2003-07-08 - Summer Questions
Leviticus 27:30 Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord.
"I decided to take you up on your offer of summer questions, as I am sure many others have to. Before I ask my question I would like to thank God for you and for all the writers at CFD. Getting a devotional in my inbox every morning makes all the difference in the world. It is a constant reminder of things to strive for and goals to aim for. I get a lot from them. Anyway, here is my question, is tithing a requirement for Christians? Does the tithe have to be all monetary or can voluntary work or other things count? I look forward to hearing your response. God Bless."
As Christians we think of tithing as a "Christian" practice, but it was not always this way. In Roman law and in Mediaeval times someone who obtained land in a conquered country was to give a tenth to the state. As Christians, we don't view tithing that way. We look at tithing as part of the Mosaic Law, but tithing predates the Mosaic Law in Scripture. We see the practice of giving a tenth as early as Genesis 14:20 with Abram. We see Jacob promising to give a tenth in Genesis 28:22.
The principal rules of the tithe have been the following in the Old Testament: 1. A tenth of the fruits of the earth and cattle were to be given to the Levites. This was their compensation which made up for the fact that they had no inheritance among the Hebrews (Numbers 18:21). 2. The Levites in turn gave a tenth of their tithe to the Priests. This was generally to be delivered at Jerusalem after the exile and probably before the exile also. (Numbers 18:26, Nehemiah 10:38, 2 Chronicles 31:12). 3. Another tenth of the Levites tithe was to be eaten at a feast at the tabernacle (Deuteronomy 14:22). 4. Every three years this feast was to be celebrated by the people at their homes (Deuteronomy 26:12).
We know that the Pharisees made the giving of tithes a condition of righteousness, but we don't look at things in this manner today. There is no New Testament demand that Christians tithe, but, in all probability it is still a good practice to uphold and encourage. Tithes are important for the upkeep of ministers, their families, and the needs of the church.
Even the early Church Fathers were not in agreement regarding the paying of a tithe. Some Church Fathers regarded the teaching of Jesus to the rich young ruler (sell all that you have and give to the poor), as the proper view of the new tithe instituted by Christ. However, Chrysostom and Cyprian rebuked those who thought that those who did not give a tithe were inferior to those who did in their Christian practice. Augustine felt that the standard of giving a tenth was acceptable, but only a minimal standard of giving.
Going back to the question at hand; our time is the Lord's, our money is the Lord's, and while the New Testament is not explicit about tithing, it is a common practice among Christians to give 10% off the top. It seems to be a good practice to adopt. We each ought to consider that tithing is an issue of conscience. If your conscience bothers you regarding your giving or any other area of your life then it should be addressed. If you are comfortable with your giving in areas such as time, effort, money, prayer, and any number of other areas in the church, then don't worry too much about these things. If you feel these things can be improved upon, then, by all means, seek to offer your best to the Lord in all areas of your life.
Soli Deo Gloria,