To Tithe or Not To Tithe?
By Kenneth E. Hagin
From time to time over the years, people have asked me if the practice of tithing is still valid for the Church today. “The New Testament really says very little about it,” they say. “Should ministers preach and encourage tithing with so little New Testament information on the subject? Should Christians be bound by the Old Testament Law?”
It is true; there is very little mention of tithing in the New Testament. Only the Gospels of Matthew and Luke report incidents of Jesus speaking about the tithe. In the following instance, Jesus clearly affirmed His belief in the practice of tithing.
Matthew 23:23 (TLB)
23 Yes, woe upon you, Pharisees, and you other religious leader’s hypocrites! For you tithe down to the last mint leaf in your garden, but ignore the important things justice and mercy and faith. Yes, you should tithe, but you shouldn’t leave the more important things undone.
Jesus upbraided the hypocritical religious leaders of His day for ignoring important parts of the Law. They ignored such things as justice, mercy, and faith. Instead, they meticulously paid the tithe they owed down to the last leaf in their gardens. Jesus was saying that giving money doesn’t take the place of living right. God is not as interested in a person’s money as He is in the individual’s heart. But Jesus did say that a person should tithe.
The majority of biblical references to the tithe are clearly part of the Old Covenant. However, tithing was not introduced under the Law. It was merely regulated under the Law. Tithing originated as an act of faith. And faith transcends both the Old and New Covenants! And “by faith” is how we should tithe today—not as an act of legalism, but as an act of faith.
Genesis chapter 14 tells us how Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek, king of Salem. However, Abram lived four hundred years before the time of Moses and the Law Obviously; he did not pay tithes by legalistic requirement because he lived before the Law. Isaac and Jacob also lived before the Law and paid tithes (Gen. 18:19-20; 28:22).
By faith, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God. We see this in the Book of Hebrews, which also tells us that, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22 NIV).
Galatians chapter three makes some crucially important statements.
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 everyone that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
This passage says that we’re to live by faith. Should we pay tithes today? Absolutely! But we should pay them in the same way Abraham paid them—not by the Law, but by faith. And besides that, the people of God paid 10 percent before the Law and 10 percent under the Law. Should we, who live by grace, be doing any less when we have a better covenant?
Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, who was a type of Christ. And Abraham received the blessing, which was threefold—spiritual, physical, and material (or financial). Because we are redeemed from the curse of the Law by the sacrifice of Christ, we have received the blessing of Abraham—spiritually, physically, and financially.
We, then, by faith follow the example of Abraham in paying tithes. We pay our tithes unto Christ! The Bible says that when God raised Jesus from the dead, He gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body (Eph. 1:22-23). When we pay tithes to Christ, the Head, they flow to His Body, the Church. Do you see it? Through the Church, we have the great privilege of giving to Jesus to do His will and work.
I believe if every Christian would be faithful in tithing and giving, there would be more than enough funds for the Church to carry out its mission in the world. Researchers have found that amazingly few born-again Americans tithe regularly. And a surprisingly large number give nothing! Imagine what could be accomplished if all Christians were faithful in their tithing and giving!
Just think how much more your church could be doing to minister in your city, in your community, in our nation, and around the world if more funds were available. Suppose your church’s income was suddenly multiplied by four. It would have a much greater impact in reaching more souls, helping more people in need, and financing more missionaries.
Through tithing and giving offerings, we can be a part of what God is doing in the world today. Our motive and purpose for giving should be pure and unselfish.
1. We should give because we love God. Giving is a natural expression of love. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave.” And we should do the same; we should give to God because we love Him.
2. We should give to God in obedience to His Word. The Bible teaches us to give to the Lord and support His work. In addition to the scriptures we’ve already examined, there are many others that are unmistakable in their instruction about giving.
3. We should give as a means to help carry out Christ’s Great Commission. By giving to the Church, we will support the work of those who are going into all the world with the Gospel.
4. We should give because we want to see people blessed. Our tithes and gifts help support outreaches of the local church. Our financial gifts also help those who minister to the poor, evangelize the lost, and build up the saints while equipping them for Christian service.
5 .And, finally, way down the line, we should give in expectancy. We should believe God to honor the promises in His Word to bless and prosper us.
Notice that I have listed five reasons to give. I believe the order of this list reflects priorities that are very important. It seems to me that many preachers are overemphasizing number five on the list and presenting that as the major reason for people to give.
Nevertheless, giving is a tried and proven way to plant seeds for a harvest. This will result in our needs being met. The law of sowing and reaping does apply in the area of personal finances. The Bible is true when it says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom . . .” (Luke 6:38).
All of these are good and valid reasons for giving. And I believe they will lead to true prosperity—spirit, soul, and body.
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