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Today in the Church, guilt, fear, and greed are the main reasons why Christians are tithing. Guilt comes from thinking you’re disobeying a command from God which He never gave you. Fear comes from thinking God might throw you into Hell if you don’t give enough money to the Church. Greed is about trying to guilt God into blessing you by throwing lots of money into the offering plate. Guilt, fear, and greed: these are the popular reasons to tithe, but they’re all wrong reasons, and in this post, we’ll learn why.
Like the Sabbath Day, the command to tithe was part of the Old Covenant or Sinai Covenant that Yahweh made with the nation of Israel. When Christ introduced the New Covenant, many Old Covenant commands were thrown out. Today God no longer requires that we keep a Sabbath day or a Sabbath year. He does not command that we avoid certain foods or bring specific sacrifices to a Temple to be processed by Levite priests. Tithing was part of the old sacrificial system which has been abolished by Yahweh. Tithing is no longer required today. So when teachers tell you that it is, guess what? They’re lying. Some are honestly confused because they’ve been badly taught by others. But any Bible “scholar” who has a decent familiarity with the Old and New Testaments cannot possibly argue that tithing is still required. This means that a lot of these teachers who you’re trusting to educate you about the Bible are intentionally deceiving you. Why? Because they want your money, of course.
Tithing has become the Christian leader’s version of back alley mugging. While the common mugger points a gun to your head and says, “Hand me your wallet, or I’ll kill you,” the Christian pastor thrusts the Bible in your face and says, “God commands you to give me your money. If you don’t, He’ll punish you.” Today you can find many false prophets in the Church who keep having these convenient “revelations” of Christians floating in the fiery lake of Hell. And just so we can all be sure about why they’re roasting when God promised to save them, the prophet often describes these unfortunates as wearing large signs around their necks which say something to the effect of “I didn’t tithe.” Obnoxious? Yes, but the old “Christians in Hell” vision is a great litmus test for identifying false prophets. If you’re currently a fan of some famous seer who is having visions of Christians in Hell for any reason, it’s time to realize you’re listening to a spiritual rebel and cut ties. False shepherds and prophets are dangerous people. They want to spiritually harm you, so you need to keep your distance.
So what is tithing anyway? Tithing is about giving a specific percent or portion of something. But Old Covenant tithes were never something people arbitrarily chose. Instead, Yahweh told them exactly how much they were supposed to give, and He demanded more than just money. So what was the point and who actually got the tithes?
Under the Old Covenant, tithes were how the priests survived because operating Yahweh’s Temple (or the Sanctuary that existed before the Temple) was so much work that the priests would literally go broke and starve to death unless the people supported them through tithes (see The Levites’ Inheritance). Yahweh would not allow regular folks to process their own offerings to Him. Instead, He said that all sacrifices and offerings had to be brought to authorized priests, who would then go through various rituals to present those things to Yahweh in a manner that pleased Him. So as a regular believer who wanted to stay in a good relationship with Yahweh by obeying His commands, you needed priests to process your offerings for you, and they needed your tithes to survive. It was a symbiotic relationship in which both parties depended on each other: Today, it is an entirely different situation. We live under Yahweh’s New Covenant. As a Christian, God does not command you to tithe. But what about all of these hardworking Christian leaders who can’t stop telling you about the great sacrifices they’re making for the Kingdom? Don’t you owe them something? No, you really don’t.
HOW IT WORKS TODAY
Today, God calls certain people to be His preachers and teachers in the Church. But when He does this, He also arranges for their financial support, and that support comes through many means. Some of them work side jobs. Some of them are sufficiently paid through their churches, which means through the offerings of the people who give to that church. Is it right and proper for you to support the leaders in your midst who are working full time for God? Only if you receive specific leading from the Holy Spirit.
Let’s use our group, The Pursuit of God, as an example. You’re currently reading material that was put out by folks who work full time for God, teaching and counseling souls who want to know Him better. When God called us into this work, He said that He was to be our only Boss in life. He could have done it differently–He could have us working full or part time somewhere and only doing this God stuff on the side. But in our case, He has made it a full time deal. Now because we are working directly for God, we do not earn a salary, we aren’t on anyone’s payroll, and we aren’t backed by any Christian organization. In addition, God has specifically commanded us not to solicit or accept contributions from other people for the work that we do. This means we aren’t ever going to try and publish books or start an internet store, or give you an address that you can send money to. If we were to accept any financial support for the work we do, we would be guilty of defying God, because we know He’s told us not to. It’s pretty stupid to defy God, so we’re not going to go there. But in the meantime, how do we eat if we’re not getting paid? Well, God runs the universe–He is quite capable of supporting His people without tithes and offerings. The point we are making is that it is not your job to prop up the ranks of preachers and teachers in the Church. Your job is to obey the Holy Spirit, and we’ve explained our situation to you so that you can understand that God is more than able to support those who He calls into ministry without your help.
Now maybe God does want you to give financial aid to some Christian teacher. But if He does, He’s the One who needs to tell you that. You should not be giving your money away because of some guilt trip that a human is laying on you. We’re not the only people God has ever told to operate as we are. But it’s very tempting for teachers to disobey God in this area because people are so easy to manipulate. Once you get souls to admire you for being some spiritual know-it-all, you can easily con them into thinking they’re actually honoring God by giving you their money. Of course such manipulation tactics will land teachers in big trouble with God, but when teachers lose their fear of God, this is how stupid they get.
So how does God want you to view your money under this Covenant? God wants you to understand that everything you have–including all of your money–is His property. This means that if He tells you to give it all away tomorrow to some stranger on the street, He expects obedience. If He tells you to stockpile it in some savings account, then that’s what He wants you to do. Today God wants Christians to have a wide open mind about how He might direct their finances. He doesn’t want us trying to cling to a system which He threw out 2,000 years ago.
Today the Church is up to her neck in rebellion and there are many Christian churches and organizations which are annoying God with their defiant attitudes. Because you can’t see into people’s hearts, you’re easily fooled by all the pompous boasting about how much good a ministry is doing. But what does God think? He judges the heart, and when He sees that leaders are just using Him as an excuse to promote themselves in this world, why would He want you to give such rebels money? Why would He want you to pay bad shepherds to keep abusing His flock?
Instead of deciding for God who the good guys are, you need to be asking Him to direct your finances. God wants submission from us, not domination. It irks Him when we get obsessed with other human beings and start giving them the credit for the works God is doing. If there really are good things happening in any ministry, then God is the only One deserving of applause. We need to be viewing our money as God’s property and trusting that He will prompt us when He wants us to give some of it away to others. When leaders start heaping on the guilt trips and whining about how dependent they are on you to keep them afloat, that is not the leading of God. That’s just greedy people trying to get their hands into your pockets. Beware of ministries who act like they are entitled to your money just because they’ve decided that they’re doing some holy work. In so many of these cases, the people running these ministries are not listening to God. If they were, they wouldn’t be trying to manipulate you with their guilt trips. Think about it: what are we saying to God when we talk as if He can’t possibly get something good done without human assistance? This is a very irreverent way to speak of our Almighty Creator.
THE BENEFIT OF TITHING
Now because money is so important in this world, it is very difficult to develop the right mindset about it. This is when the practice of tithing a specific percent, even though it is no longer required, can be a very helpful way to develop the right attitude about money. By making ourselves give away some specific percent, we remind ourselves that all our money is God’s in the first place. A good rule of thumb is to always give just a little more than you’re comfortable with. If you make a habit of this, you will find money becoming less important to you over time, and you will find it easier to trust God with your finances. Remember, percentage tithing is no longer required by God. But tithing can be a useful habit that many Christians benefit from when they do it in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Tithing doesn’t have to mean giving to a church–you can give to a charity or a family in need or any other cause that God puts on your heart. The goal is to mature to the place where you firmly understand that all your money belongs to God–where He could ask you at any point to empty out your savings account and you would do it without hesitation.
Do not tithe out of guilt or because someone pressured you into it. Remember that God doesn’t need your money. He is far more interested in your heart and He wants to protect you from the dangers of greed and hoarding. It’s natural to start out with a raccoon grip on our money, and we need the Holy Spirit’s help to gently pry our fingers open. The danger of remaining tightfisted about money is that you become mentally dependent on it instead of on God and this opens the door to a whole mess of other problems. If you know that you’ve got a problem with greed today, there’s no need to feel bad. Everyone on this planet struggles with some form of greed. If you don’t know where to start to develop the right attitude about money, ask God to show you and He will. Learning dependency on God alone is a critical part of spiritual growth, but it is also a mindset that takes time to develop.
It is quite possible that God will encourage you to begin tithing as a way to help you get free from the grip of greed. Don’t feel bad if you find tithing a struggle at first. What matters most to God is your willingness to obey Him. He is not going to frown on you for not being cheerful when He asks you to do something difficult and unpleasant. With practice, your attitude about giving will improve.
Church leaders who try to tell you that you should be giving to your home church first and foremost are abusing their roles, mangling God’s teaching, and straight up lying. Realize that there are many good reasons why God may not want you to give to your local church. He might not want to keep blessing people who aren’t listening to Him behind the scenes. He might feel that they have enough for the moment and want you to give elsewhere. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to tell you where He wants you to send your money. He might have you keep changing who you give to. This is a subject that is between you and God, and it’s really no one else’s business.
Be wary of judging other souls by how much they give or don’t give. Remember that percentage tithing is no longer required by God. Many mature Christians stop tithing all together while they stockpile extra and wait for God’s instructions on where to give next. He leads us all differently. Some of us will give small weekly amounts, some of us will store up for a long time and then be in a position to really boost someone out of a financial hole. Some of us will never give money. For those who are very much in tune with the Source of their blessings, God may direct them to give other forms of wealth instead: their time, attention, love, etc.. Everything we have is God’s property and if we are listening to Him, He will show each of us what to do with the things He’s given us.
Now because false teachers are all caught up in a lust for money, they want yours, and they’ll do anything to manipulate you into forking it over. Yanking Scripture out of context has proved to be a very effective means of conning Christians into believing that the well-being of their souls depends on how steadily they tithe. There are two main strategies that false teachers like to use here, and you need to be aware of them both.
The Melchizedek Strategy
In the very problematic book of Hebrews, tithing is mentioned in reference to a story about Abraham. Today crafty teachers have leapt upon this passage and twisted it into a ridiculous argument that tithing is commanded under the New Covenant. When you hear someone mention the name Melchizedek in the midst of them trying to pressure you into giving them money, this first strategy is being employed.
Now if you just sit down and read through Hebrews 7, you’ll probably end up feeling very confused. To understand what is being said in this chapter, you have to understand some things about the Old Testament that most Christians never get taught. Today the Church is overrun with so-called Bible “scholars” who beat you over the head with guilt trips about how important it is to read your Bible, but in reality, these guys don’t want you to ever really understand what the Bible says. Instead, they want you to think that you’re some dumb lesser Christian who needs them to unravel the mysteries of Scripture for you. So they lie to you–a lot. And by telling you the right combination of lies, they effectively keep you in a permanent state of confusion. One of these key lies is that everything you read in the Bible is infallible spiritual wisdom. Bible teachers want you to believe that there’s nothing but Divine truth from Genesis to Revelation. What a crock. Over 40 different people contributed to the Bible, and none of those folks had a perfect grasp on truth. Instead, some of them had some very wrong ideas about how God operates. The author of Hebrews was one of them.
The fact that early Church fathers ever voted to include the book of Hebrews into our collection of “sacred Scriptures” is a real testimony to how out of touch those fathers were with the Holy Spirit. Hebrews is a shameful example of a Bible teacher intentionally lying to his flock. If you want to see a fine example of a pastor abusing the trust of others, read Hebrews. This guy lies his face off over and over again about what certain Old Testament passages mean. He grossly insults both Christ and Yahweh, and he completely rejects the way the New Covenant operates. If you blindly believe what the author of Hebrews says, you’re going to end up bogged down in all kinds of harmful delusions. But is anyone warning you about this today? No, instead you’re surrounded by teachers in the Church who would jump all over you with harsh criticism were you ever to question the theological garbage that is being pumped out in Hebrews. Do you know what happens when you keep calling lies “Divinely inspired wisdom” over and over again just to please your pastor? You end up totally confused in your own relationship with God.
Hebrews 7 is hands down one of the most idiotic chapters in the entire Bible. By now, someone should have already explained this to you. You should know who Melchizedek is and why it is utterly stupid to try and associate this man with Christ or to try and use him as a reason why Christians should tithe. But instead, you’re taught to feel intimidated by the complicated language in this chapter and then you’re taught to believe that something in this chapter means that God commands you to give oodles of money away to the same jerks who are lying to you about what this passage means. Since we are fed up with seeing Christians treated like idiots, we have done a chapter by chapter study of Hebrews which walks you through the entire book and helps you separate the truth from the lies. You are not dumber than these pompous Bible scholars who are always trying to lord their manmade degrees over you. You could understand any passage in the Bible if it was explained to you properly. It’s time to take the mystery out of Melchizedek so that you can become immune to further guilt trips about tithing. For help with this, see Applying Hebrews 7: Melchizedek Madness.
The Malachi Strategy
The Melchizedek strategy is a New Testament scam. But an even more popular scam is what we call the Malachi strategy. This is when leaders in the Church quote good old Malachi 3:10 at you in order to guilt you into believing that God actually wants you to tithe to them. What makes the Malachi strategy so effective? Because by carefully isolating just one line out of an entire speech that Yahweh makes, teachers make it sound like God has actually promised you abundant material blessings for every bit of money that you give to the Church. And once they get you to swallow this lie, it’s a cinch to convince you that the more you give, the more God will bless you. This is where we get into the revolting scam of sacrificial giving–a ragingly popular game in the Church today by which shepherds con you into giving them everything you have in a greedy attempt to manipulate God. How do you think God feels about you approaching Him with such a “give to get” attitude?
Sacrificial giving is about trying to make God feel like He owes you blessings (see Sacrificial Giving: A Favorite Teaching of False Shepherds). You’re essentially trying to guilt your Creator into feeling like He has no choice but to give you that dream spouse or that dream career or that dream house because, after all, you’ve plunged yourself into debt just so you could throw huge amounts of money into the offering plate. The sacrificial giving scam not only teaches you to grossly disrespect God, it’s based on a lie. God has absolutely not promised earthly blessings to faithful New Covenant believers. Here again, the lie only works because you are intentionally being kept in the dark about what the Bible says.
To get you into the right mindset to try and manipulate God, teachers begin by working the Malachi 3:10 scam on you. Like the Melchizedek scam, this is about leaders intentionally lying to you about what a passage means. Let’s see how this works. Malachi 3:10 goes like this:
”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says Yahweh Almighty, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Mal. 3:10)
At first glance, this sounds like a promise that if we give materially to God, He’ll give back to us all that and then some. Give a dollar, get a hundred. What you’re not told is that this is not at all some happy speech by a God who is oh so eager to bless. This is actually part of a threat which is spoken by a very angry God who was being ripped off by His rebellious people.
Before the revelation of Jesus, tithing was required by the Law that Yahweh gave to Moses. In Malachi, Yahweh is talking to a bunch of snarky Jews who knew all about what God wanted, yet they were purposely disobeying Him. Why? Because these particular Jews don’t give a flip about pleasing Yahweh. They think He’s annoying, and they’re already worshiping a whole host of demonic idols who they are much more devoted to. So as far as they are concerned, Yahweh can just stuff it.
To get this speech into proper perspective, you need to understand some historical context. After His chosen people (the Israelites) treated Him horribly for many centuries, Yahweh finally got fed up and exiled the little jerks to foreign lands. In Bible times, being exiled meant having scary invaders storm into your homeland, declare that you were now their slave, and forcing you to march many miles away. Often exiles were stripped naked and hauled off in chains just to make the whole experience very demeaning. Over the course of Israel’s history, Yahweh exiled large numbers of Jews several times as a means of punishing the rebellious nation. He did a lot of other nasty things to them, as well, all in effort to get the little brats to repent. You see, Yahweh loved the Jews dearly, just as He loves every soul He creates. But no matter what He did to them, they just wouldn’t repent. Sure there were a few obedient individuals in the mix, but as a whole group, the ancient Jews were impossibly stubborn. Finally Yahweh got so fed up that He smashed Jerusalem, burned down His Temple, and drove the Jews out of the land for seventy long years. Then He arranged for some of them to come back and rebuild. The idea was that after such a humiliating experience, perhaps the Jews would finally return to their Promised Land with a better attitude.
The Jews Yahweh is talking to in Malachi 3 are the folks who have returned from the long exile. Some of them are probably the adult kids who were born in exile and raised by parents who remembered how God so thoroughly trashed Israel. These people know the dark history of their nation, and they know that Yahweh already trashed the place once because He was fed up with their rebellion. You’d think that by now they’d be motivated to respect God. But no, they’re not. Instead, they’re looking at the rebuilt Temple and thinking, “Nah, we don’t want to go back to giving Yahweh sacrifices again. We don’t really care about Him, so why should we pay His priests to run the Temple?”
The fact that these Jews are refusing to tithe had serious ramifications on Temple operations, for the Levites who processed sacrifices were supposed to live off of the tithes of the people. Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh required multiple kinds of tithes–food as well as money. No tithes meant no daily provisions for the hardworking priests, and that meant the priests were going to pack up and go home, shutting down the entire sacrificial system and disregarding the upkeep of the Temple. By refusing to tithe, these Jews are totally spitting in God’s face and saying, “We don’t give a flip about You.” No wonder God is so angry.
Now it’s bad enough that these Jews are being so obnoxious. But then they add another layer of insult by actually pretending that they don’t know what Yahweh is so steamed about. If we back up a couple of verses, we find Yahweh calling the people out on their blatant hypocrisy.
“Should people rob God? Yet you have robbed Me!
“But you ask, ‘What do You mean? When did we ever rob You?’
“You have robbed Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating Me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do,” says Yahweh Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says Yahweh Almighty. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says Yahweh Almighty.
“You have said terrible things about Me,” says Yahweh.
“But you say, ‘What do You mean? What have we said against You?’
“You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying His commands or by trying to show Yahweh Almighty that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’” (Mal. 3:8-15)
In Yahweh’s original Covenant with Israel, He said that if she obeyed Him, He would bless her. But He also said that if she defied Him, He would curse her and make her life super miserable. In Malachi 3, He’s in the middle of a cursing season and He’s reminding His people that all they have to do to end their misery is shape up and start obeying again, which included tithing. Yahweh wanted to bless them. But He was not going to bless rebellion. In this passage, the Jews don’t sound very repentant, do they? They’re too busy feigning ignorance with questions like “How have we robbed You?” These people neither love nor revere God. They say that there’s no point in obeying Him and that it’s a waste of time to serve Him. Wow. How sad to see God’s chosen people embracing such a foul attitude.
So then, in this passage we find an angry, frustrated God rebuking hardhearted rebels and reminding them that life would be a lot better if they’d obey Him. There is no promise here to New Covenant believers. Under the New Covenant, Yahweh has thrown out the entire sacrificial system. There’s no Temple, and no need for tithing. Malachi 3 is about spiritual rebellion and Divine discipline, it’s not a formula for how to wrangle blessings out of God’s hands. Yet you will find scores of teachers today intentionally stripping away the context of verse 10 so that they can trick you into thinking God is saying something entirely different. What does God think about shepherds who intentionally abuse the flock like this? He says what He thinks about them right inside the Bible, but those are more verses which Bible teachers don’t want you to know about.
Now just because a pastor urges people to tithe doesn’t mean you should write him off as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Many good guys have been brainwashed into pushing some very bad teaching. Many of our modern day seminaries are nothing more than places where men and women are told how to think, and if they want to graduate, they learn to play along and kowtow to the denomination’s carnal agenda. What you want to do is stay focused on the Holy Spirit and not just believe what you’re told because it’s coming from a pulpit or from someone who is waving manmade credentials in your face. God is your only Source of truth, and He is the only One you’ll be answering to in the end, so you want to do what He tells you to do with His money.
Answers About Money: Guidelines for Serious Christians
Giving to the Poor: Cautions for Christians