Tithes and Chariots are Both Outdated

Cars aren’t chariots

“Your chariot awaits, my lady.”

As awkward as I was in High School, I never uttered those words. Of course, the reason it was easy for me to avoid such cheesy lines probably had more to do with the lack of dates than with actually thinking about not saying cheesy lines had I been on a date.

No one would want to go on a date in a chariot in my home town anyway. Pacifica is cold and foggy most of the year, and riding around in an open chariot would be no one’s idea of comfort.

Then again, if arrows are involved perhaps it would have been fun. (Source)

Chariots are biblical, though, so maybe kids in a youth group could get away with the whole “Your chariot awaits” shtick.What could be wrong with calling a car a chariot if chariots are mentioned 154 times in Scripture?

Nothing, actually. Unless the youth group kids start insisting that cars have to be called chariots because that’s the word the Bible uses for vehicles that carry people from one place to another.

Gifts aren’t tithes

Like chariots, tithing is discussed in the Bible. And like chariots, it is mentioned mostly in the Old Testament writings. The tithe was a requirement for the Israelites to bring 10% of their agricultural produce – crops or herds – to the temple. (Leviticus 27:30-32.) It didn’t matter if there was a bumper crop or a near famine. The tithe was required every single harvest, every single birthing season.

Some churches today call the weekly gathering of gifts to the church their tithes. It’s an odd way to label the weekly offering of gifts since no church is recorded in the New Testament as collecting tithes at all. How could they? The local congregations knew they were not the temple in Jerusalem, and to collect tithes on a local level would have been arrogant, perhaps even blasphemous.

What type of giving did Christians participate in? Joyful and extravagant giving, under no requirements or compulsion.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7.)

This is markedly different from Old Testament tithing. If an Israelite felt reluctant to tithe, they still had to tithe. Tithing was not optional or subject to one’s own feelings. They were compelled to bring 10% to the temple even if  they thought they wouldn’t have enough left for themselves or their family. Tithing was the law for all Israelites far and near.

Some pastors today tell their churches’ members that tithing is still mandatory, and if a member fails to tithe 10% of their income they are in violation of God’s law. Don’t listen to those pastors. Giving under God’s New Covenant has nothing to do with percentages or compulsion.

This doesn’t mean there should be no giving to the church or the work of God’s people at all. Rather, it’s that giving should come from a cheerful heart and love of others, gifts such as support those who are working to bring the gospel of Christ to others (Philippians 4:18) and to help those in need (Acts 11:27-30). Notice what Paul calls such giving:

They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18.)

Paul calls them”offerings”, reminiscent of the voluntary giving found in the freewill offerings of ancient Israel.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
    I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good. (Psalm 54:6.)

Giving your money to support God’s work and to help those in need is to come from a cheerful heart that recognizes how good God is. Nothing in the New Testament writings ever suggests it is to be compulsory like the tithe.

Extravagant giving

This doesn’t mean. though, that you should try to get away with giving a pittance. You should give what you have decided in your heart to give, and do it cheerfully, but if you find yourself holding back money so you can have more while you see others in need you might have to rethink how you give and how much you give.

And, in rethinking this, it might mean you find yourself giving away a lot more than 10% of your income. As Jesus told his friends:

Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8.)

  • Freely giving means giving without counting percentages, without stopping when you hit ten.You might give away 15%, 20%, 50%. Or you might give 1%, 2% or 5%. No one is keeping track.
  • Freely giving means giving more than your money. It means giving of your time and talents and belongings as you decide in your heart to give.
  • Freely giving means recognizing all God has done for you and desiring to love others and give to them in the same way, even if it means you are sacrificing what you would otherwise be keeping to satisfy your own wants and desires.

The type of free and cheerful giving found in the New Testament, you see, is far different from tithing. So don’t let any pastor try to coerce you into  turning over 10% of your income to the pastor’s church as if it were the replacement of the temple in Jerusalem.

Instead of tithing, give. Freely and cheerfully, give.

***

Afterword: I once attended a conference where a speaker was telling church leaders how to teach tithing to their members. He said he’d met a lot of grace givers (meaning people who give as I’ve described in this post) and for all their talk of generous giving not one had ever given 10%. I introduced myself to him later and told him my wife and I practice grace giving and regularly give over 10% of our income. I smiled and said, “You can’t say now that you’ve never met a grace giver whose giving doesn’t reach 10%.” He looked at me as if he didn’t know what to do with what I’d just told him. I hope he stopped implying in his talks that grace givers are stingy.

***

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22 Responses to Tithes and Chariots are Both Outdated

  1. FW Rez says:

    I knew a family where their conviction about giving was that they should plan their monthly budget around being able to make their largest single “expense” be their contribution to their church. This meant, for them, buying a more moderately priced home than others in their income bracket (corporate executive) could afford as well as driving cars that were not as luxurious. They never suggested this as a standard of what others should do but shared openly so others could be encouraged to give as God led. I thought this was a great example of grace giving even though they did teach that tithing was a scriptural minimum.

  2. Sharon says:

    Yes! Love this. So much truth. Unfortunately, it’s so rarely taught in churches today. It’s so much easier to manipulate and guilt trip people so you can be sure you’re going to have money for your building/sound equipment/pastor’s salary instead of really relying on God. I went to a church that was VERY legalistic about 10% tithing, that said “we don’t teach grace giving because then no one will give”, and guaranteed a huge blessing for everyone who tithed. Ironically, my own finances improved drastically after I stopped tithing there!

    Along the same lines, here’s another question I have: should the majority of a Christian’s giving be done at their local church, or wherever else they may feel led to give, or a mix of those? Some people say you should just give wherever you want as long as you’re giving, and some say most of it should go to your church. What do you think?

    • Tim says:

      I think part of cheerfully giving what you’ve determined in your heart to give means giving to the local church and to other needs in God’s kingdom. Whether the majority of the giving is to the local church or elsewhere is not the point of grace giving at all from what I’ve read in Scripture..

  3. “This happened in the Bible, so God must want US to do it” gets applied to so many things (casting lots, putting out fleeces, etc.) — but the tithe one seems more insidious because it can put so much pressure and guilt on people. Thanks for unpacking this, Tim, and showing that we can give joyfully and freely because of what God’s done for us.

    • Tim says:

      Gideon’s fleece episode is a good example. The Bible records it happened, but it always looked to me more like God put up with it than endorsed it.

    • Laura Droege says:

      Funny that the whole “This happened in the Bible, so God wants US to do it” mentality isn’t applied to the more unsavory parts of the Bible! Polygamy, anyone?

  4. Superb post, Tim. Yes, from everything I’ve read in the New Testament, Jesus and Paul had similar ideas. For my stewardship sermon this November, I preached on 2 Corinthians 9:8. God does love a cheerful giver–not only of treasure, but of time and talents, too!

    (Here’s a link for the sermon I preached. I looked it over again just now, and thought it was all right. *grin*
    Sun Nov 13 Sermon “Every Blessing in Abundance” 2 Cor 9:8 @StLukesChurch2 #pastorpreacherprayer http://wp.me/p5Nfg4-bK )

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for linking your sermon. It is wonderful and this line in particular struck me: “… giving cannot be done reluctantly, or under compulsion, because then it isn’t for real.” So true!

  5. Pastor Bob says:

    What a minefield of church political foo-foo that has been encountered. Expect some heat if this really circulates.
    Two extremes stand out:
    – One church i worked with the Pastor was adamant that the 10% be adhered to. There was no accountability per se, but it was expected – based on OT principles. Pastor moderated a bit when one family showed him the family budget where it was obvious that 10% over time had been hurtful. Attitude argument did not help (we give no expectation of return, but as you can see….). a promise was made, if there was no increase in the income in a period of time with continued giving, he would step in.
    No improvement, Pastor found someone to help — But he (the pastor) did God’s work, or not?
    The one with greater ability indicated that if that is all that was required, the amount that God told him to give would go elsewhere. Another shift….

    Church #2, Give as you are able, but what ever you do, GIVE WHAT GOD TOLD YOU GIVE. You would think that would solve it….. But people are who they are.

    Church #3, Strict accountability was enforced. Financial statements were expected. “Legalism” was countered with “demon of greed” and “not of the spirit.” Wonder why they folded?

  6. Thanks for the link to this article, Brother Tim!

    Tithes and Chariots are most definitely “outdated”.

  7. Thanks for posting the link!

  8. Ken Quick says:

    I respectfully disagree with your belief that tithing is no longer a requirement. Our pastor preached an excellent exegetical sermon on this a number of years ago which I will post a link to below. I will summarize two points from it which are relevant to the comments you made in this post:

    1) Tithing, like sabbath keeping, was not (just) a part of the Mosaic law. There is strong evidence to support that it was, in fact, a creation ordinance. The implication of course is that this would mean not only is it required for all time, but for all peoples.

    2) The passage in 2 Corinthians 8-9 is not an argument against tithing or for the replacement of it. In that passage, Paul is speaking about a special collection for the poor in Jerusalem. The Saints at Jerusalem were in desperate poverty because of persecution, so Paul arranged a collection to be taken up in the Gentile churches for their relief. This was not something that tithe money was to be used for, it was a special offering to relieve the poor. Because it was a voluntary offering, he exhorts them to be very generous and not to disappoint him with a meagre gift, but that it is all up to them.

    These points and many others are fleshed out in Pastor Shearouse’s sermon (available in both audio and summary text formats). I strongly encourage those who don’t believe tithing is still required to listen to (or read) this sermon and prayerfully consider the soundness of the exegesis.

    tinysa.com/sermon/113016952350

    • Tim says:

      I agree with you about Paul’s collection being charitable giving. The principles he uses have a broader application, I think. As for tithing, there’s no record of it in any congregation in the New Testament, but there are many passages saying we are not under the law (which includes tithing regulations whether pre or post Moses).

    • Zweli says:

      A lot is wrong with the sermon. It all comes to one thing that every tithe loving Pastor does at the end. There’s nothing new. It’s filled with misapplication of scripture & unblibical opinions by the preacher, and he is contradicting himself a lot. Here are some cases in point:
      1. It’s unblibical to suggest that tithing is a biblical principle & therefore the NT church must tithe. This is a theological construct advanced by preachers who don’t trust God that He will provide for them if grace giving was practiced by the congregation. These preachers demonstrate their distrust at the level of faith their congregants possess to give as Paul directed in 2Corin.9:7. Hence they won’t let go of the tithing false doctrine.
      2. Tithing was part of the law no matter how you try to spin it up. The nation Israel is God’s promise to Abraham hence the pattern of certain practices i.e. tithing, burnt offering, circumcision etc. A tithing reference to Abraham is another false teaching “taken out of context” as it’s always the case. Abraham is no greater than Jesus Christ.
      3. When God blessed Abraham, God never commanded him to tithe at any point. We partake to the blessings of Abraham through faith in Christ (but not through tithing) Gal.3:7,14-29.
      4. When Jesus rebuked Pharisees (Math.23:23), the law was in force during this time. Similarly, the most abused verse Mal.3:10 was given during the dispensation of yhe Law. I hope you can see what this means. Pastor Shearous didn’t see this!
      5. There’s no way a tithe can be paid cheerfully & without compulsion; not unless a person has purposed to give such out of his heart. Therefore, he will not be tithing.
      6. Tithing tends to render faith in Jesus Christ obsolete. Tithers take more pride in tithing than knowing Jesus Christ. Believers obtain righteousness through faith in Christ than own performance Eph.2:8-9, Rom.3:21
      7. Tithing has a strong tendency to divide a congregation between tithers & none tithers. Tithers seem to be more acceptable to the Pastor. When the tithing sermon is preached, the atmosphere suddenly changes. This will tell you that something is canal about this sermon. This shouldn’t be the case in church.
      8. Note: Bishops, Pastors teach the congregation more about God. Let them accept Jesus Christ – develop a relationship with Him. Make sure they have received the Holy Spirit of God. With this you’ll not doubt that through faith they will give sacrificially. You will not fear if they will give or not. Resuscitating tithing from the ruins of a defunct law (fulfilled by Christ) will turn out to be unnecessary.
      By RSA

      • Z says:

        The above post is a reply to Ken Quick who made a reference to Pastor Shearous”s sermon.
        byRSA

      • Tim says:

        “Similarly, the most abused verse Mal.3:10 was given during the dispensation of the Law.”

        Exactly, thanks.

      • Ken Quick says:

        I’ve gone through your attempt to refute what Pastor Shearouse preached but I confess my extreme disappointment that it is primarily filled with ad hoc and ad hominem fallacies. There are so many I’ve had to break down my response interspersed with your “arguments” point by point:

        A lot is wrong with the sermon. It all comes to one thing that every tithe loving Pastor does at the end. There’s nothing new. It’s filled with misapplication of scripture & unbiblical opinions by the preacher, and he is contradicting himself a lot. Here are some cases in point:

        KJQ> You don’t explain anywhere in your reply that I could tell what the “…one thing that every tithe loving Pastor does at the end.”? You use “tithe loving” like a pejorative phrase, but if tithing is commanded by God, then we should all love it (and all the other commandments of God). “There’s nothing new” means what exactly? God’s Word is eternal as He is. If by that you mean Pastor Shearouse hasn’t introduces any new exegetical arguments, that isn’t a valid critique if the ones he does use are biblically accurate. You then go on to say he misapplies scripture, holds unbiblical opinions, and contradicts himself a lot. Those are bold statements. Sadly, the remainder of your comments don’t offer and sound exegesis proving your first two remarks, and I don’t see any indication at all of how he contradicted himself at all, let alone “a lot”?

        1. It’s unbiblical to suggest that tithing is a biblical principle & therefore the NT church must tithe. This is a theological construct advanced by preachers who don’t trust God that He will provide for them if grace giving was practiced by the congregation. These preachers demonstrate their distrust at the level of faith their congregants possess to give as Paul directed in 2Corin.9:7. Hence they won’t let go of the tithing false doctrine.

        KJQ> You open with an ad hoc statement. You don’t show how tithing is not biblical, nor do you counter his references or exegesis that indicates that it is biblical. You then follow with an ad hominem attack without any proof accusing any pastor who believes that tithing is commanded by God with a lack of trust in God, and finish the paragraph with another ad hoc (“false doctrine”) comment.

        2. Tithing was part of the law no matter how you try to spin it up. The nation Israel is God’s promise to Abraham hence the pattern of certain practices i.e. tithing, burnt offering, circumcision etc. A tithing reference to Abraham is another false teaching “taken out of context” as it’s always the case. Abraham is no greater than Jesus Christ.

        KJQ> Your comments here imply a profound lack of understanding of the difference between the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the civil law. Like keeping the Sabbath and marriage, tithing is a creation ordinance and part of the moral law, not the ceremonial law as you seem to imply.

        3. When God blessed Abraham, God never commanded him to tithe at any point. We partake to the blessings of Abraham through faith in Christ (but not through tithing) Gal.3:7,14-29.

        KJQ> God also didn’t tell Abraham to honour the Sabbath, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal… I understand that the idea that commandments of God have to be re-iterated is a part of neo, pseudo, and outright dispensationalism, but I don’t pretend to understand why it is. If you don’t get that creation ordinances and other moral laws (such as those that were elaborated/restated in the 10 commandments) are for all men for all time, then we have bigger doctrinal hurdles to leap than just tithing.

        4. When Jesus rebuked Pharisees (Math.23:23), the law was in force during this time. Similarly, the most abused verse Mal.3:10 was given during the dispensation of the Law. I hope you can see what this means. Pastor Shearouse didn’t see this!

        KJQ> No, what you don’t see is that tithing is not part of the ceremonial law, hence not fulfilled nor abrogated with Christ’s coming. You point is only valid if it was ceremonial law and you haven’t made a case for that at all.

        5. There’s no way a tithe can be paid cheerfully & without compulsion; not unless a person has purposed to give such out of his heart. Therefore, he will not be tithing.

        KJQ> Another textbook ad hoc argument. I can categorically state that I have tithed since becoming a Christian and do so both cheerfully and without compulsion (and know many others who claim the same). “A ha!” you say, then you must be giving out of your heart! Well, since God through His Holy Spirit gave me a new heart at my conversion, then yes every time I cheerfully obey any of God’s commandments I do so “out of my heart”. But obedience to some commandments only because I know God commands them (e.g. not wanting to go to church on a particular Sunday but going anyway) does not make my behaviour wrong. Are you really saying that everyone who has ever tithed throughout history either did so out of compulsion or else they weren’t tithing?!?
        6. Tithing tends to render faith in Jesus Christ obsolete. Tithers take more pride in tithing than knowing Jesus Christ. Believers obtain righteousness through faith in Christ than own performance Eph.2:8-9, Rom.3:21

        KJQ> A mix of ad hominem and ad hoc argument here. I have to say your implying that all who tithe today are legalists (i.e. seeking to earn salvation through works vice belief in Christ) and by deduction not truly born again is a pretty outrageous thing to say and profoundly disturbing to read from one who himself professes faith in Christ. Since when is obeying what one believes to be the commandments of God proof of being outside of Christ? Didn’t Christ Himself say “If you love me, keep my commandments”?
        7. Tithing has a strong tendency to divide a congregation between tithers & none tithers. Tithers seem to be more acceptable to the Pastor. When the tithing sermon is preached, the atmosphere suddenly changes. This will tell you that something is canal about this sermon. This shouldn’t be the case in church.

        KJQ> Is this your anecdotal experience or has there been a study proving this hypothesis? My anecdotal experience belong to a congregation and denomination of congregations where there is a mix of those who tithe and those who do not does not bear our your aspersion. Further, our Pastors would not be aware of which members tithe and which do not as they are not directly involved in the financial management of tithes and offerings. Even our Elders who deal with the church finances don’t know because no one is required to state or prove their incomes. There is no way for members to know who does and does not tithe. We don’t even have a “collection” as part of our worship services, just a lock box at the back of the church for tithes and offerings. Our congregation has had just one sermon preached on tithing (the one I linked) in 20 years, and then only at the urging of the other Elders in response to a deficit year in which failure to tithe “might” be a contributing factor. Also, I did not anecdotally perceive any change in the “atmosphere” of our congregation after the sermon was preached.

        8. Note: Bishops, Pastors teach the congregation more about God. Let them accept Jesus Christ – develop a relationship with Him. Make sure they have received the Holy Spirit of God. With this you’ll not doubt that through faith they will give sacrificially. You will not fear if they will give or not. Resuscitating tithing from the ruins of a defunct law (fulfilled by Christ) will turn out to be unnecessary.

        KJQ> So preaching about God’s commandments is not teaching about God? I find it ironic that one of the greatest problems in the church today (in my opinion) is the lack of doctrinal teaching. It is as if the great commission is being truncated at the end of verse 19:

        “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20
        BTW: “Everything I have command you” doesn’t just mean the things recorded in the gospels.

        So in summary, your comments failed to explain the “misapplication of scripture”, the “unbiblical opinions”, nor the “contradictions”. They are comprised primarily of “just so” arguments and unfounded statements on the motivations, character, and even status before God of those who hold to tithing as being both biblical and part of the moral law (hence required for all time).

  9. cnoelcisco says:

    Just wondering Tim, was the 10% OT tithe for every year or every 3rd year? Also weren’t there instructions for taking your family & entire household up to the place where God led for a big party on the other 2 years (in remembrance & celebration of all that God had done)? I think we have missed some wonderful times of blessing with our families!

    • Tim says:

      Good questions. I’ll have to look up the yearly vs. every three years issue. Or if you find it please leave another comment here.

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