(tithing and professional religious people)
~ tithing ~
Hi there, my intention in writing this segment is to help people get free of yet another heavy yoke of religious bondage.
Hey, if you’re burdened by the yoke of religion’s “tithe,” you’re not alone. Because me and my wife (and countless other people) have been under that yoke too. I can remember what it was like to have the preacher use Malachi chapter 3 as a carrot & stick to influence how much money that people gave to him. I remember us trying to make financial ends meet while making sure that we didn’t rob God of the tithe. I recall questioning whether our tithing should be based on our gross income, or on our net income, (and of course guilt-led advice pointed us to use our gross income as the basis of our tithing).
And I also remember preachers using subtil psychological coercion to affect how much money people gave to them. I remember hearing messages to the effect of, “we’re not in the old covenant, but 10% is a good baseline for your regular giving, and of course you can give even more money as your offering to God.”
Or how about that special time in a church service when the whole church pauses so that everyone can give their “tithes” and offerings? (If you’ve ever been to a church service, you’re already familiar with this routine). Your giving is on full display of others, while church representatives stand near the seated givers. But your giving is coming from your heart, and it isn’t being influenced by any psychological pressure whatsoever, right?
There are more examples of religion’s coercive tactics to effect your giving money to them that I could mention of course, but I’ll stop here so that I can get on to the biblical answers that I want to share with you. That way you can make scripturally-informed decisions where your giving is concerned.
So let’s consider the following type of rationale that causes people to not dig too deep into questioning the practices of religious figures in regard to people giving money to them.
The thinking may look something like this:
“Hey, the preacher & the church have bills too… So doesn’t God allow the preacher to overlook scriptural context (just a little) to make sure that people give him enough money to cover the church’s financial obligations?“
No, He doesn’t.
In fact, it’s sinful for preachers to even give Christians the impression (at all) that they’re under the tithe. And that’s because lying is sinful, misleading people is sinful, misrepresenting scripture is sinful. The tithe should never even be mentioned in association with a Christian’s giving, because Christians aren’t under the tithe at all. (Even a novice preacher should understand what the tithe was, and who it applied to).
So then that begs the question, what was the tithe?
Money wasn’t the substance of the tithe in the old covenant, (even when money existed). And money is mentioned in the bible as far back as Genesis 17.12.
The tithe was a component of old covenant law. It was a tenth of an agricultural yield given as the support apparatus of the now-obsolete Levitical priesthood, (who couldn’t provide for themselves). So if a preacher thinks it would be a good idea for you to tithe to them, then he should logically think that it would be a good idea for him to live as a Levite shouldn’t he? (Because after all, tithes were paid to Levites).
Thankfully, in the new covenant there’s no longer a priesthood that’s segregated from laity. That’s because all Christians are themselves royal priests of God, (1 Peter 2.9), and we enter into the presence of God by the blood of Christ, (Hebrews 10.19).
And consider please God’s warning about lawkeeping in the economy of the new covenant:
10 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:“
However when a shrewd pusher of the tithe is presented with the type of information that you just now read, they will then sometimes reference Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek in Genesis 14.18-24 as a last-ditch way to try to put a Christian under the tithe. Making the case that Abram’s tithe predated old covenant law, taking it outside of the parameters of old covenant law.
But what you should know about that tithe was, there was a unique reason for that particular tithe.
That particular tithe’s purpose was to show Israelites (in the then-future) that Abraham wasn’t to be the object of their faith. It was a demonstration of Abraham’s subordination to One higher than he, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was to be the object of their faith, (read Hebrews chapter 7 about it).
And here’s some additional interesting facts about Abram’s unique tithe to Melchizedek:
• Consider please that Abram was tithing of the spoils of war that he collected from the battle of rescuing his nephew Lot. (Abram wasn’t tithing his own personal property).
• Consider please that Abram was the leader of his war party, and he was the only one of his group that tithed to Melchizedek.
(Therefore if that tithe is to be followed today, then only the leader of the group will tithe, while all of the other people in the group will not tithe).
• And consider please that Abram’s tithe was a one-time event, (as opposed to a recurring tithe).
[Most of religion doesn’t teach those scriptural facts. Why is that?]
Moreover, it’s absolutely vital that you understand that the dividing line between the old covenant of law and the new covenant of grace is the cross of Jesus Christ.
(This distinction is among the most important factors in understanding biblical directives).
The new covenant of grace didn’t replace the old covenant of law until Jesus died on the cross:
16 “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.“
7 “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.“
And there is no biblical directive whatsoever for anyone to tithe after the cross. Nor does scripture give anyone permission to receive tithes after the cross.
So having now considered all of that information, the question that needs to be answered is: “If we’re not under the tithe, then what are our guidelines for giving in the new covenant of grace?”
The answer is this: Give to whoever, and however, the Spirit of God moves on your heart to give.
There is no “percentage” as a baseline for your giving in the new covenant.
Here’s the post cross, new covenant biblical directive for the Christian’s giving:
2 Corinthians 9.6,7
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.“
~ professional religious people ~
Here’s what I have for your consideration:
Paul chose to work rather than be on the religious payroll, (Acts 18.1-4, 1 Corinthians 9.17-19, 2 Corinthians 11.9, & 2 Thessalonians 3.8-9).
1 Corinthians 9.18
“What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.”
But there is also scripture that could be understood as justifying religious pay, (Luke 10.7, 1 Corinthians 9.9-14, 1 Timothy 5.17-18).
1 Corinthians 9
13 “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
So here’s my final thoughts that I present for your consideration about this issue.
I’m not going to answer the question for you of whether or not scripture supports paid religious professionals, (because I’m still struggling to learn that answer myself).
But I do have a couple of questions that I think of:
~ Was Jesus, or any of his disciples or apostles, ever on career religious payroll for their services as leaders of the flock?
~ What would the local Christian assembly look & function like if no one was on professional payroll for their services?
All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and no glory to us whatsoever