Articles

Tithe and Tithing? Forget It

13 December 2021

Instead, Give “as he may prosper!”

HOW MANY sermons have you heard where the preacher or the church encourages you to tithe?

Tithing is an issue that comes up often in churches and that tends to bring up larger issues of law, Christian freedom, grace, generosity, faithfulness, and priorities. I believe these issues are not adequately aired or discussed in most churches today.

I hope to bring a small measure of understanding on this rather complex issue.

A “tithe” is ten percent; it was a part of the taxation system under the Mosaic economy for the Jews in the First Temple period. But that is not all of it. There was in reality upto three different tithes. But enough said on that as we no longer need to be concerned about it today.

The New Testament doesn’t say a single word on setting ten percent (or any other specific amount or percentage) as a “required” amount to give as part of the Christian life. To reduce the rather complex theological issues surrounding the interaction between the specific requirements of the Old Testament law and the new covenant in Christ, I’d just say this: In the New Testament you can give nothing or you can give everything.

Consider Jesus’ observations made of the poor widow who gave two small copper coins (all that she had) compared with the “many rich people [who] put in large sums. Jesus' telling comment is: the rich contributed out of their abundance but the widow “out of her poverty” had put in everything she had to live on. (Mark 12: 41-44)

Once, when I was preaching on this or a related issue, a church member shared this concept with me. In the NT the governing principle is and should be about stewardship and not ownership. God owns everything and therefore has the right to everything. We are his stewards and owe Him everything. The implication is how faithful a steward are we?

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:2 enjoins Christians to give “as he [God] may prosper.” This is the principle of proportional giving. I would encourage you to think about “contributing out of [your] abundance.”

Christians are called to financially give robustly and even sacrificially to the work of the Gospel, especially toward the preaching of the Word.

May the Lord give us all wisdom as we think about what it means to be good stewards of what He has loaned to us.

Pastor Robert Chew