For decades in Christendom, tithing has always emerged as one of the hottest topics. Its understanding and application especially as far as the New Testament is concerned has always been a matter that generates diverse views and numerous controversies.
Reasons responsible for these can be traceable to ignorance about the tithing topic, non-diligent or dishonest study and interpretation of the scriptures, twisting the scriptures to hijack the tithing pack for financial and material gain by ministers who have chosen to work unworthy of their calling, and so on.
The word tithe simply means ‘a tenth part’ of something. That is one part out of the ten equal parts something has been divided into.
Tithing is a practice that is relevant and is practised all through the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, the practice may not really be as seen in the old. Some who try to talk against tithing in the New Testament attempt to put tithing as part of the practices commanded under the law of Moses, which practices to a large extent have already been fulfilled by Christ and done away with in the New Testament, however, this is not the case.
Tithing was commanded under the Law of Moses, but the practice has been mentioned a few hundreds of years before the law of Moses as shown in the scriptures.
This was done by Abraham at first in his meeting with priest Melchizedek as he returns from a war he has just won.
Genesis 14:19-20 (KJV) And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
It was also promised to God by Jacob, based on some conditions.
Genesis 28:20-22 (KJV) 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.
These showed that the tithing-giving practice precedes the Law, and therefore, nullifying it in the New Testament on the basis of it being an Old Testament Law practice does not hold water.
The crux verse of the tithing practice in the Old Testament that has been the focus of many who advocate for the practice in the New Testament is from the book of Malachi.
Malachi 3:8-11 (KJV) Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. 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.
Bring 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.
From the above scripture, Old Testament tithe advocates emphasise that you are under some sort of curse if you don’t pay your tithe, and you are blessed if you do.
The problem with this theology however is that it puts the believers earning goodwill and blessings from God on the basis of the believer’s tithing good performance.
This nullifies the crux point of the New Testament which is the belief that all we earn from God are gotten by Grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not on the basis of our works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In the New Testament books, the tithe was mentioned in 3 scenarios.
Matthew 23:23 (KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luke 18:12 (KJV) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Hebrews 7:5-9 (KJV) And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
The interesting thing to note in these 3 instances is the fact that tithing was not the crux of the matter being dwelled on in those scripture portions but was just mentioned in passing, in an attempt to make another point.
The reality is that tithing is not a topic that is given much attention in the New Testament. Giving is. We see the saints in the book of Acts selling their properties and bringing all the price of the purchase to the church to be distributed. (Acts 4:32-37)
There are a lot of instances where the apostle Paul talks about giving. (1Corinthinas 16, 2Corinthians 8, 9,) Giving to the church of God, giving to Ministers of the gospel, giving to the brethren, and so on. However, the percentage to give is not really stipulated. It is giver determined. If you choose to give ten percent, it is okay. If you choose to give more, it is good. That you give 10% or more does not mean God will love you less or more. He loves you all the same.
If you chose to call it tithe, offering, giving or whatever tag you chose to call it, whatever the percentages or amount you chose to give, it is your decision. You should just try to leverage the direction of the Holy Ghost in deciding what and how to give too.
Giving does not make God love you more or less, but it takes care of the brethren’s needs, is a token of love walk and shows your commitment to the business of the kingdom. You are blessed to bless, not the other way round.