Introduction

In many Christian churches there will come a time of the year when the Pastor speaks on “Stewardship”. Some churches have “Stewardship Campaigns” where they speak for weeks on tithing. It is routine for Pastors during his time to read from Malachi chapter 3 and tell their congregations that they are “robbing God” if they are not tithing.

Some churches do take a more balanced approach to “Stewardship campaigns” and they address the full issue of Christian stewardship – not just the giving to ministries aspect. They will address how we should be good stewards of our time talent and other resources – not just money.

But the thing that most of them have in common is that they teach tithing is required for Christians – anything less is robbing God.

In this article we will look at the history of tithing and the various views of what tithing is. We will also look at the central issue of this article – is tithing required for a Christian?

I know that for many Christians, God has richly blessed them financially, and they believe it is because they have always tithed. I am not arguing that tithing is wrong – in fact I believe God has laid it on the heart of some with greater means to give much more than a tenth.

But is it also possible that God has also financially blessed those Christians who have given less than tenth? Is the gift acceptable according to the willingness and the heart of the individual regardless of the percentage of one’s income?

We know that the system of tithing is given to us in great detail in the Old Testament but does the New Testament transfer this system to Christians or does it detail a whole new system?

As I get into this area of Christian giving I want to make it clear that I am not trying to say Christians don’t need to or should not give. What I want to do is present a New Testament approach to giving and help Christians to understand the whys and hows of Christian giving.

Views on Christian giving

Christian giving is commanded in the New Testament. Many if not most Christians today feel that Christian giving should be in the form of Tithes and free-will offerings (after tithe).  Most (not all) Christians I have met and discussed this with believe tithing was also taught for the New Testament Church.

When I ask these same people to show me tithing commanded to the New Testament church they scroll through their index and cannot find a single verse. Some people who are strong tithing proponents and

have studied the issue a little more will point to passages like Matthew 23:23 and Hebrews 7(which we will discuss later in more detail). But they ignore the contexts of those passages.

There are two main views today on Christian giving:

1. Christians are required to give a tenth (tithe) of their income and may  give anything above this as a “free-will offering” regardless of their economic condition.

2. Christians are required only to give what the Lord has laid on their heart to give (not an exact percentage) and in some extreme cases of poverty this could be nothing (monetarily speaking).

What is Tithing?

Tithing in its most basic sense is giving 10% of what we take in back to God. The particulars of this are hotly debated. Here are a few of the views about tithing from various Christian perspectives:

1. We should give 10% of our gross income to our local church(store house tithing).

2. We should give 10% of our net(after tax) income as well as 10% of our tax refund to our local church(modified store house tithing).

3. We should give 10% of our gross income to various ministries (spread out between local church, homeless shelters, parachurch organizations and other Christian charities).

4. We should give 10% of our net(after tax) income as well as 10% of our tax refund to various ministries(spread out between local church,homeless shelters,parachurch organizations and other Christians charities).

Taking a closer look at the list we can see some similarities between some of the 4 views. Views 2 and 4 both believe the tithe should be of one’s net income (the money they actually receive after taxes) because they believe this is their true income. In Contrast, views 1 and 3 take a much stricter position in saying that tithing must be of one’s gross income regardless of what they actually receive after the government takes its tax money.

Views 1 and 2, while they disagree at how we arrive at our tithe both agree that our entire tithe should go to our local church. These camps do not believe it is wrong to give outside your local church, but they believe the first tenth should go to the local church and anything above that may go to other ministries.

Views 3 and 4, while also disagreeing at how we arrive at our tithe both agree that our entire tithe does not have to go to our local church. These two camps believe for instance that you could give 5% to your local church 2% to a radio ministry and 3% to a homeless shelter.

Where did the practice of tithing originate?

No one knows for sure where or when the practice of tithing originated. We do know that tithing was in practice long before the time of Abraham.

In ancient times it was common practice for people to give the first fruits of their harvest back to the gods or mother earth. The number ten was seen as a number of completion or wholeness because everything begins and ends with ten. Tithing was a way of giving thanks to whatever god you believed in.

From the time of Adam onward, God preserved a righteous elect people for himself. Abraham was one of these men. Abraham feared God and practiced the custom of tithing in his culture toward God.

The first instance of tithing found in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 14:

Genesis 14:18-20(NIV)

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.

He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,

 ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Creator of heaven and earth.

And blessed be God Most High,

who delivered your enemies into your hand.’

 Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”

Here we see Abraham giving a tenth to the high priest Melchizedek. The next instance in the Bible of the practice of tithing was by that of Abraham’s grandson Jacob in Genesis chapter 28:

Genesis 28:20-22(NIV)

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’”

There are some interesting things to take note of from the account of Jacob in Genesis chapter 28. The first interesting point is that Jacob said “I will give you a tenth” not “I will continue to give you a tenth”. This indicates that the tithing of Abraham was either a onetime event or the practice was not passed down to Jacob through Isaac.  The other interesting thing in this passage is that Jacob makes his tithing conditional on God keeping him safe and blessing him.

The most important thing to notice from both the accounts of Abraham and Jacob were that they were tithing completely of their own free will and that God had not commanded anything about tithing up to this point.

Where did the command of God to tithe originate?

The first command of God to tithe was given to Moses in in Leviticus chapter 27:

Leviticus 27:30-32(NIV)

“‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD ; it is holy to the LORD . If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock-every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod-will be holy to the LORD.”

The interesting thing to note here was that the tithe was specifically on agricultural goods like animals and crops.  Some would argue that this was the currency of the day and gold and silver were not used as much for currency. But strictly speaking – tithing is never mentioned on silver or gold. Free will offerings could be made from silver and gold, but a tithe was never commanded on these items.

Tithing in the New Testament Church

There is no record of Tithing being the prescribe method or practice of the early church. The first time in recorded church history that tithing was required was when the Council of Macon in 585 ordered that payment of tithes was to made and those who did not would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Eventually tithing became so entrenched that even the Reformers carried it along from Catholic tradition (like they did many other things) into their various churches.

But not all Christians accepted the new policies of tithing imposed by the Catholic Church. In the accounts of the Waldeneses, recorded by William Jones, a Baptist Historian in his “The History of the Christian Church”(1812) we see a very different view of tithing among many other things:

“a numerous people occupied the southern valleys of the Alps, whose faith and practice differed from those of the Romish church; who paid no tithes, offered no mass, worshipped no saints, nor had recourse to any of the prescribed means for redeeming their souls from purgatory…

That no man ought to kneel to a priest, because the angel said to John (Revelation 19:10.) “See thou do it not” — That tithes ought not to be given to priests, because there was no use of them in the primitive church

They receive only what is written in the Old and New Testaments. They say that the popes of Rome and other priests have corrupted the Scriptures by their doctrines and glosses–that they owe neither tithes nor first-fruits to the clergy…”

So as we can see from church history, tithing was not the practice of the early church and was instituted at a much later time. The teaching of mandatory tithing was vehemently opposed by many Christians like the Waldeneses. Yet today Baptist preachers stand in their pulpits and preach tithing as if the Apostles practiced and commanded it in the New Testament Church.

What does the New Testament say about Christian giving?

Up to this point we have looked at the history of tithing but that does not prove our point – it only provides a backdrop.  Did Christians like the Waldeneses more than 1000 years ago have biblical reasons for opposing the teaching of mandatory tithing for Christians?

There are two mentions of tithing in the New Testament, one is found in the Gospels and the other is found in the book of Hebrews.

The passage in Hebrews chapter 7 dealing with tithe is not a command to the New Testament church but a comparison of the priesthood of Jesus to the priesthood of Melchizedek.

Actually, Hebrews chapter 7 and 8 does more to hurt the theory that mandatory tithing is still in place for the New Testament church than it helps it.

Consider Hebrews 7:5 & 12 & 18(NIV):

“5Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people–that is, their brothers–even though their brothers are descended from Abraham…

12For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law…18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless…”

Also Consider Hebrews 8:13(NIV):

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete;and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”

According to Hebrews 7 tithing was a given as part of the Mosaic Law and the “old” Covenant. It was not a universal method of giving prescribed by God for all peoples and all times. Hebrews tells us with our new priest (Jesus Christ) there was a change of law (from Old Testament law to New Testament law) and that “The former regulation is set aside” and the old Covenant is now “obsolete”…

Between Hebrews chapter 7 and II Corinthians chapter 8(which we will go into later) the entire argument that tithing is still the prescribe manner of giving for the New Testament church is destroyed.

The other passage in the New Testament that directly mentions tithing is found in Matthew 23:23 where Jesus is scolding the Pharisees for their hypocrisies (the parallel passage is found in Luke 11:42):

Matthew 23:23(NIV)

“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.”

The Pharisees were so meticulous about tithing that they even tithed of their spices yet they did not care about the more important matters of the law. Christ told them they should have practiced both.

Now at this point many pro-tithing advocates say this is Jesus reaffirming tithing for the New Testament Church. The problem with that theory is that Jesus was speaking to a Jew under the old Covenant which was still in effect when he spoke those words.

So what system does the New Testament prescribe for Christian giving? The answer can be found most clearly in II Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. Here Paul is speaking about the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

It is interesting that in this entire chapter Paul often refers to the offering for the saints as “grace”. When we think of grace from a theological perspective we think of the unmerited favor of God.

Well in this context it was the “unmerited” or “unrequited” completely free-will offering of the saints.

Again the pro-tithing advocates at this point will acknowledge that the giving here in II Corinthians 8 is free-will – and they believe in free-will(above your tithe) giving.  The problem is that this is one of the most detailed sections on giving in the New Testament and Paul never mentions tithing once. I find that very strange. I also find it strange that Paul gave us the structure for the New Testament Church in great detail and he never once mentions tithing in connection with the New Testament church in any of his epistles.

I once asked the Pastor of a church we were attending during a Wednesday night Bible study(it was question and answer) if he found it strange that Paul gave us all the details for how the New Testament church was to be setup as far as its disciplines, its offices and other such things and he also speaks about giving but he never once mentions tithing.

While I respected and I do respect this Pastor still to this day his answer was quite disappointing (as he was a big tithing preacher). He said “he(Paul) did not have to mention it(tithing) – they automatically knew it, it was assumed.” Both historically and biblically that is an extremely weak answer.

Paul wrote most of his epistles to Gentiles who had no idea about the Mosaic Law so I doubt that he would leave out something as major as tithing if that were to be the prescribed manner of giving for the New Testament Church.

And now again in II Corinthians chapter 8 we also see that giving is a “privilege”(verse 4) and that “the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (verse 12).

In fact, in verses 13 through 15 of chapter 8 Paul makes an astounding statement:

2 Corinthians 8:13-15(NIV)

“13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’”

Paul speaks of Christian giving to bring about equality. Now is is he speaking of complete economic equality? I doubt that, but he is speaking of equality in the essentials of living like food, clothing and shelter.

Let’s look at Paul’s words in verse 13 – “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed”.  Could you imagine a Pastor today saying something like that from the pulpit? I have seen many fundraising drives in churches over the years, some for admirable purposes and some not.  The interesting thing is that they never worried about their people being “hard pressed” – in fact Pastor’s will stand in the pulpit pushing for money for new carpet or new pews and tell their people if they give to “God’s Work”(new carpet and pews) he will make their financial hardships go away.

Verse 15 of II Corinthians chapter 8 is also interesting in the context in which Paul frames it – “as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’”

Paul is referring back to Exodus chapter 16 when God sent quail for the Israelites in the dessert:

Exodus 16:13-20(NIV)

“13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning

there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone,

thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.

15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?”

For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.

16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much

as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ “

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.

18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not

have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.

Each one gathered as much as he needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of

it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So

Moses was angry with them.”

In Exodus chapter 16 we can see that each person was to gather “as much as he needed” and this was dependent upon how many persons he had in his tent(how large his family was).So conceivably someone with a large family – maybe several children as well as older relatives they were caring for would gather much. But someone who had no family would gather little.

Apparently though – some of the Israelites took more than they needed and God caused it to rot. People still do this today. But then comes the question of what we need and what we want.But here we see something that at first would seem to be common sense but we will build on it in the New Testament – that is that those who have a family or people they have to support and care for need more than those who do not.

We will come back to II Corinthians shortly, but for now let’s continue this theme of caring for the material needs of our family and go to Matthew chapter 15:

Matthew 15:1-9(NIV)

“1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from

Jerusalem and asked, 2″Why do your disciples break the tradition

of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for

the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, ‘Honor your father

and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be

put to death.’ 5But you say that if a man says to his father or

mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is

a gift devoted to God,’ 6he is not to ‘honor his father ‘ with it.

Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    8″ ‘These people honor me with their lips,

       but their hearts are far from me.

    9They worship me in vain;

       their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”

So here we see Jesus again scolding the Pharisees for breaking God’s law by their traditions. He gives an example of a man who has responsibilities for caring for his family making a rash promise and devoting all he has to the temple. The Pharisees would hold him to this promise even if it meant him not meeting his obligation to care for him family. Jesus Christ clearly condemns this behavior.

But don’t we hear Pastors say all the time “You can never out-give God” and “You can never give too much!”. Jesus clearly condemns that type of thinking. If those Pharisees were here today they would say “don’t worry, give it all and God will take care of your family”. Jesus would condemn them still as I am sure the Lord is not happy with what some Pastors are doing today in their fundraising attempts.

In another passage though, Jesus tells another man to sell everything he has and follow him. What is different this time – let’s see. The passage is found in Mark chapter 10 and is paralleled in Luke chapter 18.

Mark 10:17-23(NIV)

“17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him

and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must

I do to inherit eternal life?”

18″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except

God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit

adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud,

honor your father and mother.'”

20″Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said.

“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have

treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great

wealth.

23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for

the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

In verse 19 of Mark chapter 10 we see that the man in this case has kept the command to “honor your father and mother”.  His parents were dead, they were wealthy and needed no support, or he had made arrangements for them to be taken care of. Here Jesus tells him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Previously in Matthew chapter 15 he had scolded the Pharisees for allowing a young man to pledge all he had to the temple.

Here the situation is different – the man does not have family to provide for and the interesting thing is that Christ asked him to give it the poor, not the temple. This theme is repeated throughout the New Testament.

The final passage we will look at on this theme of caring for one’s family can be found in I Timothy chapter 5:

I Timothy 5:3-4 & 8(NIV)

“3Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.

4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn

first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their

own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this

is pleasing to God…8If anyone does not provide for his relatives,

and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith

and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Paul writes to Timothy that the first way we put our religion into practice is by caring for our family’s material needs. In fact in verse 8 Paul gives one of the most scolding warnings in the New Testament and says that those who claim to be Christians but do not provide for their relatives – especially for their immediate family – that they have “denied the faith” and are “worse than an unbeliever”.

At this point some tithing advocates may be shaking their heads and asking “What does providing for your family have to do with tithing?”  I will show how it ties in with tithing in a moment.  We commonly are taught in our churches that we should always give to God first. I agree with that as it is very Biblical.

Where I disagree is how we define “giving to God”. Most Christians and most Churches for that matter, define “giving to God” as giving to your church. While that may be a part of giving to God, that is not the all encompassing meaning of “giving to God”.  This is how Tithing ties in with providing for our families – most tithing advocates will teach that they not only should you tithe but it should be the first check you right when you get paid. One of the main points of this paper is that teaching is unbiblical. The first checks you should write are those which provide for your family.

Consider Jesus’s words on what giving to God was:

Matthew 25:34-40(NIV)

“34”Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed

by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the

creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you

invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you

looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry

and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we

see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of

the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. ‘

Many of us have heard the JOY acronym in Sunday school and Church services. Jesus first, others second, yourself last – this will bring true joy. It is interesting here that based on Matthew 25, when we do for others – we are doing it for Christ. When I help others I am putting Christ first, others second and myself last.

But who are the first “others” God wants me to help? Is it my church? or is it my family? I submit to you based on Paul’s words in I Timothy chapter 5 verse 4 that the “first” others is my family. When I feed my sons or daughter I am feeding Christ – when I care for my sick child I am caring for Christ. Caring for them is the first way I put my religion in practice.

What is Stewardship as it pertains to a Christian?

So here is where the rubber meets the road – should the first check I write each week be to my church as is taught in churches all over the world? Or should it be to buy food for my children and pay the rent so I can keep them safe from the weather?

“Stewardship” is about using our resources that God has given us right. “Stewardship” does not mean writing a check for 10% of my income to my local church each week. “Stewardship” means taking care of my family, helping those around me that I can who are less fortunate and giving to my church (but it does not have to be 10%).

So can we give 10% of our income to our local church and provide for our families at the same time? Many of us as Christians could do that. But there are those that do not and are those people sinning?

I say based upon the Word of God that they are not.

Again I ask the same question but for a different reason this time – can we give 10% of our income to our local church and provide for our families at the same time? Yes (for some of us) but can we keep the Sabbath too?  Yes, but can we keep the cleanliness laws too? Yes, but can we keep the dietary laws too? Do you see my point? We CAN but we don’t have too. I could keep the Sabbath (Saturday) each week and that would not be sin. But do I have too? Would I be wrong for telling other Christians they must keep the Sabbath the way I do?

What I am saying is that in the Old Testament the people of God under the Mosaic Law and Covenant were required to tithe and take care of their families. The people of God in the New Testament are still required to take care of their families but they are not required to tithe. Which one should we keep first? The requirement to provide for our families or the option (to tithe)?

Centralized Giving 

Centralized (or Storehouse) giving (such as the tithe given to the Levities in the Old Testament) was given by God for a Theocracy. The idea of centralized giving in the New Testament church was brought about by power hungry and corrupt men in the Catholic Church.

Some may bring up passages like Acts 4 to back up centralized giving for the New Testament Church but they miss the time frame and context. This was at the beginnings of the church – this is never commanded for people to bring their possessions to feet of their local Pastors and even in the Acts 4 account it was not required or commanded - it was completely free will.

Now at the end of this article some might be thinking that I am against Pastors being paid or local churches and other ministries be supported. I am not against this at all. I believe as Paul wrote in I Corinthians chapter 9 that ministers have a right to be paid:

I Corinthians 9:14-15(NIV)

“14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach

the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not

writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me.

I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.”

Some Christians throughout history have taken a little bit of extreme positions on both sides with some saying Pastors should not be paid while others have said Pastors must be paid at all costs. Pastors and other ministers or missionaries should follow the Apostle Paul’s example while he understood he had a right to be paid he did not push that right on anyone and he would only except free-will offerings,he never demanded or compelled people to support him.

I think the reason many Christians push and preach tithing is simply because of fear. They are afraid if they don’t people won’t give enough and the church will go broke. I say this to those people who are afraid of this – if a church cannot survive completely off the free-will non-compelled offerings of the Lord’s people than it should sell everything it has and move into someone’s home. Buildings and facilities are nice but they do not make up the church – God’s people do.

New Testament principles for Christian Giving

These three passages most clearly state the principles of how we are to give to local ministries:

I Timothy 5:3-4 & 8(NIV)

“3Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.

4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn

first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their

own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this

is pleasing to God…8If anyone does not provide for his relatives,

and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith

and is worse than an unbeliever.”

 

II Corinthians 9:6-7(NIV)

“6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,

and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man

should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly

or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

 

I Corinthians 16:1-3(NIV)

1Now about the collection for God’s people:

Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2On the first day

of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money

in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no

collections will have to be made. 3Then, when I arrive, I will give

letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your

gift to Jerusalem.

Based upon the above passages here are principles for Christian giving:

1.  We should remember that the first way we put our faith into practice is by caring for the spiritual, emotional AND physical needs of our family.

2.  If we have taken care of the needs of our family – have we helped those less fortunate that God has brought into our path?

3.  If we have taken care of our family and those less fortunate that God has placed in our path then we should lay aside a portion for our local church and other ministries each time we are paid before buying non-necessity items.

This amount we give should be a sacrificial amount, but also a realistic amount that we will be able to meet on a regular basis. In other words if the amount we have chosen to give does not allow us to put any money into savings for auto repairs, house repairs and other emergencies we may face…then it may be too much.

Ultimately we need to pray and seek God’s guidance, and remember at the end of the day God will never lead us to give in a way that contradicts the principles he has given us in his Word – especially to rightly provide for our families and make good on the debts and obligations we have made.

Conclusion

It is a fact that most of the giving in the New Testament was to help the needy. This was the primary focus of Christian giving.  So whether it is your own children who are in need or the needy person God’s brings into your path that is your first priority.

If God provides you with enough to take care of the needs of your family and you have helped that less fortunate person God brings your way than by all means write the check to your church before you do anything else. But don’t write it because you think you are robbing God if you don’t give that certain amount – write it because God has provided you with enough to take care of your family and others in need and he provides you with even more so that you can give to your church.

If you are tithing today I am not telling you to stop tithing. That is between you and the Lord. The only question I have for you is this -Are you meeting your first and second obligations before you tithe to your local church? Are you caring for and providing for your family properly? Are you caring for the needy that God has placed in your path?

If you are doing those two things first and then are able to write your tithe out to your local church then God bless you for it. But if you are not providing properly for your family and are not caring for the needy that God has placed in your path and you write then you are not prioritizing your resources as God wants you too.

Let me just add this in closing.  I believe most of the time we can do all three things – provide for our family, help the needy around us and give to our local churches.  But in our giving to our local church we should give cheerfully, and willingly in an amount that God has placed on our hearts to give, not what someone else compels us to give.