Tithing in the New Covenant
The subject of tithing tends to be a delicate one in the Church and we would like to present the way we believe the Holy Spirit has led us to read and interpret the Scriptures regarding this subject. Please read this entire teaching carefully and feel free to ask any questions that you may have by e-mailing Pastor Scott L. Towner at email@example.com.
ORIGIN. The first tithe was given almost 4 centuries before Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive the Law of God. Abram (who became Abraham) gave 10 percent of his goods to Melchizedek, whom we now know to be the pre-incarnate Christ. (Hebrews 7:1-3). Later on God commanded the tithe on Mt. Sinai at the same time that He gave the Ten Commandments (Leviticus 27:30-34) in order to support the Levite Priests (Numbers 18:21-24). The Promised Land was divided up by the Lord into 12 sections and each tribe received stewardship of their section along with the right to work the land for harvest and to take advantage of whatever grew there naturally. The Levites inherited no land and therefore could not support themselves by farming, hunting or gathering. Their full time job was to attend to the Lord in the Tabernacle and minister to the people. Thus the Lord commanded the 12 tribes to give one-tenth of their entire harvest to the Levites to support them.
TEN PERCENT. The Hebrew word for tithe is מַעֲשֵׂר “ma’aser” which literally translates “one-tenth” or “ten percent.” (Strong’s Concordance, H4643).
NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATION. The commandment to tithe was part of the Old Covenant, otherwise known as “The Law” or “Mosaic Law.” Under the New Covenant of Grace established by Jesus Christ, we are no longer required to try and live up to commandments of the Law to obtain righteousness with God. Jesus obeyed all aspects of the Law perfectly for His entire life, becoming the perfect sacrificial Lamb. Therefore it’s upon His righteousness and obedience that we stand and not our own, not just for our Salvation but for our entire Christian journey.
AM I REQUIRED TO TITHE IF I GO TO CHURCH? You are not required to tithe as we are no longer under the covenant of commandment but rather that of promise. Under the old covenant of The Law, tithing was a commandment and if people didn’t do so they were considered thieves and robbers by the Lord (Malachi 3:8-10) and judgment would fall upon them for their disobedience.
Under the New Covenant of Grace (undeserved favor), Jesus Christ died and took the punishment for all sin and disobedience—yours and mine—and any who call upon His Name and are Saved no longer have the judgment and wrath of God upon them even when they sin because we are cleansed by the Blood of Christ once and for all (Hebrews 7:27).
LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. In all aspects of righteous living Christians are to be led by the Holy Spirit and not by the commandments of the Law (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18). For example, instead of restraining oneself from stealing because the 8th Commandment states “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15) we are led by the righteous example of Jesus Christ Whose Spirit will inspire a desire to generously give to others instead of stealing from them.
Thus under the covenant of Grace which is that of God making promises to us instead of demanding obedience (through commandments), we have the following when it comes to making financial offerings to the Church:
6But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
THE CHURCH NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT. Even in modern times, the local church needs your financial support and here are just a few reasons why:
- Rent or Mortgage on Church Building.
- Building and Grounds maintenance/repair.
- Utilities (electric, gas, phone, etc.)
- Teaching materials for Sunday School, VBS, Bible Study, etc.
- Purchase and upkeep of any audio or video equipment.
- Funding Missionaries.
- Benevolent donations to members of congregation or community during time of need (economic hard times, house fire, loss of job, etc.)
- Stipend for Pastors and non-volunteer staff.
Scripture states that Pastors should receive compensation for the work they do. When Jesus sent out His disciples to share the Gospel, He commanded them to provide nothing for themselves but to rely upon the favor of God to receive food, lodging and offerings from those they minister to:
“Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.” (Luke 10:4-7)
Paul quoted the same Scripture to Timothy whom he sent to Pastor the Church at Ephesus, having this to say:
Let the elders (Pastors, Priests) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
THE PROMISE. Jesus Christ set us free from the heavy burden of having to obey a list of commandments (which includes the commandment to tithe) that came with the constant fearful threat of God’s disapproval and wrath should we fall short. “Tithing” under the New Covenant is to be led by none other than the Holy Spirit. If we are led by The Spirit, we will give cheerfully as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9:7, and not grudgingly as those under commandment tend to do. Verse 8 in the same book and chapter is our promise: that when we give generously to the Church that ministers to us, God’s FAVOR (grace) will “abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” In other words, if you choose to give God will cover you financially to make sure you can pay your bills, mortgage/rent . . . and more. Verse 6 states that the more we give, the more God will bless in the same manner: “and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
GENEROSITY. Galatians 5:22 also states that one aspect of fruit produced by the leading of the Holy Spirit is Generosity. This is not something we must force ourselves to do out of grudging obligation and/or fear of judgment, but a miraculous inspiration that touches the core of our heart and soul. Soon after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the early church was so filled by the Spirit of Generosity that the following happened:
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44-45)
33And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:33-35).
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE GIVING AND HOW OFTEN? Most churches take a weekly offering and as to how much, again: we encourage you to seek the will of Christ through His Spirit to lead you. Many choose to start with the amount given in the Old Testament of 10%, but now do so with an inspiring sense of freedom instead of commandment, desiring to bless their church. When we give of our own free will inspired by the generosity of the Holy Spirit, we can finally become the “cheerful giver” that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 9:7.
WE NO LONGER HAVE TO NITPICK AND FRET! Some people ask detailed questions when it comes to tithing such as “do I tithe from my gross or net?” or “do I have to give a certain amount?” or perhaps “if I miss a Sunday do I need to make up for it?” Now that we are no longer under the Law we don’t need to worry about such questions because again: Christ will not visit some curse upon us if we miss a Sunday or give 5% instead of 10%. Give as the Spirit of God leads you to give and that’s it! Concerning the giving of the tithe, the writer of Hebrews has the following to say:
18For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment (to tithe) because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope (that we are free from the commandment and now the Holy Spirit will lead us to be generous and cheerful givers), through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19, words in parenthesis mine).
DOES THE CHURCH KEEP TRACK OF HOW MUCH I GIVE? Only for tax purposes on our end and yours. No one except the Treasurer knows this figure, not even the Pastor. At the end of every year, the Treasurer will give you a form stating the total of what you gave that you can submit to the IRS for tax relief.
OTHER TEACHINGS. As one of the more sensitive subjects, we are aware of the fact that there are many other teachings and positions on tithing. The internet is rife with websites, some taking the “give 10% or else” approach and others claiming you should give nothing at all.
At Gateway Fellowship we’re not suggesting a balance between the two, but rather the leading of the Holy Spirit to point us to the New Testament Scriptures that have to do with walking in the covenant of Grace that Jesus established and how it applies to tithing. Again we bring you back to Abraham . . . there was no commandment to tithe in his day as the Law would not come until 4 centuries later. Abraham was led and inspired to generosity by the Spirit of God to give a tenth of all he owned to Melchizedek and we seek to be led by the same Spirit. Thank you and God speed!