Text:2 Cor. 9:5-15.INTRODUCTION:
In the last few months, there have been some controversies concerning tithes especially from the New Testament point of view. Some for reasons best known to them have said tithing was just an Old Testament law which Jesus has abolished. That is totally not true. There are many laws in the Old Testament that Jesus did not abolish. ( Matt.5:17-20) I looked at the Ten Commandments and asked which of them has Jesus abolished? While the New Testament Christian does not live by law but lives by grace, it must be know that living by grace does not exempt the Christian from obeying divine commands. What grace actually changes is the motive behind the obedience, which should be love and not fear. So one can say, grace is actually an improvement on the law and not the replacement of law. Lawless grace will result into disgrace. It must be noted that every commandment or law in the Old Testament was established for a purpose. As long as the purpose exists, then the law still remains. Let us quickly look at tithing and its purpose in the Old Testament.
(A) TITHING AND ITS PURPOSE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Those who say tithing has expired with the people of Israel in the Old Testament lacked the true knowledge concerning the origin of tithing. Tithing actually existed before the people of Israel. It began with father Abraham who paid the first tithe to Melchizedek, the High Priest of the Most High who actually blessed him. (Gen. 14:18-20) Jacob also made a commitment of relationship with God with the vow to give God his tithe. (Gen. 28:20-22) So, tithing began as a demonstration of love and appreciation to God. It was many years after, that it became a law and a requirement from God. (Lev. 27:30) Unlike those who said it was just like a tax imposed on all Israel, it was actually an obligation to keep the religious life of the people ongoing. Priests, levites were not exempted. (Num. 18:21,24-28) It was established to make provisions for the priests, the widows, the orphans, the strangers, the poor and the needy. The purpose was for the provision of food in God’s house.( Mal. 3:10, Dt. 26:12) As long as we still have God’s house, God’s servants, the widows, the orphans and the poor, the need to tithe will still remain. It was a statue for ever.( Num. 18:23) The tithe was also instituted to provide avenue for blessings for God’s people. It was a pathway for blessings for Abraham, Jacob and the people of Israel.(Mal. 3:10) God also rebukes the devourer in our lives. So, looking at these purposes, those who are against tithe are looking for ways to take away food from God’s house, reduce the blessings of God’s people and open doors for devourers. May you not be deceived by them. Amen. Let me also add that tithing was not the only giving in the Old Testament. There were many other offerings like first fruits offerings, ( Deut. 18:3-5) Sabbath Offerings (Num.28:9-10) Monthly Offerings ( Num. 28:11-15), Passover offerings( Num. 28:16-24), Harvest Offerings ( Num. 28:26-31) Freewill Offerings ( Lev. 22:21-22) and Special Project Offerings( Neh. 7:70-72) Suffice it to say that what God rebuked His people about in Malachi 3:8 was not just tithes, but also offerings. So if tithe has been abolished, offerings also have been abolished. Such can only be a teaching from the pit of hell.
(B ) JESUS: THE LORD OF GRACE AND TITHING.- Matthew 23:23. No doubt, many have said Jesus did not teach about tithing. Yes, Jesus didn’t reteach tithing neither did he eliminate it. According to Matthew 23:23, Jesus reinforced tithing philosophically. Anti-tithers usually say that “Grace Giving” is the rule for today. But Jesus never taught grace giving as well. His popular parable on giving was that of a widow who gave 100 percent. Grace giving therefore is not the abolition of 10percent, but the expansion of tithe so that it becomes the minimum the believer can offer to God. The other reference of Jesus on tithe I will safe till the end of this message.
(C) PRINCIPLES OF NEW TESTAMENT GIVING. 2 Cor. 9: 6-9.
One thing that must be noted is that giving is not limited to Old Testament unless blessing is limited to the Old Testament. But what are the unique characteristics of the New Testament Giving. (Tithes and Offerings)
1. New Testament Giving is more than an Obligation but most importantly the demonstration of our love for the Lord. While some give out of fear, guilt,compulsion, pride, we give out of love.
2. It is a Reflection of Grace and not a Gimmick. The New Testament Christian with a higher revelation demonstrates grace in giving, not because He sees God as a money doubler.
3. It is both a Privilege and Responsibility. The Christian gives both tithes and offerings seeing it as a privilege and also a display of his responsibility to God, His servants and His works. Without the few faithful givers we still have today, many churches would have parked up and the work of missions would have suffered and many God’s servant would have been miserable and the devil would have laughed all the way.
4. New Testament Giving must be done not out of Compulsion, but with Cheerfulness as prompted by the Holy Spirit.
5. Tithing is the elementary of New Testamet Giving and that is why we should not waste time debating it, we must move to the level of giving back to God higher percentage. Giving is not only about tithing, but tithing is giving. Tithing is the ABC of giving which cannot be neglected to form a syllable/word. If you cannot part with the minimum, you have no right to expect the maximum.
Tithing is an everlasting covenant between God and His people and His people should have no problem giving much more back to Him. Giving in the New Testament remains a kingdom principle that invokes divine blessings. Tithing may not prevent attack from your finances, but it will surely make you survive it and come out triumphantly. We must note that riches and blessings are not thesame.
CONCLUSION: Giving is worship, an expression of gratitude for God’s immesurable grace towards us. Tithing is the lowest expression, the minimum display of our gratitude. I once asked, why much controversy about tithing at this time and many people are becoming confused. According to a survey, less than 50 percent of the members of most churches are paying tithes and less than 20percent are actually faithful. So, the controversy easily finds a place to stay in the mind of those who are looking for escape route. Let me declare that the ongoing brouhaha about tithing which is not new to Christendom is a sponsored attack on the body of Christ both individually and collectively. It has nothing to do with money, but our blessings. It has noting to do with freedom, but attack on our obedience. So beware. But the controversy has its blessings. It is time for each of us to examine the reason for our giving be it tithes and other offerings. Is your giving New Testamental i.e. a demonstration of love and grace as prompted by the Holy Spirit. In Mark 12:17, Jesus made a powerful statement which I want to conclude with “ render unto government the things that are governments and unto God the things that are God’s. It is clear that taxes are for the government. But God himself said in Lev. 27:30 that the tithe is His. So give taxes to government and give tithes to God. Period. Brothers and Sisters, Mothers and Fathers, I therefore charge you to be an unrepentant tither giving to the Lord, His work, His Church, His servants far above your tithe. Receive grace to give far above the tithe. Receive grace to prosper as well. You blessings shall be unlimited. Amen.