P1030504In the last post, we looked at the giving statement of a well-known mega-church. The opinion put forth in that article was that many Christians have an inaccurate, even unbiblical, idea about Christian giving because the Church has offered very confusing teaching about this topic. In this post, we’ll look at the giving statement of another very large mega-church and try to determine the biblical truths that support their giving statement. As before, the text has been copied and pasted, with no editing.

“A tithe—which just means ‘tenth’—is defined as the first 10% of a person’s income that is to be given back to the local church. Tithing is a principle that is taught throughout the entire Bible. When we tithe, we are expressing worship in a tangible way by putting God first in our lives.”

“Why Would I Tithe?”

“For many, the idea of bringing the first 10% of our income to the Church seems overwhelming. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how much or how little we make, God promises to pour out blessings on us when we tithe. Tithing is about training our heart to trust God at His Word. We know generosity is a huge step of obedience, but you’re not in this alone! We want to know you’re taking your next step in generosity by bringing your full tithe to the church with The 90–Day Tithing Challenge.”

Let’s start here: “A tithe—which just means ‘tenth’—is defined as the first 10% of a person’s income that is to be given back to the local church.”

Is this true? Is that how the tithe is “defined” in Scripture?

No, it isn’t. These folks just manufactured this definition from a passage in the book of Malachi. Actually, they twisted it for their own gain. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you are probably familiar with it:

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape’” (Malachi 3:6–15).1

Let’s look more closely at this passage. Note the connection between curses and blessings. This should sound familiar to us, because this curses-and-blessings formula originated in the Mosaic covenant, detailed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. However, Christians are under a new covenant (Luke 22:20), not under the Mosaic covenant. In addition, we are no longer under any curse of any kind (Galatians 3:13). Our blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), not in our ability to keep the no-longer-existent Mosaic covenant.

Even if we were under the Mosaic covenant, let’s look at what that tithe was used for. Moses instructed Israel in Deuteronomy 12:17–19: “You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake. Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.”

Well, this is a bit stunning, isn’t it? The people were to eat the tithe with their households and the priest.

However, there is even more to the Church’s amazing lack of understanding about the tithe. Every third year, the tithe was to be given to the poor and landless.

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. (Deuteronomy 14:28–29).

If the Church were to adhere to the Mosaic covenant, which it shouldn’t, Christians would save their tithes and every third year feed poor people.

May we teach the truth of Scripture and not twist it for filthy gain. May the Lord forgive us for our ignorance.

1All scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.