This is the sermon for Sunday, January 24th, 2010.
Faith Foundations part 10
What about Tithes and Offerings?
One of the most controversial subjects in the church world today is the subject of Tithes and Offerings. I will admit, that there are many a preacher, especially the televised ones that seem to be overly focused on tithes and offerings.
Then there are those who believe that you shouldn’t tithe today at all.
Then there are those like myself who doesn’t really like to touch the subject because of the abuses on both sides of the argument.
What is the correct understanding for Tithes and Offerings? Are believers in Christ expected to tithe today, and if not, be under a curse? Or are we expected to just give whenever we have money? Is the New Testament silent on the subject of tithing, as some people claim?
Well, hopefully we will answer a few of these questions in this sermon.
Let’s begin looking into this subject of tithes and offerings.
When was tithing first mentioned in Scripture?
A lot of people will tell you that tithing was first mentioned in the Law, and now since we are no longer under the law we do not have to tithe.
Well, before we get into the subject of do we have to tithe or not, let’s first cover when tithing was first mentioned.
It was actually mentioned before the Law was ever given. So the concept of tithing is older than the Law and came first outside of the Law.
Genesis 14:17-20 ESV – 17After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
This is the first mention of someone giving a Tithe. Abram had returned from rescuing Lot and all the captives of Sodom. Melchizedek was King of Salem (Modern day Jerusalem). He was also a priest of God Most High. Melchizedek pronounces a blessing over Abram, and Abram honors God by giving Him a tenth of everything. He gave God this tithe by offering it to His priest – Melchizedek.
Now notice, there is no law mentioned here. Abraham just did it as an act of worship to God.
This is really my biggest gripe against those who feel that there isn’t a biblical law to tithe. Whether there is one or not, is really immaterial to me. What is important is worshiping and honoring our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the ways we honor Him is by worshiping Him in our giving. So instead of giving grudgingly, or thinking you don’t have to give a tithe, give Him one simply because He deserves our worship and honor Him with it. A tithe is a good place to start.
Now let’s look at what the Tithe actually is.
Tithe means, “tenth.”
Deuteronomy 14:22-27 ESV – 22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.
Now this passage was written to the children of Israel as they were in the Sinai desert.
Let’s look at a few things mentioned concerning the tithe in this passage:
- A tithe of the yield that comes from the farming.
- A tithe of grain.
- A tithe of wine.
- A tithe of oil.
- Firstborn of your herd and flock.
- The purpose: that they may learn to fear the LORD.
- If you are not able to carry the tithe, change it for money.
- Spend the money on whatever you desire, and eat it before the Lord and rejoice.
- Don’t neglect the priests who ministers, because they don’t have any portions.
So it is a tenth of all these things. Now in our culture we don’t barter with grain, wine, oil, and cattle. We use cash. So a tithe today would be a tenth of all income, gifts, and monies coming in.
Now let’s look at another important question that many people have.
If we do not tithe, are we placed under a curse?
Malachi 3:8-12 ESV – 8Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
Now let me first state that I have been to many a service where people were scared to death into giving of their tithes and offerings because of this passage. They were afraid if they didn’t, that even though they may be believers, they would be under a curse.
I’ve also heard the argument from the pulpit that since God says we are robbing Him of tithes and offerings, if you don’t give your tithes and offerings, you are a thief and the bible says that thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God. So if you don’t give, you will lose your salvation. Is this statement true?
What I’m about to say scares a lot of Pastors, especially myself, but we got to be honest with the text.
Just who was this text written to? Well, a clue can be found in verse 9, “the whole nation of you.” It is none other than the nation of Judah, God’s chosen people.
He has set apart the priests and the Levites with no portion, other than Him, and the nation was to support them by the giving of their tithes and offerings. By them not giving the tithe, they were robbing God of His way of caring for His ministers.
Now, is there a New Testament precedent for supporting those in ministry today? Let’s look.
1Timothy 5:17-18 ESV – 17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
The phrase “double honor” in the text is talking about pay. It means that those Elders, who preach and teach God’s Word should be paid for it. Now we are not talking about getting rich on preaching, but they should be paid enough to live. Notice the phrase, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
Are we still under a curse?
Galatians 3:10-14 ESV – 10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
According to this passage, if you are trying to earn favor with God by doing works of the Law, and one of them is tithing, then you are under a curse.
Christ redeemed us from every curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. This includes the curse in Malachi.
Let’s move on.
Does the New Testament mention tithing?
There are many who say that the New Testament never mentions tithing, so therefore, we should not tithe. But this is not true, because the New Testament does mention tithing.
Matthew 23:23 ESV – 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Actually, the New Testament mentions tithing 8 times. This one though is the one I want to focus on. Jesus is talking to the Scribes and Pharisees. He states the fact that they tithe, but they have neglected the most important aspects of the law: Justice and mercy and faithfulness. Notice His next words: “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” He doesn’t say it is one or the other, but that they should be doing both the tithing and the more important aspects of the Law.
The New Testament does not give us a principle that we should tithe today. This is true. However, neither does the New Testament say that we shouldn’t do it either.
This leads us to our final point.
The New Testament principle for giving.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 ESV – 1Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Facts from this passage:
- It is called the collection for the saints. While you may not necessarily receive a dime from your giving, you will receive benefits by giving to the local body of Christ. Some of those benefits are: a building, lights, and water, Sunday School Material, a Pastor leading full time, opportunities for service, fellowship etc…
- This collection is to be taken on the first day of the week. Sunday.
- Each person is to set aside, or store up, as he has been prospered for the collection throughout the week. A good place for everyone to start is the tithe. Again, not as a law, but as an act of worship to God for saving you. If you can give more than the tithe, then I would encourage you to do so. If you are struggling and cannot tithe, then I’d encourage you to pray to the Lord and just give until you are able to tithe, as long as you are not spending all your money on your selfishness.
We are going to end here. I hope that this has answered your questions, and hopefully will put it in your heart to be a giver of your tithes and offerings.
Should a believer have to tithe? That is the incorrect way of looking at it. The correct way of thinking is we get to worship the Lord through what He has blessed and prospered us with. Not only that, we get to support the local ministry within the church.
I want to close with what our attitude for giving should be.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ESV – 6The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.