One of the best pieces of evidence proving for whether or not people in are submission to God’s ownership over their wealth and possessions is found in the tithe. Today there is massive confusion as it relates to the tithe though and yet I am going to be another voice in that fray. Lord willing what I share will not add to the confusion, but bring more biblical clarity to it. The primary reason there is so much confusion as it relates to the tithe is that there are typically only two views that are taught.
Two Common Views on Tithing
The first view that is commonly taught today is that the tithe is in no way binding over us today. These people also take this whole approach to the scriptures. They say that nothing in the Old Testament is binding today, so therefore the tithe is not binding. They will often then emphasize that Christians are to give cheerfully of what they determine in their heart to give, as Paul stated in 2 Cor. 9:6-7. I think Paul is talking about giving above the tithe. While I respect people who hold to this position here are the conclusions that I came to as why I could not land there. I will start with two narrative reasons and then two Biblical reasons. That is I will start from the lesser to the greater.
The second view commonly taught is that a direct application of Old Covenant tithing should be made to the New. That is we take Malachi 3:8-12 for what it is, as if nothing has changed. The problem with this is that the New Covenant has stated that things have changed.
Tithing in the New Covenant
Now, I will explain why I believe the law of tithing is binding in the New Covenant era. In the New Covenant the Priesthood has changed. It is a Priesthood established after the order of Melchizedek. Abraham met this Priest of Salem and worshiped God and gave a tithe to Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews explains how Jesus established a new priesthood after this order:
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. In the beginning of the chapter the Bible explains how Abraham met this odd figure in the Old Testament whose name was Melchizedek. What did he do as an act of worship to Melchizedek? He gave a tithe. That is a tenth of what he had just received. The conclusion here is clear. God’s tithe has always been in tact and is still in tact. God’s tax, a tenth, is required. This is why Jesus simply assumed it to be still binding as He made this statement, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matt. 23:23).
Right and Duty of Private Judgment
In areas that are less clear in the Bible we as believers need to be very careful to not bind other people’s consciences on it. One area it seems in the New Covenant is the right and duty of Private Judgment as it relates to the tithe. Clearly, it must go to the Lord’s work and it does seem the New Testament give some guidelines as to what funds should be used for and yet it is reserved to private judgment. The church cannot demand it nor take it through coercion. I would say that a substantial percentage of the tithe should go to your local church though and if you don’t think your church merits that then perhaps you are just simply not like-minded with your church. The New Covenant seems to indicate three key places:
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.