I am the author of five books. Four of them deal with religion.
I am not a novice when it comes to reading and understanding God's word. I have been taught in many churches, that tithing is mandated by God for Christians.
I have discovered, however, that tithing, or giving the firstfruits (in this case, ten percent) of your wages or any other income, is not mandated...unless you are Jewish.
In one of my books - Heaven - How Do I Get There?, I devoted an entire chapter (chapter nine) to tithing....and I entitled the chapter -"GIVING - A SOURCE OF IRRITATION?
One has only to study the Book of Acts to know that the firt Christian church on the planet, having about 15,000 members (5,000 men) NEVER speaks of tithing. They had different methids of financing the church and getting the Gospel of Christ out into the community.
Tithing came about when it was mandated that the Jews give ten percent of all they would possess (flocks, fruits, vegetables, money, investments, whatever) to provide for the Levites - one of the twelve tribes of Israel, because the Levites were chosen to operate the temple of God...or as my Jewish friends spell it...G-d.
This tribe of Levites (temple priests and overseers) were not to work for money, they were not to possess things, so it became a law that all other Jews would "tithe".
Before tithing became part of the Mosaic law, there were two instances of people giving ten percent of their abundance (spoils) either to God or to one of God's priests or prophets.
Abraham gave ten percent and Jacob gave ten percent. How that came about was strictly a heart issue...as giving should be today for non-Jews.
Abraham was given spoils from a victory he had when he chased people who kidnapped Lot, his nephew, and Lot's family. Genesis 14 gives the account. " Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most Hgh, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Abraham gave the King of Salem, Melchizedek, ten percent of all that God had blessed him with when he took the possessions or spoils of Kedorlaomer king of Elam...the one who kidnapped Lot and his family.
Abraham appreciated what God had done for him, and he chose to give one tenth of all that God had put into his hands - "The increase".....to God's high priest, Melchizedek. This was not a mandate...it was done from a heart of gratitude.
Later, Abraham's grandson, Jacob, gave a tenth of his spoils as well. This likely happened because he would have heard grandpa Abraham tell the story of how he gave a tenth to Melchizedek.
Genesis 28 tells the story, but let's concentrate on the "deal" he made with God after a victory. "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
After those two occasions, it became law (under Moses) for the Jews to support God's house - the Temple, with ten-percent of the increase that came into their possession...all the days of their lives.
This ten percent, also called the firstfruits of their labor, or possessions of animals, birds, vegetables...any increase God put into their hands, was to support the Levite priests in the Temple.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. His grace would be sufficient to the new "elect", which is to say those who would now follow Christ.
Jesus gave us two commandments....and they would replace the Mosaic Laws that condemn people...meaning no human could keep the Law of Moses - The Ten Commandments.
Jesus pointed out that we are to (1) Love God, and (2) Love our neighbors as we love and take care of ourselves.
Jesus taught us to evaluate our motives for serving Him. What are our motives for going to church? Do we attend because it is mandated, or do we attend because we want to revere and worship God, our Creator? Do we give money to the church or to God from a heart of gratitude...or because someone told us we have to?
In Heaven-How Do I Get There and in another book I am completing - Satan's Games, I have spelled out why we are to give money to the church (for God's use and to accomplish His will), and I prove out - in much greater detail - using the Bible, that tithing is for Jews only.
Some will argue that Jesus told the Pharisees, in the New Testament, that they should continue to tithe and obey the weightier matters of the Law...and this is true. Always look at whom Jesus was speaking to. In this case He was speaking to the Jewish Pharisees....not the "goys", or non-Jews.
Some will say that the apostle Paul said that he paid tithes, and this is correct. Paul was a Jew. He was a Pharisee, actually. He was mandated to give "alms" to his nation...just like he quoted in Acts 24:17 - "Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation (Israel), and offerings."
The "alms" was mandated because, as a Jew, Paul had to maintain the Jewish Mosaic Laws...and still be a follower (actually the 12th appointed apostle)of Christ. His "offerings" were voluntary. Nowhere else in the New Testament...aka "New Covenant" does anyone give a tenth of their increase.
In fact, Jesus tells us, through His apostle, Paul, and I elaborate on it in my books, "Upon the first day of the week (Sunday) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him..." There is no set amount...no 10% mandate. Giving is strictly a heart issue...as is everything we do for Christ.
We are told to bring in our money "as God has prospered us", or "given to us an increase" (over what we already have or need to pay our obligations), but does not specify an amount. He specifies no amounts because it is a heart issue now....not a mandate.
I will say this - because it needs to be said: "I BELIEVE THAT CHURCHES SUFFER FROM AN INABILITY TO EXTEND THE GOSPEL INTO THEIR COMMUNITIES, INTO THEIR REGIONS, AND INTO THE WORLD -BECAUSE THEY RESTRICT GIVING TO ONLY TEN PERCENT." I will follow up on this statement shortly.
We are told "Not to give grudgingly or sparingly"...do not give out of necessity (meaning,I have to do this), but give out of a cheerful heart...an amount that you feel is right, and one that God lays upon your heart to give.
Now, just so I don't get a thousand hate letters from people, including theologians, I do believe that the Old Testament Laws given to the Jews could be a guideline for non-Jews.
My heart suggests that the church still needs a certain amount of money to pay staff and operate. To me, that amount may very well be the guideline shown to the Jews for operating THEIR Temple.
We know that ten percent of the firstfruits of their increase was apparently the amount needed to operate the facility and take care of the staff. Tables of stone cost a lot of money in those days! Today, we need faxes, computers....you name it, and God knows that a certain amount of money is needed to run the facilities. Unfortunately, man has restricted that amount to be given to ten percent. God gives us the power to get wealth....it says so in His word. He wants us to give to support the facilities, but beyond that, He wants us to win souls, and many churches have cut back their outreach ministries - BECAUSE THEY RESTRICT GIVING TO A MAXIMUM OF TEN PERCENT.
I say they are restricting the way God wants us to give because once you set a percentage of one's resources, they hear 10% MAXIMUM.
Why not give 20% - 40% 90% of your increase that God places into your hands so your church can have missionaries in their budgets once again...or feed the poor and hungry, or widows, or orphans in the community...like churches once did?
There is no mandate. There is no rule. There is no robbery of God by non-Jews who don't pay a "tithe" to their church. (Yet, they are taught, "It is robbery for anyone to withhold ten percent...see Malachi chapter 3:8 - "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. You have to ask, WHO ARE THE YE that is spoken of here?
"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." EVEN THIS WHOLE NATION OF ISRAEL are the YE spoken of in Malachi...and everywhere else in the Old Testament.
"Bring ye (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.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you (YE - ISRAEL) blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts."
All of this was written to the Jews....the NATION of Israel.
After Christ came to the earth, and His ministry began, Gentiles (and some Jews) in the New Testament era became followers of Christ's teachings - They were called "Christians".
Today, the word "Christian" to many means non-Jews, and this is the furthest thing from the truth. Christians are followers of Christ and His teachings...the Bible.
When Christians give their money to God (meaning to do two things: (1) support the church, pastor, staff, utilities, etc. and (2) do God's will, which is "that all should come to repentance and be saved", our hearts should then begin to tell us that we need to give an amount necessary to operate the church, and to provide money to see that God's will is done...the latter having more significance.
Ten percent of the increase that a congregation is blessed with during the week may indeed be what a typical church needs to operate, but I dare say (and believe) that people would, once they understand what a soul is worth to God, and understand the principles of giving, give far more than the mandated ten percent.
My own preacher teaches tithing. He was taught this way in Bible school. One day, he told of a story about how he learned to give ten percent of his income. He was blessed...but he didn't indicate that he was finding some favor with God because he tithed all of a sudden.
I will say that I KNOW that God would take care of his needs because he gave ten percent, which...according to Old Testament Jewish practice under Mosaic Law, was just enough to basically operate the Temple (church) and no more.
One day, he said, he received a very large inheritance. He looked at the inheritance (which to me was a gift from God), and said, "Wow, if I give the whole ten percent, it will be the largest check I've ever written to a church" And he said he gave the ten percent.
Do you see how even the preacher believed he was mandated to give ten percent - as a maximum?
My immediate feeling, knowing what I now know, is this: If this large fortune was a gift from God, and totally unexpected, why did he feel that ten percent was the mandate? Why would he not have been challenged to give 50% of it...or 90%? Imagine how that extra money would have helped spread the good news that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!
His training, unfortunately, may very well be stifling the outreach ministry of the church...as I feel this mandated tithe is stifling the growth of many a church.
As the day of the end of times (spoken of in my book, America's Two Holy Wars - available in the e-book section now) approaches, and these days may start in 2012 and conclude mid-year 2015, should we not be about the Master's business and get closer to where God's heart is...which is "All should come to repentance and be saved?"
I sense that God wants us to give as Jesus suggested in two places in the Bible:
Luke 6:38 tels us to "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
This verse tells us to give, and God will continue to bless us financially, so we can continue to give more to His work. He then tells us, in this verse, that the amount (measure) which we give...it will be given back to us...only in a larger measure.
In one other verse, I can wrap up (and hopefully convince all) how we are to give:
2 Corinthians 9:6 - "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."
The formula for success is to give generously. When we measure out the money generously, God is obligated to give us back generous amounts of money because He can trust you with more.
He wants us to win souls in our churches. He does NOT want to mandate or restrict giving to just 10%.
Why not give God 20% of what he puts into your hands? Why not 90% of your increase for that week?
I believe that churches suffer from money problems BECAUSE they restrict their members to the number of ten percent...gross or net.
When we are told to give ten percent of some amount, and theologians argue whether it is gross or net, it is then a mandate - a law...a rule...LEGALISM, if you will, and it becomes money that is given out of necessity (frowned upon my Jesus), and the "folk" are restricted to only give ten percent. Jesus told us NOT to give out of necessity...not to give as a rule, mandate or law.
I would be willing to bet that if churches developed the true reasons for giving, which is to support the church,and to give more to win souls into the kingdom of Heaven, which is God's will, then churches would be growing....not shrinking.
God loves (and blesses) a cheerful giver.
John Tyler, Author
Be sure to visit www.ChristianDailyBread.com
P.S. In my book, I ask readers to work out a budget (and how they can do it) so they can reduce their massive debts...including 29% interest on credit card debts.Once we reduce our DAILY BREAD NEEDS to a break-even figure, we can give 10-20-40-50-90% of our INCREASE back to Him who trusted us with His money in the first place.
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