Friday, December 5, 2008

Ten Percent?

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
-Malachi 3:8-12

A few weeks ago, Pastor Bob was speaking on money. I love Bob's speaking . . . he is passionate, witty, not afraid to challenge, and he does his homework. As a past RCMP officer he brings a viewpoint that is . . . well, let's say different then what I heard as part of a Mennonite church for many years. It still surprises me when at the beginning of a sermon he asks us to stop and pray for our serviceman overseas or our law enforcement officers who serve and protect. Like I said, different perspective.

Anyway, in his last sermon before heading for Bali where he and his wife Anne are serving for several months he preached on tithing. One of his points which I am pondering is this:

Tithing (giving 10% of your income) is a command for Christ followers today. That giving is to be done directly to one's local church, giving to other charities/needs should be above the 10%.

Although it is an Old Testament command that is never mentioned in the New Testament, Bob appealed to Jesus words that he had come to fulfill the law (not replace it) as well as Matthew 5:18 "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Bob said that God blesses those who obey this aspect of his Word and implied (if I head him right) that some blessing might be withheld if it is not.

I'm not sure if I agree with him on this one. Most Christians agree that we are still to follow the moral law but not the ceremonial. Wouldn't this be the ceremonial law? There is much said about giving generously in the New Testament but nothing on tithing (at least that I could find). Also, Bob's appeal to the perseverance of the law wasn't fully explained. Bible scholars have much disagreement over which parts of the law should still be observed by Christians and I'm not sure most would agree that the tithing laws are for today. What do you think?

For the most apart I agreed and was challenged with Bob's series on money (very refreshing I thought) but it's just on this one issue that I am unconvinced. Money is a touchy issue but I'm curious to know other people's viewpoints on giving. What do you believe and what is your actual practice? Are they different? I'm considering trying "living by the law" when it comes to tithing for year and see what happens. Perhaps the blessings of Malachi 3 will be more obvious in my life. I suppose it would be difficult to argue with results, right?

May Light increase!


Russell Earl Kelly said...

As a Protestant and believer-priest you are smart to question tithing.
First, the definition is NOT giving 10% of your income unless you use the secular dictionary definition. There are 16 texts in the Bible which describe the contents of the tithe as only food from inside Israel which has been miraculously increased by God. Although money was common in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never tithed. Jews living outside Israel and Gentiles could not tithe food. Craftsmen such as carpenters, fishermen and tentmakers had nothing tithe-able.
Second, Jesus only commanded tithing to His Jewish disciples before Calvary and before the Old Testament ended at Calvary (Mt 23:23). He could not have commanded his Gentile disciples to tithe.
Third, the OT Temple and priesthood have been replaced, not by NT gospel leaders, but by every believer as a priest. There is no NT storehouse and Church buildings did not even exist for over 200 years after Calvary.
It is wrong to quote Matthew 5:17-18 and not quote 5:19-48. Jesus was discussing all 613 commandments of the Law, not just the moral law. According to Galatians 3:10/Deut 27:26 the only way to claim blessings from tithing was to observe all 613 commandments. Otherwise a curse would result. There is no NT principle which allows us to teach tithing and ignore the rest of the law. Like you pointed out, tithing was part of the cultic ceremonial worship statutes/ordinances of the law.

Fourth, the moral law is found throughout the OT and not all of the Ten Commandments are moral unless you want to rest slaves on Saturday and want your children to live long in the land of Israel.

NT giving principles are: freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful and motivated by love for God and lost souls. According to 2nd Cor 8:12-15 many should give more than 10%, but those who give sacrificially (but less than 10%) are not cursed.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Mark said...

Wow Russel, your website is so . . . exhaustive! I have not had time to go through it yet, but thanks for adding your opinion and views.

aneta said...

I find it interesting that usually when we say we shouldn't be so legalistic about giving 10% nowadays ( stating that was an OT requirement)we are usually implying that we should feel free to give less and not feel that we are withholding from God.

I mean, have you ever heard someone say..
'yeah, I give 15%. After all, I'm not under the OT law'?

Tornado said...

Anonymous said...

i don't have much to comment except to say "perfect timing, mark". i am currently asking questions about this very thing. i also recently heard (for the first time) that the 10% should be given directly to the church and the rest is "extra". i was taught otherwise, and to be honest, in the past several years i wasn't faithful in giving 10% (in church or otherwise). hope more of your readers comment!

Anonymous said...

Yes we give WAY MORE than 10% and much of it is not receiptable. Has nothing to do with OT or NT but it has everything to do with not hoarding and wanting to share what is God's anyway.

Keith said...

Hey Mark,
Wasn't that sermon a few weeks ago ;)

Lee and I had the same conversation and so we sat down added up how much we made so far and how much we gave (church or otherwise) and to be honest, it has changed the way we are going to give ;)

I don't think we were withholding because it was our money and we didn't want to give, I think it was just an assumption that we were doing alright in that area. I think the biggest thing that will change is (like all things) we are going to review this more often.

Russel is most likely right, 10% is an OT thing and we are not held by it. The NT taught us that it is not our actions, but our hearts behind those actions.
With that said, I am a procrastinator, I often get into a groove (or rut), and I work best with clear goals. So for me 10% is a great base and I thank God for telling me that.

I'm going to test God in this ;)

Anonymous said...

I would agree that the 10% was under the OT law, but might not be a bad goal. We are to give freely, sacrificially, out of love. For some that may be less than 10%, for some, much more.