Tithing: A Numbers Game of Percentages

“The tip of the iceberg of legalism”

Pastors who want to accumulate lots of money for themselves have capitalized on Malachi 3:10. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…and test Me now in this,” says the Lord… “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

They make people believe that if they want to be showered with blessings from heaven, they should pay tithes. That is a clear deception! Because Malachi 3:10 is not a commandment for Christians but for the Israelites. For many religious institutions, tithing is a big issue. For them it is all about the money. There are so many perspectives about tithing, the majority of which are confusing at best and not scripturally accurate or biblically based.

I heard of a pastor who was preaching on the importance of “tithing” telling his congregation that tithing was old covenant teaching. (Some of his people had begun to understand grace and that tithing was not a New Covenant teaching.) He asked, “What would you rather have to give 10% (Old Covenant) or have to give it all, 100% (New Covenant)?

His logic for suggesting this was that Jesus asked the rich young ruler to “sell everything,” to give it all, 100%. Since his congregation had discovered that tithing was not a New Testament obligation, he wanted to make sure they would support his ministry with money. Imagine the confusion this congregation was experiencing. Not only a distorted understanding of covenant teaching but the promotion of the lie of independence – that it is okay for you to decide what to do with your money apart from who you are in Christ.

The “tip of the iceberg” is an idiom that has long been used to describe something that is a small part of a bigger situation. Real icebergs inspired that phrase since we can only see the tip, but the larger part is below water, and we cannot see it. Tithing is like the “tip of the iceberg of legalism.” The tip (the tithe) is only 10% of the iceberg (of legalism). The other 90% you do not see – it’s under water.
Legalism drowns people with a flood of overbearing religious beliefs. Like a Ponzi scheme sincere believers have been led to believe that tithing pleases God and “buy’s His favor.” In fact, a quick search of those who promote this view would suggest the following.

God is pleased by your obedience of tithing.
God is honored by your faithfulness of tithing.
You are eligible for a blessing because you tithe.
Tithing ensures that your needs will be met.

Those who promote tithing are promoting performance-based acceptance. Falling into the trap of tithing is just the beginning, its only 10% of what legalism will require from you, there yet remains 90% of performance-based obligations you will not be able to keep.

Legalism is rigid adherence to the law or to a religious moral code. It is an attitude that believes that right behavior produces righteous identity. Legalist people attempt to control their behavior and the behavior of others by imposing rules and regulations. The legalist believes by doing so they will make themselves acceptable before God, which they falsely believe makes them righteous.

Tithing is never mentioned in the New Covenant and is not a New Testament concept. In the old covenant tithes were levied or taxed to support the priesthood, but in the New Covenant every Christian is a priest (I Peter 2:9). Christians are not under obligation of Old Testament laws including tithes! Tithing (taxation) has nothing to do with giving! “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Religious leaders who are honest enough to admit that tithing is not a Christian obligation are quick to suggest that we have a responsibility or duty to give. They want their members to feel a sense of guilt, a sense of “you should” or “you ought to,” pay the expenses of the instructional church. So, they refer to a “new law of giving,” which is defined as “love-offerings.” It is sometimes even proposed that Christians are to “pay God back” and He will then “payback” you, “a give and it shall be given you.” This concept is more of an invest idea.

True giving has not thought of getting something in return. Once again this is performance minded rather than grace initiated. If you are not free – not to give, you are not free to give. The insistence on imposing tithing in the church today is legalism.
“God loves a cheerful giver.” In 2 Corinthians 9:7 the Greek word for “cheerful” means “hilarious.” A Christian understanding of giving is to simply participate “hilariously” with Christ as our life, which is to truly give ourselves to God’s intended purpose for us. Life As God Intended. In this way we give glory to God. It is not a matter of percentage, 10% vs. 100% but the joyful privilege of experiencing Christ. God is our provision and as a result our incentive is to give our all, not just our money but our lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).

Religion is always focusing on man’s performance to please and appease God. Religionists have traditionally regarded wealth and prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing and approval. Jesus however challenged religionist to follow Him, which meant they would have to surrender their independent perspective and choose to function dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ and discover the true Kingdom of Heaven within.

When performance and possessions are the priority…it is impossible to understand our basic functional design which is to derive all from the indwelling presence of God. Until a man is willing to “sell all” that he thinks he has and come to the One who is Savior, Lord and Life, he will experience the “ministry of death” and “ministry of condemnation” that Paul referred to in 2 Cor. 2:7, 9.

God never intended giving to become a numbers game of percentages where man could maintain control but desired that we experience the truth of Acts 20:35 “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Therefore, give liberally, generously, hilariously as God leads you!

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

Living the Victorious Life

Leave a Reply