On Tithing

This is from Andrew Strom's site here - www.revivalschool.org and particulary from this book - http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~revival/secrets-ch.html

When I speak about "Tithing" I am not just talking about 'Giving'. Giving in itself is a wonderful thing - especially if it is from the heart. I am not against that at all. But what I am particularly addressing here is the "enforced" Tithing that is so often preached in churches today. The word "tithe" literally means 'a tenth'. And today it is used as a Law in many churches to force Christians to give one tenth of their income to that church. Many are told that they are "robbing God" if they do not give at least this much to the institution they attend each Sunday.

But is Tithing a New Testament practice at all? Is it really for Christians, or is it part of the Old Covenant? Is there really a law in force stating that all Christians must give ten percent? Or are we supposed to be "cheerful givers" - simply giving whatever God has placed on our hearts?

You may be surprised to learn how little the word 'Tithing' is even mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, there is no actual Scripture telling CHRISTIANS to tithe at all. There is one NT Scripture telling PHARISEES to tithe. But in all the letters of the apostles to the church, they never say that this was for Christians. And in the entire book of Acts (-a history of the first 30 years of the Early Church) there is NOT EVEN ONE mention of tithing. There are plenty of examples of people giving money "from the heart", but NO MENTION of tithing. Isn't that interesting?

Yet people will often quote the words of Jesus to the Pharisees as though this tells CHRISTIANS to keep tithing. But it doesn't. Here is what Jesus said: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." (Matt 23:23, NIV).

Notice that Jesus refers to these things as "matters of the law". That is what they are. They are matters of the Old Testament Law - not part of the New Covenant for Christians. Jesus Himself referred to them that way. And notice who he was talking to in the above passage. He was talking to LAW-KEEPING JEWS who were still under the OLD COVENANT. (-The New Covenant would not begin until Jesus died and rose again). So what Jesus was saying was right - FOR THEM. But not for us - and not for now.

Yet the Tithing proponents seize on the phrase: "You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." The reason they seize on this is because it is the ONLY Scripture they have in the whole New Testament that even vaguely pushes Tithing! And yet it is talking to Pharisees! And it clearly states that Tithing is a "matter of the law".

The New Testament clearly teaches: "You are not under law, but under grace" (Rom 6:14). "But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law." (Gal 5:18). In fact, the only other passage that really focuses on Tithing in the New Testament underlines this very point. At the start of Hebrews 7 there is a passage referring to tithing in the Old Testament. It clearly states that tithing is part of the Old Law (v 5). And then it goes on to say: "The former regulation is set aside because it is weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God." (Heb 7:18-19).

The point being made here is that the Old Covenant was a covenant of "regulations" (like HAVING to give one tenth) but the New Covenant is a covenant of the HEART. And we are to give out of a heart overflowing with the love of God. -NOT because we are "forced" to give one tenth! The Old Law is gone. We live under a New Covenant today.

At this point, the Tithing people usually take on a different argement - that "Tithing came before the Law." They use the example of Abraham and Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20). Therefore, they say, it still applies to us today.

Well, I have one simple question here: Isn't it true that CIRCUMCISION came before the Law also? (See Gen 17). And everyone knows that Circumcision is treated as part of the Old Law that has been done away with. It is the same with Tithing.

As former pastor Bruce Lengeman states in his article 'The Raping of the Tithe': "The title sounds harsh, but I believe it is fairly accurate due to the damage done by the erroneous teaching of the doctrine of tithing... Plain and simple, the doctrine of tithing as it is commonly taught in the contemporary evangelical, or Bible-believing church is twisted exegesis!"


Today when it comes to 'Giving' we are often preached-to out of Malachi 3 in the Old Testament, which tells the Jewish people to "bring the full tithes into the storehouse" and says that they were "robbing God" and they were "cursed" if they did not do so. (Mal 3:8-10).

Many preachers love to equate the 'storehouse' with their own church(!!), so that they can apply this Scripture to themselves. But the reality is very different. As Bruce Lengeman states: "The 'storehouse' of Malachi has no likeness to the church structure of today. The storehouse was neither a place of assembly, nor a place of worship. It was merely a storehouse for tithed goods to be distributed to Levites, who had no inheritance, and also to widows, strangers, and orphans."

And when we get to the Book of Acts we find that indeed MOST OF THE MONEY that came in actually went to feed and clothe the poor and the widows. In fact, it was a common practice for the Christians to sell any spare possessions and lay the money at the apostles' feet, for distribution to the poor. (See Acts 4:32-37). What love these people demonstrated! And this was true giving "from the HEART", not from some "LAW" that told them how much to give.

There is also plenty of support in the New Testament for giving to those who minister the gospel. (See 1 Cor 9:13-14, 1 Tim 5:17, etc.) But there is a far greater emphasis on giving to widows and orphans.

What I believe God would have us do today is be led by the Holy Spirit in our giving. Find ways to give to the poor and the widows in an effective way. (-For instance, some Christian charities like 'Open Doors' support persecuted Christian widows in Islamic countries, etc). Also find effective Christian ministries to give to. We need to be free to give where God leads us - with a truly cheerful heart.

As one of my readers wrote to me recently: 

"You sent an email about 2 months ago that convicted me that giving was to be based on the New Testament model -giving cheerfully as we purpose - instead of being under the law. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. I have found that since I give cheerfully whenever Father shows me to give that I have had my socks blessed off. I was always giving 10% to my local church and never seeing any great results. I became convicted that my worship leader needed the money so out of a strong conviction to give it to him I did so. I found that suddenly at work my sales went through the roof. Before I was doing so poorly I was close to losing my job. I know the only difference is following the Holy Spirit and doing what He tells me with my money based on the New Testament example."

C.H. wrote: 
Its no joke being told to tithe on a benefit raising 3 children with no support from your ex-husband and little support from my family (my mother is a widow). Yet every church I went to laid this impossible burden on me except the Anglican church... But the guilt and condemnation laid upon me by the previous churches led me to falsely believe the reason why I was always so poor was because I wasn't tithing 10% and that I had robbed God by my previous disobedience and that I needed to make it up.

All the testimonies of miraculous provision and my lack of them always kept me bound into believing that 1) It was my lack of faith, 2) I wasn't being obedient to the law of tithing, 3) I was under a curse. Try telling your hungry children why the church was getting our money and they were always going without. This went on for years. It wasn't until I stopped going to church over a year ago that I prayed and asked God to show me where to give and how much and he showed me Tear Fund Microenterprise Trust which lends money to poor people (usually widows) to get them started into business, etc, and they pay it back and someone else borrows it. And its not 10% I give but I can give freely and cheerfully to those who really need it. I feel the tithe I gave was a curse indeed - but to me for being under the Law... It never really produced fruit except occasionally the church would pay for my children to attend a camp. The provision I have needed over the years for my children was poured into church salaries and buildings and while they all lived in comfort we went without. 10% isn't much when you earn $1000 a week but it is the difference between buying food or paying a bill when you get $450 to feed, house and clothe 4 people.

Occasionally some kind folk would secretly slip me some money, but generally I was treated like an inferior (it was obvious God wasn't blessing me their way so I must be at fault). This caused me to feel such shame that I stopped mentioning my financial needs. I just got into debt on a credit card as this was the only way to make up for all the shortfall of my pay. This whole matter stinks if you ask me. Often I felt like asking the church leaders if they would like to 'live in faith' weekly for their provision for their churches like I had to for my family.


Deut 14:22-29, Matt 23:23, Rom 6:14, Gal 5:18, Heb 7:5, Heb 7:18-19, Gen 14:18-20, Gen 17:9-11, Gen 2:3, Col 2:13-14, Col 2:16-17, Rom 14:5-6, Gal 5:2-4, Acts 15:22-29, Acts 4:32-37, 1 Cor 9:13-14.


A lot of people think that today's "Prosperity" teaching only affects those in the 'Word-Faith' movement. But it's effects are felt far more widely than that. Jesus said, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" and we find that this insidious teaching has infected large sections of the body of Christ in all kinds of ways. -Especially in America. One of the main reasons for this is because it has aligned itself so successfully with CHRISTIAN TELEVISION.

The fact is, Christian TV can be costly, so it helps to have lots of money. And the "Prosperity" teaching is a proven money-maker for preachers. It really gets people giving! And so these kinds of preachers thrive on television. But it sure is a sick kind of "Christianity" that is presented. And quite unscriptural, as we shall see.

The Prosperity gospel basically teaches that not only does Jesus want to take away your sins and heal your body, but He also wants you to be prosperous and even "rich". -Not just 'SPIRITUALLY' rich, but actually blessed with all kinds of possessions, cars and houses, etc. Because, of course, any kind of poverty and suffering is a "curse", and we know that Jesus came to set us free from the 'curse'.

Now of course there is some truth in this. If there wasn't, then this false teaching would never get off the ground. But the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus' followers can expect to SHARE IN HIS SUFFERINGS (Rom 8:17, Lk 14:27, etc). The Scriptures also speak again and again of Jesus' affinity with the POOR and His opposition to those who are rich. In fact, the sheer weight of Scriptures on this subject is staggering. It is amazing to me that the Prosperity teachers can get away with the things that they say.

There is basically only ONE verse that mentions "Prosperity" in the whole New Testament (-and it is of dubious help, as we shall see). And there are dozens and dozens of verses in opposition! The only translation that really helps the Prosperity cause is the King James version: "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2). Now, it is interesting to note what this word "prosper" really means in this verse. Renowned Greek scholar W.E. Vine says that it simply speaks of "the prosperity of physical and spiritual health." So it's not about MONEY at all!

And thus we find that in all the later translations, this meaning is made clear. For example, the NIV translation says: "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John 2). Isn't that interesting?

As I said, this is one of the only verses that these Prosperity teachers are able to use in the entire New Testament. If they are honest, they will admit that most of the rest of the NT is squarely against them.

What I would encourage anyone to do, who wants to research this subject, is to get a Concordance and look up every verse in the New Testament that contains these words: (1) Rich or Riches, (2) Money, (3) Poor, (4) Mammon (5) Possessions, (6) Treasure, (7) Sell or Sold, etc.

You will be absolutely amazed at how strong the NT Scriptures are on this subject. I did this exact search years ago, and was astonished at what I found.

When you look up the word 'Rich' you find Scriptures such as this: "Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation" (Lk 6:24) and "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Lk 18:24-25, NIV) and "People who want to GET RICH fall into temptation and a trap" (1 Tim 6:9) and "You rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you" (Ja 5:1). There are many more along similar lines. Go and look them up, and you will see!

We find that when Jesus was preaching kingdom principles he was very strong in this area. When the 'Rich young man' came to him, He told him: "SELL your possessions and give to the POOR, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21, NIV). He also told his own disciples to "SELL your possessions and give to the POOR" (Lk 12:33).

In our previous chapter on "Tithing" we discussed the whole issue of 'Giving' in the New Testament. As we saw, there is no "law" telling Christians to give 10%. In fact, what the NT makes clear is that EVERYTHING we have literally belongs to God. Many people claim that "All I have is God's" but they do not act like it! In the New Testament it is clear that it was EXPECTED for Christians to sell any spare possessions, land or houses, to give to their needy brothers and sisters - especially widows and orphans. They certainly weren't giving their money to wealthy preachers on TV! And neither were they giving it to erect a new church building on the corner! (-Such things did not exist). They were giving from their HEART - and while some of it went to support the ministry, MOST of it clearly went to feed and clothe the POOR. (See Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37).

Some people today want to go back to the Old Testament and use people like Solomon and Abraham as examples of RICH people to emulate. But what they fail to realize is that the Old Testament is a 'type' or a "SHADOW" of the New. (Col 2:16, Heb 10:1). The Old was a "physical" covenant, with a "physical" temple and rituals, etc. The "blessings" of God were also mostly PHYSICAL and material. But today we have a "spiritual" covenant - a "heart-based" covenant, with mostly SPIRITUAL blessings. That is why we should not seek Old Testament wealth today. -We live under a different covenant.

It is very obvious from the New Testament that there is NO SUCH THING as a 'Prosperity' gospel. In fact, it is the exact OPPOSITE. Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are POOR, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Lk 6:20). And James declared: "Has not God chosen those who are POOR in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (Ja 2:5, NIV). Jesus clearly stated that you "CANNOT serve God and Mammon" (Mt 6:24) and yet it is obvious that many Christians today are trying to serve BOTH. The 'Prosperity' teaching clearly encourages this. It is a very dangerous and harmful fallacy.

So does God want to bless His children or not? Of course He does! But He wants to bless us so that we can GIVE MORE AWAY - NOT so that we can hoard more luxuries to ourselves. How can it be right for some Christians to be wealthy and rolling in money and possessions, while just down the street there are Christians who barely have enough to eat? And what about our needy brothers and sisters overseas?

There is a prophecy about the coming move of God that one thing it will be built on is "Extravagant giving to the poor." I truly believe this. I am convinced that it is something very high on God's agenda.

It is important that I make a few comments about the 'Seed-Faith' teaching here, because so many TV preachers use it to pressure people to give to their ministry. What it amounts to is a "Give-to-Get" doctrine that blatantly twists Scripture. When a preacher says something like, "Sow a seed of $100 into my ministry today, and God will give you back 100-fold," then they are operating out of this "Seed-Faith" doctrine. What they are really saying is, "Give to get". The motivation for giving is not so much to bless that ministry, but to GET SOMETHING BACK from God. The motivation is all twisted. Do they really expect God to "bless" something so wrong-hearted?

But certain preachers love this doctrine, because it enables them to gather huge sums of money. And surprisingly, studies have shown that it is the poor and needy who give most often to these TV preachers. Why is this? -Because these people often feel that only a financial "miracle" can save them. It is not uncommon for desperate Christians to give and give, well beyond their means, in the hope that God will rescue them. Some will even lose their homes. And the elderly and the sick often give sacrificially in the hope of some kind of improvement.

Many preachers are fully aware of the kind of people they are exploiting. How sick it all is. As Jesus said in Mt 23:14, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses." I shudder to think of the fate that awaits some of these preachers on Judgement Day.

Much of the reasoning behind this "Seed-Faith" teaching is a distortion of 'Sowing and Reaping', which is a biblical concept. But when it is distorted by preachers and sold as a means of "Giving to get" then it has gone well beyond the Scriptures. The purity of simply "giving from the heart" is lost and replaced with selfish motives. People give because the preacher "guarantees" they will get a 'big return' on their investment! The motivation is so wrong that it is no wonder that this doctrine has produced disastrous fruit in the church. It really is one of the sickest things around.

So next time you hear a preacher using this kind of manipulation to get you to give him $100, make sure you rebuke the deception in the name of Jesus, and turn the television off!

We would all be far better to give to the POOR, as Christ commanded. 

The obvious answer to this question is "No" - even though it is being so mis-used by many preachers. The fact is, Television is simply a communications medium and it can be used for either good or evil. I myself made a five-part Christian TV show for secular television a few years back in New Zealand. We made it very cheaply and interviewed ex-gang members who had become Christians, etc. So I have no problem with the medium itself. It can be very effective. The only crucial question is HOW we are using it, how much MONEY we are wasting (if any) and whether we are presenting the pure and undefiled word of the Lord. It really DOES MATTER what kind of representation of 'JESUS' we are presenting to the world. This is the big problem with much Christian television today. -It is actually bringing disgrace to the name of Christ. And God will not stand for it.

I was interested to receive the following email from someone who has had recent experience with Christian TV in America. Quite a refreshing letter:

"I did want to comment on Christian TV. I recently left a small church that has a TV show called Crossfire. It's dedicated to youth and it is aired on Sky Angel. My husband was one of the pastors there and because of that I found out that when a ministry airs on Sky Angel, it costs them nothing. Of course there is the initial cost of cameras and editing equipment, it can be a bit pricey, and the local television stations do require certain types of video tapes - they too are costly for a small church group. However, I've often wondered after those initial costs where the millions go in some of these large well-known ministries."

So it does not necessarily cost a fortune to get something on TV in America! 

I believe that in future years we will find that God is going to use ALL of the different media to spread His message and news of the great Awakening. In the first Great Reformation, the printing press had just been invented and God used it greatly. The same is true of the Internet, Radio and even Television today. I have no problem with using these things. But it is the "WAY" that they are used that is the crucial factor. -And the importance of not having them centred around 'MONEY'. -I'm sure that most of you agree.

Jeff L. wrote: 
Sometime during 2003 I received an email from a Nigerian Pastor, asking for prayer. He was at a loss as to what to tell his flock who were "exhorted" (that should be extorted) by a travelling American evangelist to give money to God (to him of course) and that God would return the amount 100 fold. Of course all the flock were in that poor and needy bracket and they gave believing that God would meet their financial needs.

So the Evangelist departs with all the money and the poor Pastor is left to explain to God's people why God has not honoured their giving. They gave their food money and rent money believing God would replace it - the result was hungry, homeless people, more misery created by man in God's name. My only advice was never never never never allow these guys anywhere near your people and to teach that our giving should not be to create a debt with God.

B.E. wrote: 
I want to say in response to this that my husband and I fell for this message... hook, line and sinker. We are now in such a financial mess, only God can rescue us! We once gave $1000.00 for a TV minister's airplane that we really needed for our own bills. We were told by him how anointed he was and that we were guaranteed the help we need if we help buy his airplane for ministry. Well, needless to say no help came. We have had more financial problems in the past four years because of our blindness... our willingness to accept this as the truth. God woke us up a year ago after falling on our faces and repenting. We are still in a huge struggle and hope to not go bankrupt. We have credit card debt that is insurmountable. We are told by these men, if it isn't working we are the ones at fault... we aren't giving enough... or we have sin in our lives.... "our cloud is not full enough" so we need to give more so that "once it is filled up it will rain".

The Lord has kept us from drowning, and like I said before, our only hope is in Him. God help us and save us from this mess we ourselves have created.


Rom 8:17, Lk 14:27, 1 Cor 4:8-13, 3 John 2, 2 Cor 9:6-15, Matt 19:27-30, Lk 6:20-25, Lk 18:24-25, 1 Tim 6:5-10, Ja 5:1-5, Mt 19:21-24, Lk 12:33, Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37, Acts 5:1-11, James 2:2-7, Mt 6:19-24, Luke 16:19-25, Matt 13:22, Luke 19:1-10, 1 Cor 16:1-3.

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