The Abuse of Tithing

The following are reasons that I have a problem with teaching tithing as a requirement for followers of Jesus.

  • It can reinforce the idea that the ‘pastor’ or ‘leaders’ are the only ones capable of hearing the Spirit and knowing where our money should be used.[1] Can we not all gain wisdom in this area by starting to read the words of Jesus?
  • A negative consequence or assessment is often attached to failing to tithe. E.g. living under a “curse”, preventing GOD from giving you his “full blessing” or “true riches”, being willfully disobedient, not putting GOD first in ones life, serving “Mammon”, the “devourer” will take the 10% anyway.
  • The requirement to tithe is often accompanied by the idea that GOD will grant financial prosperity in return (if tithing is carried out with the right heart/attitude).[2] While gaining more money isn’t inherently wrong, any promise of financial prosperity in this life is lacking in the NT and it encourages self-centered rather than GOD-centered living, cutting right across this fundamental change that GOD wishes to bring about in us.
  • Those at the lower end of the economic spectrum and those who are struggling financially and only just able to pay their bills can be pushed into debt or condemned with guilt when required to tithe. This simply makes no sense when it is clear that we are to help those in material need.[3]
  • It can lead to a public perception of the faith as a money making scheme where charismatic leaders take advantage of peoples hopes and desires. This prevents many from even considering the truth of the gospel.

These reasons mean that some of the current trends in “tithing” cannot be something we can agree to disagree on. It can be damaging to GOD’s people (psychologically and materially)  and damaging to our testimony to the gospel of GOD’s transforming love and promise.

[1] This elevates the leadership and creates a two-way dependency where leader is reliant upon the followers (for a salary) and followers reliant upon the leader (for direction). Unhelpful at best.

[2] Some teach that prospering financially will not result from tithing but only from “offerings” given over and above the 10% “tithed” to ones church.

[3] We need only recall Acts 2.44-46 where the believers used their money and material goods to meet each others needs. While this is not laid down as a model to be adopted, it certainly embodies Jesus’ teaching and example (Mattew 25.31-46; Luke 9.10-17).

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6 thoughts on “The Abuse of Tithing

  1. Let me address some of the points you have raised
    1. About leaders determining where money should be spent. In my own view, I think tithing is for development of churchs and propagation of the gospel. I could remember, if there hadn’t been tithing and offering in the older days, the gospel couldn’t have gotten to our own part of the world. So in a way, if you as as person cannot serve in the church, your money can also do the work and in essence you are sowing seed.
    2. Tithing has cause and effect. If you tithe, the Lord will bless you in return and vise versa. those complaining of being in debt should check their lives, are they living holy, are they fullfilling the conditions of God. In this case tithe is not only the issue it is just part of it.
    3 & 4. God will always bless whoever tithes. The question is what are you doing with the remaining 90%, are you investing or are you eating all. remember it is this 90% that God will bless, if you put it to meaningful use. so people should start investing or start a small business, the truth is that salaries are never enough.
    5. I quite agree with you in this area, this is one problem everybody is trying to deal with. but all the same the money you are giving is to God and if the pastor decides to steal God’s money, the Lord will purnish him in His own way. the funny thing is that their purnishment is in God’s hand like what happened to Moses at the end. nobody pleaded for Moses.

    Let me share with you the dream that my husband dreamt of recent and he shared it with our local churh. He said that in the dream Jesus led him into a big hall. In the hall were big bags dangling from the ceiling, he said the bags were plenty, some were filled to the brim, some were half filled, some a quarter, those that were filled were taken away and were replaced with empty bags. When he asked the Lord, His reply was that the bags represented the contributions of each and every one earth. So in essense, whatever we so on earth, we will reap in heaven when we get there.

    My idea, going by all things that people say, it is better to pay one’s tithes if for no reason, at least to propagate the gospel. The are so many other people of other religions spending millions of dollars to promote their doctrine – Islamisation of the whole world, Jihad etc. at present they are rated the No. 1 growing religion in the whole world, I think for the reason alone we must change our attitude towards giving. In the alternative, we might decide to look for organisations who are genuinely doing the work of missions as sow into it.

    Thanks and God Bless

    Omos
    Nigeria

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  2. Thank you very much for you thoughts on the issues.

    My central problem has been and remains the teaching of tithing as a requirement, and the theology and use of scripture that is put to this. Re-reading my post I believe I obscured this fact in the closing paragraph.

    Your comments are still valuable of course, and here are some thoughts in response.

    The fullest exposition on giving in the NT is in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9. Here Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to renew their commitment and enthusiasm for their contribution to the gift of aid for the saints in Jerusalem. And while Paul writes to encourage them to do so he insists that their gifts come ‘as a voluntary gift and not an extortion’ (9.5); ‘Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (9.7).

    While there is promise of reward from God (‘You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity’ 9.11), there is no threat of curse if they do not.

    Furthermore, Paul is not speaking about the regular giving of money to the church that we know as ‘tithing’. And so the pattern of ‘sowing and reaping’ cannot be tied down to tithing as some argue.

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  3. I 100% agree with you, everybody should freely give. The Lord accepts offerings that come from the heart, not the one that is given grudginly.

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  4. How about the instructions the Apostle Paul gave in 2nd Corinth 9:7 to give as one has purposed (means decided) in his own heart? Does not sound like a mandate to keep the tithe law. All should learn what this means Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law”. Tithing was a Mosaic law. Hebrews 8:6 said we now have a better Covenant (Jesus) who fulfilled all laws in our place and paid our fines for the ones we failed to keep.

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  5. Many churches are filled with lords and hireling NOT Servants of the Lord. Thought Jesus said the greatest among us is the greatest servant, not those who lord it over people and their wallets.

    I was in one church where there was Pastor’s Anniversary, Pastor’s Birthday, Pastor’s Wife Birthday, Pastor’s Anniversary, Expensive Tickets for Banquet and endless Conferences, Pastor’s Appreciation, Founder’s Convention, The Church Building Fund where you had to pledge money to expand the bldg. plus Tithes and Offerings. The Pastor said cut back and give more but bought a brand new car and another vacation house. This appeal for money for some new thing went on every other month ( and this Church was in a lower income area). I finally was so tapped out I could not afford to be a member of that church anymore and feed my family.
    It took one whole year before they sent me a post card wondering why I was not tithing any longer. I called and told them I had given my notice of withdrawing my membership months back. I was promptly hung up on without so much as a pretense that we miss you and not your tithe money.

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  6. I was shocked as all get out to learn devout Orthodox Jews no longer keep the tithe law but give free will offerings. Anyone is free to call a Orthodox Traditional Synagogue and check this out. The way God mandated the tithe was from Land owners and for the Tribe of Levi and poor. The Levites took care of the Temple but since the Temple was destroyed in 70 Ad with it’s rituals and animal sacrifices Jews now give free will offerings. We’ve all been had folks. Someone said why believe them anyway? First of all they were the ones who actually got the oracles and commandments of God along with the tithe ordinance. Gentiles came later and got in under a whole New Covenant and only after Jesus said IT IT FINISHED.

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