SHOULD CHRISTIANS STILL TITHE TODAY?
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus highlights the issue of tithing to the Pharisees. Should Christians today continue to tithe? Or was it an Old Testament (OT) practice? In the OT, God commanded the Israelites to give tithes — one-tenth of their produce or income — for several reasons:
1. To support the Levites, who were responsible for the tabernacle and worship.
2. To support various feasts and sacrifices.
3. To establish a pool of resources to help the poor, orphans and widows , and strangers in the land.
In the New Testament, neither Christ nor the apostles gave any explicit instructions about tithing. Since Jesus endorsed all the OT Law in Matt 5:17-20, 23:23, how then does tithing apply to Christians today? Several principles might be considered:
1. As Christians, our allegiance is to Christ, rather than to the Old Testament Law which was primarily given to Israel.
2. Our giving needs to spring from a love of Christ, not a slavish obedience to a percentage standard. Throughout the Bible, loving God and worshipping Him are at the heart of tithing.
3. All that we have ultimately belongs to God — not just what we give away, but also what we keep. So He has total claim on one hundred percent of our income, not just ten percent, according to Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
4. Ten percent makes a great starting point for giving to churches and its various ministries.
5. Christian workers have a right to financial support from those to whom they minister (1 Cor 9:13-14 ; Gal 6:6 ). Likewise churches also assist the poor and needy. So it seems legitimate and logical to expect believers to donate money to such causes.
6. No matter how much we give, we can never out give God who sent His only begotten Son to die for us who were sinners in filthy rags. We are saved by His Grace through faith and faith alone. We owe Him an immeasurable gratitude.
The Grace of Giving
In 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, the apostle Paul explains about the arrangements for an offering from the Greek churches of Achaia and Macedonia for the churches of Judea. Paul did not see giving as either a mundane matter or something peripheral to church life. On the contrary, he saw the grace of giving as a core value of belonging to the household of God.
He shows how our regular giving is rooted in three central themes in the gospel: the grace of God, the cross of Christ and the unity of the Spirit.
1. Christian giving is an expression of the grace of God
In 2 Cor 8 :1-6, Paul does not begin by saying how generous the churches of Macedonia were. Rather he emphasizes “the grace which God has given to the Macedonian churches”. As grace also denotes generosity, Paul points out that it was the generosity of God which inspired them to be generous. The Macedonians gave even beyond their ability. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to Paul and his fellow workers. Should this not be a model for us today?
Paul also urged Titus to complete what he had begun in Corinth, namely by exhorting the Corinthians to give in the same way as the Macedonians.
2. Christian giving can be a charisma, that is a gift of the Spirit
In 2 Corinthians 8:7, Paul now urges the Corinthian believers to also excel in the grace of giving, having excelled in other spiritual gifts such as faith, speech, and knowledge. He makes a similar point in Romans 12:8 Paul, in which list of charismata includes “contributing to the needs of others.“ Thus the grace of giving is a spiritual gift . Those entrusted with significant financial resources have a special responsibility to be good stewards of these resources.
3. Christian giving is inspired by the cross of Christ
In 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, Paul cites the example of Jesus, who, though he was rich, yet for our sake became poor. Here Paul was holding up the sacrificial example of Jesus for the Corinthian believers to emulate. Having experienced the abundant grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, they should likewise demonstrate it to the poor and needy around them, especially towards their fellow Christians. What an awesome privilege we have in giving from the money He has entrusted to us as stewards and helping others to give glory to God. Let us give more thoughtfully, more systematically and more sacrificially.
BY ABRAHAM VERGHESE (Deacon of Finance)
SOURCES 1. What the Bible says say about ….
2. The grace of giving - John Stott