Very often, this question has been asked by well-meaning Christians who are plagued by the torrents of appeals from churches for funds. Thrown into these appeals is the standard request to pay your tithes and offerings. Let me say from the very beginning that there is a distinct difference between giving to God and giving to "the church". Giving to God is a Scriptural concept (Matt 22:21); Giving to "the church" could just be an emotional response to a well-orchestrated man-made appeal which is out of God's Will and God's Word. So it is important for us to study God's Word so that we are able to discern whether funds being solicited in a particular church are based on sound New Testament Scriptural principles. Prayer is the other means of helping to discern God's Will in a particular area of financial need (of such a church).




 It is important when attempting to derive spiritual principles from the Bible on a particular subject to go back to the time it was first mentioned. When was the “Tithe" first mentioned?


Gen 14:18-20


18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,


19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.


20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.



Verse 20 says Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. What is a tenth of everything?


Here we turn to the Living Bible for more clarification…


Gen 14:15-16


15 He divided his men and attacked during the night from several directions, and pursued the fleeing army to Hobah, north of Damascus,


16 and recovered everything-- the loot that had been taken, his relative Lot, and all of Lot's possessions, including the women and other captives.     

(TLB) Emphasis mine.


 Gen 14:19


19 Then Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: "The blessing of the supreme God, Creator of heaven and earth, be upon you, Abram; and blessed be God, who has delivered your enemies over to you." Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot.

(TLB) Emphasis mine.


From the verses above, it is clear that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth or ten percent of all the loot that has been recovered (verses 16 and 19 above) not of all that Abraham possessed. See also Hebrews Chapter 7 verse 4.


This is important because the tithe is based on the increase, not the capital.


The next time we hear of the word "tithe" is in Bethel after Jacob had his famous dream of angels ascending to and descending from heaven....


Gen 28:22


22 and 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."



Notice that Jacob promised a tenth of what God intends to give him not a tenth of what he already had (not much though at this point in time). So once again we find that tithing is based on increase not capital.




There are three kinds of tithe mentioned in the Mosaic Law, viz,


 TITHE #1: This tithe was entirely devoted to the priestly tribe of Levi who had no land allocated to it and no inheritance among the Israelites. This is sometimes referred to as the Levite's Tithe....


Lev 27:30


30 "'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.



 Lev 27:32


32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock-- every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod-- will be holy to the LORD.



Num 18:24


24 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 then commanded the Levites to give a tenth of their portion to the priests...


Num 18:28


28 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.



2 Chron 31:4,5


4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. 5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.



TITHE # 2: The second tithe may be called the festival tithe…


Deut 12:11-12


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.


12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.



It is only to be eaten at a place specified by the Lord in the land of Israel or as in the case of those living far away, in their own towns-Deuteronomy 12:18,21. Burnt offerings and sacrifices and special gifts are also included (verse 11). The celebration of this tithe is seen as an event to foster national unity and instill a sense of "brotherhood" among the people of God. 


TITHE # 3: The third category of tithing in the Mosaic Law may also be known as a "welfare tithe"…


Deut 14:28-29


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.




Take note that this tithe is only implemented once in three years (verse 28) and it is a tenth of the year's increase. It is to be consumed not only by the Levites but also the aliens, fatherless and widows. See also Deuteronomy 26:12.


Of special note is the fact that tithing evokes a blessing from God and the failure to tithe invokes a curse from God (under the Mosaic Law)....


Deut 14:29


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.



Mal 3:10-12


10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.


11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.


12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.




Malachi Chapter 3 verses 10 to 12 have been used to instill fear by churches on their congregations. Let me remind you that these verses are part of the consequences of not obeying the Mosaic Law and are therefore not valid in New Testament Churches.


Our Lord Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and has therefore taken the curse of not fulfilling it from us!


 Matt 5:17


17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.



Gal 3:13


13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."





In the following two Scriptures, Jesus commanded observance to tithing as part of the Mosaic Law (which He was under)…


Matt 23:23


23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.



Luke 11:42


42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.



Jesus said that it was not wrong to tithe the spices (which appear to be trifles to some) but that these teachers of the Law and Pharisees should also practice the other important matters OF THE LAW i.e. justice, mercy and faithfulness and the Love of God. In the above context, Jesus implied that the Pharisees were fastidious when it comes to tithing and other legal issues but they did not show the love of God in them. This is hypocrisy in its truest color. Tithing to them is just an outward show of their self righteousness (see also Luke 18:12).

Just as a reflection on this passage...if tithing was compulsory for the New Testament Christian, wouldn’t it be a sin if he (The New Testament Christian) forgets to tithe the "spices and herbs" or "flowers" he receives (as a gift)? What if he forgets the ‘welfare’ and ‘festival’ tithes mentioned in the Mosaic Law (Pages 28 and 29)?




What is mentioned in the Scriptures with reference to the New Testament church is now relevant to all Christians of all denominations. 




Honor the Lord with your first fruits, the first portion of the fruits of your labor…



Prov 3:9

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,

with the firstfruits of all your crops;



Proverbs Chapter 3 Verse 9 is not a vestige of Old Testament Law but an act of worship to our Eternal and Loving Father. It is not an act of bondage but an expression of our love to Someone Who has given us His Everything.




Giving is proportionate to the degree that God blesses a person without an obligatory figure being mentioned…


1 Cor 16:1-2


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.



John MacArthur is his book entitled " The Macarthur New Testament Commentary, Romans 9-16”1, has this to say:


 “.... Christians are not under obligation to give a specified amount to the work of their heavenly Father. In none of their forms do the tithe or other Old Testament levies apply to Christians." 1





Giving is from the heart…


In fact giving should be more appropriately termed free will offerings in the context of the New Testament Church for Paul commanded us to give as we purpose in our heart. If the amount is a fixed one, there will be no need to purpose in one's heart anymore!!


2 Cor 9:7


7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

(NKJ) (If a Christian is actively hearing from God, what he purposes in his heart is a reflection of God’s Will in his life)



2 Cor 9:7

 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.


NIV (Giving should not be` under compulsion’ as the NIV aptly puts it)





The Bible calls ‘giving’ an act of grace i.e. a move motivated by New Testament Agape Love.  The Apostle Paul does not command (Verse 8 below) but exhorts us to excel in ‘giving’ as we excel in faith, speech and knowledge (verse 7 below). Any Church that puts fear in its members with respect to ‘giving’ is acting from the unction of a different spirit.



2 Cor 8:7,8

7 But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.


8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.

NIV The word “love’ here is agape- a selfless, giving, God-like attribute.


I repeat there is no curse for "NOT TITHING" in the New Testament church (as is often implied on sermons from Malachi 3:10-12). We should not go back to Melchizedek (where tithing was an example) or the Mosaic law (where tithing was by compulsion). Our Lord has fulfilled all the requirements of the Mosaic Law and taken the curse of (not obeying) the Law away from us (Galatians 3:13). The New Testament Christian should abide by the teachings of the Apostle Paul (which has superseded Moses' Law.)                                            

Christians who insist on keeping the Law of Moses or part of it are under a curse!


Gal 3:10


10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."



Churches advocating tithing as compulsory are putting a curse on their congregations!



So in summary, 'Giving' is a New Testament 'Church' Principle as opposed to tithing by Law (by compulsion.) Jesus clearly commanded (take note that it was not an option) that we have to give to God. 


Matt 22:21


21 "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."



"What is God's" implies a fixed sum. BUT we must remember that Jesus made the above statement in the context of the Mosaic Law that was still existent in His Time. Further on in the Epistles, the Apostle Paul qualifies this "giving" as "from the heart" and proportionate to the degree that one is blessed. He specifically spoke against "compulsion" (from sources outside). Manipulating a person to give (whether directly or indirectly) is a form of witchcraft...


2 Cor 9:7


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.

(NIV) Emphasis mine


"What he has decided in his heart to give" clearly has to be some amount (not zero). It may be more than ten percent (or less) but we have to bear in mind that the Bible also spells out other financial responsibilities for us and these principles (being also commands pertaining to the New Testament Church) need to be factored in when one “gives”……


Caring for Parents

Eph 6:1-3
2 "Honor your father and mother"-which is the first commandment with a promise- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

Caring for family, children, relatives


1 Tim 5:8

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.



2 Cor 12:14


After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

NIV (verse above quoted in part)


Caring for the poor


Matt 6:3

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:



What about the widow who cast all that she had into the treasury

(Mark 12:42)?

This was a “once only” incident in the New Testament and this poor widow responded to a specific rhema from God (for a specific person, specific time, place and purpose only). That the Lord knew she gave all she had (verse 44) implies a direct revelation from God the Father or the Holy Spirit both to the widow and also to Jesus.

Another case in point would be that of the rich young ruler in Mark Chapter 10 verses 17-23.

Jesus’ command or rather Rhema to this rich young ruler to ‘sell everything you have and give to the poor’ is aimed at freeing him of his bondage to riches and wealth. In verse 21, the Lord clearly stated that there was one thing he lacked i.e. freedom from the love of money, which in itself is a terribly strong bondage. Again, God’s command to ‘sell all’ pertains only to this particular rich young ruler and not to everyone else.

Notice that the poor widow gave to the temple treasury and the rich young ruler was asked to give all to the poor (verse 21). Don't be taken in by some 'give and be blessed' prosperity evangelists who only want to fill their own coffers.


In a similar vein, the events surrounding Acts 4:34 appear to be part of the move of the Spirit on the early church and did not have further precedence in later Chapters of the Bible. Having said this, it is imperative that we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit so directs sovereignly with a specific Word (rhema), we should respond accordingly even though the quantum may appear to exceed our norm.


Remember that only Godly (God-led) giving evokes Godly Blessings!


I wish to conclude by saying, give as the Holy Spirit directs your heart; NOT AS THE PASTOR DIRECTS YOU. This is the distinct difference between giving to God and giving to the church. 



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