Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What About Tithing?

I was having breakfast with some friends recently and this topic came up. It always seems to come up sooner or later. Here are my thoughts on it.

It is well known that the Hebrews in the Old Testament were commanded by God to tithe of their first fruits. The first and the best tenth went to God. It is also well known that nowhere in the New Testament is tithing commanded. To put it bluntly, Christians are not commanded by God to tithe. But we are given many guidelines in the New Testament about giving. Let me mention a few.

First, everything a Christian does, and I mean everything, is done for the glory of the Living God.

Second, our motivation as Christians is love for God. Love drives us not obligation.

Third, God loves a cheerful giver.

Fourth, money is a powerful idol. It is necessary in our society and therefore, it is hard for us to give it away.

There are more minor points about God's laborer being worthy of his pay and also of giving double honor to those who labor in the word on behalf of God's people.

When you put all this together, here is what I get. A Christian ought to give to support the work of the church and the furthering of the kingdom of God. This is reflected in our church covenant in the sentence that says "We engage therefore ... to contribute cheerfully and on a regular basis to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel to all nations."

A Christian ought to give as much as they are willing to give cheerfully and out of a true love for the Lord our God. I have always held that Christians ought to try to exceed the tithe because I don't think the Old Testament Hebrews should give more out of obligation than a Christian gives out of their love for God.

Is tithing commanded? No. Is it commended? Yes. How much ought a Christian give to God's work? As much as they can willingly and cheerfully give.

And that is what I think about tithing.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Russell Earl Kelly, PHD said...

Although I liked your overall article I would like to comment on few things.

Tithes are tenth-fruits, not first-fruits and are never equated with first-fruits in the Bible. See Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 26:1-10 and Nehemiah 10:35-38. Firstfruits were a very small token gift which could be carried in a small basket to the Temple. Tithes were always only food from inside Israel and were carreid first to the Levitical cities where 98% of those who ate them llived.

Tithes went to the Levites (and God) whether they were the best or not (Lev 27:30-34). Only the tenth of the tithe which was given by the Levites to the priests was to be the best tenth (Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:38).

“Our motivation as Christians is love for God. Love drives us not obligation.”

Great statement.

The “double honor” statement in First Timothy is in the context of discipline from 5:1-18. The church is to be double-careful when disciplining a leader.

"We engage therefore ... to contribute SACRIFICIALLY, GENEROUSLY, REGULARLY, cheerfully and AS a LOVE RESPONSE to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel to all nations."

You said: “I have always held that Christians ought to try to exceed the tithe because I don't think the Old Testament Hebrews should give more out of obligation than a Christian gives out of their love for God.”

You take tithing out of one Old Covenant hand and put it back into the other New Covenant hand. This is based on two false assumptions.

(1) That everybody in the OT was required to tithe. Actually only farmers and herdsmen inside Isreal were required to tithe. Because of the ‘double portion to the firstborn’ law most were pushed off farm-ownership in a few generations. And tithes were not received from pagans or pagn soil.
(2) That everybody did tithe. Actually craftsmen such as carpenters, fishermen and tentmakers had no miraculous increase from God’s hand to tithe.
(3) Therefore there is no such thing as a ukniversal tithing principle in the OT to be copied in the NT.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an issue that I am currently trying to sort through. You both offer food for thought. Thank you.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Kelly, I have never heard your latter points about who was required to tithe. Would you mind providing some further Scripture? Thank you.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Paul W. Foltz DD said...

Amen, My Brother, Amen. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

We are to give all we have to THE LORD. Tithing is not commanded to the Church. It may be a good place to start, but a bad place to stop in our giving.

The double honor has to do with esteeming and compensating the man of God, for his faithful labors.

Paul W. Foltz DD

7:54 AM  

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