It seems like a simple enough question, but the answer causes controversy every day of the week in churches and ministries everywhere. That's because for some, it's all about keeping the money coming in and trusting in the support of their congregation and ministry members, rather than God. For others, it's about failing to understand the teachings about giving found in the Word of God.
Those who support tithing as a means of giving for Christians fall into the trap of bringing Believers back under the Old Covenant and the law. Let's examine the verses that we hear dozens of times a day on religious programs which are broadcast in all formats all over the world:
"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."
- Malachi 3:8-10 (KJV)
These verses are a message to Jacob (the Nation of Israel) and refer to a time under the law (the Old Covenant). They are not directed to Christians living under the New Covenant. That's not to say that God will not bless any and all offerings in the same manner that he promised to bless the tithes that the people of Israel were commanded to give. It is to say that Christians are held to a new standard.
The Bible gives us a perfect example of Christian giving in I Corinthians 16:1-2 (KJV):
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
The Apostle Paul could not have made it clearer. We are to give as God has prospered us. That means some people will be expected to give more than ten percent, others probably less. A tithe, or percentage, becomes somewhat meaningless under these circumstances and the information provided to us by Paul, who is most certainly speaking to Christians under the New Covenant.
So then WHY do so many churches and ministries hold on to the tithe as a standard of giving? For some, it's tradition. For others it's either Biblical ignorance or (especially television and radio ministries), it's greed. They use the Old Testament system of tithing to promote the idea of SEED FAITH giving. That idea teaches that 'we need to have the faith to plant a seed in order to reap a harvest.' Supporters of Seed Faith giving also point out that we cannot out give God, but these ministries won't mind if you try!
Ministries that teach Seed Faith giving teach their followers the unbiblical concept that says, 'If you want something from God, you have to give him something first as a show of faith.' As if money will satisfy the Creator of all things! Let's look at what God says he really wants from us.
In I Samuel, Chapter 15, we find King Saul and the people of Israel ordered by the Prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekite people and all their possessions (which included their livestock). When Samuel comes to see if the commandment of the Lord has been carried out, he is surprised to find King Agag of the Amalekite people and some of their choice animals still alive. When he confronts King Saul about it, Saul's excuse was that he saved the choice animals to be used as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Samuel explained to Saul that the decision to save Agag and some of the choice animals of the Amalekite people alive was not one for him to make. God had already spoken on the matter and Samuel delivered that message very clearly to Saul. Because of his disobedience, Saul would be removed as King of Israel. Samuel sums up Saul's error and explains that if God wanted sacrifices from among the animals of the Amalekite people, he would have asked for them. What he really wanted was for King Saul and the people of Israel to obey him. This is made clear in I Samuel 15:22 (KJV):
"And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
Those who support the false teaching of Seed Faith giving conveniently ignore the fact that just sending them money will not insure that the Giver will receive what he or she is seeking from the Lord. Giving is part of obedience to God, but it is not a stand-alone teaching. The Giver has to be obedient to the Lord and well on their way along the path of doing all the things that God has commanded people to do. These include being born again, getting baptized, joining and supporting a Bible-believing local church and serving the Lord by sharing the gospel with others.
One night I was watching a TV show on a religious TV network. The TV preacher was promoting a new ministry that was supposed to add power to their ministry of presenting the gospel twenty-four hours a day to the world. He wanted people to send him as little as ten dollars to support it. If they didn't have ten dollars, they were supposed to go and borrow it from their neighbors. He was certain that God would give it back to them with interest.
God is NOT a money broker and Heaven is not a Payday Loan store! We are not supposed to give expecting anything back. God has already promised to take care of us if we obey him:
"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you."
- Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
The message that Jesus gave to his disciples clearly points out that we are not to concern ourselves with constantly seeking after things, or worry about receiving the basic necessities of life. This is what the world does. Worldly people are not interested in the things of God and, therefore, have no one to trust in for their daily needs except themselves. Those who do have what they need are constantly obsessed with getting more. Jesus gives us a terrific example of this in Luke 12:16-21 (KJV):
"And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
The rich man in the Parable that Jesus shared with his disciples was all about getting MORE and there is little doubt that he was a good businessman. He was certainly successful as the world sees success. However, he forgot to include God in the matters of his daily life. He took care of himself, but wasn't "rich toward God." Jesus wasn't talking about money there, he was speaking about seeking and obeying God.
The Lord doesn't say that he will take care of us if we give him ten percent of our income. The question of how much Christians are to give has already been answered by the Apostle Paul who says we are to give as God has prospered us. God will take care of us as long as we place our lives in his hands through belief and obedience. Remember the lesson that cost Saul the crown of Israel, to OBEY is better than SACRIFICE.
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