The Grace of Giving, not the teaching of tithing
This morning’s message focused solely on the tithe given by Abraham and Jacob. My pastor said that there are grace pastors and bible teachers who do not subscribe to the teaching of tithing. And he mentioned this repeatedly.
Wait a minute. Won’t that be ‘suicide’ and self-defeating for the pastors and their churches! How would they be supported and how would their ministries and church operations be financed? Yes, it is true there are many sound teachers who believe that the new covenant has done away with the instruction to tithe.
I suppose my pastor’s broadside is not discreet or wise or fair; while he advocates tithing by believers – without first finding out and defining what the other teachers meant when the latter assert that tithing has been done away with.
Admittedly, there are strong advocates for and against tithing. Personally, I fall in line with these other pastors.
Probably the best way to understand this is to see how Jesus and the apostles teach or interpret this issue. Oh, …. nothing much at all! But much about the grace of giving, in response to the grace we received. So I can identify with those who believe that the commandment to tithe has been done away when Jesus came in person, as His covenant is much more superior than that of Moses, where the command to tithe was given.
Heb 7:4-10 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
I do not tithe (defined by and referring to the Levitical tithe of ten percent), but that doesn’t mean that I do not give or honor the Lord with my substance. When ‘grace’ pastors who teach that we no longer need to tithe, they are being sound and precise, while at the same time would also instruct their members on the grace of giving (2 Cor chapters 8,9). And likely, those who do not tithe, would in spontaneity, sincerity, willingly and wholeheartedly do give more than a tenth, in response to the grace received!
It is no longer tithing as required through a human agent (the Mosaic / Levitical system). It is giving willingly and wholeheartedly directly to the Lord. It is now restored and reverted to the pattern set by Abraham and his descendant Jacob; preceding that of the Levitical tithe. It would be personal and joyous and energizing, knowing that “.… He receives them” (Heb 7:7). If behooves any pastor or ministry leader to recognize solemnly that believers are giving directly to the Lord, and God receives them, and step aside from receiving “tithes from the people according to the law” (Heb 7:5) and seriously seek God’s will how God would direct the gifts to be used, and not abuse these gifts for personal gain.
Paul said, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,..”. That’s right, ‘as each purpose in his heart’. It was not in response to a commandment (cf Heb 7:5), more like the spontaneous offering of Abraham and Jacob, who both gave before the law to tithe was given, in response to our God Who gives of Himself to us.
Isn’t it obvious that when Paul was talking about giving, he did not bring up the subject of tithing at all when it would be such a powerful directive from the old covenant. Instead, Paul said God “.. has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” (2 Cor 9:9) And unlike some churches, when workers deserve to be supported in ministry, Paul would mention about muzzling an ox, instead of reminding them of tithing (as to the Levitical priests).
Did Melchizedek asked for the tithe from Abraham or was it a willing and spontaneous act? Did God ask for the tithe from Jacob or was it Jacob’s unilateral decision? So it makes sense when Paul wrote “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,..”.
The sermon also mentioned that when God referred to Jacob’s vow in Genesis 31:13, He was thinking of the vow to give the tithe. This statement was meant to give credence to God’s view of tithing. Let the reader decide from the context below.
Genesis 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
The LORD shall be my God.
I will give because He has given. Jacob gave himself first to the Lord. And the Macedonians (2Corinthians 8), with grace bestowed on them – also “… first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”
Abraham’s gift, willingly and wholeheartedly to Jehovah was cited in Hebrews 7 as being superior to the tithing commanded by the law.
The offering by Abraham and Jacob, hence, would be the pattern to follow, and not the tithing as required by the law, as Abraham and Jacob’s offering preceded that of the law.
Update on 21st Nov 2014 :
Came across the comments on Joseph Prince message on “The Benefits of Tithing” –
It is interesting to note that our Pastor attracts so much attention to himself and his teachings. The two blogs from Christian workers are different from the favorable comments from church members / believers. For myself, it is expedient that I pray and search out for myself for all views – especially those that are fair and factual, submitting to the authority of the Scriptures rather than to the subjective meditations of men.