About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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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 all about giving 100% of your life to Jesus.  This means that 100% of  your income belongs to Jesus, not 10%.  And really, everything you have, and all that you are belongs to Him.  Your job is to simply take good care of that which youíve given to Jesus.  This New Testament thinking should be your mind-set when thinking of tithing.  

 

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 ďgiving to getĒ 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.  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 refers to Godís Word, not money.  To carry this analogy beyond Jesusí specific intention is questionable hermeneutics in my opinion.        

 

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.  He gave more than we can ever imagine because He loved us. If He was hoping to get lots from us in return, Heíd still be hoping. Giving to get is not New Testament thinking.         

 

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.  They say that because tithing existed before the Law it still exists after the Law and should be practiced by us today.  I will address this issue later, but until then letís take a closer look at how Abraham and Jacob tithed.  

 

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. (Gen 14)   In Gen. 14:21 we learn that Melchizedek didnít really want a tenth of Abrahamís war chest.  Heíd rather have Abrahamís  people instead.  It appears that Melchizedek was more interested in people than material things.  That sounds a lot like Jesus, doesnít it? 

 

Although Abraham offered this tenth to Melchizedek the text doesnít specifically say Melchizedek received it from Abraham.  We only assume he did.  One thing I do know is that Abraham offered 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.   

 

In Gen. 28 Jacob had a powerful dream.  As a result of this dream he vowed to God that heíd give Him a tenth of all that God gave him.  Vows normally had conditions placed on them, 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,  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 ďthe things God gave JacobĒ to be the things God gave Jacob  on his way home, not his ongoing income.   

 

Jacob didnít promise a tenth of his income, but a tenth of what God gave him. I donít think thereís any evidence that Jacob was thinking in terms of tithing his income here.  It appears to me that Jacob thought in terms of tithing what God gave him on his way home. Therefore you canít use this passage to support tithing on income.

 

Then look at what Jacob was doing.  He was presenting God with a conditional vow.  You might say that he was attempting to make a deal with God, although Jacob may not have specifically understood this vow as we understand a deal today, even though they are very similar.  Nevertheless, he was saying, ďif you help me God, I will tithe to youĒ. 

 

So, if you teach tithing based on Jacobís example, then you should teach that ďmaking deals with GodĒ is permissible, especially when thinking in terms of tithing.  I think most of us would agree that making deals with God isnít New Testament thinking.               

Abraham and Jacob lived before the law of Moses came into existence.  So even in these early days there was a hint of some kind of tithing.  To suggest that we tithe on our income today based on these two examples is very questionable.  Thereís no evidence that these men tithed on their income and making a vow like Jacob did isnít  New Testament thinking. 

 

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