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Note: I wrote the following in response to an article on a social media platform (November 2019) which stated that tithe is not applicable in the New Testament, and it also emphasized that Old Testament saints never paid their tithes in form of money but instead gave their farm produce.
I have been a Bible student from the age of near 12 (come January, I’ll be 72), and have studied what Christianity believes in. When it comes to tithing, many who argue against it are those who are not pastors. They might be preachers as they called themselves, and most have a secure job. Yes, there are a few pastors who preach against tithing, only because they have a secure job and/or perhaps even have a farm that provide their family food. If these pastors are called of God and ordained into a full time ministry in which they would spend much of the time ministering the Word, and ministering to the Lord in prayer, would they have time for secular work? Of course, some may say YES. That I leave to you to have your own opinion and argument over the kind of Gospel minister many of them would make (I know of pastors who hurriedly prepare their Sunday sermon at the last minute on Saturday because of their secular job).
Truly, TITHING has been mis-taught and MONEY misused by covetous pastors and preachers for their own belly. To say that TITHING is not taught in the New Testament Church is true. There is no teaching on the subject. So, then how are the pastors supported? What will keep a pastor and his family alive? Prayers, water and air alone?
The Church started with Jewish converts. They had their own collection of money, a tithe. To say that minted coins were not used, is foolish thinking. Many self-proclaimed preachers are guilty of that; they think they know what they do not know; they are very presumptuous indeed. Now, the collection helped in spreading the Word. Of course, Peter and those disciples of Christ who were fishers could go fish and feed their families. But when it came time that they had to travel far and wide, were there no support for them and their families while they were away? Did all the expenses come from the apostles’ own pockets?
The Levitical Priesthood, those chosen were Aaron and his sons, to serve in the Tabernacle or Temple before the LORD. They had no inheritance, except God Himself. God was their source of sustenance (Read Deu.18:1-8; Num.18).
The Law was then given to Israel to PAY a tenth part of whatever came into their hands. That’s the Law — PAY! But wait a minute, did Abraham PAY? Or did he GIVE? Abraham was never under the Law. He was the first to GIVE A TENTH of what God had given him in his victory over the four kings who took his nephew Lot. God did not asked Abraham for it. Abraham just gave it back to the LORD who had so graciously blessed him. Ha! Abraham’s natural descendants were not like him. They were rebellious in many ways, and hence when the LAW was given at Mt. Sinai, then came the law of PAYING TITHES. PAY! Those who did not pay were under a curse.
Now, we are not under the LAW but under GRACE. Praise the LORD! So, we do not have to PAY! Wonderful!
Hmm…which is greater: Law or Grace? If Abraham be our Father of the Faith, how can we behave as FOOLS to say that we are not under the Law to excuse ourselves from TITHING? And even to say that the Apostles did not teach Tithing? Granted, yes, it’s true, they did not teach Tithing. Of course, BECAUSE Abraham DID NOT PAY TITHE, HE DID NOT TITHE; HE GAVE A TITHE. He could have given the LORD two tithes, or even three tithes of all that he had. Isn’t it? So, the usage of the word “TITHING” is a misnomer. IT IS ABOUT GIVING. Abraham GAVE ten percent; he could have given twenty percent or even thirty percent. (We should be glad that he gave only ten percent, otherwise many more believers will grumble.)
Jesus and the Apostles taught about GIVING. We are not forced into keeping a Law/Commandment. It should be as what Abraham did, if we be his children of the Faith. Freely we receive, freely we give. The more we give, the more we receive; the more we receive, the more we give. If Grace be greater than the Law, then our GIVING should surpass the LAW in giving — of ten percent.
So, CHOOSE — to give a tenth or not…it’s your
choice. It’s no use arguing and debating about TITHING/GIVING —
whether it was or was not taught in the New Testament. There is
none so blind as he who refuses to see.
The Blessing of Tithing
As I have said, TITHING is a misnomer. Tithe means a tenth part, ten percent, of what comes into one’s hands. Christians do know that it means paying or giving ten percent of their wages to the church where they worship. Depending on how they are taught, and because of the religious usage of the word for generations, most Christians think that they are PAYING a tenth part of their wages to the church. Surely, overtime, some Christians or members of churches would show their displeasure for they feel that ten percent of what they earned is a lot of money. So, they might find ways to justify not to part that amount of money to the church; excuses are aplenty.
A reality I have come to notice in my earlier years of missionary trips to the Philippines, India and Africa, is that TITHING, or I should say “GIVING A TENTH PART”, was hardly taught, or worse, erroneously taught. Yes, I have noticed that some pastors were nagging at their sheep as if the sheep were criminals who had robbed God and them (the pastors). Then there were the pastors who felt not to preach on the subject because they felt that by so teaching the subject would make them look like beggars.
Now, pastors who do not teach the subject to the congregation are robbing them of God’s blessings.
In 1982, I was invited to teach at a church convention in Butuan City, Philippines. The church had been around for a good number of years before I was invited there. I discerned a problem in that church; many of the believers were not giving. I was led to teach on the subject of GIVING. Of course, the word TITHING was used because we are so used to the word.
After the service was over, a small group of believers, men and women, gathered around me. A question was posted to me. “Bro Gan, I earn only 3,000 pesos a month. For me to give 300 pesos is a lot of money.”
I replied, “As long as you refuse to give what belongs to the Lord, that 300 pesos, then for the rest of your life you will continue to earn that wages of only 3,000 pesos a month. I challenge you to give and see if God will not bless you.”
On the last day of that convention, I gave the church an open challenge on giving no less than a tenth of what they had every month. I pointed out to them about the condition of their neglected church building. There was a service one morning and when it rained, rain drops were coming down from the holes in the roof. Pots and pails were brought out to contain the rain drops as much as possible, for the floor was just plain earth and mud. The wooden walls were old and in bad shapes. I told the church that I would contribute US$100 to have them put concrete on the floor, and that it would be up to them to have the roof and walls fixed. Well, many were nodding their heads in approval.
The following year I returned to the same church to find a concrete floor, a new roof and new boards for the walls. They were many happy faces. Then something happened that I least expected. After the first service, and away from most of the congregation, an elderly sister came up to shake my hand; I felt something in my palm where our hands met. I knew what it was, and I quietly said to her, “Sister, I don’t need it. You need it more than I do.” She said, “Bro Gan, I have been blessed by your teachings. I believe what you taught, and God have blessed me.” I was humbled by her offering.
The following years, in each of my almost yearly trip to the church, I noticed the building was enlarged and the Faith of the believers was built up.
Those unhappy Bible believers who PAY tithes (by a force of law/by a nagging pastor) to the church are under a curse. God hates murmuring. Those Bible believers, who know to GIVE tithes to the Lord and refuse to do so, and even murmur, are also under a curse. God hates murmuring. Many give to churches which propagate false doctrines, or to pastors and preachers who are just self-styled, self-ordained, who have no anointing to handle the Word, but go about spreading false doctrines, lies, and casting words of doubts and controversies over doctrines. It is important to know what, where and how your giving is being used.
“What about those who cannot but give, perhaps, only five percent?” Simply, YOU GIVE AS YOU LIKE; YOU GIVE AS YOU WANT; YOU GIVE AS YOU FEEL; etc. But anything less than ten percent is FAITHLESS GIVING. Am I talking nonsense? Look at this widow in Mark 12:42-44:
“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living”.
Question: Was the widow in her giving gave under the LAW? Notice, she gave two mites. If two mites was a tenth part in her giving, then she must have eighteen mites or nine farthings left in her possession. But Jesus said, she gave all that she had. That’s the Faith of God in her.
Well, some might say that her casting of one farthing into the treasury had nothing to do with TITHING. Granted, tithing, offering, or giving, what difference does it make? The fact is: she GAVE HER ALL.
When a believer truly has the Faith of Abraham, and freely gives a tenth and more, just watch the blessings that come from heaven above. I can testify to this. In 1978, my wife resigned from nursing. I was still in nursing. My salary was S$200. Out of that I gave my tithe, and left with S$180. I gave my wife about S$100 (for groceries), and out of that S$100, she gave a tenth and she was left with S$90. Well, the total in giving was 15 percent. After our two children grew up and entered primary education, Zoel being at age 9 and Zoe at age 6, they were each given pocket money from whatever the amount I gave to my wife (after she had given her tenth). My children were taught to give a tenth of their pocket money. Now, think of the total percentage of the amount given to the Lord and His ministry. It was no less than 20 percent. Yes, there were times when the going was hard, but the Lord always met our needs, not our wants. We were happy and lacked nothing.
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”. What we give to God is return to us and more; the same goes in giving to others.
Yes, it is sad to find preachers and Christians asking, “Give me; give me” instead of “Let me give of my best (not my least) to the Master.”
[20 Nov. 2019]