I had preached tithing as a minister, as a Pastor, and as a youth pastor, but never understood the tithing texts in the Old Testament until 2006. I stood in my kitchen and got very honest with God, because I knew I didn’t understand the Old Testament scriptures which have been “re-worked” to teach Christians to give a tenth of their income.
I asked the Lord, “what’s the deal?” I had preached tithing for a very long time, and I was very good at it. However, I knew in my heart, I did not understand the scriptures in the Old Testament regarding tithing, and that what I was preaching and had preached was only a nicely crafted defense for tithing with no real understanding of the biblical tithe.
Though I had taught tithing, I was weary because I had never truly experienced the abundance that is supposed to come from giving the required 10% of my income and I had been practicing this for some 26 years as a Christian at the time.
I had been through all the nuances preached and taught by tithe teachers as to why tithing sometimes doesn’t work in bringing the blessings. Preachers are constantly having to come up with excuses when people don’t experience the promised success.
I had convinced myself that because of tithing, I was blessed, but in reality, I wasn’t. It was a constant struggle as me and my wife incurred much debt because we didn’t have much money left over to get through the month after we tithed. In 2006 I was set free from the bondage of giving what man told me I was “required” to give – even if I could afford it or not.
It has now been 13 years at the time of this writing, and…
God still talks to me.
God continues to answer my prayers, & receive my worship.
God continues to bless my life.
God continues to minister his presence to my heart and life.
God continues to provide for me and my family financially.
There is still “no sign” of any curse that I was taught and also taught others that would come for not giving a mandatory 10%. By emphasizing the curse, tithe teachers can motivate people to give a particular amount so that they can insure they will have a certain amount of funds come in. That’s just the honest truth.
If ministers made a habit of studying the scriptures so they could teach sound doctrine, rather than studying to get another angle on the topic they want to persuade people to believe, they could teach the curse mentioned in Malachi 3 within its contextual setting.
This is why you will never have a tithe teacher take you through the scriptures to teach you what the tithe in the Bible actually was, and what it wasn’t. They will never tell you who was required to tithe, and who wasn’t.
In my time of searching, I only observed one person attempting to do so, his attempt failed, but I do commend his effort.
As I stood there in my kitchen the day I got honest with God about wanting to understand the tithing scriptures, I took a neutral position. I petitioned the Lord with the commitment that if I were required to tithe, I would to continue to do so, but I wanted to understand tithing Biblically, so I could teach it correctly from the Bible.
However, If I were to find that I was not required to tithe, I wanted to know the truth as well.
That day, I purposed to take a neutral position before God, not leaning to the right or the left, but whatever he revealed to me from his word as the truth, I would believe.
I took communion and consecrated my prayer and search to the Lord. That same day, I put a large tithe check in the mail (that was money that my family could have used), but I did so because I did not yet know what God’s answer would be.
I prayed, “If I am required to tithe, receive this as my tithe, if I am not required to tithe, receive this as an offering.”
This was how my journey to find out the truth about tithing began. In due time, I came to an understanding of the Biblical tithe, it’s purpose under the Law, who was required, and who wasn’t, etc…
I experienced great freedom when I finally took that step of faith to believe the Bible, and that my giving would now be freewill offerings from the heart, and no longer a “required” amount that would bring a curse on my life if I didn’t.
I now know what that tenth was in the Bible – It was part of Israel’s welfare system to provide food for the priests and their servants the Levites (who were given no land inheritance), and to provide food for the widows, orphans, and strangers.
While many have been taught to focus on the “percentage” of the tithe because churches need revenue (even though the tithe under the law was not revenue, but food), it’s the purpose for the tithe that believers should learn from, and that purpose is amplified in the New Testament as generosity which ministers to the needs of the poor.
God commanded a tithe from the herds and crops which were raised from within the boundaries of the land of Israel so that the poor would be taken care of and not go hungry. The lesson we should learn from the Old Testament tithe is God’s compassion to meet the needs of the poor.
For a Biblical perspective on tithes and offerings follow the link below: