This past Sunday I preached on the tithe. Here’s are some extra “goodies” I didn’t have time to elaborate on in the message…
Some people say “Tithing is legalistic. The laws on tithing are right up there with the laws about not eating pork or having to sacrifice animals. They’ve been done away with! The tithe was for Old Testament Jews, not New Testament believers. They were under law but we are under grace.” Some people say this because they sincerely believe it, while others say things like this to excuse themselves from any obligation to tithe. Either way, let me shoot some holes in this erroneous way of thinking.
1. Tithing is not legalistic. Legalism is when you try to earn your salvation by keeping the law. That’s what legalism is. The Bible condemns legalism because no one will ever be justified by the law. One can only be justified by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-22). When we tithe, it’s not to earn our way to heaven. It’s to honor God, it’s to show Him that He’s first place in our lives and it’s to fund the work of the local church which is to help people come to know Jesus. That’s not legalism. That’s investing in God’s work on the earth.
2. Tithing has not been repealed. To repeal something is to annul it – to do away with it. And in the New Testament, several Old Testament laws are repealed:
- The dietary laws were repealed (see Acts 15)- praise the Lord – I wasn’t sinning the other week when I smoked some pork in my smoker!
- The sacrificial laws have also been repealed – we no longer have to bring lambs to church and have them slaughtered for our sins (see Hebrews 8). Jesus, the Lamb of God was slain to once and for all take away the sins of the world.
Yes, certain laws in the Old Testament have been repealed in the New Testament. But other laws of the Old Testament have been repeated in the New Testament. The laws that have been specifically repealed are no longer binding, but the ones that have been repeated continue to be binding. And as see from Scripture, Jesus doesn’t repeal the practice of tithing, he repeats it “You should tithe, yes” he says in Matthew 23:23, NLT. Therefore, since it’s repeated, it’s still binding.
3. The standard of grace is higher, not lower than the standard of law. Some people say “We’re not under law” and then interpret that to mean that the standard of grace is lower than the standard of law, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible reminds us repeatedly that we, who live after Jesus died, are no longer living in the era of law, rather in the era of grace. Law came through Moses, grace came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). But this in no way means that the bar has been lowered. Jesus could not have been more clear that his standard (the standard of grace ) is HIGHER, not lower, than the standard of the law given through Moses. For example,
- In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus said: Never mind murder (the standard of law)! Don’t even be angry with someone (the standard of grace)!
- And in Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said: Forget adultery (the standard of law)! I’m telling you don’t even lust (the standard of grace)!
In both these instances Jesus took the base line standard set by the law of Moses and raised the bar. So According to Jesus, God set the foundation of the law for us to build on, not shrink back from. We’re to move forward in our giving, not backwards. We’re to look at the example set in the law of the tithe and raise the bar, not lower it.
4. To say “Tithing isn’t for today” is the same as saying “God was concerned in the Old Testament that his children worship him and honor him by putting him first, but God doesn’t care whether or not New Testament Christians do the same.” To say such a thing would be absurd. Here’s why:
- God told the Israelites that their firstborn children and animals belonged to him (Exodus 13:1-2).
- God told them that the first week of their religious year belonged to him (Exodus 13:3-7).
- When they moved into the land of Canaan God told them that the first city they conquered, Jericho, belonged to him (Joshua 6:17-19).
- God also said the firstfruits of their crops belonged to him. Now “firstfruits” is simply another word for tithe (see Leviticus 27:30) which means 10%. God gave specific instructions that the first 10% of their income belonged to him (Exodus 23:19).
- And God rebuked the Israelites in the book of Haggai (see chapters 1-2) for not prioritizing his work first over their own.
It sounds to me like it was pretty important to God that his children put him first. So how can anyone argue that this somehow, magically, has stopped being important to God in the New Testament? Especially when Jesus reinforces this Old Testament “Principle of First” in Matthew 6:33 when he said “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” The truth is that putting God first (in every area of our lives, including our finances, is just as important to God today as it was back then.
5. To say “Tithing isn’t for today” is the same as saying “In the Old Testament God cared about lost people learning about Jesus but he doesn’t care about that anymore in the New Testament.” I would remind you that it was the tithe that allowed the priests of the Old Testament Temple to proclaim that God’s promised Messiah was coming into the world. And it’s the tithe that allows the pastors of New Testaments churches to proclaim that God’s promised Messiah has now come into the world. How could it be possible for God to no longer care about the lost? Especially when 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
So we see that tithing isn’t legalistic. Tithing hasn’t been repealed. If anything the standard of grace is higher, not lower than the standard of law. So if anything has changed, it’s that we ought to give more than the tithe, not less. God continues to use the tithe as a test to see if we’ll honor and worship him and trust him by returning to him the first part of our income. And He uses it to then fund the ministry of the local church, whose mission it is to preach Jesus.
I hope this helps clear up any confusion you might of had on the tithe. But if not, feel free to email any questions you might still have to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to start tithing you can do so by setting up your recurring gift at www.newdaychurch.cc/giving
If you’d like to start tithing but you first need to position your finances to be able to, you can attend our Money Wise Seminar this Sunday from 11am to 12:30pm where we’ll teach you how to get out of debt and get on a budget. Once you do this, you’ll have positioned your finances to be able to handle the tithe. To register simply email Peter, our groups pastor, at email@example.com