While the Old Testament demanded the tithe from the Hebrews,
the New Testament embodies a nobler challenge. Christians
should carefully consider the percentage of their giving
on the Lords day.
Many people are numbers-conscious
these days. We keep an eye on that blood pressure. It should be
under 130/85. We watch our cholesterol; it ought be below 200.
Some need to monitor their blood sugar. Between 80-120 is normal
for early morning. When a child is sick, we get concerned when
his temp goes much above 98.6.
But what about your contribution-to-the-Lord
numbers? Do you give those much concern? There is significant
emphasis on this theme in the Bible. There are solid reasons to
believe that God is concerned with percentages.
The Hebrew word asar, rendered tithe,
derives from a term signifying ten. In ancient times
it represented a tenth of a certain portion.
Under the patriarchal regime, Abraham
gave a tenth of his captured resources to the king/priest, Melchizedek
(Gen. 14:20; cf. Heb. 7:4-10). Later, Jacobs vow of ten
percent seems to suggest an established practice among the patriarchs
When the Mosaic economy was instituted,
the Hebrews were required to annually give ten percent of their
produce and livestock. Actually, this was a tenth of the residue
after other offerings had been made (Ex. 23:19; Dt. 26:1ff; Lev.
Many are surprised to learn that
there is not a solitary New Testament passage that suggests the
tithe as a standard for Christian giving. Rather,
certain principles are set forth which instruct and challenge
the child of God to give in a manner that is superior to Judaism.
Note the following truths set forth in an abbreviated format.
Every Sunday, let each one
of you lay aside by himself, if he earns anything, and put it
in the treasury; so that there will be no collections when I come
(1 Cor. 16:2 McCords Translation). Giving is mandated
in a weekly act of worship.
Giving is required according
to [ones] ability (Acts 11:29), for the act of giving
is acceptable according as [a man] has, not according as
he has not (2 Cor. 8:12). Those who earn more are required
to give more all other factors being equal. One persons
prosperity compensates for the anothers lack; for the time
may come when their circumstances could be reversed. In proportionate
(percentage) giving, a sense of equality prevails
(2 Cor. 8:14). This suggests an equity among the saints that evinces
The Christian giver is one who donates
of his income in a generous fashion (Rom. 12:8; cf.
2 Cor. 8:2; 9:11). The Philippian saints were so gracious that
they gave beyond their ability, even begging Paul and his associates
to accept their gift (which implies the apostles hesitancy)
(2 Cor. 8:3-4).
While it certainly is the case that
one may give to various good causes to the glory of God (cf. Mk.
14:7), as opportunity presents itself (Gal. 6:10), it is likewise
a fact that one is obliged to give each Lords day into the
treasury of the congregation of which he is a member
(1 Cor. 16:2). Without such consistency the local church cannot
conduct the sacred business to which it is obligated.
The joy of giving in not developed
accidentally. Early on, the experiences of life condition people
to be self-centered. It is, in numerous ways, a dog-eat-dog world.
From multiple sources we are negatively influenced with the me-first
doctrine. And so, the need to be industrious, so that we can help
others (Eph. 4:28), is a learned duty. How thrilling it is, then,
when one, after considerable study and training, begins to realize
how much happiness giving generates within the heart. Jesus said
that those who are on the giving end of the equation are happier
than those on the receiving end (Acts 20:35). God loves the person
who has mastered the art of cheerful giving (2 Cor. 9:7).
The conscientious Bible student eventually
learns that ten-percent, under ordinary circumstances, should
be the starting point for a giving that will ripen with the years.
If our giving to Christ does not exceed ten percent, we need take
a serious look at our finances, and immediately work towards a
nobler level of Christian service.
by Wayne Jackson
CHRISTIAN COURIER: PENPOINTS, 10/29/2001