In part 1 of our “The Bible and tithing” series, we talked about the perspective that tithing is a biblical requirement, and that all Christians need to give 10% (at least) of their income. Anything after that is a free will offering. For a quick refresher, see Part 1 here.
Today we'll look at a slightly different perspective, one that says that tithing is not a New Covenant biblical mandate, and that while we should still give, it is a free will offering and not required.
Table of Contents
Tithing Not A New Covenant Mandate
George Greene, on his website NoMoreTithing.org, says that tithing is not a teaching aimed at New Covenant believers:
Should we as New Covenant believers continue to try to obey all the Old Covenant laws? Absolutely not! If you don't tithe it is not a sin! If you are selfish then that is a sin.
So while not tithing may not be a sin, it is still a sin to be selfish and to not give. He goes on to explain:
There are a whole host of things we would have to start doing differently if we really wanted to start obeying the laws God gave to the Israelites. Read some of them for yourself and you'll see what I mean (animal sacrifice, death for cursing God). The biggest problem is that the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ would have no benefit for you since you would still be trying to obey the laws that all point to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
Tithing Doesn't Apply For Today's Christians
On his website, blogger Travis gives some historical background on tithing, and why it does not apply today:
one thing that constantly trips up modern-day Christians is that we fail to remember that the Law given to Moses did not merely outline a religious system… it was a constitution establishing a nation’s government. Thus, we need not only to discern which laws were sacrificial in nature (as Christians, we hold that Jesus Christ is our atonement and makes all other sacrifices—and thus all laws requiring sacrifices—moot), but also whether certain laws were governmental or sacramental in nature. While this may be a simple process with the laws of a “secular” nation, it can get difficult when you’re dealing with a theocracy.
My studies keep drawing me to the same conclusion: God’s eternal Law of Love compels us to serve the poor, but the tithe laws were a form of taxation, and served as the welfare system for Ancient Israel. Thus, these laws only apply to those under the Old Covenant living in geographical Israel.
Don Koenig agrees and expands on that idea:
There is not one word written about tithing in the New Testament to the people of the New Covenant…. The New Testament teaches Christians are to give from out of their heart – there is no percentage used. This only makes sense since you can not give cheerfully if you are giving out of some legalistic requirement. Some wealthy people should give much more than ten percent of their increase (tithe) and some very poor people should give little or nothing or even be aided by the church.
So based on the assertions of many of these sources, tithing is not a new covenant law, and to preach that it continues to be a teaching that Christians should follow is simply legalism.
Even If Tithe Isn't Law, Should We Still Give?
So even if tithing is not a requirement, and don't have to give 10% as a strict baseline, should we still give? Again, Travis chimes in:
So if I don’t think the tithe applies to us today, does that mean I can get away with not giving anything? God forbid! On the contrary, I believe Christians are to “sell [their] possessions, and give to the needy” (Luke 12:33), but are not bound by a 10-33% annual tithe to modern-day Levites per se. The sacrificial system is no longer binding, but I am still bound by the perfect Law of Love: specifically, to “love [my] neighbor as [myself],” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, etc.)
In Matthew, Jesus speaks to the teachers of the law, and talks about how legalism and man's law (specifically about money pledged to the church instead of to the needy), can be made to go against God's true intentions for his Kingdom:
But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to ‘honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' Matthew 15:5-9
So as Jesus recognized, men can often get caught up in rules, laws and regulations, and forget the true meanings and God's intention behind the laws. Their hearts are hard and they twist the laws to fulfill their own wants and needs.
So according to these and other sources, tithing is not required in the New Covenant church. It is an Old Testament law given to the Israelites, and was specific to their time and place. When Jesus died for our sins, we were given the New Covenant in him. Tithing was replaced by freewill offering, and giving from the heart. That free will giving will often mean giving more than 10%, and giving in an even more sacrificial way.
Here's a listing of related reading when it comes to the tithe no longer being a biblical mandate. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
- Are Christians commanded to tithe or is this requirement legalism?
- Tithing, Giving, Sowing and Reaping
- Are you Giving to God with a Cheerful Heart?
- No More Tithing
- Tithing – Defining the issue in Christ
- The Curse of Tithing
- The Backlash Against Tithing – WSJ.com
- Should the Church teach tithing?
- Tithe – A requirement for Christians?(forum post)
- Forum Discussion of Tithing