We have been asked this question a few times. We always give the same response. For some reason people come to us with worry or a sense of dread. The dread comes from the fear instilled in them from the local churches. Almost all the local churches practice a form of “tithing” at their church. They claim the tithe will go to the work of God but more often times than not, it goes to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the leadership.
The simple answer to the question is No. The New Testament church is not required to give a tithe. The only place in the New Testament we see a tithe being spoken about is “nowhere.” We do however see in the second letter to the Corinthians instructions on how to give:
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV).
This is one instance of how the Apostle Paul instructs the Church on how to give. They must give as they “purpose” in their heart. Meaning, they must decide prior to giving, what they want to give. When one purposes to give by his own heart, he is not using a given percentage from any outside source or command. If he purposes to give a certain amount, he does so at his own volition. Notice how the Apostle follows up by saying, “not grudgingly or of necessity.” This means that one should not give out of disdain or pressure. If you notice the type of atmosphere in many of the local churches when it comes time to give, there is always a sense of apathy or grudge. The local churches have gone so far as commanding everyone to clap and shout when it comes time for “tithe and offering.” I have heard this with my own ears. When the offering time comes the Assistant Pastor will get behind the pulpit and say something like:
“It’s time for tithe and offering…let’s praise Him. Louder, come on louder. Oh, no…wait, that wasn’t good enough, let me hear it again…let’s clap our hands and shout and be cheerful givers!”
Essentially what is taking place is the Assistant Pastor is conditioning the congregation to mimic a certain type of behavior. So when the next service comes around and offering time begins they will instantaneously, robotically, clap and shout with an artificial cheerfulness. This is a complete farce! This is not what the Apostle Paul was intending when he said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul stated that God loves the one who gives with a grateful and cheerful heart. One who gives an amount as he [personally] sees fit to give. He must not give with a grudge or by constraint or through manipulation. If he gives in a generic manner or under duress, his offering is not acceptable with God. It may be accepted by that local church to increase their general fund but it won’t be accepted by God. For the offering was taken through a form of manipulation and extortion. Hence, a type of Cain offering.
Giving to the body of Christ through a personal decided amount is a correct way to give. Another correct method of giving in the New Testament is shown to us by the Apostle in the second letter to the Corinthians:
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
This is a general principle when giving. This method is also stated in the Old Testament. It’s a Spiritual Law when giving, not a commandment but a Spiritual Law. Paul is emphasizing that if one sows (gives) a little, he will reap a little. If one sows a lot, he will reap a lot. God knows how to reward the faithful cheerful giver.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38).
Our last look into New Testament giving is in the first letter to the Corinthians:
“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14).
Simply put, they that are faithfully doing the work of the Lord must be supported by work of the Lord. The Body of Christ, which stretches beyond denomination and distance are the supporters of those who Minister the Gospel in Truth. In these last days there are a lot of deceivers and the last place a person wants to sow their free-will offerings is to a wolf. A wolf is one who twists the Word of God to his own benefit or profit, hence, the tithe preachers. The tithe preachers can be some of the most venomous manipulators in our time. They say things such as:
“Don’t rob God” (used out of context of Malachi 3)
“You will be cursed if you don’t tithe”
“You won’t reap a harvest if you don’t tithe”
“You won’t open the windows of heaven”
“If you don’t tithe, you’re not fit for the Kingdom of God”
“Don’t be a penny-costal, give more than a dollar”
These are all statements that I have heard with my own ears and all are statements of manipulation. I used to partake in that deception when I was a part of the staff at a local church. I wasn’t given the option to tithe, I was commanded to tithe. If I wanted to be part of the staff of that church I was commanded to tithe. The fact of the matter is that I tithed to the church and I still found myself in need at times, still had car problems, still needed to be a good steward of my funds etc. This was years ago, since then God brought me a long way!
When I forsook that staff position and the false teaching I began to serve the Lord in Spirit and Truth, along with being a “cheerful” giver, I was then blessed! The windows of heaven were truly opened up to me. I now am able to give as I purpose in my heart to give. My cheerful giving goes to those in need or those who faithfully preach or teach the Gospel in Truth. I give with cheerfulness and no grudge or fear of condemnation. My free-will offerings are now being directed with purpose and being put to use by those who are working in the Harvest field or by those who truly have a need. My giving is based out of 2 Corinthians chapter 9. That is how God wants us to give. That is the way we TRULY cannot OUT GIVE God.
In the Old Testament the tithe was either given to the Levites (Numbers 18:21), used for the Festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16) or given to the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). In our times we as Gentiles do not live under a Levitical system of gov’t and law. We do not observe festivals, moons or sabbath days (Colossians 2:16-17). However, we do still have the poor with us and that is what Paul took up an offering for in the New Testament, for those who were under a famine in Judea. Even then, he didn’t require or command a tithe but stated that there should be a “collection for the saints” at the beginning of the week:
“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
Notice the statement, “as God hath prospered him.” This tells us that beloved Paul understood New Testament giving. It isn’t forcing water out of a turnip as many ministers do in the local churches. It isn’t extorting or threatening with fear for not giving as they say to give. A tithe isn’t even mentioned by Paul, not once! but he defers to grace and says, (as God hath prospered you, so give).
When the Body of Christ gives to our Ministry, we are thankful. It’s not easy doing this Labor with much traveling, wear and tear on cars, lodgings, meals, equipment, personal sacrifices etc. We get feedback from a lot of people who say they feel comfortable giving to us because they know the offerings will be put to good use. We bless God for that. Others say that we are the only ones they donate to because they don’t feel comfortable giving to others whom they cannot trust. We are humbled by that and for that we also bless God.
In conclusion, if one feels that they want to tithe, they can do so. If that’s how they like to give within themselves as a personal goal. But their giving a tithe shouldn’t be prompted by any outside influence such as a tithe preacher, teacher or manipulation of the scriptures. They must give as “they” purpose in their “own” hearts. If that amount is 5%, 10% 20% or whatever, that’s between them and God. Likewise, if one wants to give a free-will offering (any amount), they must do so as they purpose in their own hearts and with a cheerful heart.
We are not advising anyone to hate the tithe preacher or to slander them. If you are in a fellowship that commands a tithe, just don’t partake in that way of giving. If they say it’s “required” or you cannot be a “member” or “attend” their church then you know the greediness has infected the tithe preacher to the point of corruption/greed. At that stage they are making merchandise of you. (2 Peter 2:3). If they continue to manipulate the church by commanding a tithe, they will surely reap a damning reward.
“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:18).