FACTS ON TITHING
by: Wayne Schatzle
I am bewildered by the tactics seen on television in fund raising efforts. If you watch much of “Christian” broadcasting there is a common teaching: (a) the law of God is done away; (b) no amount of good works will get you a place in heaven; (c) believers are to Tithe, which is to pay 10% of their income to the Christian effort. Any thinking person will find some confusion in the things preached. If the Law is done away- why does a person have to tithe? And if no good works earn you anything- what’s the difference what they give?
We are told to rightly divide the word of truth. A short study on tithe will show that there were actually 3 tithes mentioned in the Law. The third tithe was collected only in two years out of a set of seven, mainly for the poor and the widows much like social security of today. The second tithe was ten percent of increase to be used by the family earning it as a festival fund for when they traveled to keep the appointed feasts similar to a vacation fund some employers will save for their employees. The first tithe, which is what preachers today are trying to get their hands on, was intended for the lively hood of the Levites who had no inheritance in the promised land. Notice that this tithe was only on animals and agricultural produce and never on any money. Now let’s look back at the law and see what is “done away”- well one point is the Levitical priesthood, the temple and sacrifices therefore there is no one around to be eligible to receive the biblical tenth as documented in scripture.
The usual cry is that ministers today take the role of Levitical priests. Not quite. That’s the missing link that’s hard to find. Even the magna opus on the subject, “Tithe In Scripture” by Dr Henry Lansdell fails to provide the biblical authority to grant ministers God’s tenth. As most churches even to this day follow the Catholic church in their doctrinal framework, some will be amazed that collecting tithe was not formalized for over 500 years after the first century church passed away! In fact, in all the New Testament you will find neither mention of anyone paying tithes to a church nor any person receiving tithes, except relating to the temple service. Modern preachers in no way resemble Levites in the work they do, plus they can own property and have jobs apart from the work they perform, much like Paul working his trade as a tentmaker. There are examples of brethren giving offerings and in extreme giving we see them moved to give ALL they had and hold all things in common, which I don’t see preached except in a commune type situation. A case worth noting is the story of Ananias and Sapphira that said they gave all but held back a portion, and they paid with their lives for it. That should be a warning to anyone not to act like they are giving more than they really are. Other examples are the widow’s mite and how Christ declared that she gave ALL she had; when the rich young man desired to be saved, Jesus told him to give ALL he had to the poor and follow Him; and how Zaccheus gave HALF of all he possessed. Notice in all these incidents the contribution was voluntary. Often I have seen printed on offering envelopes the plea from Paul to “lay in store for collection…” many have said this is an example of early believers paying tithes. A careful reading will show that it was actually a food drive for the believers in Rome during a famine and Paul was delivering food to them. This was possibly a one-time event.
Scripture shows that at times God has demanded a tenth from His followers and dictated who shall receive it in His stead. It is tempting to assume those in the ministry today can collect God’s tithe for doing work in His name. We are also warned there are false ministers that masquerade as His ministers to deceive and in our recent faith we have seen the lure of that sacred tenth will cause many unsavory individuals to seek it for themselves. We could get legalistic as Pharisees and exact that tenth but it will not earn you anything in God’s eyes. Believers are not bound by numbers in support of their churches or helping people in need. Ten per cent on giving is indeed a biblical figure for giving but as one person I talked with from another country that was taxed so high, “I am lucky to have 10% of my income left to live on”.
Giving is a prerequisite of a follower of Christ. It may be as little as a glass of cold water or it just may be everything you own. As always it is a personal matter between a person and their God free of the pressures of any man or organization. 01/06