About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Part One  

Next Section


Should You Tithe?


"New Testament Christians And Tithing"



The following account stirs up great emotion for some people.  Itís hard for them to sit at the table of friendly and logical debate.  For others the topic makes little difference either way.  Then thereís some people who just donít care.  Well, we should care about all Biblical subjects.  I care and thatís why I write what I do. 


The topic at hand concerns tithing as being an Old Testament concept.  I state why New Testament Christians arenít obligated to tithe and give a Scriptural explanation for my thinking.  I then proceed to explain what the New Testament says about the giving of money.   


Although tithing is the central topic of discussion in this account, much of what I say concerns the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and how New Testament Christians should understand the Old Testament, especially the Law of Moses.  To me this is one of the most important and fundamental subjects a Christian can and should understand.  Suffice to say, itís my opinion the vast majority of Christians know little about this Biblical topic.  Hopefully for those who read what I have to say, my thoughts will be both informative and inspirational.  Hopefully it will answer questions for you, and hopefully it will help you as you walk with our Lord Jesus Christ, because life as New Testament Christians is all about Jesus and little else.  


So begin to read.  Donít stop reading if by chance you do not agree with what I have to say.  Read it through unto the end and then judge my thinking when you are finished.  Just remember, the foundation for all that we believe should be firmly founded in the Bible.  


Our Practice


Every Friday I sit down at my desk and figure out our money situation.  No wonder Iím losing my hair. Iíd calculate how much money to deposit into the bank and then pay some bills online. Iíd stuff some money or a check into a preprinted  envelope that Iíd routinely drop into an offering plate as it passed me by the following Sunday.  From these preprinted envelopes the church would know how much to receipt me for  at the end of the year.  The receipt helped lower our taxable income.  The receipt would also show the church leadership how committed I was to them.  Many churches determine your commitment to them based on how much money you give.       


As is often the case with all aspects of our lives, giving had become very routine.  We gave to the church each week without giving it much thought.  It was something we always did.  Sometimes I wonder if such routine isnít a demon in disguise, attempting to put us in a deep spiritual sleep.


I was taught from an early age to tithe.  One method employed to teach me this was to give me the opportunity to take up the offering.  This made me feel important because being young I got to do an adult thing.  When the feeling of importance was associated with tithing it taught me to tithe because that would make me feel important too. Thatís an interesting way to teach a young person to tithe.


In those days we used a wooden plate with a felt insert to collect the money, which in turn gave way to a nice shiny silver plate.  Now-a-days we use other things like baskets or small cloth pouches with wooden handles, and of course, the debit machine.  These pouches are interesting.  Iíve heard one offering collector expert say that he has seen some people actually put their hands into the pouch without depositing any money.  This gives the appearance of giving without actually giving and removes the embarrassment from an awkward situation.      


I also remember the yearly camp meeting as a child. Usually on a Sunday morning the offering was preceded by a very long-winded appeal for funds. The plea was as long as the sermon that followed the multiple collections.  Yes, I said multiple collections. By the time the plate came around the second or third time Iím  sure any cheerfulness in giving was replaced with a desire for lunch.       


Then thereís the method some churches use today in which  there are no ushers to collect the tithe. You simply walk up to the front and deposit your money into a basket.  Of course, if you had nothing to deposit youíd looked pretty conspicuous sitting back in your seat while others went forward.  I often wonder if there is an ulterior motive behind this practice.  One friend suggested to me that to avoid the embarrassment of staying in your seat you could walk up to the basket and deposit an empty envelope.  No one would know the difference.       


So every Sunday Iíd give money with little thought of how it was spent after it left my fingers.  As long as I gave, that was the important thing.  The Lord would have to worry about how it was spent.  I did my part by giving. My conscience was clear.  But whoís really responsible for how our tithe is spent anyway?  Is the Lord responsible?  Is church leadership responsible, or does the ordinary giver have any responsibility in considering these things before he gives?   


I suppose if youíre a pastor of a traditional church youíd believe in tithing because its Biblical. You might quote from Malachi 3:8 where God tells Israel that they rob Him by not giving their tithes and offerings. God also tells Israel to test Him on this point to see if He wonít bless them once they tithe.  So there you go, as a pastor itís your obligation to teach your people to tithe, and especially to your church.


One pastor told me that if he didnít teach on strict tithing then his people wouldnít give and his church would fold. I wonder how he knew that his church would fold since he had never tried teaching anything else but tithing to his church.  So thereís  another reason why tithing is taught, and maybe thatís the most important reason of all.        

Many Evangelicals believe that tithing is God's divine truth for all generations. The word tithe simply means ďa tenthĒ. The idea is that we should give one tenth of our income to God, even though the Law of Moses uses the figure 23.3%, not 10%.  I will explain about this later.  Thereís some debate whether the tenth should be taken from your gross income or from your net income.  Some teachers suggest taking the tenth from your gross income because youíll get a bigger blessing in return. Associated with the word tithe is the word offerings,  as in, ďtithes and offeringsĒ.  Offerings are given to the church over and above your tithe. So with giving both ďtithes and offeringsĒ, plus going out for lunch after church as many people do, Sunday church can be an expensive adventure.  

The topic of tithing brings out strong emotions in many people, so itís a tough subject to address, but Iím going to try anyway.  I donít expect everyone to agree with me.  I only suggest you consider what I say and the Lord give you the understanding in all things.


Tithing can only be properly understood with sound Biblical interpretation practices.  Good hermeneutics (Biblical Interpretation) is often neglected when talking about this subject.  As a matter of fact, I believe that how you understand the Old Testament in light of being a New Testament Christian is the fundamental issue to this whole discussion.   Maybe youíve never seriously thought tithing through from a Scriptural stand-point. Maybe youíve simply accepted the general consensus preached from many pulpits.  Well, hereís what I believe the Bible teaches about tithing.


Next Section

Home Page