The problem sometimes is that we mix up the entire Bible and misconstrue the words written in it. The Bible should be read in context and explained in context. One day, my brother asked me “do Christians pay tithe?” And I replied, “you mean giving your ten per cent10%?” And he replied “yes!”
I paused, I didn’t want to sound critical but I still wanted to say the truth! Tithing as a practice didn’t start with Abraham, he didn’t found that practice called tithing, history has maintained that tithing was a form of giving practised by people in the East for ages past. Abraham practised it too. However, are we required by law to pay tithe as Christians? To understand Christianity, we don’t start a journey from the Old Testament, we start the journey from the New Testament back into the Old Testament because the Old Testament can only be understood with the New Testament.
Tithe is not literally a Christian stuff! In modern Christianity, tithing has come to mean something different! It is not actually tithing anymore but stewardship! I don’t pay tithe, I give stewardship! While the word ‘tithe’ has become more familiar to many people, the concept of it in the new testament is not about 10% of your income but according to our ability. This is how the Bible puts it
“On the first day of every week, each of you should take some of your money and put it in a special place. Save up as much as you can from what you are blessed with. Then you will not have to gather it all after I come.” 1 Cor. 16:2 ERV
Believers don’t give 10% of their income as a law, unless as a choice! Our choice of giving isn’t limited to 10% as the Bible says we should give as much as we are blessed with. We are not threatened to give neither do our giving open heavens for us because heaven isn’t closed on us as sons of God. The Bible says
“Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give.” 2 Cor. 9:7 ERV
It is unchristian to raise funds with threats and forceful words! God loves cheerful givers! Yes, we hear preachers tell us that the kind of giving God accepts is that which is done in tears. No! Paul wrote in verse 8 concerning those who give happily!
“And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work.” – 2 Cor. 9:8 ERV
So, the giving that brings more blessing is that which is done with a cheerful heart! If I am really prompted in my spirit to give everything I have, I don’t cry! I give it happily! Cheerful giving is a sign of absolute trust! When you trust God to bless you, why will you be crying?
Christians don’t truly pay 10% of their income as a law. If it is 10% that they determined in their heart to give, that is fine but it could be more and it could be less! They give according to what they are blessed with and they decide in their heart what to give! For me, I have always decided what to give. Whenever it’s tithe time in Church, I bring in my stewardship and not my tithe. Most times it has always been much more than 10%. Sometimes it’s my all!
The answer is always “no!” If the question is “should Christians pay tithe?”
The answer is always yes! If the question is “should Christians give?”
Now… How much should a Christian give? It is according to what God has blessed him or her with! And a believer decides what to give! Our decisions are always based on our trust in God! If I believe and trust that God will always bless the works of my hands, then I will always decide to give so much because I trust God enough!
But then, we do not give to receive double, we give for the gospel and we give to the less privileged. Giving isn’t just about releasing money at the Pastor’s feet, Jesus recommended that we care for the less privileged too while not neglecting those who have committed themselves to teach us the word, most especially, those who teach us the truth! The reason you give to ministers isn’t that their grace can make you rich, there is no such thing as that! Let’s see how Paul puts it
“If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much for us to reap a material harvest from you?… In the same way, the Lord has prescribed that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:11, 14
Some ministers actually live their entire life teaching the gospel and they need your support, they have that right even though it is not something they force and put pressure on you. Paul made it clear that he never used that right so that it wouldn’t hinder people from paying attention to the gospel but he never ruled it out because God prescribed it that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. When the Bible says “those who preach the gospel”, it means those who spend their life doing nothing else but ministry works. In the early Church, we notice that it wasn’t everyone that was preaching the gospel.
So, basically, while we do not necessarily pay “tithe”, we give for various reasons. We give for charity, we give for the welfare of those whose major on teaching us the gospel, we give for projects and we give for the gospel. I didn’t write the list in order of importance. And we are not forced and threatened to give, we give as a response of responsibility! God doesn’t run a Ponzi scheme that says “give me and I give you 200% more!” How we give to God is by helping the less privileged.
“‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[c] you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:37-40
God bless you!
~ George O.N
This article is a revised edition of Should Christians Pay Tithe?