Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up to the third article, fourth article, and fifth article in the series on giving. If you have any questions that have not been addressed, please leave us a comment and we will get back to you (and potentially update this page).
What references are there to tithing in the post-Pentecost sections of the New Testament?
Jesus mentioned tithing a couple of times (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; Luke 18:12) in the Gospels, but each reference is in the framework of the Law. Other than those references, the only other place tithing is mentioned in the entire New Testament is in Hebrews 7:5-9, where the writer of Hebrews is discussing Abraham giving a tenth of the war spoils to Melchizedek. Paul, James, John, and other New Testament writers discussed Christian giving many times throughout the New Testament, but the word “tithe” is never used.
How do the post-Pentecost Scriptures describe giving, if the word “tithe” is not used?
When describing Christian giving, the following terms were used: offerings (Acts 24:7) and sacrifices (Romans 12:1; Philippians 4:18), sharing (Ephesians 4:28), giving and receiving (Philippians 4:15), alms (Acts 10:2), help for my needs (Philippians 4:16), all things common (Acts 2:44), distribution (I Timothy 6:18), daily distribution of food (Acts 6:1), relief (Acts 11:29), ministering (II Corinthians 8:19), remember the poor (Galatians 2:10), giving people required items (James 2:15-17), loving in deed and in truth (I John 3:17-18), collection (I Corinthians 16:1), abundance supplying a need (II Corinthians 8:14), gift (II Corinthians 8:20).
Is there a minimum amount that Christians must give?
Some churches, in order to stimulate giving among their members, have decided to teach the tithe as a minimum for modern Christians. We have seen that the tithe is not the terminology used for Christian giving. However, is there still a minimum amount that Christians must give?
I Corinthians 16:2 indicates Paul’s expectation that all Christians should give in the financial category, and through the rest of his writings, we know he would have wanted people to give in every category as well. However, there is no minimum standard mentioned anywhere in Scripture. On the contrary, Paul seemed to exhort wealthier people to be especially ready to give abundantly in I Timothy 6:17-19. Each Christian should give as they can cheerfully, cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving and abundance that leads to giving bigger day by day in every category of life.
How should Christians give?
Under the New Covenant, there are no requirements as under the Old. However, God wants Christians to give as they decide to cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:6-8). In looking at the New Testament as a whole, a pattern of giving emerges. Christians should give to support ministers, missions work, and the poor (especially poor Christians). How this gets worked out is an individual decision. God works within the believer to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
Does God require tithing for the protection of Christians?
Some churches have gone so far as to suggest that God will not bless or protect those who do not tithe to the church. The reasoning goes something like this: “The minimum that God required in the Old Testament was tithing. Thus, those of us who are born again must expect to do better than that because God has done more for us. God says in Malachi 3 that we should offer tithes and therefore not rob God. How can God bless us if we do not meet the minimum requirements of the Old Testament law?”
First, the Christian is under grace and has the power of the holy spirit. We are no longer under the Law. Second, the language of protection is a fear-motivation tactic used by churches, and it is completely inappropriate. God does want His people to have abundance, and abundance, in part, comes from a person’s attitude in giving. God’s grace and provision is beyond our understanding.
Are Christians in “debt” to God?
Some churches teach, along with tithing, that Christians have a debt to God. How can we expect God to bless us, they argue, if we haven’t paid our 10% debt to God first? Many who claim this use Malachi 3:8 and claim that those who do not tithe are “robbing God.” As we have seen, the tithe has been done away with and Malachi 3 is not directly applicable for Christians. So are Christians in debt to God? It is true that our lives are not our own (I Corinthians 6:19-20). The mature Christian identifies that everything that he “owns” is really God’s. The loving response to this is a life of Christian service to God and to others. However, nowhere in the New Testament does the Bible use the language of debt to communicate this concept. In fact, II Corinthians 9:7 warns about giving under compulsion.