PROSPERITY: Tithing (Another Perspective). Not about Percentages, but rather EQUALITY & whether or not you’re giving PROPORTIONATELY…and above all, being a GODLY STEWARD!!!!!

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 14, 2007

Wanted to make certain that the waters weren’t muddy regarding my stance on TITHING. Hope that this clears up on things…….& for anyone whose interested, consider checking this interview out. Excellent explanation on the issue of TITHING/OFFERINGS:


Also, for another resource to considering investigating, go here:



To note, where I stand on the issue (since I may’ve lost some people in the last post on TITHING), I think that Tithing’S GREAT…….PRACTICAL & HELPFUL, but it is not evil unless it is presented to be a REQUIREMENT for Christians.

There is a ditch on both sides of the road. There are many who would impose tithing on the church (ditch on the right) – though if you are reformed – your theology gives you some basis for that – on the other hand, there seem to be folks who do not want to be asked to “give as they are blessed,” or to support missionaries, pastors, and good works(ditch on the left) – each of which are based on NT scripture.

I like both to tithe and to give additionally as the Lord leads – and I think that it as wrong to oppose tithing as to insist upon it. It can be a helpful and thoughtful beginning to a good stewardship of all of our possesions. It’d be noteworthy to mention, for those who fear tithing, that All helpful practices may become legalistic. Just because something has been applied legalistically, does not mean it should be abandoned – or the church could believe almost nothing. virtually everything in the Bible has been misused – should pur goal not be that of using it correctly?

Every scripture is God-breathed and useful and the scriptures about tithing teach proportional giving.

It is incorrect to say that Christians are required to tithe. It is equally incorrect to say that Christians are forbidden to tithe. Tithing is a free choice that some make to support the their church.

I think that there is too much time spent on defending/attacking the tithe – rather than simply encouraging folks to honestly submit their whole lives to God and give as the Spirit moves.

I would also add that we may use of OT law to teach valid principles – in this case proportional giving with tithing. We use the story of Jonathan and David to teach about friendship – is that wrong? We use the story of Jonah to teach that God cares about other nations – is that wrong?

Tithing does teach “proportionality” – “to give as you are blessed” – and “Regularity”, as in consistency in giving. And That is a helpful aspect to the practice.

Here’s something from another article that may aid the discussion (AND WHICH BEST ILLUSTRATES WHERE I STAND ON THE ISSUE):

“”Many believers give their tenth and never even consider that they could (and perhaps should) be giving even more. Actually, to demand a tenth from all believers is disobedience to the principles set down in 2 Corinthians 8:12-15 because the tithe may become an unequal yoke. By that I mean it is a burden to some, and a limitation to greater giving by others according to the principles of equality and proportionate grace giving (1 Cor. 16:1-2). Please note the following:

“(1) Giving ten percent for one man might be considered “sowing sparingly” if he was giving proportionately.”

“(2) Giving ten percent for another could be considered “sowing bountifully,” if he was giving proportionately.”

“(3) Giving ten percent for some would be giving beyond their ability and could be considered sacrificial giving, giving “according to what they do not have” (cf. 2 Cor. 8:12; 9:6).”

“(4) In essence this means some are being eased of their responsibilities because of their abundance and others afflicted by the tithe compulsion because of their lack (2 Cor. 8:13).”

“(5) Proportionate grace giving in the New Testament eliminates this and brings about what Paul calls “equality” (2 Cor. 8:14-15). See the illustration below concerning proportionate giving.”

“(6) This means to be a good steward of the resources God supplies, the more prosperous believers give more out of their abundance, not just in dollars but in the percentage (20, 30 percent and even more), while those with less give a smaller percent, one determined out of their walk with the Lord. They may decide to give sacrificially as did the Macedonians, but it should be the product of the work of the Spirit of God and not the legal demands of a church that insists on the tithe. Indeed, the tithe is an unequal yoke. Think about it. If you tithe, you may be sowing sparingly.
Proportionate Giving”

“The big question is, what does it mean to give proportionately? How does one determine how much (what percent) to give? It is easy enough to figure ten percent of something, but how much is “as he purposes in his heart,” or “as he has been prospered,” or “may prosper,” or “if there is a readiness it is acceptable according to what a man has …” How much is that?”

“(1) It is not a specific amount, or a certain percent, but a proportion based on what one has, one’s own needs, and on the needs of others, including the work of Christ or the ministry of the local church.”

“(2) Those who have little may give the little they are able (2 Cor. 8:2-3).”

(3) Those who have nothing, if there is a readiness, are not expected to give anything (2 Cor. 8:12).

(4) Those who have less than enough (genuine needs) are to receive from those who have more than enough so there is a balancing out, a kind of equality (2 Cor. 8:13-15). This is not socialism or communism which is coercive and seeks for a total equality that does away with any variations in society based on individual differences in hard work, in giftedness, and personal incentive (cf. 1 Tim. 6:17f).

(5) God is not asking those who have plenty to become poor or burdened that others may be made rich (2 Cor. 8:13). The equality envisioned here through proportionate giving is twofold: (a) It involves aid to help people through a condition of need until they are able to get on their feet financially by working (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:10-15). We do not give so others can live in ease or have the same standard of living as everyone else. (b) This creates an equality in the sense that those with less give proportionately less and those with more give proportionately more and are able to carry more of the load in giving.

(6) Those who have an abundance are to be rich in good works; they are to use their abundance liberally in the cause of Christ (2 Cor. 8:14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).

(7) Increased prosperity should not result in a higher and higher standard of living, or wasteful spending, but in an increase in giving, not only in the amount but in the percent given. If believers today were committed to proportionate giving, many would be giving far in excess of ten percent. Statistics show, however, that most believers give no more than 3-5 percent.
Definition of Proportionate Giving”

Proportionate giving is giving in proportion to God’s blessing, as a steward who wants to invest his life in heavenly treasure. Proportionate giving does not mean just giving more, but giving a greater proportion of one’s income—a greater percentage invested in God’s work.

In Proportionate giving:

(1) OUR MOTIVE for giving is God’s spiritual blessing, to increase fruitfulness and bring glory to God (2 Cor. 9:8-15).

(2) OUR MEASURE for giving is God’s material blessing (1 Cor. 16:2).
Illustration of Proportionate Giving

Believer A has an income of $20,000 per year and he gives ten percent which is $2,000. Believer B has an income of $50,000 per year and he gives ten percent which is $5,000. Believer B has given $3,000 more per year but this is not proportionately more because Believer A has $18,000 left to live on and Believer B still has $45,000 left, over twice as much. Believer B could give 20 percent ($10,000) and still have $40,000 left to live on which is still over twice as much as Believer A. Believer B would then be giving not only more, but proportionately more as well.
Promises for the Generous Proportionate Giver

Luke 16:10-11: Generally, God does not entrust more wealth to us to manage until we prove faithful with what we have now.

Second Corinthians 9:8-11: Our giving will never be our lack; God will not only resupply what we have given, but He will increase our giving capacity as we give abundantly. The goal here is not increased personal wealth, but greater giving” ” ( http://www.bible.org/topic.php?topic_id=34 )

         Again, the issue with tithing or not tithing is a mute point in light of what God’s Word says on the issue of PROPORTIONATE GIVING.

This is something which even the OT alludes to. For examples, investigate the Book of Ezra or Nehemiah (as well as Deuteronomy, Numbers,  & Leviticus) to see moreso what I mean.

On Nehemiah: http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=692

On Ezra: http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=691

On Deuteronomy: http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=644

On Numbers: http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=646

On Leviticus: http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=645

For those truly unable to give 10%, there’s no need to sweat it……. Give what you’re able & build from there. However, for those who have the ability to do so & yet refuse, that’s an issue since you’re not giving in PROPORTION TO WHAT YO U HAVE……………..& as said before, for the majority of people living in the USA today, 10% would be far too little of a percentage to give.

Moreover, for those continually claiming “I DON’T HAVE 10% TO GIVE”, it should be noted that the reason why is often NOT BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF ABILITY TO DO SO. Check out where many of them their resources often…….in ENTERTAINENT, NON-ESSENTIALS, EXCESSIVE LIVING, POOR INVESTMENTS, WASTEFUL SPENDING & in other things THAT REALLY DO NOT MATTER.

Because of an unwillingness to scale down in lifestyle and work on improving those habits that’d hinder us from “excelling in the GRACE OF GIVING”, is it any wonder that 10% and more is continually an issue?

 Consider this, by the way:

Should I scale down my lifestyle in order to increase my giving?
Probably so. Dietitians tell us that scaling back on eating (especially certain rich foods) is the best way for us to shed pounds. In a land that is as calorie rich as ours, it is rare that exercise alone will do the trick. In a similar way, scaling back consumption is often the best way to free up our income for giving. Many Americans live far beyond their means, amassing debt that cripples their giving. Many others consume every dime in spending or saving, leaving precious little to give away. God has not called most of us to live like paupers, but neither are we given permission to concentrate solely on ourselves rather than the needs of his kingdom. As the apostle Paul told the Corinthians, many of us have been especially blessed so that we can be a blessing to those in need—not to make us all poor, but so that we can work for equality (2 Corinthians 8:13-15; 9:11). Similarly, in Luke 16, Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who lived in splendor, health and safety and was well dressed, religious and respected. But he ignored the poor in his community in order to provide for his own comforts and security. As the parable goes on to show, such callous disregard for the condition of others is a sign of God’s judgement on us, for the Bible continually calls us to look at our own status and gauge our ability to respond accordingly (Luke 3:7-11; 1 John 3:16-19; Acts 4:34-37). The truth is that for most of us,  changes in our spending habits can be made, whether gradually or suddenly. Like the Corinthians and the rich man in Jesus’ parable, we must consider why God has blessed us: Is it for our own consumption, safety and comfort? Or has God (also) blessed us so we can be a blessing to others?


If anyone would like more information on the subject (as well as practical strategies for how people can increase their giving), consider visiting here:


Also, for another interesting argument to consider on tithing/proportionality (and coming from someone who even believes that Christians are not REQUIRED TO TITHE, but THAT IT’D STILL BE BENEFICIAL TO PRACTICE DOING SO):


The question before us is not whether Christians are responsible to be generous with their wealth in giving back a portion of it to support the work of the ministry. 2 Corinthians 8-9, as well as other texts, make it quite clear that we are. The question, rather, is whether New Covenant Christians are biblically and morally obligated to give according to Old Covenant laws. The question is not whether Christians are free to tithe of their income. Certainly, they are. The question is whether Christians are obligated to tithe of their income. Does the Bible legislate to believers under the New Covenant a specific percentage of their income that they are to give?

A.        The Secular, Extra-biblical Tithe

In ancient times tithing was not restricted to religious people, such as the nation Israel. Giving a portion of one’s income either to a pagan deity or to the governing authority was a widespread custom. One need only read Genesis 47:24 where the Egyptians were required to pay 20% of their harvest to Pharaoh. Other extra-biblical documents indicate that tithing was commonly practiced throughout the ancient world among such people as the Syrians, Lydians, and Babylonians (see the discussion of this in the article on the “Tithe” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, V:756).

B.        The Pre-Mosaic Tithe

Was tithing a mandatory or even common practice among God’s people prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law? There are two examples of pre-Mosaic tithing.

(1)       We read in Genesis 14:18-20 that Abraham gave “a tenth of all” to Melchizedek. Personally, I am reluctant to appeal to the example of Abraham to justify contemporary tithing for the following reasons:

First, did Abraham tithe because of some divine mandate that was binding on all God’s people at that time, or was it because he was following a common ancient near-eastern custom? We don’t know. There is nothing in the OT which indicates that Abraham ever received divine or revelatory instructions concerning tithing. There is no command associated with this incident or any other evidence that would indicate that what Abraham did on this one occasion is binding and normative for all believers in every age.

Second, observe that Abraham tithed out of the spoils or booty of war (see the preceding context in Gen. 14:13-16; cf. also Heb. 7:4). Nothing is said about his tithing from his yearly income.

Third, to whom did Abraham pay this tithe? It was not to God, but to a man, Melchizedek.

Fourth, there is no evidence that Abraham ever tithed to anyone again. He may have, but we have no record of such activity and thus no way of knowing if this was a singular event or one example of a common practice.

Fifth, the only other reference to this incident is in Heb. 7. There the author is determined to prove the superiority of the New Covenant priesthood of Jesus Christ to the Old Covenant priesthood. He does this by proving the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham. Remember, it was Abraham who paid a tithe to Melchizedek, not the other way around. It was Melchizedek who blessed Abraham, not the other way around. And as Hebrews 7:7 states, “the lesser is blessed by the greater.” Our author then says that, in a certain sense, Levi also paid a tithe to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of his great-grandfather Abraham when the incident recorded in Gen. 14 occurred. The point he is making is this: “Abraham was a great man indeed, . . . but in the account of his interview with Melchizedek, it is Melchizedek who appears as the greater of the two. And if Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, his priesthood must be greater than a priesthood which traces its descent from Abraham” (F. F. Bruce, 139-40). Therefore, Jesus, who is our high priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:20), is greater than any and all priests of the order of Aaron and Levi. It is exegetically tenuous, then, to appeal to this text in defense of contemporary tithing.

(2)       In Genesis 28:22 it is said that Jacob promised to give a tenth of all he had to God. Is this a solid biblical reason why we should?

First, note well that this is a vow made upon the condition that God would bless Jacob. This isn’t the case of someone saying, “Tithe to God and God will bless you,” but rather “God, you first bless me and then I will tithe to you.”

Second, do we have good reason to believe that Jacob’s act is to be taken as normative for all believers in every age? I might be willing to grant that we should follow Jacob’s example if the rest of Scripture were silent on the subject of financial stewardship. In other words, if all we had on the subject of giving was the story of Jacob, perhaps then it would be wisdom to pattern our giving after his. But the New Testament is anything but silent on this subject, as our study of 2 Cor. 8-9 will reveal.

[We should remember that circumcision was also practiced by God’s people prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law, yet no one would use this as grounds for mandating that ritual today.]

B.        The Mosaic, or Old Covenant, Tithe

There is some dispute among OT scholars concerning how many tithes the children of Israel were required to pay. Some believe they paid nearly 22% of their income to the Lord every year! Let me summarize their argument:

First, according to Leviticus 27:30-33, 10% of all grain, cattle, fruit, etc. was to be set aside as a tithe to the Lord. We read:

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock — every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod — will be holy to the Lord. He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.”

Second, this tithe was to be given to the Levites. The Levites were one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe from whom the priests were taken. Numbers 18:20-32 explains why they received the tithe. The relevant portion of that passage reads as follows:

The Lord said to Aaron, ‘You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting. . . . They [the Levites] will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Levites and say to them: When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. . . . In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.”

Thus, it would appear that the first 10% of the Israelites’ income was to be given to the Levites, who in turned tithed from that 10% (1%), giving it to the high priest.

Clearly, the Levites, or those who ministered in the tabernacle and Temple, were supposed to live off the tithes of the other eleven tribes. In 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, Paul says: “Do you not know that those who perform sacred services [in the temple] eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar [of sacrifice in the temple] have their share with the altar.” Here Paul reminds the church that in the OT economy the Levites who worked in the Temple lived off the tithes brought to the Temple. Then he says in 9:14, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.” Paul’s argument is that those who spend their lives ministering the Word of God should be supported by other Christians. To make his point, he draws attention to the way it was done in the OT. At minimum, Paul is saying that other believers are to financially support those in so-called “full-time ministry.” Whether or not he is saying that they should do it by giving precisely 10% is less certain.

Third, according to Deuteronomy 14:22-27, some argue that a second tithe (or 10% of the remaining 90%, hence 9%) was to be taken once a year to Jerusalem, there to be consumed by a man and his family in a sacred feast or meal. If a person lived too far away to transport his tithe to Jerusalem, he was permitted to exchange his goods for silver. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he was to convert his cash back into cattle, sheep, wine, etc. (Deut. 14:24-26). If this is the correct interpretation, we now have Israelites paying 19% of their income in tithes. But there is more to come.

Fourth, according to Deut. 14:28-29, an additional (?) tithe of 10% was to be paid every third year. This tithe was to be given to the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless, and the widows. In other words, every third year the Israelite was to take an additional 10% from the remaining 81%. If my math is correct, this means that every year the Israelite was required to pay approximately 21.7% of his income in tithes to the Lord!

Others have objected to this interpretation, arguing that these passages in the OT all refer to the same tithe. It is only one tithe, 10%, to be used in different ways. In other words, 10% of one’s yearly produce/income (Lev. 27) was to be taken to Jerusalem and consumed there (Deut. 14:22-27). Whatever was left over was to be given to the Levites (Num. 18:20-32). Every third year, however, the entire 10% was to be given to the Levites, the aliens, and to the orphans and widows. On this interpretation, the Israelite was required to pay only 10% a year.

Regardless of which view one takes, the important point to note is that the Israelite was required to pay his tithe. It was tantamount to a national income tax, That is why Malachi 3:6-12 speaks of those who did not pay their tithes as “robbing” God. In Israel, under the Mosaic Covenant, there was no such thing as separation of church and state. One’s tithe was a “religious tax” designed to sustain the theocratic state of God’s chosen people.

The New Testament twice (Matthew 23:23 [Lk. 11:42]; Luke 18:12) refers to people who were still living under and therefore morally obligated to obey the dictates of the Old, Mosaic Covenant. But these people were required to pay their tithes for the same reason they were required to bring a lamb for sacrifice and required to observe the civil code of Leviticus and required not to touch a dead body and required to obey all the legislation instituted by God in the covenant with Israel. On what grounds, then, do we say that the OT law concerning tithing is still binding on the conscience of New Covenant believers but its laws concerning other matters is not?

Galatians 6:6 also causes me to wonder: If tithing were a New Covenant law, why does Paul exhort the believers in Galatia: “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches” (6:6)? Why didn’t he simply say, “Pay your tithes”?


Is it permissible to tithe? Not only is it permissible, I would strongly recommend and urge you to do so. In choosing to give 10% of our income to the Lord, we are honoring a God-given, Old Testament principle. In the absence of a prescribed percentage for giving in the New Testament, why not adopt the Old Testament pattern? This does not mean you are sinning if you don’t. To give only 8% or to give 12% is equally permissible. Not to give at all, or to give disproportionately to your income (which is the case with most Christians today), or to give grudgingly, is indeed sin. Let us be joyful and generous in our giving. After all, everything we own belongs to God anyway!



Hebrews 7:1-9 “To Tithe Or Not To Tithe”

(Pastor Drew Worthen, Calvary Chapel Port Charlotte, Fl.)

HEB 7:1 “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,
2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is, their brothers -even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.
7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.
9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,…”

This portion of scripture is one which has some very important things to say to us today. The context is specifically dealing with the exalted nature of Christ and His salvation toward men and their responsibility to honor Him, and it is compared with that of other priesthoods and the responsibility of men toward them. It then shows how one is greater than the other.

When put into perspective our writer desires for us to arrive at the conclusion that our Lord deserves our full allegiance and undying love for Him above all things.

But what we’ve noticed here in the verses I read is that our writer builds his case using a practice which showed how those who were lesser, honored those who were greater. The particular practice in mind is the tithe.

For a Jew, in the first century, the tithe was a common and important part of his worship toward God. He understood most of what the O.T. had to say about the tithe. Unfortunately, most Christians have little understanding of what the tithe is and how, if at all, it is to be used today in the church.

I must point out that in our context here in Hebrews the writer’s purpose is not to teach on tithing. He already assumes these Jewish Christians understood its meaning. And since my practice is to stick with the text I would be stretching the issue if I made this into a proof-text for tithing.

However, with that said, I also understand that since the concept of tithing plays an important role in the text and since tithing is such an issue in the church I believe it’s important to give some insights into its use today as well as how it was used in the O.T.

We will be going back to verse one next week and deal with the text as it was intended by our writer, but this morning I would like to accomplish two things. 1) Discover what the tithe was and 2) Is it to be practiced today and if so, how?

The term tithe simply means a tenth part of the whole. The concept of tithing was not new to man prior to the law of Moses. Even pagan cultures practiced it to some degree. In our text in Hebrews we find that Abraham practiced tithing as it related to Melchizedek. He gave a tenth of the spoils he got as a result from defeating the kings in battle.

We know that this was some 400 years before the law of Moses. But tithing as a practice of worship, specifically commanded by God in Scripture, didn’t come into its own until the law of Moses was given.

Its original intent was designed by God to meet the needs of a specific group of people in Israel. But it went beyond that in the sense that it gave the people who were giving, an opportunity to show their worship and dependency on God. And so it had a dual purpose: one practical, one spiritual.

The first time we clearly see the tithe in Scripture is when Abraham met Melchizedek after battle which we have seen in our Hebrews text. It’s first found in GEN 14:20 “And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” This of course is before the Mosaic law.

The next time we see the tithe mentioned in Scripture is when Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, is spoken to by God in a dream and has the covenant, which God made for Abraham, now confirmed in him.

After Jacob awoke he made that place where he dreamed a holy place unto the Lord. The place was originally called Luz. He changed the name to Bethel, which means house of God. But then he made a promise to the Lord in GEN 28:22 …. “this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” This was also before the law of Moses.

However, when God did finally give the law of tithes to the nation of Israel in the wilderness the Lord made a very interesting provision. He told Israel, who now had the law, not to observe the law until they got to the promised land to possess it and not to practice these things until God revealed where He wanted them to be.

DEU 12:7 “There [in the promised land], in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 You are not to do as we do here [in the wilderness] today, everyone as he sees fit,
9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you.
10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety.
11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name – there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.
17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.
18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose – you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns – and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to.
19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.”

The actual act of tithing was prohibited by God until Israel crossed over the Jordan and possessed the land. But as we see in Scripture the Levites were to be the ones who would benefit from the tithe because they had no inheritance in the land. And so they were supported by the tithes of Israel. Their function was to the house and worship of God.

But the tithe was not limited to the Levites. In fact we’re told that the people themselves were to enjoy the tithe of their labors at times.

 DEU 14:22 ”

Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.
24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away),
25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose.
26 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.
27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns,
29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

And so we see that the tithe was never meant to be a burden but a means of worshipping God and meeting the needs of the Levites and those who had nothing; such as the fatherless, the alien and widow.

By the way, the tithe or one tenth of all their giving was not the total amount the Israelites brought to God. One tenth was simply a measurement of what God wanted at a specific time. And so if God said, give one tenth of your increase on a regular basis and then add to that one tenth at this particular time, in addition to your other giving, we can see how this would increase their giving beyond one tenth of their total amount.

The Scripture I quoted above confirms this. DEU 14:28 “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns,
29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Charles Ryrie in his book, “Balancing the Christian life” points out that “the Jews understood that a second tithe (a tenth of the remaining 9 tenths) was to be set apart and consumed in a sacred meal in Jerusalem (Deu.12:5-6,11,18). Every third year this second tithe was taken for the Levites, strangers, fatherless and widows. Thus the proportion was clearly specified, and every Israelite was obliged to bring to the Lord 19 percent of his yearly income.”

I hope this short treatise gives you a little clearer view of the O.T. tithe (one tenth of ones increase) from a biblical perspective, both before and after the law of Moses. The question remains, however, how does this tithe apply to the church today?

Are we still obliged to follow the tithe in an O.T. sense and give 19 percent of our income if we follow the post-Mosaic law, or apparently 10 percent only, with the pre-Mosaic law?

Or is there a third alternative? To answer the first question. We know that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. And yet we also know that Paul makes it quite clear that to add the law to our salvation is to introduce another gospel. Keep in mind that when Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish it, it was in the context of what He was presently doing to redeem us from the penalty of our sin.

He had not yet gone to the cross. And we know that He was obligated to keep the law perfectly. But we also know that in bringing in a new covenant, He was coming to bring a better covenant where the old would give way to it as a means of worshipping and following God.

This is what the writer means in this same chapter in Hebrews when he says, HEB 7:21 “but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.'” (Psalm 110:4)
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.”

One replaces the other. Paul speaks of this in GAL 3:23 “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

And so in the sense that the tithe is a law under the Old covenant we are not obligated to keep such a law as a means of worshipping God. However, the question must be raised, if the tithe was practiced before the giving of the law, are we not then obligated to keep it according to the word of God today in the church?

And if not, does the word of God give us any insight into what we are to do with our increase as unto the Lord?

The argument has been made that since Abraham and Jacob offered a tithe to God prior to the law then the principle remains in tact. Some might even go back to Cain and Abel and make the case that they offered up of their increase and therefore gave us an example to be carried out today.

The thrust of Cain and Abel’s sacrifices should not be overlooked though. Was it the amount that pleased God or was it the type and attitude in which it was given? The two offerings were different. Cains of the fruit of the ground, Abel’s of the firstlings of his flock.

God was pleased with Abel’s and not with Cain’s. We’re not told why. Some have surmised that one was a blood offering while the other one was not. But if the principle of tithing holds true then it should not be limited to an animal or vegetable.

We’ll get back to this later. But let’s move to Melchizedek and Abraham. Abraham gave a tenth, or tithe, of the spoils he gained in battle, to the King Priest Melchizedek. Next week we’ll see why. But the point is that since Abraham gave a tenth before the Mosaic law was enacted then the principle remains for us to follow today.

After all, despite the lack of a written law, God somewhere along the line must have made it clear that a tenth is what He wanted. In fact we know He did. GEN 26:4 “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring [Or seed ] all nations on earth will be blessed,
5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”

Therefore, the reasoning goes, since God’s law was given, though yet not written, we must be giving a tenth of our increase today. That’s the logical progression that is used to support this view; since it was before the written law, it is still in effect.

The problem with this logic is it doesn’t necessarily carry over to other related pre-Mosaic law practices. One glaring example would be the Sabbath. We read in EXO 16:22 “On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much -two omers [That is, probably about 4 quarts (about 4.5 liters)] for each person – and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.
23 He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'”
26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

This all had to do with gathering and preparing the manna which God gave the Israelites in the desert. The instruction from God was, you can gather what you need five days a week, but on the sixth day you must gather enough for two days so you won’t have to work on the seventh day which is a Sabbath unto the Lord.

The question is when were these original instructions given? Before or after the law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai? These instructions are given in Exo.16:22…. We find the law given to Moses on Sinai in Exo.19.

Again Ryrie makes the comment: “The fact that something was done before the law that was later incorporated into the law does not necessarily make that thing a good example for today, especially if the N.T. gives further guidance on the matter. Not even the most ardent tither would say the Sabbath should be observed today because it was observed before the law, yet this is the very reasoning used in promoting tithing today. The N.T. teaches us about a new day of worship, and it also gives us new directions for giving.”

And the remainder of our time will be spent looking at what our Lord teaches concerning giving as well as the writings of His apostles. Let me first say however, that I don’t believe that the scriptures would discourage tithing in the church today. I would say that the N.T. broadens and deepens that aspect of giving and would not limit our giving to just 10 percent or force someone to give 10 percent.

There are churches where to become a member you must promise to give a tenth of your income to that church. In fact, if you are found not living up to your end of the bargain you will get a visit from the leadership who will then implement disciplinary action if you persist in not giving that amount.

This is one extreme and certainly an abuse of what real giving should be in the church today. But do we have any guidelines to follow? The answer is yes!

Now I’m aware of the other extreme and its dangers. Some would suggest that if a standard is not put into practice then there will be those who abuse the responsibility to support God’s work. They will use their liberty as an excuse to give as “little” as possible. This is a real danger. But if a person’s heart is that hard against God’s work then even a 10 percent standard will be violated by these people.

What we find in the N.T. is not a departure from giving, but rather a new principle of giving. A principle ruled by the Spirit not by the law. We see this in a variety of places. One such example is found in LUK 21:2 “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The point Jesus was making was that this widow gave more to God in her heart because she gave without concern for her future, which is to suggest, she gave knowing that God would meet her needs and it showed her love for God in the process. This does not teach that we should be irresponsible to the point where we don’t meet our needs and those of our families with what we have.

This woman gave out of her poverty and put in all she had to live on. That does not mean that she had not already met her needs, but with all she had left over, gave it to God. God is not teaching to disregard your present needs when giving to Him. Paul makes this clear in 1TI 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

The point though is that those wealthy Jews were probably very meticulous in making sure they gave their tenth. But who is commended? Not them, but this widow.

But simply giving well beyond a tithe is not necessarily what God wants either. He’s looking for much more than that. He’s looking for the heart attitude of wanting to please the Lord and do it in a joyous way. 2CO 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

Paul was a man who was well versed in the O.T. laws and yet he does not press those laws into action when it comes to giving. 1CO 16:1 “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”

Two things should be noted here. 1) The collection of monies is to be done on the first day of the week. The inference here is to the Lord’s Day which was celebrated on what we know as Sunday which is the first day of the week. So, when we come together this is the time to take up such collections. If you get paid weekly this works out well and if you get paid otherwise it still works. There are always more Sunday’s to come.

2) Each person is to set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income. We’re not told what that amount is. But if they are willing to be led by the Spirit and give with cheerfulness Paul trusts that they will give all that they can. If that’s a tithe for some then that should be appropriate as that person has decided in his heart to give.

Notice how the heart must be engaged. Is this the way we give to God’s work? And if it is should we be afraid that the Holy Spirit cannot move the heart of people to give what is needed?

The issue is always the heart. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. If your heart is in the things of the world they will usually take priority to God. If your heart is simply putting God at the end of your giving list then this will reveal itself as well.

There are many people who take the attitude of “tipping” God. They go through the motions of giving but it’s usually just one more religious exercise to make them feel good. If the tipping attitude is high on anyone’s priority list I would remind them that waitresses are getting 15 percent these days.

Giving should be done in an attitude of liberty. Not liberty from giving to God, but liberty in knowing that this is our Lord and Savior we are serving with what He has given us.

There were some in the early church who gave 10, 20, 40 percent or more. There were others who simply didn’t have much to give after their needs were met. And by needs I don’t believe Jesus Christ had luxuries in mind. Neither He or I would have any problem with luxuries, but the question is, as always, if they prevent me from giving from my heart to my God then are they preventing me from truly worshipping my God in the area of giving?

And if so what do they then become? Possibly idols. It all comes down to loving Christ with all our hearts, souls and minds. It’s not as though God needs anyone’s money. But it is very interesting that God would desire us to give as unto Him. There’s something real about our pockets being touched.

My problem with much of what is happening in the church today is that many pockets are being picked in the name of “Godly giving” being imposed on the flock. We need to be set free to give and to give as the Lord would desire us to as we seek Him. We have been set free and given new lives in Christ. Jesus tells us that this is one tangible way to show Him and thank Him for the life and freedom we have in Him.

There is obviously much more one could say on the subject of giving to the Lord and His work. But I still believe the best approach is to seek the Lord and earnestly desire to please Him with what He has given us. Keep in mind, He’s given us 100 percent of what we have. He then asks us to use that 100 percent to His honor and glory in all that we do.

For some, 10 percent of that 100 percent will be what the Lord lays upon their hearts, with others it may be 30 percent, and still for others it may be 5 percent. But, the bottom line is are we giving cheerfully, knowing that what we’ve been given in Christ, should effect our attitude of wanting to please God? Or are we giving because we feel compelled by a particular standard alone? The standard is not necessarily a set amount. The standard is Christ and loving Him because He first loved us.

I shared this message this morning not because I’m trying to make someone feel guilty about giving. I don’t know who gives what. I teach as God’s word is set before me. Tithing is an important part of our text in Hebrews, even though it’s not the central theme of Hebrews. But I hope this helped this morning. And if this is an area you need to go to God with, because you’ve neglected it, then you take it up with Him and give accordingly as unto Him.

My desire is to use whatever comes in for reaching out to the lost and meeting the needs of God’s people who may not have what they need. This is what our Lord wants to press home. You and I play a role in that.

2CO 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

And finally PHI 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”


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I Seek Not What Is Yours but You

A Sermon on Tithing

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By John Piper January 31, 1982

2 Corinthians 12:15

Several weeks ago I spent four days at Shalom House, our Conference retreat center. The text that filled me with most longing and soaked through my prayers was 2 Corinthians 12:15, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” The last morning I was there I took a walk before breakfast down through the birch trees to the lake and walked out on the frozen water beside the little rotting pier that had a big bread loaf of snow on it. The sun was just coming up through the pine trees yonder, at the end of the point. There was no wind, but it was 24 below zero. I stood as still and quiet as I could, and this word came to my mind: Only live for what is essential! Only live for what is essential! Which I interpreted from Scripture like this: With all joy, spend and be spent out for the souls of your people. It was one of those immeasurable moments that go on feeding you long afterward. I came away from those retreat days with a longing to pour myself out in the ministry of the Word and prayer for the advancement and joy of your faith. That’s what I want to live for.

In Pursuit of the Heart

And so as I pondered the possibility of preaching on tithing, the text that lay closest to hand was in the verse just before the words, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” In verse 14 Paul says, to the church at Corinth, “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you.” I seek not what is yours but you! What a great sentence. That is the flag waving over this sermon. It is the preface, heart, and conclusion. I seek not what is yours, but you. I seek to build up a church of whom it can never be said, “They honor me with their tithes, but their heart is far from me” (cf. Matthew 15:8). Of whom it will never be said, “Woe to you, Bethlehem, for you tithe every honorarium, birthday gifts, and before-taxes-income, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith” (Matthew 23:23). I seek not what is yours but you.

How many marriages deteriorate into empty motions because husbands do not hear the silent yearnings of the wife: “I don’t want your money, I want you“? How many parents have lost their children because they failed to interpret the signs: “I don’t want your presents, Daddy, I want you“? And how many tithing churchgoers will be lost to the kingdom because the Word of God never reached their hearts: “I will seek not what is yours but you”? So let there be no mistaking it, in this sermon on tithing I seek not what is yours but you. My desire is to spend and be spent out for your souls, not your silver. Things are utterly subordinate. Life essential is the life of the heart.

What I would like to do, then, is get before us an overview of the Old Testament and New Testament teaching about tithing, and then draw some implications for how people today who have first given themselves wholly to God should then give of their possessions to the work of God. You may want to look up the passages with me or jot them down for later perusal.

Old Testament Examples of Tithing

The oldest reference to tithing in the Bible is found in Genesis 14 where Abraham pursues a king named Chedorlaomer to rescue his kinsman Lot who had been captured. With 300 armed men Abraham defeats Chedorlaomer, and not only saves Lot, but regains all the goods stolen from Sodom. On the way back a mysterious figure named Melchizedek, called priest of the Most High God in verse 18, met Abraham and blessed him. Verse 20 simply says, “And Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.” There is no command in the later Mosaic law or anywhere in Scripture that men are to give one tenth of their captured booty to the priest. But Abram did it, evidently as a token of gratitude to God who had just given him such a great victory. So our first encounter with tithing is one where the giver is not paying God to stir him into action, but one where the giver is responding to God who has just fought for him and given him victory and great blessing. That is a pattern we must not forget.

The next time we hear of tithing is in Genesis 28:22. Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, had a dream at Bethel in which God promised to be with him and give him a great land and many descendants (Genesis 28:13–15). Jacob responds with a vow in verses 20–22 which climaxes with this promise: “And of all thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” Notice well that Jacob recognizes everything that he has disposal of as a gift from God. Therefore, his tithe is not really something he has produced that he then transfers over to God’s possession. Instead the tithe seems to be a symbolic statement that all we have is from God and that we do not count it our own. It is all at God’s disposal, and we signify that by letting a tenth of it go completely out of our control for some uniquely religious purpose. Surely Jacob did not mean that since God gave him everything, therefore he would glorify God with a tenth, but not with nine-tenths. Surely if God gives us anything, it is for us to handle in trust for his glory. Giving a tenth to him in a burnt offering, or the service of the temple, or the like is a token, a pledge that all we are and have are at his disposal all the time.

At the time of Moses, tithing was made part of the law which governed the people of Israel. There are two key texts. The first is Leviticus 27:30–33. “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem any of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And all the tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal that passes under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.” Here the law made explicit what is to be tithed: namely, the produce of the field—grain, and the produce of the trees—fruit, and the herds and flocks.

In Deuteronomy 14:22–29 some instruction is given as to how to give the tithe and what it is for.

You shall tithe all the yield of your seed which comes forth from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place which he will choose, to make his name dwell there (Jerusalem), you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and flock; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to bring the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses, and spend the money for whatever you desire, oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves; and you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not forsake the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

At the end of every three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns; and the Levite because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

Six Observations on Tithing

Let me make six brief observations from this passage about the practice and purpose of tithing.

First, according to verse 23, there was to be a yearly trip to the holy place, the place God puts his name (later Jerusalem). The people were to take their tithe to that place and then eat it there, or at least eat part of it in a feast of joy. Tithing was not to be reduced merely to the pragmatic function of paying the priests and sustaining the temple. It was an expression of joy and gratitude. God did not need the tithe. In commanding it, he was seeking not what was theirs but them.

So the second observation at the end of verse 23 is that the purpose of the tithing feast was “that you may learn to fear the Lord your God.” Take a tenth of your year’s produce, go to the holy place, offer it to the Lord, eat it (or part of it) to his glory in gratitude, “that you may learn to fear him.” Tithing was a means of remembering how dependent they were on God and how much one should fear to displease such a God by joyless ingratitude.

Third, provision was made for those whose grain was too heavy and flocks too many to take them all the way to the holy place. They could sell them and then use the money to purchase substitutes when they arrived in the holy place.

Fourth, the tithe is not to be totally consumed by the family bringing it. The Levites who were scattered through the tribes of Israel with no land of their own were to be supported by the tithers of the other 11 tribes (v. 27). The Levites were set apart for special religious purposes and had no crops or herds. The tithe was given to God not only in the sense that it was eaten in a feast in celebration of his faithfulness (cf. “blessing” in v. 24), but also in the sense that part of it supported God’s institution of the Levitical order.

Fifth, verses 28 and 29 describe a triennial tithe which was designed not only to support the Levites, but also the three most helpless groups of people in that society: the refugees, the orphans, and the widows. It seems that a sort of benevolent fund was replenished every three years for the needs of these people, by the calling in of a special tithe.

Finally, the section closes with a promise of blessing on the people if they are faithful in this act of mercy to men and gratitude to God. And this is a good place to remind ourselves of two things. One is that the way most tithes were “given to God” was by giving them to people. God cannot be enriched by us. He has no needs that our possessions can satisfy. But he can be honored by the way we treat others in his name, by special acts which celebrate his bounty, and by our willingness to trust him to supply all our needs when we give. And the other thing we must remember is that God always honors people who tithe from a good heart of faith. The promise is not to make us rich, but it is this: those who love and trust God enough to honor him with at least a tithe will never lack the resources they need. I believe that is still true today.

Two other important passages on tithing in the Old Testament are Numbers 18:21–24 and 2 Chronicles 31:4–18 which I won’t read for lack of time. But the point of both is that the tithes are especially for the Levites. Numbers 18:24 says, “The tithe of the people of Israel which they present as an offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance.” And 2 Chronicles 31:4 says that Hezekiah “commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the law of the Lord.” Thus, tithing was God’s prescribed way of supporting certain ministries which he had ordained.

In summary, then, from the Old Testament tithing goes back to the very beginning of Israel’s history before the law was given and seems to have been an expression of gratitude to the Lord who fights for his people and gives them all they have. Then as a part of the Mosaic law, tithing was made a part of Israel’s formal worship, and its various forms and purposes were prescribed. It was used to support religious orders; it was used for religious feasting in celebration of God’s goodness; and it taught the people to fear the Lord, that is, to fear not trusting him to meet all their needs.

The New Testament Understanding of Tithing

As we come over to the New Testament the picture changes significantly. Jesus mentions tithing twice, both times in reference to its legalistic abuse. He says in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith; these you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” In Luke 18:9–14, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.'”

Obviously Jesus did not regard tithing as a spiritual cure all. He does not reject it. He affirmed it for Israel. But he is much more intent on the weightier matters of the law, like faith. You can tithe everything and not trust God. Jesus was not seeking what was theirs, he was seeking them: the love of their soul, not the load of their silver.

The apostle Paul never once even refers to tithing. Whether he taught his churches to tithe when he founded them, we don’t know. But his rules in his letters seem to be as follows. First: “On the first day of the week each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper” (1 Corinthians 16:2). And second, in 2 Corinthians 8:3, “they gave according to their means and beyond their means of their own accord.” And third, in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” And finally, 2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.”

The only other place in the New Testament where tithing is mentioned is Hebrews 7:4–12, where the reference is back to Genesis 14, and the point is simply to show that Christ is like Melchizedek. Therefore, with regard to positive, explicit teaching on tithing, the New Testament is almost totally silent.

The True Question We Must Ask

I have a growing conviction why this is the case. I think God took the focus off giving a tithe in the early church because he wants his people to ask themselves a new question. The question that Jesus drives us to ask again and again is not, “How much should I give?” but rather, “How much dare I keep?” One of the differences between the Old Testament and New Testament is the Great Commission. By and large the Old Testament people of God were not a missionary people. But the New Testament church is fundamentally a missionary people. The spiritual hope and the physical and emotional sustenance that Jesus brought to earth is to be extended by his church to the whole world. The task he gave us is so immense and requires such a stupendous investment of commitment and money that the thought of settling the issue of what we give by a fixed percentage (like a tenth) is simply out of the question. My own conviction is that most middle and upper class Americans who merely tithe are robbing God. In a world where 10,000 people a day starve to death and many more than that are perishing in unbelief the question is not, “What percentage must I give?” but, “How much dare I spend on myself?”

It is a biblical truth beyond all dispute: that all your money is God’s (Psalm 24:1) and has been loaned to you as a steward to use in ways that maximize the glorification of God’s mercy in the world (Matthew 25:14–30). And it is irrational to think that giving ten percent of that money to the church settles the issue of good stewardship. In a world of such immense need, and in a country of such immense luxury, and under the commission of such a powerful Lord, the issue of stewardship is not: Shall I tithe? but rather, How much of God’s trust fund dare I use to surround myself with comforts?

I had every intention, as I began to write this message, to argue that even though the New Testament is almost silent on tithing; yet, surely we who know Jesus should do no less than the Old Testament saints who did not know him. I was going to urge everyone to tithe and give reasons why you can always afford it. I still believe that is true. But that is not the lightning bolt of God’s Word in the New Testament. The Word of God is always more radical than percentage.

To commend tithing as the ideal simply does not capture the New Testament view of discipleship. “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none. And he who has food, let him do likewise” (Luke 3:11). That’s 50% not 10%. Zacchaeus stood and said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor” (Luke 19:8). Again 50%. Jesus said to the rich young man, “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me” (Matthew 19:21). That’s 100%. “So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Again 100%. “A man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head'” (Luke 9:57f.). “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44f.). “There was not a needy person among them for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34f.). “In a severe test of affliction their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means . . . and beyond their means” (2 Corinthians 8:2, 3).

The best way that I know how to capture the spirit of the New Testament generosity is simply to say: the issue is not, How much must I give? but, How much dare I keep? Not: Shall I tithe? But: How much of the money that I hold in trust for Christ can I take for my private use? The financial issue in the church today is not tithing, but exorbitance of life-style.

 The question is not can I afford to tithe, but can I justify the life-style that consumes 90% of my income? And behind that is the question: Do I love to use God’s money to spread justice and mercy and spiritual hope in the world, or do I prefer to embezzle his money to purchase more and more personal comfort? The question whether the work of Christ here at Bethlehem in 1982 will be adequately supported is really the question of where your treasure is. And where your treasure is, there is your heart. Therefore, I do not seek what is yours but you. Amen.

Going along with that:


These You Ought to Have Done Without Neglecting the Others

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By John Piper January 13, 1991

Luke 11:37-42

While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

There are personality types like Eeyore and Puddleglum and Charlie Brown that see the dark side of almost every situation and have to work a lot harder than others to feel hopeful. But if you have a theology like mine, pessimism is a living contradiction of God and just can’t hang on for long. It’s a theology that puts Isaiah 64:4 and Romans 8 at the center and believes that a sovereign God works for those who wait for him; and that he works all things, even the hardest things, together for our good, and that nothing can separate us from his love—not financial shortfall or broken relationships or terminal disease or war with Iraq, or anything else in all creation.

Which means that as I thought about teaching this morning about money, my imagination was carried away mainly with what we could do together as a united people, if we all shared biblically in the funding of the mission of this church. Let me mention some trajectories that make me excited about where God seems to be taking us in the future. I mention these ten things because I want you to feel that this is what Bethlehem is about, not the finances. They are a means to an end. It’s the end that counts.

Ten Reasons for Hope Here at Bethlehem

Ten reasons to be encouraged that labors and investments are not in vain.

  1. God is teaching us more and more about the Holy Spirit and about his gifts and graces, and making us more and more hungry for “all the fullness of God” than we ever have been.
  2. One of the evidences of this is the growing commitment to the ministry of prayer. It is evident in our small groups and the all-night of prayer, but most of all in the emergence of the prayer teams that are now available after each service to pray for people.
  3. The birth and growth and affirmation of the vision of 2000 by 2000 to set a pace for sending and harvesting through this decade.
  4. All three of these have resulted in a much wider and intentional engagement of our unbelieving friends and family members in conversations about Christ and invitations to church. Last year there were 20 reported professions of faith through your ministry of outreach. We hope by mid decade to see that number coming to Christ every month. (Just as I am writing this, one of the men of our church called to say that he decided to do an evangelistic Bible Study at his work and five guys said they wanted to be a part of it.)
  5. So far since the beginning of 2000 by 2000 last year we have sent out 91 of our people in one way or another in the terms of this decade goal. And 60 people are in the nurture program preparing for vocational missionary service. About $90,000 of our budget increase for next year is new missionaries being funded by our church.
  6. As I analyzed the attendance patterns for the last several years I was encouraged to notice that in 1987 there were 9 Sundays with over 1,000 in worship, in 1988 there were 18 Sundays over 1,000, in 1989 there were 20 Sundays, and last year 22 Sundays over 1,000. The reason this is so encouraging is that we lost a lot of our parking this year and made it very hard for people to come, and I was gone four months out of this year. So the church does not appear to be excessively dependent on me or on parking.
  7. Last Wednesday evening the ASK class for prospective members had 26 people in it, which shows that people are continuing to find strength and hope at Bethlehem.
  8. One of the great sources of hope and joy this past year has been the ministry of small groups. Over 600 of our people are in some form of small group and there have been deeply moving stories of how small groups met people’s needs this year. There is every reason to see that ministry growing.
  9. The new sanctuary is an unmistakable sign to the city that we are here in the Elliot Park neighborhood to stay. It will triple our seating capacity when we move in, some time in May or June (Lord willing). And not only will it open the way for more people to worship with us, but the expansive foyer will make room for the kind of interaction between services that is almost impossible in our jammed hallways now. A wonderful team of people are putting in place right now the plan for paying it off in three more years so that we have no long-term debt, and can pour more and more of our resources into 2000 by 2000.
  10. Last Sunday our new weekly Radio Program was started on KTIS AM at 3:30. What the Lord may do with this we do not know. We only know that it is the result of a long season of prayer and thought. And we believe it is part of the overall blessing God wants to bring to the Twin Cities through Bethlehem and all the other evangelical churches of the area.

I don’t know what this says to you. But I know what it says to me. I turned 45 last Friday. Last Sunday the best friend I had in my seminary class, Tom Provence, a pastor in Louisiana, died of cancer. He was 45 too. When the year rolls over, you step back and ask, especially at mid-life (or more realistically at two-thirds life), is Bethlehem a good investment? Not just for my money, but for my life. I only have one to live. I want it to count for the glory of God more than I want anything in the world. And the answer of my heart—I believe it is the voice of God—is: Yes! It is a good place to invest my life. A good people. A good ten-year vision.

Radical Commitment to Mission and Ministry 

So what I want to do this morning is to ask many of you for a new level of hope-filled commitment to the mission and the ministry of this church. Here is the question that fills me with hope as we face the staggeringly wonderful opportunities of 2000 by 2000. What would God do in us and through us if ALL TOGETHER we made the grace of tithing the floor on which we stood and the grace of overflowing liberality the ceiling over our heads?

I say I call many of you to new commitment because some of you are already stretching way beyond the tithe in your giving. In fact there are reasons to be very encouraged about our giving. Funding experts tell us that in the average evangelical church 20% of the members pay for 80% of the expenses; 30% pay for the rest; and 50% don’t give anything. They have never learned from Scripture the blessing and obedience of giving. But at Bethlehem the numbers are a little better. Here instead of 50% not giving, about 30% don’t give—that’s 346 of our members who made no recorded gift last year.

But I asked for an anonymous analysis of those numbers and found that only 22 of those 346 were categorized as “active attenders.” Others were non-resident, or no-longer attending, or youth and student and watch-care, or elderly or missionaries. Therefore I do not believe that I am speaking this morning to a crowd of non-givers. What I am doing is speaking to many of you who are giving well over a tithe and others who did not grow up with this pattern and are seeking the Lord about what his will is for your giving as the first pay-check of 1991 approaches.

When Religious Practice Becomes an End in Itself 

Let’s look at Luke 11:42 and see if Jesus will speak to you as clearly as he has spoken to me this week.

But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

What the Pharisees were doing was giving a tenth of all their produce right down to the spices and herbs in their gardens. They were giving a tenth to the temple ministry. A tithe means a tenth—it is not a general word for giving. It is 10%, one tenth, of our income given to the on-going ministry of the place of worship. But they were neglecting larger issues of justice and the love of God. They were focused on their religious practice but not on treating people with justice or treating God with love. So they were under the condemnation of God: Woe to you, Pharisees! It is a terrible thing when religious practice becomes an end in itself and neglects just relationships with people and a love relationship with God.

The Relationship of Tithing and Justice

Now notice two key things that this text teaches. One is that there are more important things than tithing, namely, justice and love of God. “Woe to you, Pharisees! for you . . . neglect justice and the love of God.” These are bigger issues than tithing—like learning the subject matter in school is a bigger issue than making A’s.

But the other thing to notice is that tithing is not unimportant; it is to be done: “These [i.e., justice and love of God] you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” In other words don’t neglect tithing all your income, even the spices and herbs. But let it all be in the context of justice for people and love for God. Let your concern for people and your passion for the glory of God set the tone of your whole life. Then in that tone of life, your tithing will bring blessing and not a condemnation.

Both Have to Do with Our Money

What speaks so loudly to me here is that both justice and tithing have to do with my money. This is utterly crucial to see. Virtually all justice issues are money issues. If you want to fight the injustice of killing unborn children, it will cost money—just like abortion providers will lose millions of dollars if their commodity is taken away. If you want to fight for justice around the world to give people with less advantage than you better opportunities for food and homes and health-care and literacy and freedom, it will cost money. Justice issues are money issues. You can’t be committed to justice and think that everything over the tithe is given by God to expand your luxuries. It is given so that you have enough for your needs and an abundance for pursuing justice for people and love for God (2 Corinthians 9:8).

The Essence of Jesus’ Teaching

So Jesus was not saying: Big issues like justice are important and little issues like money are less important. Justice IS a money issue! He was saying: get your heart right about loving God and caring about how people are treated, and then the details of how you handle your money—including your tithing—will be praiseworthy and not a religious camouflage for selfishness.

The teaching of Jesus then this morning is this:

  1. First, let your heart be filled with love to God; let him be your treasure in heaven.
  2. Second, from this love for God and his love for you, let your life be filled up with concern for people and how they are treated—especially the most helpless; don’t live for comforts, live for justice and compassion.
  3. Third, don’t neglect to tithe your income to the house of the Lord—the place of worship.

Six Closing Incentives to Give

Let me try to strengthen this word from the Lord with six concluding incentives:

  1. Tithe because Jesus said: Do not neglect this duty. “Why do you call me Lord and Lord,” he said, “and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
  2. If you are prone to say that today we are living under grace and not law and tithing is part of the law, keep in mind that Christ came to fulfill the law and not to abolish it. What does a fulfilled tithe look like? What does more grace do to the minimum level of generosity in the Old Testament? What does more grace do to a believer’s eagerness to support the work of God? What does more grace do to our confidence in God to meet our needs? I cannot see how more grace lowers the floor of generosity laid by the law. It simply raises the ceiling.
  3. In Deuteronomy 14:23 one of the purposes for tithing is “that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.” Many of us have discovered that the decision to keep God first in our financial commitments helps us keep him first in all our commitments. Just as the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, so obedience with the first tenth of your money is the root of much reverence and righteousness.
  4. Bringing God the first fruits of your income as a tithe is a constant reminder to you that everything you have is God’s. The tithe does not mean: this is God’s and the rest is mine. The tithe means that this belongs to the ministry of the church and the rest is meant for a lifestyle of justice and the love of God.
  5. Tithing teaches real nitty-gritty trust in God. If you don’t bring to God the first tenth of your income because you don’t think you can live on 90% of your income, then you are probably not trusting God in a way that honors his incredible promises. Tithing is a demonstration that you believe God’s promise to add what you need if you seek him first.
  6. Finally, tithing will bring the blessing of God into your life in many ways. I see nothing in the New Testament that suggests that the promise of Malachi 3:10 is not valid still today for God’s people: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

In fact I believe so strongly that God will stand by this promise that I make you this challenge (I have checked with David Michael who works with the Helping Hand fund): if you will begin to tithe with your next pay check, bringing to God the first tenth of your income, and if you will ask one other person to pray with you for wisdom in the way you spend and live, then as of February, if you are in a worse financial situation because of tithing, we will give back to you any part of it you want from the Helping Hand fund.

“Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts!” Let’s do it this year like we never have before; and let’s do it together. I’m eager to invest my life and my money in the mission and the ministry of this church. Come, join me. Let’s expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.

Also, for another resource worth considering…….


Toward the Tithe and Beyond

How God Funds His Work

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By John Piper September 10, 1995

Matthew 23:23

An Open Letter to My Sons 

I almost designed this message as an open letter to my elder sons. Karsten has been married for three months and lives with Shelly in Boston and Benjamin just turned 20 and lives in Georgia and goes to a technical school while working as an apprentice in a German plastics company. Both of them are on their own and earning a living. Which raises this question: are they tithing the money they earn? Or was that a mere lifestyle option mom and dad chose—like, say, living in the city and shopping at Savers? One of my deep desires for my sons is that they handle their money in a God-exalting, biblical way. You’ll see why this matters so much to me as their father before we’re done.

Last year Christianity Today carried an article about young adults and financial giving. Here are several sentences that make me concerned about biblical finances for the wider Christian church. James Williams of the Church of God World Service said, “Our people 45 years old and younger have grown up mesmerized by materialism. There’s tremendous pressure on families to spend, spend, and spend.” Then he adds, “I’ve heard that the generation that believed in the tradition of tithing is in three places: retirement homes, nursing homes, or cemeteries.”

In other words most baby boomers and baby busters haven’t embraced tithing.

I have written to my sons brief admonitions and encouragements over the years. While they were at home, we taught them to take a tenth of everything they earned and give it to the cause of Christ. But they are gone now, and yet hundreds like them come to Bethlehem year after year. Maybe you are here in the Cities going to college. Or you are young and newly employed. You maybe married and just starting a home of your own. And the question for you, as for my sons, is: how will you handle the money you earn?

A couple of weeks ago Ben and I talked on the phone about this issue. He had brought it up. And it was clear that one of the hindrances to tithing when you move is that the church you are used to giving to is back home and there is no place yet that feels home enough to invest all that money in. Be careful, lest that struggle become a drawn out pattern of non-giving. There is always a worthy church or ministry or mission to give to.

So, as a kind of open letter to my sons, and yet for all of you too, I want to appeal to you to tithe and go beyond the tithe in the way you release money out of your hands into the cause of Christ and his kingdom. I have called this message “Toward the Tithe and Beyond” because I know that many of you are not there yet and may be moving “toward” the practice of giving 10% of your gross income to the work of Christ. I have called it “Toward the Tithe and Beyond” because in a crying world like ours the more you make, the less ideal becomes the principle of 10%. I’ll come back to that in a few minutes.

Seven Biblical Reasons to Tithe

The way I would like to handle this is to give seven summary reasons—which I will try to show from Scripture—for why I pray my sons will all give the first 10% of their income to the work of Christ, and then grow beyond that as God prospers them.

1. Honoring an Old Testament Principle

Tithing honors an Old Testament principle of how God provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of their ministry.

You recall that in the Old Testament God designated one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi, to be the tribe that would have the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple. So instead of giving them a portion of the land, God said that these vocational ministers of the tabernacle should live off the tithes of the other eleven tribes. In Numbers 18:20–21 God said to Aaron,

You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.

When we tithe today, we honor a principle found here. Some of God’s people are called not to do moneymaking business in the ordinary ways. They are called to be pastors and ministers and missionaries and ministry assistants, and so on. The rest of God’s people (call them “lay ministers”) are to be gainfully employed and support the “vocational ministers”—and the costs of that ministry. In the Old Testament God laid down that this be done by tithe.

If the question is raised whether Jesus, in the New Testament, continued this principle for the sake of his church, one of the strongest arguments that he did is Matthew 23:23 where he says,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

So Jesus endorses tithing: don’t neglect it. It is not as essential as justice love and mercy; but it is to be done.

Yet one might say that he is only talking to Jews in an essentially Old Testament setting. Maybe so. But there is another pointer that the principle was preserved in the early church. In 1 Corinthians 9:13–14 Paul says,

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services [in the temple] eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar [of sacrifice in the temple] have their share with the altar?

In other words he reminds the church that in the Old Testament economy there was this system in which the Levites who worked in the temple lived off the tithes brought to the temple. Then he says in verse 14:

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

The least Paul is saying is that those who spend their lives in the service of the Word of God should be supported by the rest of the Christians. But since he draws attention to the way it was done in the Old Testament as the model, it seems likely that tithing would have been the early Christian guideline, if not mandate.

In other words when we tithe today, we honor a principle and plan of God that sustained the ministry in the Old Testament and probably sustained the New Testament ministry as well.

2. Honoring the Creator as Owner of All

When we release a tenth of our income and give it over to the ministry and mission of Christ in the world, we honor the Creator rights of God who owns everything, including all our income.

One objection to thinking of a tenth of our income as especially belonging to God is that ALL our money belongs to God. Psalm 24:1,

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

That is absolutely true. It’s why my main way of talking about money year in and year out at Bethlehem is not to focus on tithing, but to focus on lifestyle. What you do with every cent says something about your view of God and what he means to you. And what your values are in this age. And what you think your few years on earth should be spent for. That’s true.

But God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, “What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.” That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any “especially time.” Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it.

And this is the way it is with our money and God. Giving God a tenth of our income does not deny that all our money is God’s, it proves that we believe it. Tithing is like a constant offering of the first fruits of the whole thing. The tenth is yours, O, Lord, in a special way, because all of it is yours in an ordinary way.

I believe the tithe should be the first check we write after the income deposit is made in the bank. And when you write it, you put a seal over what’s left: GOD’S. The tithe reminds us of that, and proves that we really believe it.

3. The Antidote to Covetousness

Giving away a tenth of our income to the mission and ministry of Christ is an antidote to covetousness.

The last of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt not covet.” Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of covetousness [or greed].” And in Colossians 3:5 Paul calls covetousness “idolatry.” Wanting things too much is incredibly dangerous for your soul. Hebrews 13:5 says,

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.

Every time you give a tithe, you must deal with the desire for what you might have bought for yourself. To give is not to buy. And that weekly crisis is utterly important to maintain. We must fight covetousness almost every day. And God has appointed an antidote: giving. He tests us again and again: what do we desire most—the advancement of his name or 10% more security and comfort and fun? As Jesus says, You know where your heart is by where your treasure is. Tithing is one of God’s great antidotes to covetousness.

4. Governing Ever-Expanding Spending

The fourth reason is almost the same as the last one, but not quite. When we go to the tithe and beyond, as I am suggesting we should, it puts a governor on ever-expanding spending.

There is an almost infallible human rule: spending expands to fill the income. This is why you could have a book a few years ago entitled Getting By on $100,000 a Year. If you make more, you buy more, and the things you buy have to be stored and repaired and insured. Spending begets spending. If you have less at your disposal, you spend less. And most of the time you don’t even think about it. I spend absolutely no time thinking about world cruises and $30,000 cars. But if I made two or three hundred thousand dollars a year, pretty soon things like that wouldn’t seem any more strange to me than all the stuff I buy now—because I could afford it.

If this is true—if expenses almost inevitably expand to fill the income—how shall we restrain ourselves from accumulating more and more stuff and more and more expensive stuff, and looking to the world like we have all the same values they do in our little earthly prelude to eternity? The answer is that as our income grows, we move beyond the tithe. We resolve to give a greater and greater percentage of our income to advance the kingdom. This puts the brakes on our natural impulse toward luxury.

Illustration: John Wesley

Take John Wesley for example. He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time.

This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776 insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”

When he died in 1791 at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins to be found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote,

I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.

In other words, I will put a control on my spending myself, and I will go beyond the tithe for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. (Quotes from Mission Frontiers, Sept./Oct. 1994, nos. 9–10, pp. 23–24.)

The last three reasons for moving to the tithe and beyond are all found in one text, 2 Corinthians 9:6–8. Let’s read it and then point out the reasons briefly. Paul is talking about giving.

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

5. God’s Way of Bringing About Good Deeds

The fifth reason for going to the tithe and beyond in our giving is that this is God’s way of bringing about many good deeds for his glory.

At the end of verse 8 Paul says that when you sow bountifully and cheerfully, you will “have an abundance for every good deed.” The goal is good deeds. Excess money is for good deeds. These are the things that make your light shine and cause people to give glory to your Father in heaven. If you lay up treasures on earth, people have no reason to think your Father in heaven is glorious. You look like you love what everyone else loves. According to Titus 2:13 Christ died “to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good deeds.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 says that the aim of material bounty is “for every good deed.” Verse 11 says, “You will be enriched in everything for all liberality.” Excess money is given to us so we can show where our treasure is by giving it away.

So the fifth reason for going to the tithe and bountifully beyond is that this is God’s way of providing for many good deeds.

6. God’s Way of Providing for You

The sixth reason for pressing to the tithe and beyond is that it is God’s way of providing you, the tither, sufficient money for your needs.

Giving is a way of having what you need. Giving in a regular, disciplined, generous way—up to and beyond the tithe—is simply good sense in view of the promises of God. Verse 6 says, “He who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.” Then verse 8 says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency . . . ” In other words the “bountiful reaping” promised in verse 6 is explained in verse 8 by God’s pledge to give a sufficiency for us and an abundance for good deeds.

This seems to be Paul’s way of expressing Malachi 3:10,

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

This is an amazing challenge from God. Test me, he says. You think you can’t afford to tithe? Well test me. And what we will find when we test him is that we cannot afford not to tithe—and beyond! This is the only safe way to handle our money. Jesus once said, in Luke 6:38,

Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.

This is not a guarantee of getting rich. It’s a guarantee of “an abundance for every good work” and sufficiency for yourself.

7. Proving and Strengthening Our Faith

Finally, in our giving we should press toward the tithe and beyond because it will prove and strengthen our faith in God promises.

There is an absolute correlation between faith in the promises of God and peace of mind in giving away what we may think we need but don’t. Hebrews 13:5 puts it like this,

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; [why? because of a promise] for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Every time you doubt that you can live on 90% of your income, let the glorious promise of God strengthen your faith: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

So you can see why I care so much about my sons and whether they are remembering the rock from which they were hewn. Because what tithing boils down to is a faith issue. Do we trust God’s promises? I appeal to you, my sons. I appeal to you, my people. Trust God. He will never fail or forsake you. He will supply all your needs.

For all of the articles by Piper, simply go here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1982/331_I_Seek_Not_What is yours butYou
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1991/741_These_You_Ought to have Done without Neglecting the Later


Also, for some more excellent information on the issue of what the Bible says on both Tithing/Generous Giving–whether it be good or bad–and moreover, answering the real question of why Christians should NOT tithe when they have every reason to do so, go here (praise God for giving you a Gold-Mine of resources!!!!:

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=1&page )

          Regarding the specific links to strong arguments on the issue, here they are as follows:
                – http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=43&page=45#5 (SPECIFICALLY, THE ONES ON GENEROUS GIVING AND TITHING)

                – http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=28&page=235 

Pray that all of the information/differing arguments help someone out there……..

         Again, in my humble opinion, what matters is PROPORTIONATE GIVING……& WHETHER OR NOT YOU’RE DOING WHAT’S POSSIBLE TO ENSURE THAT HAPPENS FAIRLY, as well as making certain that ANY HABITS THAT’D ENCOURAGE THE LOVE OF MONEY TO TAKE PLACE are eradicated (and for good teaching on the subject, please go here to this link & look for the sermon series entitled “TITHING: O.T. Laws in the NT”, which has many SOLID TEACHING ON THE SUBJECT OF KEEPING ONE’S LIFE FREE FROM THE LOVE OF MONEY. Though many may not agree on EVERYTHING said, the majority of it is DEAD ON & HAS TRULY BEEN A BLESSING NOT ONLY TO ME but to ALL WHO’VE HEARD IT: http://www.libertychurch.org/streaming/audio/topical_series.php )



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