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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

55. Why I Don't Believe Christians Should Tithe - Part 2

When I tell people that I don’t believe Christians should tithe, I’m often met with shocked and sometimes horrified expressions. Within the Evangelical world, it seems that tithing is equated with spiritual maturity. Not tithing is often presented as “robbing God”. Tithing is generally understood as returning 10% of one’s income back to God or God’s work, i.e. the local church. Many Christian leaders support tithing using the following verses: (For reference when I say the term “Believers” I mean Christians and use the terms interchangeably.)

This part 2 of 3. Please read the first part to this post series on tithing: Why I don’t Believe Christians Should Tithe – Part 1

3. Malachi 3:9-10 – The Nation of Israel was robbing God and not providing for the Levites

Many teachers and preachers have used Malachi 3:9-10 to scare people into giving to the local church. In context, verse 9 refers to the “whole nation” or the nation of Israel.  When Malachi was written (around 445 BC) Israel had rejected God and fallen into idolatry.  Remember from the previous point above God gave the tithes as a way for the tribe of Levi to live off of? So Israel wasn’t taking care of a whole tribe and neglecting the Temple of God! The storehouses here do NOT represent the NT local Church. That leads to a false teaching called “Replacement Theologywhich is a heretical teaching that all God’s promises to Israel are replaced as to the Church.

To me, it’s almost like some people want to bargain with God. Some say “Give to God’s work and you’ll be blessed.”  I don't see this happening in Scripture plus there's no guarantee of wealth in this life.  I think in some ways this passage in Malachi is no more relevant to the Church than the command to offer up animal sacrifices.  The storehouses mentioned in this passage were adjoining to the temple in Jerusalem where Jews and Gentiles alike brought their field produce and flocks for sacrifice.  The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans after several revolts by the Jewish people.  The temple of God is now the Believer and the Church is Christ's bride. 

Some even go so far as to say that if you don’t tithe God will cause you to get sick, loose jobs, lose money, incur doctor bills, and incur hospital bills.  As if God would curse Christians who don't give 10% or more.

Spurgeon put it this way 

God never punishes his children in the sense of avenging justice: he chastens as a father does his child, but he never punishes his redeemed as a judge does a criminal. It would be unjust to exact punishment from redeemed souls since Christ has been punished in their place. How can the Lord punish twice for one offense? If Christ took my sins and stood as my substitute, then there is no wrath of God for me; and though my cup may be bitter, yet there cannot be a single drop of Almighty wrath in it…

Oh! what a mercy that Sinai has ceased to thunder! Lord, let Jesus say what he will so long as Moses is quieted forever.

~CH Spurgeon, Sermon: Why Do Bad Things Happen? 1864

4. Matthew 23 – Woes to Scribes and Pharisees (Jews)

Remember too that in Matthew 23 Jesus was pronouncing woes to Jews - Scribes and Pharisees. These particular Jews weren't Believers but were trying to earn their salvation through the law and doing good works. Jesus particularly in verse 23 was pointing out that the Scribes and Pharisees were tithing (works) but there wasn't heart change (justice, mercy, heart change). Jesus was pointing out the Scribes and Pharisees holiness was just lip service from sinners and not true worship towards God from someone who was redeemed - they needed a Savior.

So this passage speaks to non-Believers (non-Christians) and not Believers (Christians). 

The Scribes and Pharisees were trying to earn their salvation through the law. Notice Jesus never mentions the tithe to His Apostles or disciples. Notice Paul or nor any other NT writers ever command Believers (Christians) to tithe. The command is always to give and give joyfully to God’s work.

The Bible also has a lot to say about giving. This will be part 3:
5. We are not under the Law, but under Grace
6. 2 Cor. 9:7 and Matt. 6:3 Believers Give Joyfully and Secretly
7. Eternal Rewards and Who to Give to?

I’d like to again say that I do believe there is a clear command in Scripture to give joyfully to God’s work (which is primarily the local Church) as people are led by God and are able – whether that’s 1%, 10%, 15%, or more.

I’d like to re-emphasize I understand that there are differing viewpoints on this topic. In my extensive study of Scripture on this topic, these are my conclusions. I am open to feedback and know that I still have much to learn. I think we should be Bereans, searching the Scriptures for ourselves instead of blindly accepting what other people teach. That said, this is not a salvation issue, and I can agree to disagree if someone sees it differently.