About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Should You Tithe
'what the Bible really says about tithing'  



Contents

 

Contents

1  - Our Practice

2  - 10% To God - 90% To You  

3 - Giving To Get

4 - Abraham And Jacob Tithed

5 - Other Things Existed Before The Law As Well

6 - Do Christians Understand The Law Of Moses

7 - Three Tithes

8 - Where Did The Tithe Go

9 - God Was Robbed

10 - Who Robbed God?

11 - How Was God Being Robber?

12 - Final Thoughts On Malachi

13 - What Does The New Testament Say

14- Jesus And The Pharisees

15 - The Law Of Moses And Christians

16 - Jesus Comment4d On The Ten Commandments  

17 - 2 Corinthians 9:6 - 7  

18 - 1 Corinthians 16:2

19 - 2 Corinthians 8:2 - 4

20 - The Poor Widow

21 - The Macedonians

22 - The Acts 15 Solution

23 - Intelligent Giving

24 - To Whom Should We Give?

25 - Concluding Thoughts

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The topic of tithing stirs up great emotion and controversy for some people, especially pastors.  Itís hard for them to sit at the table of friendly and logical debate to talk this issue over.  For others the topic makes little difference.  Then, there are some people that just donít care.  Well, we should care about all Biblical subjects.  I care and thatís why I write what I write. 

 

What I'm about to teach in the following chapters is that New Testament Christians arenít obligated to tithe.  I'll explain this from a proper hermeneutical approach to the Bible.

 

Although tithing is the central topic of discussion in this account, much of what I say concerns the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament, which is a very misunderstood topic.  Hopefully for those who read what I have to say, my thoughts will be both informative and inspirational.  Hopefully you will learn as you read.

 

 

1 - Our Practice      

 

For many Evangelicals tithing is a weekly routine.  They take 10% of their income and stuff it into an envelope that they drop into the offering plate as it passes them by every Sunday morning.   They feel compelled to do so because they believe the Bible tells them to tithe.  Some give a tenth of their gross income while others give a tenth of their net income. 

 

I recall many Sunday meetings while growing up, especially at camp meeting, the plea for money was longer than the sermon.  Along with this plea might be the challenge to give because if you give to the Lord, you will get from the Lord.  That is to say, Jesus will bless you.  So, some give with the thinking they'll end up getting it back.  For sure, they will get an income tax receipt at the end of the year.

 

Pastors find it necessary to make these weekly pleas because their salary and church expenses depend on the offering.  I suggest that pastors have a bit of a conflict of interest when they teach tithing to God's people.       

 

One pastor told me that if he didnít teach on strict tithing then his people wouldnít give and his church would fold.  He might well be right.  I wonder how he knew that his church would fold since he had never tried teaching anything else but tithing.  I also wonder if he had ever considered trusting Jesus for his salary and church finances. Needless to say, tithing is one of the most common topics preachers preach on from their pulpits.         
 

2 - 10% For God Ė 90% For You

 

Just to let you know, I do give, but my giving is according to New Testament thinking.  Itís not my intention to be confrontational or controversial.  My desire is to understand the Word of our Lord which often challenges our traditions.  

 

One tradition Iíd like to address is the idea that the first 10% of your income belongs to God and before you do anything else with your paycheck you pay God His 10%.  The idea that 10% of your income belongs to God and the remaining 90% belongs to you is not New Testament thinking. 

 

The message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Therefore, 100% of your life belongs to Jesus.  We have been bought with a great price (1 Corinthians 7:23, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:19).  This means that 100% of your income belongs to Jesus.  Really, everything you have, and all of who you are, belongs to Jesus.  Your responsibility is to take good care of that which youíve given to Jesus.  This is New Testament thinking.  It should be your mind-set when thinking about every aspect of your life, including tithing.

 

3 - Giving To Get

 

Another issue that needs to be addressed before we get too involved in Scripture is the idea that you give to God in order to get back from Him.  Many tithe teachers use this giving to get idea to motivate you to give, but despite what Malachi 3:8 says, such reasoning isnít New Testament thinking either.  I will address Malachi 3:8 later.

 

Some teachers support their tithe teaching by referring to the sowing of seed analogy spoken by Jesus (Luke 8:1 - 15).  They say the more money you give or sow, the more blessings youíll get or reap.  I do admit that the principle of what you sow you reap is a natural law of the universe, but thereís a problem when using Jesusí analogy in reference to giving money.  Jesus wasnít being an investment counselor when He spoke of sowing seed.  The seed He spoke about refers to Godís Word, not money (Luke 8:11).  To carry this analogy beyond Jesusí specific intention is questionable hermeneutics.        

 

We should never think in terms of giving to get.  Itís selfish, and itís not what giving is all about.  We simply give to give.  If Jesus wants to give us anything in return, thatís His choice, but itís not why we give.   

 

None of the New Testament leaders ever gave to get.  We certainly know that Paul wanted nothing in return except for a mutual spirit of caring and a willingness to help him in the work of the Lord. Jesus Himself never gave to get.  I think you'd agree with me on that one. He gave more than we can ever imagine.  

         

 

4- Abraham And Jacob Tithed

Much of  tithe teaching begins with Abraham and Jacob who gave a tithe long before the Law of Moses came into existence.  Tithing teachers say that because tithing existed before the Law of Moses came into existence it still exists after the Law was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  See Colossians 2:14.  I'll explain Colossians 2:14 later.  They say the tithing laws did not die on the cross with Jesus.  The problem with this thinking is that many practices that were later incorporated into the Law existed before the Law, like animal sacrifices, and we donít kill animals in these New Testament times to find forgiveness of sin.   

 

Abraham fought and won a battle to free some of his relatives from their enemy. After this victory Abraham offered 10% of what he won in battle to Melchizedek, King of Salem and Priest of God (Genesis 14).  In Genesis 14:21 we learn that Melchizedek didnít really want a tenth of Abrahamís war chest.  He wanted Abrahamís people instead.  It appears that Melchizedek was more interested in people than material things.  That sounds a lot like Jesus, doesnít it?  Well, it should.  The book of Hebrews relates Jesus to Melchizedek.    

 

Abraham did give a tenth to Melchizedek, but it was 10% of what he won from war, not 10% of his ongoing income.  For this reason I donít think we can use Abraham as an example of tithing on our income today.  The text doesnít say he tithed his income.   

Jacob had a dream in Genesis 28.  As a result of this dream he vowed to give God a tenth of all that God gave him.  Vows normally had conditions placed on them back then, and this vow was no exception.  Jacob would tithe to God if the following conditions were met by God.  God would have to help Jacob get back to his fatherís home-land safely.  God would have to provide food to eat and clothes to wear along the way.  If God would help Jacob in these things, then Jacob would tithe from those things God gave Him.  I understand the things God gave Jacob to be the things God gave Jacob on his way home, not his ongoing income.  Jacob did not have tithing his income in mind when he pledged to tithe.  So, you can't use Jacob to teach tithing on your income either.  

 

Jacob was presenting God with a conditional vow.  You might say that he was attempting to make a deal with God.  Jacob was simply saying that if you help me God, I will tithe to you on the things you help me with.  I don't see this as being the godly thing to do. Christians don't try to twist God's arm with making a deal. You don't make deals with God.


Abraham and Jacob lived before the Law of Moses came into existence.  Even in these early days there was a hint of some kind of tithing, but it was just a hint.  We have very little Scripture to formulate what tithing looked like back then. You just can't teach New Testament tithing from pre-law events in the Old Testament.  Tithing is way too ambiguous from that time period. 

 

 

5 - Other Things Existed Before The Law Too

 

As I said earlier, some tithe
teachers suggest that tithing should
be practiced today because it existed before the Law of Moses.  They admit that Jesus put an end to the Law for the sake of righteousness as Paul stated in Romans 10:4.  That being said, tithing existed before the Law, so it still exists after the Law.  Thereís no Biblical logic in this thinking.  Circumcision existed before the Law and we donít circumcise our baby boys for the purpose of salvation today.  Animal sacrifices existed before the Law and Iíve yet to see a baby lamb killed in a Sunday morning meeting.  So, why do we insist on tithing and neglect circumcision and animal sacrifices when they all existed before the Law of Moses?

 

Many practices that existed before the Law of Moses were incorporated into the Law.  The argument that tithing should be practiced today because it existed before the Law isnít relevant.  It became part of the Law and once incorporated into the Law had the same fate as the rest of the Law.  The Law no longer exists for the New Testament Christian.  I'll talk more about that later.    

 

 

6 - Do Christians Understand The Law Of Moses?

 

Iím wondering how many of us love reading Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These books, along with Genesis are known as the Pentateuch.  Do we read these books, or do we skip over them because theyíre too confusing?  If by chance we do read them, do we understand them, especially what they say about tithing?  Very few Christians actually read these books and fewer understand their content, and that includes what is written about tithing.

 

The Law of Moses is complicated. Thatís partly why the Jewish teachers of old spent so much time and energy interpreting it.  They wrote lengthy commentaries of explanation. They developed a long list of laws that in part would systematically lay out what the Law of Moses demanded.  All of these rules and laws to help people understand and implement the Law of Moses actually out-numbered the 613 laws found in the Law of Moses.  They complicated things more than ever.       

I havenít personally counted but Iíve heard there are 613 laws in the Law of Moses. Beyond that there are the blessings and curses. Thereís the application of the laws, what to do when a law is broken or canít be obeyed, and much more.   

I havenít personally counted but Iíve heard there are at least 613 laws in the Law of Moses.  Beyond these laws are the blessings and curses, the applications of the laws, what to do when a law is broken or canít be obeyed, and more.  People who understand these things best are Jews, or perhaps some Christians with a Jewish heritage.  So, hereís my point.    How can the average Christian today really hold to the Old Testament view of tithing when he ignores 98% of the Old Testamentís teaching on tithing?  You canít teach tithing based on Malachi 3:8 and a couple of other verses and neglect the bulk of Scriptures found in the Law of Moses about tithing, but thatís what most of us do.  If you teach tithing, youíve got to include what the Law says about tithing and youíll be hard pressed to implement its teaching today.   

    

 

7 - Three Tithes

 

Many Christians think that God demanded that Jews tithe 10% of their income in the Old Testament, but that's not true.  Jews were commanded to give three different tithes.  There was a tithe to support the Levites (Numbers 18:20-32), a tithe for celebrations held in the presence of God (Deuteronomy 14:22-27), and a tithe for the Levites, widows, fatherless, and foreigners who lived among the Jews (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).  This last tithe was collected once every three years.  So, if you do the math, and tithing does require some math, the yearly percentage that one would tithe is 23.33%, not 10% as you might have thought.

 

I derive 23.33 % this way.  The first two tithes total 20 % (2 times 10%).  The last tithe was collected once every three years, so the yearly rate was 3.33 %.  The total is 23.33% (20% plus 3.33%).

 

If you really want to live under the Old Testament Law, then you should start thinking in terms of 23.33%, not 10%. This fact alone might cause some people to change their minds on this subject.  Even though the word "tithe" means a tenth, Jews were command to give way more than a tenth.   Besides this, how the funds were spent and distributed is impossible to implement today.    

 

 

8 - Where Did The Tithe Go?

 

You might want to take note where these tithes went as stipulated in the Law of Moses.  One tithe went to the priests. The other was eaten by the tithers in a celebration before the Lord.  The third went to the poor and less privileged.  If you want to follow the Old Testament pattern, you might want to question where the bulk of your tithe goes once it leaves your wallet.  How does your church group spend your tithe? 

 

Hereís something interesting about the celebration tithe.  One would take his tithe to the presence of the Lord to eat in a festive meal with others.  In this case the tithe was an animal to be killed and eaten at the celebration.  If your tithe (the animal) was too large and if you had a long way to travel with it, you could sell your tithe.  Yes, you could sell your tithe.  In Deuteronomy 14:26 we see what the tither could do with the proceeds of this sale.  It says, "use the silver to buy whatever you like; cattle, sheep, wine, or other fermented drink, or anything you wish.  Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice."  The Law made provision for you to sell your tithe if it was too hard to take to the feast.  From the proceeds you could buy anything you wished, including wine or any other fermented drink to help you celebrate.  Now thatís very interesting.  I wonder if the wine or fermented drinks helped the tithers rejoice. 

 

With this in mind, I also wonder if one might want to spend his tithe at the local liquor store.  He could bring a bottle of wine or some other alcoholic drink to the church meeting instead of money. Can you imagine what the after-service coffee hour might look like if we all did this?  I

 

I simply mention this to point out that our understanding of tithing is very far removed from the Law of Moses, where the topic is first defined in the Bible.  

 

 

9 - God Was Robbed

 

Weíve finally come to Malachi 3:8, the verse where God says He is being robbed.  Itís the key verse that tithe teachers hang their doctrinal hat on.  Thereís no way around it.  No one can talk about tithing without giving an explanation to this verse. 

 

Those who heard that God was being robbed couldnít figure out how anyone could possibly rob God.  Heís God.  No one can sneak up on Him and steal something from Him. 

 

God answered their query by saying this.  "Will a man rob God?  But you ask, 'how do we rob you?'  In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse Ė the whole nation of you -  because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse Ö test me in this ... to see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it" (Malachi 3:8).

 

Godís people werenít giving their tithes and offerings to God as the Law of Moses required.  This was robbery, but it wasnít the most important thing God was being robbed of. 

 

Notice that tithes and offerings are in the plural form.  Iíve already said there was more than one tithe.  I believe the word "offerings" refer to animal sacrifices made for sin.  Tithe teachers often view offerings here as money given to the church over and above their tithe, but thatís not the case here. 

 

Israeli's were also robbing God of the animal sacrifices, but they were robbing God on other counts as well.  It doesnít say it here, but throughout the books of the prophets Israel was robbing God of His Sabbaths.  For this robbery, the nation was exiled to Babylon for 70 years. 

 

Malachi 3:8 has little to do with New Testament Christians robbing God of His rightful 10% of their income.  That's not what God had in mind when He spoke these words to the Jews of Israel.   The Jews, not Christians, were robbing God of many things.  Tithes and animal offering are just two forms of robbery mentioned here.           

     

 

10 -  Who Robbed God? 

We need to ask who was robbing God and to whom was God speaking in Malachi concerning this robbery?     

Malachi1:1 says this.  "The Word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi."  Thereís no doubt about it.  All that God says in this prophetic book was written to Israelis.  They were the culprits, not New Testament Christians.   

 

Tithe teachers agree that God was talking to Israel but they also say He was talking to us in New Testament times as well.  This is poor Biblical interpretation.  We have to be careful taking what God says to one group of people and applying it to others.  Unless the context says otherwise, what is written to Israelis was meant for Israelis and not to us.  Thereís no hint that these words should be applied to anyone but Jews.    

 

Some Christians believe that all Scripture directed towards Israel is also directed towards Christians.  That would mean Malachi 3:8 applies to us.  I wonít explain it now, but I see sufficient New Testament passages that say differently. 

 

We can certainly learn lots from what God told Israel, but what He told them must be understood in New Testament terms.  Paul says that Godís dealings with Israel were written for our example to learn from (1 Corinthians 10:11).  An example to learn from is not a mandate to obey.  We learn many things about Godís interaction with Israelis old, but God demands something different from us than He did from them.    

 

 

11 - How Was God Being Robbed?  

 

How could Israel or anyone else rob God?  Hebrews 6:6 says that He doesnít really want our offerings and sacrifices anyway.  Heíd prefer mercy and acknowledgment of Him instead.  This robbery was more than a robbery of money or sacrificial lambs. 

 

In Malachi 1:2 God says that He loved Israel, but it didnít love Him back.  In Malachi 1:6 and 7 we see that Israel had no respect or honour for God.  It despised and defiled Him by offering Him second best sacrifices.  In Malachi 2:1 God told Israelís leaders that in their hearts they failed to honour Him.  So, Israel was also robbing God of honour and respect, not just tithes and offerings.    

 

The crux of this robbery is seen in Malachi 2:10 and following.  Israel had broken faith with God.  This means it no longer trusted God. Israel had lost its first love, as love as seen in the book of Hosea as a husband wife relationship.  This is why God says He hates divorce in verse 16.   Marriage divorces were bad enough, but worst of all Israel had divorced God. This is really how Israel robbed God.  Everything else was secondary.  Jews robbed Him of His prized earthly possession, which was themselves.    

 

In all the words that God spoke through Malachi Iíve heard countless sermons on only two verses.  They are Malachi 2:16 where it says that God hates divorce and Malachi 3:8 where God says He is being robbed of tithes and offerings.  These two issues are secondary to Israel divorcing God, and robbing Him of themselves.  God was more interested in the people of Israel than in what they could give Him.  He got neither.  This is the real robbery of the book of Malachi.  The lesson we learn here as Christians is that God wants us more than our money.    

 

12 - Final Thoughts On Malachi 3:8              

 

In Malachi 2:1 God told Israel that it was

cursed because it did not obey the Law of Moses which included tithing.  

The Law stipulated that if Israel failed to obey the whole Law, it would be under a curse.  God now confirmed this to Israel, but its failure to tithe was not the real reason for this curse. The nation was cursed because it divorced God by uniting itself with pagan gods.  

 

If youíre concerned about being cursed because you fall short in your giving at times, donít be.  Christians are not and cannot be under any curse associated with the Law of Moses.  Paul tells us that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law.  Jesus was made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).  He was cursed on our behalf, thus removing the curse from us forever.  The curse aspect to Malachi 2:1 doesnít apply to Christians.  Besides, as we will see later, Jesus was the end of the Law (Rommans10:4), something which Old Testament Gentiles and Christians were never under in the first place.  Iíll talk about that later.

 

There's one last point I'll make on Malachi 3:8 and that concerns the storehouse that Israel didnít bring their tithes into.  The storehouse isnít the church as some tend to think.  The church didnít exist back then.  I would suggest that the storehouse is associated with the temple and the priesthood because that is where the tithes went.   

 

 

13 - What Does The New Testament Say?

I dare say that most Christians have not thought tithing through to the degree that I am setting forth here.  Thatís sad because thereís lots more one could say about tithing.  We tend to prefer the quick version of Biblical truth these days and the church seems to prefer teaching us this quick version, but itís to our detriment.      

One popular book from the 1990ís was right when it stated that our society is being "dumbed down," meaning weíre not interested in taking the time and effort to learn the details of anything.  Weíd rather hear sound-bites and not the whole story.  Christians today tend to want Biblical truth presented to them in dumbed-downed sound-bites too.  We have no interest in the details, resulting in wide spread Biblical illiteracy.  Well, the important issues of tithing are found in the details.  If you neglect these details you wonít understand tithing, and thatís why most Christians really donít understand tithing.    

 

Because of this lack of Biblical understanding we pick certain rules from the Law of Moses and Christianize them.  How this works with tithing is that itís impossible to tithe as the Law of Moses specifically demanded in our day so we change the tithing rules to make them convenient for todayís church.  Once you change the tithing rules they become different rules and youíre not obeying what God originally commanded.  This is exactly what the Pharisees did.  Thereís no New Testament support for this practice.  This tells me that we donít understand how to view the Old Testament as New Testament Christians.  This is the fundamental problem with modern day tithing, as it is with other similar subjects associated with the Law of Moses.  The Sabbath rules are other example of how we misunderstand the Law of Moses.

  

We will now turn to the New Testament to see what it has to say.  First of all the word "tithe" only appears twice in the King James New Testament.  The word "tithes" (plural) is found four times, all in the same passage. In the New International Version, the words "tithe" or "tithes" occurs zero times. The NIV replaces the word tithe with the word tenth, because a tithe means a tenth.

The first two times that the King James New Testament uses the word tithe is in a negative context. You can read this in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 where Jesus scolded the Pharisees.  He says, "Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe Ö and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy and faith" (Matthew 23:23 KJV).  The important thing to note from this verse is the emphasis that Jesus places on the "weightier matters" of the Law.  He tells the Jewish leaders that their tithing means very little if they forsake good judgment, mercy and faith.  Jesus is not suggesting that the Pharisees stop tithing. Iíll explain why later.  He calls them hypocrites because of the way they misuse the Law of Moses to suite their own purposes.   

The other passage where the word "tithe" is used in the King James New Testament is found in Hebrews 7.  These verses describe Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek.  They also comment on the Levitical tithe.  This passage says nothing about New Testament Christians tithing. It refers only to the Old Testament practice of the Jews.   

It is thus clear that the idea of tithing is pretty well absent in the New Testament, and when it is mentioned itís always in reference to the Old Testament.  Thereís absolutely no New Testament Scripture telling Christians to tithe.  One pastor told me that the reason for this is because the first generation Christians tithed.  It wasnít a problem that needed to be addressed.  Thereís no Biblical or historical proof this being true.  The New Testament does have a lot to say about money and giving of many, so if tithing was important thereíd be some talk about it, donít you think?

 

The biggest problem the early church faced was over the issue of obedience to the Law of Moses. When the whole Law is in question, thereís no need to point out specific rules within the Law like tithing as being problematic, although circumcision was centered out as being a problem in the first century church.  The issue of tithing did arise in the early church, but it was within the context of the whole Law not being relevant to New Testament Christians.   

 

The simple fact is that the love and pursuit of money has always been a problem with humans.  Paul says it causes all sorts of problems (1 Timothy 6:10).  So, the New Testament has lots to say about Christians and money, but nothing to say about tithing for Christians.

   
 

14 - Jesus And The Pharisees

 

Iíve mentioned Matthew 23:23 above.
Jesus told the Pharisees that even though they tithed they neglected the weightier issues of the Law, but He didnít tell them to stop tithing.  He told them to both tithe and to act justly. 

 

Some people suggest that because Jesus told these Pharisees to tithe He was teaching tithing as a New Testament practice and therefore we should tithe.  This is not so.  Both Jesus and the Pharisees were still living in Old Testament times.  He had no other choice but to obey the Law and teach others to do the same.  

 

The most important reason why Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe is found in Matthew17 where He says that He came to "fulfill" the Law.  How you view Jesus' words will determine how you as a Christian relate to the Old Testament Law.  The word "fulfill" tells me that the Law was just as much prophetic as it was a list of rules.   The Law of Moses is one big prophecy concerning the life of Jesus.  One example of how the Law prophesied about Jesus would be the blood sacrifices.  They spoke of Jesusí atoning death.  Jesus Himself fulfilled, or was the completion, to what the Law was all about.  Iíll explain the significance of this later.

 

A secondary way in which Jesus fulfilled the Law is that He obeyed every last intent of God's heart behind the Law.  Through His obedience He fulfilled the Lawís demands before God.  Most importantly, He obeyed the Law for us.  God could now look down on earth and say that the Law of Moses was finally obeyed.  When we place our lives into Jesusí hands God views us as being totally righteous, even as He Himself is righteous, even though we are far from being righteous.  Jesus didnít only die in our place; He lived the perfect life in our place as well.  If He had told the Pharisees not to tithe, He would have broken the Law and would not have fulfilled it on our behalf, and weíd be lost in unrighteousness to this very day.  This is why Jesus told the Pharisees to tithe.  He never meant for us to make a New Testament tithing teaching from His words spoken to Jewish Pharisees prior to New Testament days. 

 

 

15 - The Law Of Moses and Christians

Matthew 5:17 to18 is often quoted to prove that the Law of Moses still exists and should be obeyed by both Jews and Christians today.  Because itís impossible to obey the Law in todayís society as it was originally written many people Christianize parts of it and rationalize the rest away. Thereís no Biblical or hermeneutical support for this practice.  This demonstrates a lack of understanding concerning how the New Testament relates to the Old Testament, how Jesus relates to the Law of Moses, and how Christians should relate to the Law as wall.  The fact of the matter is that if one failed to obey one of the 613 laws in the Law of Moses he failed to obey them all (Galatians 2:10, Deuteronomy 27:26).

 

Matthew 5:17 to 18 says this. "Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.  I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (NIV).  Note the NIV uses the word "abolish."  The KJV uses the word "destroy," as in, "think not that I have come to destroy the LawÖ"

Understanding what Jesus said here will put tithing into itís proper New Testament perspective.  Misunderstanding what Jesus said here will throw everything out of whack as a Christian attempting to understand the Old Testament.  Some tithe teachers suggest that the Law is not yet abolished because Jesus said so here, and so we should tithe.  Thatís not what Jesus was  saying.  A brief reading of the New Testament should tell you that the Law means something different to Christians than what it meant to the Jews of old.   


So whatís Matthew 5:17 to 18 all about?  Jesus said that the Law and Prophets will be abolished when heaven and earth disappear, which we know will happen when this present heaven and earth is replaced by the new heaven and earth as seen in Revelation 21:1.  Until that day comes, how do Christians relate to the Law and Prophets, meaning the Old Testament?          

 

To begin to answer this we note that Jesus said that He didnít come to abolish the Law or the Prophets until all things written in them are fulfilled and completed.  Jesus wasnít just speaking about the Law here.  He was speaking about the Prophets as well, meaning He wass speaking about the entire Old Testament.  Weíll major on Jesusí words in relation to the Law because thatís where most of the misunderstanding lies.     

 

Jesusí words tell me that the Law, like the Prophets, is prophetic.  Itís not just a list of rules.  Itís just as prophetic as the book of Isaiah.  For example, the blood sacrifices foretell the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  So, the Law needs to be fulfilled as well as obeyed.  I will show you that Jesus did both.  

Hereís the question.  "Since the Law will not be destroyed until itís fulfilled, when was, or when will it be fulfilled?"  To help answer this question weíll look at Colossians 2:13 to 14.  Paul said that "God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations.  He took it away, nailing it to the cross" (NIV).  Paul said that when Jesus died on the cross, the Law died as well.  We need to understand Paulís words here in relation to Jesusí words in Matthew 5:17 concerning the Law not being destroyed.  The Law was cancelled and taken away because Jesus Himself was the fulfillment of the Law.  In a secondary way He also fulfilled the Law by obeying it.  So, the Law has been laid aside, but not destroyed. The reason for this is because it still has a prophetic purpose that has been redirected at the cross. 

Hebrews 8:13 says this.  "By calling this covenant new, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."  This verse tells us that the Old Covenant is obsolete or outdated, and that includes the Law, which also includes tithing laws.  n todayís computerized world you could say thereís a new version of the Old Covenant.  Itís the New Covenant.  The old version will soon disappear, meaning, it hasnít disappeared yet.  This is where some confusion sets in.  How can the Law be cancelled and nailed to the cross as stated in Colossians 2:13 to 14 while at the same time disappear at some later date as stated in Hebrews 8:13?  Itís simple.  The Law still exists as Jesus said in Matthews 5:17, but for different reasons.  It no longer has any purpose in regards to finding salvation, finding a righteous standing before God, or obeying its rules.

 

The main reason why the Law isnít abolished is because parts of it are yet to be fulfilled which will happen by the time this age ends.  Certain feasts are examples of this future fulfillment, yet, for those parts that have been fulfilled, they have been laid aside, nailed to the cross until the end comes when its total destruction occurs.  

 

Another verse to consider is found in Galatians 3:24 to 25 where Paul said that the Law was our schoolmaster or teacher that led us to Christ.  As Paul said, "after faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (KJV).  Itís clear, the Law was our schoolmaster.  It has shown us our sin and has led us to faith.  That part of the Lawís job is finished for good. 

 

Notice the word "under" in Galatians 3:24 to 25.  The Jews of old were under the Law of Moses.  Once faith in Jesus came they were no longer under the Law.  This means that even though the Law has not been destroyed because it still has a prophetic significance, Jewish Christians  or Gentile Christians are not under any obligation to obey it.  We are obligated to obey Jesus.    

 

Another thought to consider concerning Galatians 3:24 to 25 is that Paul was speaking to both Gentile Christians and Christian Jews.  They were being taught by false teachers that they needed to obey the Law of Moses as Christians. Paul called this thinking demonic in Galatians 3:1.  He said this.  "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched youÖ"  From the Greek, "bewitched" suggests being demonized.  Paul taught that living under the Law as New Testament Christians was demonic.  You might want to think about that for a bit as you consider tithing.    

 

We should also remember that Gentiles were never under the Law in the first place unless they became Jews or lived among the Jews.  The Law was given to Jews, not Gentiles, or Christians.  It is clear from Paulís writings that Gentiles donít have to become Jews in order to be Christians.  Iíll comment on this later.     

If these verses arenít convincing enough, read Romans 10:4.  Paul said that "Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes."  You canít get it much clearer. Righteousness comes through Jesus and not by obeying any part of the Law of Moses.  Jesus ended the Law.   

 

One cannot say that Christians must tithe because Jesus said the Law still exists in Matthew5:17.  Think of it this way.  List every aspect of the Law in point form on a very long sheet of paper.  Now check off each point of the Law that Jesus has fulfilled.  Very few points will be left unchecked.  Most lines will have a check mark, including the tithing lines.  All these points have been nailed to the cross because Jesus is the Lawís fulfillment.  The entire Law of Moses, including tithing, was given to Israel to obey does not apply to Christians.     

 

 

16 - Jesus Comments On The Ten Commandments

 

In the last section I pointed out that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, cancelled, and taken away from human history for the purpose of salvation, righteousness, and obedience to it.  The Ten Commandments are found within the Law and so you might ask if they were nailed to the cross as well.  Jesus commented on two of these commands in Matthew 5 that sheds light on this question.  

 

In Matthew 5:21 Jesus said this.  "You have heard it saidÖ"  What people heard said was "do not murder."  These words were said in the Ten Commandments.  The commandment clearly said, "fonít murder," yet in verse 22 Jesus said, "but I tell youÖ"  Do you see whatís happening here?  The command said one thing but Jesus said another thing, and what Jesus said wasnít exactly what the command in the Law said.  What Jesus said was, "anyone who is angry at his brother is subject to judgment."  Verses 27 to 33 are similar.  The command said "donít commit adultery," but Jesus said, "donít lust in your heart." 

 

What is Jesus saying about the Ten Commandments?  The answer is simple.  The Ten Commandments addressed external issues such as murder.  Jesus addressed internal issues such as anger.  Jesus wasnít contradicting the Law, which He couldnít or else He would not have fulfilled it.  He was shifting the attention from the external behaviour to the internal matters of the heart, which was really in the heart of God in the first place.  Behind any external action thereís an internal matter of the heart, and this is what Jesus is after.  Behind the external laws were internal reasons for the laws.  If Jesus can change our hearts; our external actions will soon follow.  The reverse isnít true.  Just because you donít murder doesnít mean you donít get angry without a cause. 

 

These matters of the heart are what the New Testament is all about.  That is, we change from within, not from without.  Thatís one reason why the Holy Spirit lives within Christians.  He has come to bring change from within.  This hasnít always been the thinking in Evangelical circles in times past. Weíve often majored on the externals, like outward dress, leaving the matters of the heart on the back burner.

 

As a young Evangelical I heard people say that they obeyed all the Ten Commandments, suggesting that their obedience made them righteous, but thatís not so.  Obeying the external commands makes no one righteous.  Righteousness begins in the heart.  Obeying the external commands doesnít mean you obey them in your heart.  Hereís an analogy that explains this well.  A child was being punished for yelling at his brother.  He was told to sit in the corner and be quiet.  The child thinks to himself, "I may be quiet on the outside, but Iím still screaming at my brother on the inside."  Many of us are like this child.  We obey the Ten Commandments on the outside, but on the inside itís a different story. 

 

So, like the rest of the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments as they were originally written have taken on a new meaning for New Testament Christians.  Tithing is not part of the Ten Commandments, but like murder and adultery, it has a New Testament alternative.  Giving the tithes in obedience to the Law of Moses has been redefined in New Testament terms.  Giving has become a matter of the heart and from the heart is expressed in outward actions.    

 

The Law of Moses demanded three tithes.  Jesus isnít interested in us giving three tithes any more than He is interested in us offering blood sacrifices. What Jesus is interested in is us giving generously according to our ability to give, and giving cheerfully from the depth of our hearts, which may well be more than a tenth.  This is what Paul advises in 2 Corinthians 9:7.  This is New Testament thinking concerning the giving of our money.

 

 

17 - 2 Corinthians 9:6 - 7

 

In 2 Corinthians 9:6 to 7 Paul said that "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  I mentioned a few chapters back that Jesus addressed the issue of sowing what you reap.  When Jesus spoke of this it was in relation to sowing the Word of God.  Paul uses the same concept here but it is in terms of sowing or giving money. 

 

Hereís what we learn from Paul.  In verse 6 we learn that New Testament thinking concerning giving money is not restricted to a certain percentage as demanded by the Law.  Our giving should be generous, and God will reward us for this generosity.  Paul does not say how God will reward us.  That's up to Him.  The word generous is somewhat abstract.  The amount of generosity of one person may differ from another.  One thing we do know is that the word generous means more than the normal amount.  

 

In verse 7 Paul said that "each man should give what he has decided" to give.   We learn here that we decide what to give, not what a law tells us to give, or not what someone else tells us to give. Itís our decision, made from the goodness of our hearts. 

 

We also learn in verse 7 that we should never give reluctantly.  This means we should give freely, without any complaining.  Simply put, we should enjoy giving.     

 

The last thing we learn from verse 7 is that we should not give under compulsion.  This means that we should not be forced to give by any rule or by any person.  Christians are often compelled to give by zealous preachers attempting to twist their arms into giving.  Tithing sermons based on the premise that if you donít tithe youíll be cursed is compulsive preaching in my thinking.  Paul said that we should not give under such circumstances.     

 

So once again, New Testament thinking concerning the giving of money is as follows. You decide how much to give.  You give freely, not reluctantly.  You shouldnít be compelled by anyone or any rule to give, and, you give cheerfully. 

 

18 - 1 Corinthians 16:2

Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16:2 to set aside a sum of money in keeping with their income.  I know that some will argue the point that what Paul said here is in reference to giving of offerings over and above the tithe.  I understand that Paul was in the midst of a special fund raising effort to help the poor saints in Jerusalem.  So, one might view this giving here as being over and above what one would normally give, yet, since there is no mention of tithing in the New Testament for Christians, you canít say that this example of giving was over above tithing.  Over and above normal giving maybe, but not over and above tithing.

 

Whatever the case, I see this as another example of New Testament thinking concerning giving of money.  The idea is to set aside some money in relation to your income. Thereís no mention of any certain percentage here.  Thatís up to the individual doing the giving.  This may appear to be percentage based giving to some people, but I donít think thatís Paulís intention.  Paul was simply asking the Corinthians to do their best to give according to how much money they had to give.  The percentage would differ from person to person.

 

I see Paulís request for help as being voluntary and Holy Spirit led, as seems to be the practice of first generation Christians.  Jesus has freely given to us and He wants us to freely give to others, especially to those in need.  Paul makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 9:7 when he said that each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give.

 

It is interesting to me to note that more New Testament verses are devoted to Paulís special fund raiser for the poor than any other circumstance concerning money.  If you study most churchís spending habits these days, helping the poor is near the bottom of the list of expenditures.  This isnít New Testament thinking.   

 

 

19 - 2 Corinthians 8:2 - 4


Read again what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:2 to 4.  He said that "out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity ... they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability" (NIV).  Paul was speaking of the Macedonian Christians who gave way beyond their financial ability to help their poor brothers in Jerusalem.  

 

Notice the words Paul uses here about these people. They were going through severe trials and living in extreme poverty, yet they gave with overflowing joy and with rich generosity.  That's says a lot about these Christians.   

 

So letís be clear.  When I say that Christians arenít obligated to tithe, and shouldnít give under compulsion, Iím not saying they shouldnít give.  Our whole life should be one of freely giving because Jesus has freely given to us, and money certainly isnít the only aspect of giving.  I think we should follow the lead of these Macedonian Christians, not the Law of Moses when it comes to giving.    

 

We should also note that this particular giving was a special giving for a specific purpose, that being the poor saints in Jerusalem.  The text does not say that these people always gave like this in their routine giving.  If they had done that, they would not have been able to support themselves.    


20 - The Poor Widow

 

Do you remember the poor widow who gave her last penny at the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 21:3)?  Jesus commended her for giving.  He didnít tell her that she shouldnít have given.  He didnít tell her not to give the next time she was in town.  I take this to mean that poverty is no excuse not to give. 

 

Some people, including Christians, say Iím too poor to give.  I need to be given to.  This is the welfare mentality that in the long run keeps poor people poor.  This is not New Testament thinking.  Poverty is no excuse not to give.  If you have absolutely no money to give, you could be like Peter in Acts 3:6 who said, "silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you."  If youíre that poor, Iím sure you have something else that you can give.   Everybody has something to give.      

      

 

21 - The Macedonians

 

Letís look closer at 2 Corinthians 8 where Paul speaks of the Macedonian Christians.  Iíve already pointed out that they gave with "rich generosity and overflowing joy from their extreme poverty."

 

In 2 Corinthians 8:3 we see that the Macedonians gave beyond their ability to give, much like the poor widow in Luke 21.  Paul used this sacrificial giving as an example for others to follow.

 

Verse 4 says that they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in the service of the saints.  These people viewed giving as a privilege and they urgently pleaded with Paul to give.  They couldnít give fast enough, and they certainly didnít need to hear a long winded tithing sermon to motivate them.  I'm sure pastors today would love being the pastor of these Macedonians.    

 

Verse 5 tells us that the Macedonians "first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us."  Thatís the key point here.  You give yourself to Jesus first and He inspires you to give to others.  You might say that to the degree youíve given yourself to Jesus will be the degree in which you give to others.  So really, your generosity is more of a reflection on your commitment to Jesus than it is a reflection on your commitment a law or a sermon.  This is what all church leaders need to learn.  Helping people give more of their lives to Jesus reaps better results than twisting their arms to tithe.   Helping people to love Jesus will do more than preaching the tithing laws that don't apply to New Testament Christians.   

 

In verse 7 Paul encourages the Corinthians to excel in the "grace of giving."  I really like the words "grace of giving" because to give as Paul is speaking of here takes God's grace.  In this instance grace needs to be defined as "God's ability given to us to do His will."   Giving is an act of grace, and it often takes Godís grace to help us give as we should.

 

In verse 12 Paul says this.  "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have."  This makes it clear.  Giving is a matter of a willing heart which places the emphasis on our motivation to give, not on the amount we give or donít give.  The reverse is true as well.  One can give out of pride.  The gift may be beneficial used but it's not acceptable unto the Lord.    

 

From this passage we learn that New Testament thinking concerning the giving of money is that poverty is no excuse not to give.  Giving is an act of grace and often takes Godís grace to help us give.  We give because weíve first given our lives to Jesus and we shouldnít feel bad when we canít give as much as weíd like, and, we shouldnít make others feel bad when they canít give as much as theyíd like. 

 

     

22 - The Acts 15 Solution

 

If what Iíve said so far concerning tithing not being New Testament thinking isnít convincing enough, Iíve got another point you might want to consider.    

 

Imagine yourself as a new
Gentile Christian man in the first generation church living in the
province of Galatia.  The only Christian teaching youíve heard came from the lips of Paul, and it wasnít complicated.  He told you to repent, give your life to Jesus, and continue to live by trusting Jesus.  Trusting in Jesus alone would put you in right standing before God.  Nothing else would or could do that. 

 

One day a couple of Jews tell you that
in order to be a real Christian you need 
to become a Jew and obey the Law of Moses.  As a Gentile living a good distance from Judea youíve heard next to nothing about the Jewish religion and you know very little about this Law stuff.  Youíre now confused and youíre not sure what to believe.

 

Paul had you water baptized when you gave your life to Jesus but these men tell you to get circumcised.  Thoughts of such surgery are disconcerting to you and make you want to forget about Christianity altogether.   

   

You soon discover that youíre not the only one trapped between two ways of thinking.  It has become a major problem among all the new Gentile Christians.  As a result, the Christian leaders of the day, which includes Paul, Peter, and James, got together to solve this problem.  They conclude that both Jews and Gentiles alike come to God through trusting in Jesus alone, apart from the Law of Moses.  Jews themselves could never obey the Law so why should they expect that you Gentiles could obey the Law  (Acts 15:11).

 

Paul told you that Jesus broke down the wall that separated Jews from Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14).  For the purpose of salvation thereís no longer any difference between the two groups of people.  Besides, Jesus said, "I will build my ekklesia" (Mathew 16:18).  Speaking Greek you understood Jesus to mean that Heíd put together His own called out and separated people, because thatís what the word "ekklesia" means.  Just as God called out Israel from the rest of the nations in Old Testament times to be His people, so Jesus called out His own people in New Testament times to be His people.  Jesusí called out people is fundamentally different than Godís called out people in times past.  They give themselves to Jesus to obey, not the Law of Moses.

 

So the men in Acts 15, along with the Holy Spirit, concluded that theyíd only give you Gentiles believers four things that you would do well to avoid which were found in the Law.  They were; abstain from foods offered to idols, abstain from blood, abstain from the meat of strangled animals, and also abstain from sexual immorality (Acts 15:29).  One thing you notice is that tithing is not one of these requirements to obey.

 

The last part of their decision found in Acts 15:29 says that "you will do well to avoid these things."  That doesnít sound like a strong heavy handed mandate to me.  Paul himself didnít even follow the first requirement in its totality.  He saw no problem eating meat offered to idols as long as he didnít eat it in the context of a pagan ritual, or as long as his eating didnít destroy a brotherís faith (1 Corinthians 10:14 32).  To be clear, Paul did view sexual immorality as sin, something Jesus called sin as well.

 

As a new Gentile Christian youíd have been greatly relieved.  You have no obligation to the Law of Moses.  You were never under the Law in the first place, and youíre not under it now, and that includes the tithing laws.  Your obedience and allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ alone.  

 

Unless these early leaders and the Holy Spirit got it all wrong, which I donít believe they did, the Old Testament Law according to Acts 15, which includes tithing stays in the Old Testament.  When Christians today revert back to living under such Mosaic Laws as tithing and keeping the Sabbath they are in direct opposition to what the Holy Spirit spoke in Acts 15.  This whole discussion ended in Acts 15.  I donít know why we still have to deal with it today.   If we want to revert back and live under the Law, weíre like the Judaizers in Galatia.  Paul told the Galatians that living under the Law is demonic (Galatians 3:1) which may well alienate or separate you from Christ (Galatians 5:4).   Being alienated from Christ are very strong words.  You may not have thought about this before, but if you seriously study the book of Galatians, you'll see that reverting back to the Law of Moses is one serious turn in your life that is displeasing to Jesus.  You're telling Him that the life He lived and the death He died, all for you, isn't good enough.  You need to obey certain laws to improve on what He has done.  I wouldn't do that if I were you.  I suggest that thinking you need to obey the tithing laws is reverting back to the Law of Moses.  I would also suggest that any pastor who compels you to tithe based on the Law of Moses is telling Jesus what He did on the cross is not good enough.  That's one bad sin.    

       

 

23 - Intelligent Giving

 

1 John 3:16 and 17 says that "this is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

 

John says that we should love because Jesus loves us.  Jesus' love is what should motivate us to give.  This means that Jesus motivates us to give, not a law. John also points out that we have a responsibility to give to our poor brothers.  I believe giving to our poor brothers is the first place where we should give according to New Testament teaching.  Giving to poor brothers should be at the top of any churchís list of expenditures. 

 

Giving material possessions which includes money should be done in action "based on truth" according to John.  This means that we give intelligently according to the truth which is found in Scripture.  We donít throw our money at anything and everything that comes our way.  We think seriously about why, how and where to give.  From my vantage point much of the money we give to the modern church is not spent intelligently according to the truth of Scripture.  Giving to our poor brothers isnít usually at the top of our expenditure list, but depending on our poor brotherís circumstances it should be.

 

Think of it this way.  A parent doesnít indiscriminately give to his child everything his child asks for.  He uses good common sense based on sound wisdom in responding to his childís request.  The parent thus gives intelligently.  Our giving should be intelligent as well, based on the truth of Scripture, and the truth that this particular Scripture teaches us is that giving to the poor brother should be on the top of any church list of expenditures.     

  

 

24 - To Whom Should We Give?

 

Evangelicals have been taught to give to their local church because thatís where theyíre fed.  I understand this reasoning, but it can be self-serving in some instances.  Such giving provides a nice comfortable place for us to meet, eat, play sports and more, but doesnít always meet the New Testament's number one place to invest our money.  Investing in people is number one.   

 

As I study the New Testament I note that the most predominant recipients of both our personal and our church giving should be to our financially poor brothers and sisters in Jesus.  There are many poor Christians scattered throughout the world and in our local churches that desperately need help.  The sad fact of the matter is that many churches donít have sufficient funds to help their own poor let alone poor people in foreign countries, and itís not because people donít give.  Itís because the priority of church finances is designated to organizational things, not people.  A quick glance at most churchís financial statements speaks volumes about their spending priorities. 

 

Another place weíre told to give is to our immediate family.  If we donít provide for them weíre worse than an unbeliever. (1Timothy 5:8) 

 

We know from 1 Corinthians 9 that Christian leaders are entitled to our financial support.  How much financial support is not stated.  Paul for the most part chose not to receive such support, and when he did he often passed it on to others. (2 Corinthians 11:7-10)  Paulís mentality is seen in 2 Corinthians 12:15 where he says, "I will very gladly spend for you everything I haveÖ"  The word "you" refers to people, not an organization. 

 

I have no problem supporting Christian leaders who serve our Lord.  Thatís clearly New Testament thinking. The word "serve" is the key word because Christian leaders are to be servants. Thatís why we call them ministers.  Most times when you read the word "minister" and other related words in the New Testament, theyíre translated from the Greek word "diakonos" which means "to serve, or a servant," depending on whether ďdiakonosĒ is used as a noun or a verb.  Pastoring then is all about serving, not about being served.     

 

Todayís ministers are not always servants.  Theyíre often paid professionals; C E O's who make a very good living at being servants.  Their salaries are often much higher than the average personís salary in their congregation.  This places them in an elevated position over and above Godís people. This is not New Testament thinking. Christian leaders serve from a place of humility.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:7 that "he lowered himself to elevate" the Corinthians.  I think we have something to learn from Paul on that one.

 

You might say that todayís Christian leaders deserve every bit of their high paid salaries for all the work they do.  Well, if weíd follow New Testament teaching concerning church, they wouldnít have to be jack of all trades.  Others should be involved in the ministry as well that would provide sufficient help for the pastor that he had time to serve the people as he should. 

 

I personally, emphasis on the word "personally," think a pastorís salary should reflect the average salary of those he is caring for, which places him alongside the people, not above them.    

 

As in any corporation, salaries, building and program expenses take up the bulk of the budget.  This often chokes the financial life out of a church.  Buildings that were built to serve the mission of the church often become a financial burden in many cases, leaving nothing left for true Scriptural priorities.  We now serve the building instead of it serving us.

 

Back in the early 1970ís some of us young Christians were taught that Christian giving is all about giving to people.  That is something I have never forgotten.  Such giving enabled me to attend Bible College .  Without the support from my brothers in Jesus I would have missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime.     

  

 

25 - Concluding Thoughts   

Evangelicals have been taught to give to their local church because thatís where theyíre fed.  I understand this reasoning, but it can be self-serving in some instances.  Such giving provides a nice comfortable place for us to meet, eat, play sports and more, but doesnít always meet the New Testament's number one place to invest our money.  Investing in people is number one.   

 

As I study the New Testament I note that the most predominant recipients of both our personal and our church giving should be to our financially poor brothers and sisters in Jesus.  There are many poor Christians scattered throughout the world and in our local churches that desperately need help.  The sad fact of the matter is that many churches donít have sufficient funds to help their own poor let alone poor people in foreign countries, and itís not because people donít give.  Itís because the priority of church finances is designated to organizational things, not people.  A quick glance at most churchís financial statements speaks volumes about their spending priorities. 

 

Another place weíre told to give is to our immediate family.  If we donít provide for them weíre worse than an unbeliever. (1Timothy 5:8) 

 

We know from 1 Corinthians 9 that Christian leaders are entitled to our financial support.  How much financial support is not stated.  Paul for the most part chose not to receive such support, and when he did he often passed it on to others. (2 Corinthians 11:7-10)  Paulís mentality is seen in 2 Corinthians 12:15 where he says, "I will very gladly spend for you everything I haveÖ"  The word "you" refers to people, not an organization. 

 

I have no problem supporting Christian leaders who serve our Lord.  Thatís clearly New Testament thinking. The word "serve" is the key word because Christian leaders are to be servants. Thatís why we call them ministers.  Most times when you read the word "minister" and other related words in the New Testament, theyíre translated from the Greek word "diakonos" which means "to serve, or a servant," depending on whether ďdiakonosĒ is used as a noun or a verb.  Pastoring then is all about serving, not about being served.     

 

Todayís ministers are not always servants.  Theyíre often paid professionals; C E O's who make a very good living at being servants.  Their salaries are often much higher than the average personís salary in their congregation.  This places them in an elevated position over and above Godís people. This is not New Testament thinking. Christian leaders serve from a place of humility.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:7 that "he lowered himself to elevate" the Corinthians.  I think we have something to learn from Paul on that one.

 

You might say that todayís Christian leaders deserve every bit of their high paid salaries for all the work they do.  Well, if weíd follow New Testament teaching concerning church, they wouldnít have to be jack of all trades.  Others should be involved in the ministry as well that would provide sufficient help for the pastor that he had time to serve the people as he should. 

 

I personally, emphasis on the word "personally," think a pastorís salary should reflect the average salary of those he is caring for, which places him alongside the people, not above them.    

 

As in any corporation, salaries, building and program expenses take up the bulk of the budget.  This often chokes the financial life out of a church.  Buildings that were built to serve the mission of the church often become a financial burden in many cases, leaving nothing left for true Scriptural priorities.  We now serve the building instead of it serving us.

 

Back in the early 1970ís some of us young Christians were taught that Christian giving is all about giving to people.  That is something I have never forgotten.  Such giving enabled me to attend Bible College .  Without the support from my brothers in Jesus I would have missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime.     

 

 
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