I think it’s time we discuss some of the confusion around tithing. The conversations and teachings surrounding this topic often leave church-goers confused, upset, and feeling like the church is simply after their money. While churches can make some silly mistakes, it’s exceptionally rare that I run into a church leader who seems to simply be after people’s money. The more common error is that most people simply don’t know the context of the tithe in scripture. So let’s quickly look at how the tithe in presented in the bible.
A Tax, Not an Offering
In the Old Testament, a tithe was nothing more than a temple tax, designed to keep God’s house running. In fact, the tithe was common in cultures of the ancient Near East because the temples were the economic centers of those societies. Paying a tithe to the temple was very similar to paying taxes to the government today.
While we call the money we put in the offering plate (or send from PayPal) a “tithe”, the fact is that there is no tithe today because there is no longer a temple. The local church is not the temple, nor is it God’s house. We are God’s house.
There’s No Tithe in The New Testament
The New Testament doesn’t talk about the tithe because they understood what it was and they presumed its payment. No way would Paul or the local congregations ask people to tithe because the tithe was for the temple. We often think our first 10% should go to the local church, an institution designed for believers, and any giving to missionaries and those reaching the lost, should be above and beyond the 10%. Interesting, isn’t it?
It’s time we stop talking about the tithe because it simply does not exist anymore. Let’s give to our local churches and to missionaries and to local charities; let’s love God with our resources. But let’s stop teaching tithing as giving, because it wasn’t and it isn’t—it was a tax. Let’s change the discussion of giving and free people to love and give abundantly knowing that God rewards a cheerful giver.
Not sure what you think about this? That’s ok! Join the conversation in the comments below or on Twitter @ericincontext