Should You Tithe?

Coin_band

For years people have been asking me for my response to the tithing question. “Should you tithe?” Here are two responses:

  • You should tithe
  • You should not tithe

Since both responses are expressed as commands, and we are not under law, I care for neither.

“Paul, you’re being tricky. Please address the issue.” Okay, check out two statements below. Which do you agree with?

  • I tithe regularly, therefore I’m spiritual
  • I never tithe, therefore I’m spiritual

You will find both views debated on social media, but both sides are in error because each is boasting in what they are doing or not doing. There’s pride on both sides.

My friend Richie Lewis recently preached on the “Subtlety of Self.” The subtlety of self is manifested in the pride we take on whatever positions we hold. “I… therefore…” glorifies the flesh.

Let me give you an example that grace-lovers will recognize.

Formerly I was bound up with rules and rituals, but now I’m free from all that. I don’t work (Christ has done it all), I don’t tithe (Christ is my tithe), I don’t go to church (I am the church), therefore I am spiritually superior to others who have not seen the light.

What’s wrong with the statement above? It’s arrogant and unChristlike, is what’s wrong. It has the prideful stench of self all over it.

The problem is not what you’re doing or not doing; the problem is you’re identifying your self as your source. Because you have it all figured out, you’re better off. Hooray for you!

The subtlety of self

The works-occupied legalist glories in what she does, while the lazy grace-lover glories in what he doesn’t do, and both miss the mark. Again, it’s not what you’re doing or not doing that matters, it’s why you’re doing it (or not doing it). Any time self is the source of your joy or standing you are walking in the flesh. You are not walking by faith.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6)

I hooked you with tithing but in Paul’s day the issue was circumcision. On one side there were law-lovers who said, “You should be circumcised” and on the other were grace-lovers who said, “You shouldn’t be.” According to Paul, both sides missed the mark:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything… (Gal 6:15a)

Substitute circumcision for tithing or church attendance or whatever issue you’re debating and the point remains the same. The thing is not the thing. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So when people ask me, “Should you tithe?” I get agitated. It’s a bad question because it inspires you to draw on your knowledge, your understanding, and your clever ability to figure things out. Proceed this way and any answer you come up with will likely be a dead work.

So what should I do?

For starters, stop using the word should. All things are lawful, so don’t ask me to should on you. On the subject of giving, let each be convinced in his own mind. But let me leave you with this: A law-preacher will compel you to give using the carrots (“give and God will bless you”) and sticks (“stop robbing God”) of Malachi 3. Such a message insults Jesus who made us eternally unpunishable and through whom we have received every blessing. Don’t listen to it.

And don’t listen to the grace-grump who turns non-tithing into an angry cause. “We were lied to!” Tithing has become an offensive issue to some. I appreciate you may have been exploited, ripped off, and abused, but if you are offended, you’re not free. You need to give it to Christ and put your ego back in the grave.

Jeremiah Johnson

To paraphrase Paul, in Christ Jesus neither tithing nor non-tithing has any value. If you want to tithe, then tithe, and if you don’t, then don’t. But whatever you choose, don’t brag about your choice, and don’t hammer those who choose differently. The one who boasts about his non-tithing is just as confused as the one who tithes-to-be-blessed.

Giving is where the rubber of our faith meets the hard road of need. It’s a subject we need to talk about more than we do. But it’s also a subject where we need to beware the subtlety of the self. When we talk about money let our conversations carry the fragrance of Christ rather than the aroma of arrogance.

Grace and peace to you.

Note: This is part 2 of a 3-part series on tithing. Part 1 is “Tithing Under Grace.” In Part 3,  I’ll look at Malachi 3 through the lens of grace.

41 Comments on Should You Tithe?

  1. Wow Paul! This is by far the most insightful article I have ever read on tithing in the New Testament.

  2. Brandon Petrowski // July 19, 2016 at 12:28 am // Reply

    Well said. The root of the issue is the issue of the heart, not shoulds and shouldn’ts.

  3. Suzan Jacobs // July 19, 2016 at 12:59 am // Reply

    Wow!! Thank you so much….I needed to hear this.

  4. Thank you very much Apostle Paul.
    This is the best answer i think I’ve received on this tithing issue. If only we would understand to have a personal relationship with Christ then after allow faith in Him to carry us on that faith journey,many of the confusions in the church would be swallowed up.From a long time ago since i read Romans 14, i stopped passing judgement on myself and on others as to what they do or don’t do with what level of faith they have and this post has given me even more reasons to this belief.I don’t feel condemned for not tithing and i don’t condemn those who do it either. “Have you faith? have it to yourself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows.”(KJV).
    God Bless you and your time for God’s work.

  5. I love this: “For starters, stop using the word should”. Amen, amen, amen!

  6. Rosanna Requejo // July 19, 2016 at 1:42 am // Reply

    WOW, so blessed beyond words … Thank you Lord JESUS! Thanks brother Paul, God bless!

  7. i am so confused on tithing my church preaches tithing 10% or more
    i love my church but not sure on this

    • With all respect, you should not care what your church teaches. Seriously. Caring what your church teaches more or less assures that you will follow that church, instead of following Christ. That’s one (just one) reason there is so much division within Christianity, and among believers in general. I encourage you to look into the issue yourself, see what scripture has to say, read other points of view. I think Paul gave a very good argument against the “10% tithe is mandatory” view, while also not making it an issue of judgment. If you WANT to tithe, then go ahead. But the NT command is to give to whom and what you have decided in your heart. Did you know the Spirit of Christ is in you and you don’t need a man to teach you!? You have light and truth within you, you are a beautiful creation, and want to please the Father! See 1 John 2:27, for example. Bless you.

    • Sorry you are feeling confused; I think the main message in Paul’s writing here is that there is no ‘should’. The Rules that churches give us are basically part of being legalistic; Paul’s writing here is intended to help release us into the freedom from Rules that Jesus gave us, as explained by St. Paul in the book of Galatians. Read this piece again in this light🙂

  8. Excellent, Paul! I have been pondering/praying about tithing because I wanted to know how God views tithing in the New Covenant and there are countless opinions. Your verse from Galatians 6 helped clear a lot of things up. Here is how it is rendered in the Message Bible:

    “Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!” (Gal. 6:15 MSG)

    It is important to know that we can be legalistic about law and grace when self is the source. When Jesus is the source, it has to be grace.

  9. This subtly of self thing puts me in a box where I feel like I can’t express myself at all. I’m not sure what our approach should be to talk about Jesus. I try to approach it by talking about what He has done in my life rather than making it a discussion of right and wrong. In the case of tithing, it never worked for me. I wasn’t giving out of a motive of love. How do I say that without saying “I”?🙂 I know law and works do not work to produce good fruit because I’ve been down that road. We can hammer away for hours on my interpretation of scriptures verses yours, but the bottom line is, how is that working out for you? “I” eventually came to a place where it was painfully obvious “my” works approach was not working out for “me”.🙂

  10. Just brilliant.
    Be free.

  11. Jerry Whitmore // July 19, 2016 at 2:59 am // Reply

    Absolutely outstanding! Well thought out and simply expressed. I have shared so many of your teachings in classes. God bless you.

  12. When a question is asked with the word “should”, the answer is “no.”

  13. David Makwele // July 19, 2016 at 3:28 am // Reply

    My bone of contention is that tithe is not money according to the OT teaching and not every Isatelite was required to tithe only those who were in farming business of crop or cattle. The system of tithing is not compatible to the priesthood of Jesus but to the levitical priesthood. So how then does money come into the equation?

    • David Makwele – Money can’t be in the equation. When Ya’shuah (Jesus) says, “give to Caesar what is his…” that is a Newer Covenant character trait of the Father, which was also evident the Older Covenants.

      How does money have a relationship to Tithe in the older covenants, when tithing had everything to do with covering those (Levitical Priesthood) who would go hungry without it? Money is not remotely relative.

      You are on to something here__ the oral (Laws) written rules being built on by the generations of Pharisees & Sadducees in the Sanhedrin. The wealth & reach of power these people wielded in those days & still do today… These are “the law” Paul was pointing to in Galations & other places when he said many times, we are no longer under the law.

      He never gave any indication we are no longer under the Laws of God – Matt 5:17-19, Rom 7 etc. Jesus has annulled & or put away some of the Law, but we are still under Law… the best is to disciple one another through this – not to be yanking on each other with the accusations of legalisms & religiousity arguments.

      Tithing was not under any law, (it was on-off, not a teaching for generations to follow) but before the law & has no place being spoken of in relation to modern believers & law.

      Thank-you for your post

  14. mubela mutale // July 19, 2016 at 3:35 am // Reply

    It’s awesome!

  15. As to not listening to “grace-grumps” who decry that “we were lied to,” I think anger and resentment, while not commendable, are certainly understandable. Gradually, as we renew our minds with grace teachings, we are transformed. As Joseph Prince says, “right believing leads to right living.”

    Let me add that as someone now grasping the truth of Evangelical Universalism, I can begin to honestly say God is joyful and lighthearted BECAUSE “we all live happily ever after.” (And in fact, outside linear time—in eternity—we are all already safe and sound in His presence.) But in spite of this, I myself am only sporadically joyful and lighthearted at this point.

  16. Adriaan Hattingh // July 19, 2016 at 4:58 am // Reply

    One of my favorite movie quotes is from Ratatouille when Anton Ego, food critic, is asked what he would like for dinner and answers “…you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?”

    This post is a healthy serving of perspective in regards to a very contentious issue. Well done!!

  17. Brock Fletcher // July 19, 2016 at 5:38 am // Reply

    Paul,
    Bravo.

  18. Holly Meadows // July 19, 2016 at 5:43 am // Reply

    Very helpful! Thanks!

  19. I always get super “agitated” at such “should you” questions too, and I think you helped me understand why. The issue, as you stated, is not tithing at all, but the heart. If you’re doing what you are convinced is right, then go ahead. But never make it a law or a means of judgment. That said, I am also convinced the model of for-profit churches and ministries is typically a spiritually harmful one, and is on its way out. In the end, I pray the body of Christ will connect with and be directed by it’s head (Christ/Spirit), it’s the only hope there is for the world…

  20. I look at it differently, am I receiving a benefit for my time, and money I am giving. What is my ROI (return on investment)? If you are not being built up, equipped, nourish, pick your own word, why are are you going to this place that wants you money?

  21. I was one of many that got burnt out on a god whom demended my money! In retun a blessing or a curse! Of course it was 700 years of this teaching that fooled many pastors into believing god demended it! Lol. Thank God for his finished work that now makes giving fun! No where starting in the bible starting in acts do any of the apostles tell the church you better tithe! Or else! It is a gift.

  22. So should I commit adultery or should I not commit adultery?

  23. Keith Murray // July 19, 2016 at 10:00 am // Reply

    I’ve been following you from afar and love your wisdom and insight to Grace, Paul.
    I’m still working through this subject of Tithing and Sowing. Thinking of Pauls response in Philippians 4 where he says that My God shall supply all my needs when the church had so generously supported him at that time. Is this a promise (God shall supply all my needs) that is conditional and as such can only be rightfully claimed if one has been generous in giving to others? Or is it Pauls response to Gods generosity leading him to give voice to this promise?

    Off the subject now. Should not Grace be walking with Holiness lest it be forgotten or even neglected because under only Grace one may turn a blind eye to Holiness?

    Bless you heaps!
    Keith. Brisbane.

  24. terry bradley // July 19, 2016 at 11:17 am // Reply

    Hi Paul, You have rightly highlighted “self” as a big issue concerning the debate on should believers tithe, however I think it is easier to teach, TITHING = OLD COVENANT and GIVING = NEW COVENANT. The old covenant provides a law demanding 10% of what you produce or earn. The new covenant places an emphasis of giving as an attitude of the heart towards giving of your time, money or resources and most importantly allows the believer to “hear the Lord speak” about giving to another person, which makes giving relational, “because you heard the Lord speak”, and not the demand of a law which demands 10%. The Old Covenant is a list of Laws devoid of a relationship with a person. The New Covenant is an intimate relationship with a person, who is Jesus, who is Grace.

  25. This is awesome! I 100%agree with this!
    “I tithe regularly, therefore I’m spiritual I never tithe, therefore I’m spiritual You will find both views debated on social media, but both sides are in error because each is boasting in what they are doing or not doing. There’s pride on both sides.”
    And people get angry at you or me anyway if I don’t agree about any given issue like politics tithing or anything else. I don’t have any intense beliefs about it like some do. I don’t feel like I have to have a strong opinion on everything. I am redeemed! But this is such a help because of reading all the fighting on social media over tithing! BTW This is Pinky I disabled my FB page for a week or so due to surgery. I can’t deal with 100 messages and tags a day night now. i am supposed to stay off my feet. I fell and broke my ankle in Bermuda on our anniversary trip! The Lord bless you!

  26. hisforever2 // July 19, 2016 at 1:46 pm // Reply

    Please share how we by Jesus through the cross (knowing our need and life in Him) overcome self. Our Father by grace supplies our needs, and prepares the works we walk in. Grace, His love is our life. Might you expand these. Thanks for your love and gift here.

    • I encourage you to check out the many articles here on E2R on faith vs walking after the flesh. You can find them in the Archives > Subject Index. Thanks.

  27. Natanael Jonatan // July 19, 2016 at 3:23 pm // Reply

    So Paul, according to your explanation,it depends on how deep your relationship with Him. This can influence our motif behind on what you will act or choose to do ( eg. Tithing, Church attendance etc).

  28. Wow, you.areamazing!!!

  29. This is by far one of the best written articles on this subject..Thankyou Paul,
    Would it be fair to ask the question, do you feel guilty if you don’t tithe?and let that be an indicator of your motives,

  30. Really an indepth message. It’s all about Jesus.

  31. My rule in this is “follow the money”: for something this important (and profitable), one would expect that there would be explicit teaching on this elsewhere in the New Testament outside of the Gospels, but there is nothing. Nada. Rien. zip.

    The ORIGINAL tithing rule was 1/3 of the tithe to the Tabernacle/Temple Storehouse, 1/3 to your local community storehouse, and 1/3 to be spent on a vacation to the Tabernacle/Temple to buy “whatever your heart desires”. This was the rule from Sinai up to Malachi, who changed it to “Bring ye ALL the tithes into the storehouse, that there be meat in MY HOUSE…” In other words, forget that God-paid vacation AND the local storehouse: Malachi says the temple should get it all (“..my house..”). The result? 400+ years of prophetic silence until John the Baptist. Good going, Malachi…

  32. Daryl Lawrence // July 20, 2016 at 10:24 am // Reply

    Im a tither an ive been for years,not to boast or brag but to testify that ive seen God move when i do put money in my church i see God move when i dont put mnoey in the church

  33. Tope Oloniniyi // July 21, 2016 at 3:24 am // Reply

    This is the best article read on this subject of Tithing. Thank you Paul.

  34. I tell you, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I have been that person, angry at the church of Law. Being raised in such a religious background has caused me such hurt and built up hatred for churches that teach anything other then Grace. In the past year God has really broken down those walls, giving me a forgiving heart, but I am far from where I want to be.

    When you said, Faith expressing itself through love, that is what I need! And that is what I just asked God for! I believe we can become law minded in Grace, it is in us to try to figure out whats going on and how it works instead of letting His Grace flow. I’m guilty of this, but seeing it in the light more each day.

    Thank you so much for this message my brother, I cant even explain to you how much weight has lifted off of me! It is such a blessing to see all these replies and testimonies from other brothers and sisters in Christ, reading these lift my heavy heart. This is the closest I have been to feeling free and speaking freely, and to a group of people I don’t even know personally🙂. But you are all my spiritual family! God bless you all! Keep me in prayer, I will do the same for you. Be blessed!

  35. Wow, Paul! Your statement, “. . . the problem is you’re identifying your self as your source, Because you have it all figured out, you’re better off,” really hit home with me. I needed to hear that, and have been guilty of such thinking (and not just about tithing). At work, for example, I would rely on my abilities to foresee what to do in a certain circumstance based upon past experiences and look down upon the liberated folk who would just take things in stride as they came along. I’m glad to see how I’ve been walking in error. The truth indeed makes free! Thank you and God bless.

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