Tithing: OT bibical principle and NT legalism

Sermons have been preached on it and Christians have fallen under a spirit of guilt through it. Giving of our time, talents and treasurers is biblical: extortion is not.

by Carrie Sant

TithesThe religious people missed Him the first time, let's learn a lesson from them and not make the same mistake.

God’s way makes more rational sense to me than any other way. I believe it can be really dangerous to abandon our rational minds. I think we should question everything, keep re-examining things, especially in the light of New Testament scripture and make sure that we are not just following traditions of men rather than Jesus.

Tithes in the Old Testament (incidentally not mentioned in the New Testament because everything we have belongs to Him) belong to God and were to be used to support ministries, the poor, the fatherless, the widows and the strangers in apparently equal measure.

Deut 14 v 28 tells us what the tithes were for, as does Malachi 3:5-17 ( not just 8-11!) 1 Corinthians 9:9-11 tells us that it is not wrong for ministries to be supported – although some may choose not to burden the church and make any offerings available for supporting the needy.

Giving in the earthly church was to be as God showed each individual. In Acts 5:4 Peter says to Annaias and Saphira when they came to him pretending to bring the full proceeds of land they had sold “didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?”

He invites us to bring all our resources to Him and ask Him how He wants us to use them, It is not about “doing” a legalistic tithe, and expecting God to be impressed while we then live in relative luxury and extravagance. Do we really expect others in our midst and in other lands, to tithe also whilst they struggle to eat well, keep warm and work double shifts to survive.

I have seen examples of people struggling to feed their families being told that they must tithe and the pastor driving around in a flash car claiming it to be and example of how God provides and blesses. Congregations then start to see material things as being proof of God’s blessing and aspire to be materially prosperous. This is not the example Jesus showed.

Annanias and Saphira sold a field, they had every right to keep or give whatever they chose but it was not OK for them to say they had given all when they had only chosen to give a portion. We cannot earn God's favour by tithing or even by giving all; we deserve nothing, everything we have is because of His grace. We need to ask not what portion should I give to God but what portion is it OK for me to keep. What will we do? God invites us to follow Jesus and pool our pittance with His squillions to extend His Kingdom.

Instead of being like a business with careful administrators, committees and nice guaranteed incomes, what I am advocating is both more challenging and at the same time far more dynamic, liberating, exciting, terrifying and faith-led.

We are not under law but under grace. We are kings and priests, heirs of the Kingdom called to rule and reign here and now, in truth, justice, love, and peace. Not via a political or religious system but by following Jesus in individual righteous living, loving, caring, giving to those in need as we feel led by the Holy Spirit, administrators of God’s undeserved acts of kindness.

Ed footnote: Carrie Sant is a street chaplain in Norwich. The article above is extracted from a piece in the Network Norwich website.

Carrie Sant, 07/04/2011