The tithe is a tenth of the produce of the earth (crops or animals) set apart to meet the needs of the Levites (who had no land) and the poor. The paying of tithe was an important part of the Jewish religious worship under the Mosaic Law in the Old Covenant (Leviticus 27:30-32). However, today, the word ‘tithe’ is often used to denote a tenth of our gross income consecrated to God for special purposes.
Abraham gave to Melchizedek out of gratitude to God, not under compulsion to obey a written commandment in stone. In this, Abraham becomes our New Testament example for motivation in giving. Furthermore, he gave only once; no evidence that it was repeated regularly. Notice also that he did not give from what he produced (like crops or animals) but what he looted from his enemies. Do believers have to follow his example of looting before we give to God? And there is no record that Isaac, his son, gave tithes.
But it seems that, in some churches, believers are cajoled to give—constantly bombarded with the “GIVE, GIVE, GIVE” message. The incentive that accompanies such repeated calls to give is this: “God is going to bless us bountifully when we give.” Though we do reap when we sow towards God’s work, unscrupulous people can abuse this truth for their selfish ends.
The sale of promotional materials such as books, CDs and DVDs is another area which has to be considered. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such practices, there is no need to use high pressure sales techniques to get members to purchase them. We should not turn a house of prayer into a place to do business. If a minister is truly worth his salt, people will be queuing up at the end of the service to purchase these materials without the need for much cajoling.
To reiterate, tithing cannot be the New Testament standard for giving simply because we are now under grace. We are supposed to cheerful and generous when we give. And how can we be cheerful if we give under compulsion in order to meet a certain quantum?
And, specifically, it is the apostle’s teaching (Acts 2:42) to which we must pay special attention—for the church is built on the foundation of the apostles (Ephesians 2:20). What does the apostle’s teaching say about tithing? Nothing. In contrast, what does the apostle’s teaching say about giving? A lot. The guidelines on how believers should give are spelled out in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.
Surely the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1). This was certainly a fulfillment of this adage: “When God calls, He provides.”
Paul’s priority was not money but sharing the gospel. He willingly set aside his right to financial support so that people would not think he was in ministry for the money.
DO JEWS TITHE TODAY?
SHOULD THE CHURCH TEACH TITHING?
Churches showcase success stories but fail to mention the testimonies of those who have tithed for generations without escaping poverty. Today the very lowest income class pays the largest percentage to charity. Yet most remain in poverty. Meanwhile many atheists become wealthy by simply following principles of money management which also makes many tithers successful. Neither the lottery, nor the tithe is a magic get-rich-quick answer to replace education, determination and hard work. If Malachi 3:10 really worked for New Covenant Christians, millions of poor tithing Christians would have escaped poverty and would have become the wealthiest group of people in the world instead of remaining the poorest group.
THE MALACHI TITHING PASSAGE: ITS PLACE IN THE LIFE OF THE MODERN DAY BELIEVER