Sunday, December 28, 2008

To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?

Many Christians are taught that if they tithe, (contributing 10% of their income) that God will “open the windows of heaven, and pour them out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” This is based on a portion of scripture from the book of Malachi, chapter 3, verses 10-12. (Mal. 3:10-11)

The problem with this teaching is that tithing is usually taught as “the law,” something that we owe God, and are required to do or God will not open the windows of heaven and bless us. However, if that were the case, it would be an attempt to “earn” this blessing from God; trying to merit this blessing through our doing and our keeping of God’s law of tithing. That makes this teaching similar to trying to “earn” the blessing of eternal life by keeping the Old Testament laws of God. And neither can be done.

I have been a Christian for 35 years, and if you are anything like me, you know many many Christians who have tithed faithfully for years and years and have never obtained the blessing Malachi had promised tithing would bring. (In fact, I was once one of them myself). Most of these folks are still just getting by, and that is because the blessing promised in Malachi cannot be earned through tithing any more than eternal life can be earned by living a good enough life. Like all law, tithing too was intended to prove to man that he could not keep it according to God’s standard of perfection and instead to lead him to Christ who did.

Keeping the laws of the Old Testament merits us nothing with God. They can't because we can't keep them according to God's standard of perfection. Only Jesus could do that. In fact, all Old Testament law was given to prove to man that he couldn’t keep any law of God to God’s standard and couldn’t merit anything by trying to keep them. The "law" was given instead to lead men to Christ who kept and fulfilled ALL of the law of God for man and that included fulfilling the law of tithing. And it would be through our faith in Christ that we could obtain the blessings that keeping the whole law of God promised. (Gal. 3:24)

It was Jesus who earned ALL we would ever need or want and it is ONLY through faith in him that we can have any of it.

The truth is that God has already opened the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And he did it when he sent Jesus. God could give us no more than his Son, and it is his Son who contains all that God is and all that he has. (Col. 2:9-10) It is through Jesus that we have been given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” and it is through Jesus that we become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (2Pet. 1:3-5, Rom. 8:16-17) And in order to obtain ALL of these blessings, we need to receive them through faith, the same way we received eternal life through faith. Faith is the channel by which we obtain any of God’s blessings. “Trying hard,” whether it is through tithing or anything else will never work. We can “earn” or “merit” nothing from God through human effort.

God’s blessings are a free gift and given through faith in Jesus. So if the bible says that we have already been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus and that we have already been made to be joint-heirs with Christ inheriting all things with him, why would God now require us to tithe in order to obtain them? No, Jesus has already obtained them for us. Our requirement is to believe in order to receive. (2Pet. 1:3, Rom. 8:17)

Now this doesn’t mean that I am saying that GIVING is not important. I wouldn't say that any more than I would say it isn’t important to live a holy life just because salvation is free. I am saying however, that it is not a requirement to TITHE to be blessed by God just like I say that it is not a requirement to live a holy life to earn salvation. The bible teaches that both giving and living a holy life are VITAL and bring rewards in this earth, but are part of what we do in the natural in order to have a fully healthy life, not something we do to earn God’s acceptance, love or blessings.

Some of what the New Testament says about giving (not tithing) is this, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall MEN give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Lk. 6:38) Giving is important just like planting seed is important. It is something we do in the natural world to reap a harvest, but it is outside of our relationship with God and it is in addition to what he will do for us through our faith. Besides, the New Testament teaches that giving is something that should be done “according as a man purposes in is heart…, it should not be done grudgingly, or of necessity;” and tithing is taught as a necessity. (2Cor. 9:6-9)

The real difference between tithing and giving is that tithing is “THE” law, (giving a prescribed amount in order to be blessed) while giving is “A” law, and “A” principle. What this means is that giving is governed by laws of sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting; “a law” and “a principle” that will always work in this natural world. But tithing and even giving are not a requirement to “earn” blessings from God. If we needed to do anything to merit blessings from God, we would merit NOTHING. Paraphrasing something Watchman Nee has said... if we try to merit ANYTHING through our own efforts, we lose EVERYTHING!

When we received Jesus as savior we received ALL that heaven has to offer. What we need to do to "have" them is to LET God pour out this blessing we cannot contain, not try to earn it ourselves; and we do that by believing that it is already ours. It will then begin to come to pass in our lives. (Mk. 11:24) After we do that, we can then give as we purpose in our hearts or as God leads and expect a return from our seed! Remember, God loves a cheerful giver, not one who gives under compulsion or requirement or law. (Read 2Cor. 9:1-9)

Trying to satisfy God through tithing in order for God’s blessing to come into our lives or in order to fulfill a requirement is the same as trying to satisfy God through good works for him to save us. Both are futile. We can never do enough, nor do them well enough to earn anything.

God’s love and blessings are free and offered to us through Christ. If we believe, we will receive and be blessed, if we don’t believe but rather try in our own trying to obtain, we won’t obtain. God’s blessings are not contingent on our obedience, but on our faith.

Tithing is not something that we must do... believing is!

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

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