indeed. My hunch is that many – if not most – of the people who preach that a Christian needs to tithe in order to be a good Christian – haven’t read the original text, or thought through its New Covenant implications.

      We just accept the view of tithing handed down to us – without really going back to what the Bible says. After all, it sounds about right – we’ve heard it so often. It’s so easy to do.

      And with all my heart, I believe that the consequences are tragic.

      Blessings,

      Berni

  30. Praise God!!! I have been a Christian for 11 years. 9 years of that, I have been in bondage to tithing, until God showed me that it was law and not grace. How we have twisted this freedom of choice to give, into a compulsion.
    I pray that people will read your msg with an open heart and finally find the freedom Jesus died to give us. Amen!
    Thank you Berni for this liberating msg! 🙂

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