I wrote this in response to a question on tithing posted by a friend of my cousin, @Greg Simmons. The original blog is here http://bit.ly/gy3X3G. See links to Greg’s blogs at the bottom.
I’ve edited this for clarity.
I will put in my 2 cents (no pun intended) about the question of whether Christians are required to tithe:
Notice that the only direct references to tithing in the New Testament are negative ones (see Matt 23:23 and Luke 11:42). Otherwise, no real guidance or expectation is given in the New Testament about the amount one is required to give.
I believe the key passage about giving in the New Testament is 2 Cor 9:6-11 ~
“6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.’
“10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (NIV)
Notice verse 7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (emphasis added). Not under compulsion. I think that right there blows out of the water the way giving is approached in many churches. Many pastors compel people to tithe.
The church I attend doesn’t push tithing but looks at giving as totally a matter of grace and generosity as led by the Spirit–and they are always over budget.
Having said that, a couple other observations are worthwhile. First, in several places the New Testament offers the example of giving everything to God, as in the story of the rich young ruler; and in Acts 2 where they shared all things in common. These passages remind us that it all really belongs to God anyway. But even in this example, giving was done freely and not under pressure.
A second observation is that I think tithing is fine if someone chooses to enter into it joyfully and not under compulsion. I’d imagine God is pleased with this.
As for the question of how can we give if we have nothing to give, here’s a scripture that deals with that, too: Eph 4:28 ~ “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” (NIV) Work…that he may have something to share with those in need. This implies that we can’t give what we don’t have.
Giving a tenth, or more, of one’s income is a laudable thing to do, if one has freely purposed to do so in their mind, and not out of guilt or compulsion. God prefers a cheerful giver. God is the one who can change our hearts to bring us to the place where we desire to give freely of what God has generously given us.
Access Greg Simmons’ blogs here: