Is Tithing for Today, or Just an Old Testament Practice?
by James Hunter
I oversee three ministry-based Twitter accounts: Innovative CWC, Christian Boot Camp and the Twitter account for my church. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a tweet for my church Twitter that basically gave glory to God for the ways our recent tithes were able to help people, including a ministry that is helping victims of the California fires, a homeless ministry, a local girls home, and monthly partnerships with two anti sex trafficking organizations. All worthy causes, wouldn’t you say?
Actually, many others thought so, too. But then there was one guy. I’ll call him, “Gospel Greg” (not his actual Twitter name, but similar). Gospel Greg didn’t see the good in my church’s efforts to help those in need, but instead was hung up on one word I used in the tweet: Tithes. He went on to say that he was, “Confused and Disappointed.” His position was that the word Tithe isn’t used in the New Testament; therefore, we’re not bound to the Old Testament Law of Tithing.
While I agree that Jesus came to redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), I don’t agree that giving (back) to God is unbiblical and ungodly. To be clear, Jesus, by His own admission, “Did not come to abolish the law…but to fulfill (the law).” My response to Gospel Greg? Silence. While my carnal nature wants to debate with every naysayer, the Holy Spirit that lives in me gave me a creed to live by many years ago, which I still employ to this day: Don’t respond to ugly behavior of any kind. Even if I had responded biblically to Gospel Greg, it was apparent that he was in no mood to be corrected. So, I bit my tongue and prayed that Gospel Greg would come to the revelation of Truth (Ephesians 1:17).
What the New Testament Says about Tithing (or Giving)—
In the story of the widow’ mites (Mark 12:41-44), Jesus revealed to His disciples that the poor widow — though she only gave two coins — gave all she had, while the wealthy seemingly gave much more, they only gave a small portion of what they had. That’s the moral of the story. Had the moral been that she and the wealthy people were wrong for giving their tithes, Jesus would have said so.
Additionally, 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion” and goes on to say that “God loves a cheerful giver.” While this passage doesn’t single out giving as the tithe, it also doesn’t exclude it.
But perhaps the most important scripture on tithing is found in Matthew 23:23. Here, Jesus is reprimanding the self-righteous: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (NLT). While His point wasn’t about tithing but rather justice, mercy and faith, He stated clearly in His last sentence the three words, “You should tithe.” This should end the debate of whether or not tithing is commanded in the New Testament, as Jesus, here, commanded it.
Probably just like your church, my church has a FAQ page on our website. I love what it says about tithing. To the question, “Does your church believe in tithing,” Our answer is, “We not only believe in tithing, but we practice it, too! There is a lot of division today (in the Body of Christ) as to whether or not tithing is just an Old Testament Law practice. We believe that God is so good, the least we can do is to give 10% back to Him. Additionally, our tithes allow us to give to the needy, the broken, homeless, and feed the poor.”