Tithe or die

“It takes a special kind of con-artist to get rich by selling people an invisible product for 10% of their income that they can’t see until after they die” – Source unknown.

The issue about tithing is a controversial topic. Most leaders and heads of churches believe that a practicing Christian must pay tithes. However, there are other views that Christians should not pay tithes. Both sides agree that the Bible makes their side of the argument clear, but its interpretation is where the confusion lies.

Tithing is a Jewish practice with clear explanation in the Mosiac Law. The first reference of it is however in the Book of Genesis (14), predating the Mosiac Law.  Gen 14:17-20: “At the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand’. And he gave him a tithe of all”.

A critical analysis of the verse before this shows that the “everything” mentioned here did not belong to Abram. It was the property of other people, including Abram’s nephew Lot, who was captured by the armies of the kings. Abram gave away ten percent of other people’s captured goods, as thanksgiving offering to God on behalf of the people who had been miraculously rescued.

In addition to this, the tithe practices here were not by command but by Abram’s free will. It is important to note that Abram was not instructed by God to give a tenth.  The next person who is mentioned in relation to the subject of tithing is Jacob (Gen 28:20 – 22).

Further in the Books of Moses, there are several references on the subject of tithing in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. According to some Christians, it was established by God as one of the commandments, along with many others, for the duration of the Old Covenant period; thereby making the practice a non-Christian act. It was instituted by God in the Bible as a provision for the Ecclesiastic system of the Jews in the days of Moses. Tithing was to provide for the Priests and the Levites as their sustenance.

Is tithing relevant for today’s Christian?

Tithing was still practiced in Jesus’ ministry on Earth (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42) for the simple reason Israel was under the law. The only time Jesus mentioned the tithe was a rebuke to the religious leaders.  An extensive study of the bible indicates that each time the word tithe or tithes appears in the New Testament, it is in reference to the Old Testament law they were under.

Under the Old covenant, God promised blessings for Israel’s obedience to the commandments and curses for their disobedience to the commandments. In the New Testament, once the new covenant is established to tithe is being disobedient, to give freely is being obedient. Hence, there is no ‘commandment’ to tithe in the New Testament; no example of any Christian tithing. and the only mention of the subject is in the clear context of Old Covenant people and practices.

There is no disputing the fact that it is God’s desire that his work be provided for. It is incumbent on Christians to give a part of their income to wherever they fellowship to support it or the people working full time for the church.  Even though God demands this from us, He doesn’t state that it should ten percent. Offering of anything to the church must be given freely from the heart.

The manner in which tithe is demanded from today’s Christian is the issue people are not comfortable with. It has now become coersive, with veilled threats of misfortune happening to you if you don’t pay your tithe.  There’s also the aspect of shaming non-tithe payers that does not conform with the Church Christ established on Earth.

Tithe payers in most churches are asked to stand before the congregation for special prayers, and in the process shaming the rest for not upholding the church’s expectation.  They condemn the people for not being obedient, and basically spiritually abuse them. As to whether such shaming is intentional or not, it is time we analyses the act; what purpose does it serve to separate these people and offer them special prayers, centred on more blessings for them? Why the segregation of wealth-blessings in God’s house?

Another thing that should be explained is the issuance of receipts when you pay your tithes. What is the reasoning behind this? Church members are required to pay church dues yearly. This is different from the tithes they are to pay monthly. Church dues are supposed to be used to support running the church. Receipts are issued for church dues to indicate you are a member of the church in the event you are facing difficulties. But keeping records of your offering to God is truly baffling.  What need does such an act serve? Will you need to show this to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates in order to enter heaven?

The systematic offering of a given ‘percentage’ is indeed nowhere instructed in the pages of the New Testament, but it nonetheless has a lot to say about the subject of ‘giving’.  There is no debate about the fact that we are to give material goods to the church, but there is a need to analyse the principles which govern New Testament Christian giving.

A majority of churches practice tithing more as principle. It may be a matter of semantics when they collect tithes and offerings. What is often meant is that they are making a distinction between regular support of the local church and giving more as one has been blessed. The Bible is clear that we should give to God’s work, but not because we are obligated to keep a tithing law.

We should support ministries, big or small, but we need to look into how the money is actually being spent. We are supposed to be servants, not live like kings. Pause and think about it; go to the Scripture to see how the apostles lived and what they taught the church.

“Religion is a practice which has for its subject incomprehensible things. Unlike everything else, it occupies itself with things unseen. In this realm, light is darkness, evidence becomes doubtful or false; the impossible becomes credible, reason is an unfaithful guide and common-sense is considered to be delirious.” – Jean Meslier

Article By: Audrey Zunuo Maasodong

Email: audmaasodong@gmail.com