- The tithe in the law
- The tithe and the patriarchs
- The tithe in the New Testament
- The tithe and Jesus
- The tithe and the apostles
- Why the tithe is proclaimed in the New Testament church
The tithe in the law
‘And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.’ Hebrews 7:5
The tithe is a commandment of the law. From the outset we must, along with the author of Hebrews, himself a Jew writing to Jews, acknowledge this fact.
It was given to the descendants of Levi as an inheritance, the son of Israel from whom came the priesthood.
‘To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting……. 24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.’ Num 18:21
The Levites received the tithe because they were chosen out of Israel as God’s portion in place of the firstborn sons.
‘Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine.’ Num 3:12
This occurred because they proved faithful in the incident with the golden calf.
‘Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him……. 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.’ Exo 32:26
The Levites were to be unlike the other tribes receiving no land after the conquest, as the Lord was to be their inheritance. This meant they had no means to provide food for themselves.
‘Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The LORD is his inheritance..’ Deu 10:9
‘The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the LORD’s food offerings as their inheritance.’ Deu 18:1
‘To the tribe of Levi alone Moses gave no inheritance. The offerings by fire to the LORD God of Israel are their inheritance, as he said to him.’ Jos 13:14
They were to be completely dependent on God and the obedience of their brother Israelites, set apart to serve the temple and be wanderers in the land.
Because of this dependence, and because the Levites were God’s portion, He made it clear that failure to provide for them was a serious infringement. To rob the people He had set apart for Himself of their provision was indeed to rob God Himself.
Those who blessed the Levites would be blessed, and those who failed to supply their needs as He had commanded would learn to fear the Lord.
‘And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.’ Deu 14:23
‘And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.’ Deu 14:27
‘And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.’ Deu 14:29
Israel’s failure to provide the Levitical priesthood with food in the time of Malachi not only brought a curse on the nation, it gave the devourer access to those areas the tithe came from; their crops, orchards and vineyards.
‘Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.’ Mal 3:8
The curse attached to Israel’s refusal to tithe, and the invitation for Israel to test God for provision and blessing by giving their tithe, were both for Israel alone, and only for the time period of the old priesthood.
When the old priesthood came to an end, the tithe that supported that system also came to an end.
‘For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.’ Heb 7:12
It is worth highlighting before moving on from the law that the tithe was only ever given in the form of food, never money. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Jewish peoples general wealth, money or income.
Where ever tithing is mentioned in scripture it is only in the form of food. It was only ever a produce offering. Those Israelites who did not produce food, did not tithe.
‘Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD.’ Lev 27:30
‘And every tithe of herds and flocks..’ Lev 27:32
‘…the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock..’ Deu 12:17
‘You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.’ Deu 14:22
‘you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock..’ Deu 14:23
‘When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce..’ Deu 26:12
‘And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of the consecrated things that had been dedicated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps.’ 2Chr 31:6
‘…The tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites…’ Neh 13:5
‘Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.’ Mal 3:10
Beyond this, the tithe was every tenth, not ten percent of the total. This is minor but instructive. If someone produced nineteen lambs, he would only tithe one lamb, not one and nine tenths of another.
‘And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the LORD.’ Lev 27:32
The form the tithe took developed over time from the desert tabernacle through the conquest and kingdom periods to become primarily about the daily sustenance of the Levitical priesthood and the temple system.
More can be said about how the practice of the tithe was also for the care of the alien, stranger, widow and orphan, or how Jews could sell their produce and again buy offerings for the tithe in Jerusalem if they lived far from the storehouse.
But it always remained a food offering, held in the storehouse, which from Solomon onward was the temple in Jerusalem. Here it was distributed out to the priests for their sustenance.
It never provided priests with monetary income, a monthly salary or a stipend, only their daily food.
The tithe and the patriarchs
One of the primary defenses for continuing the practice of tithing in the church is the claim that the tithe predated the law. That it was a general practice of the patriarchs, in particular given by Abraham to Melchizedek, and thus continues ‘through the cross’ into the New Testament as a principle of giving to God and the church.
Let us first remind ourselves that the tithe is unequivocally and inseparably part of the Mosaic Law. It cannot and does not exist apart from the law. This is clearly stated by the author of Hebrews as we have read above.
‘those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people…..’ Hebrews 7:5
‘But Abraham was before Levi and the law!’ Indeed he was, however the author of Hebrews continues to state in the same passage that Abraham tithed on behalf of Levi and the future priesthood to Melchizedek.
‘One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.’ Heb 7:9
The author clearly links the Levitical tithe here to Abraham’s offering to Melchizedek, making it impossible to argue that Abraham tithed before the law.
Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek was a prophetic picture of the future priesthoods (Levi and Jesus) and their position to each other.
But let us persist further and look at the two accounts of patriarchs tithing given in the Old Testament.
In both Abraham and Jacob’s cases both tithed after and were in response to exceptional and supernatural circumstances. Neither supports the argument that giving a tenth of one’s wealth to God was a common cultural practice of that time.
In his encounter with Melchizedek, Abraham made a once off thanksgiving offering of a tenth of his war plunder taken after his miraculous victory. Nowhere is he recorded giving a tenth of his general wealth.
‘After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham at the Valley of Shaveh..18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.’ Gen 14:17
The author of Hebrews confirms that Abraham’s tenth was only war spoils.
‘See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!’ Heb 7:4
Regarding Jacob, he had an encounter with God at Bethel in which the Lord made a covenant with him. Jacob responded by making a conditional covenant in return, offering back a the tenth of what God would give him, so long as God led him, provided for him and protected him.
‘And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shall give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.’ Gen 28:20
Clearly these two events are responses to specific circumstances, and the stories differ in the purpose behind each giving a tenth.
That is to say they are not equivalent to each other, nor are they equivalent to, or even remotely related to, giving ten percent of ones income to a church.
The tithe in the New Testament
With the arrival of the New Testament, the Old Testament and its law came to an end.
‘(Jesus) Blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross..’ Col 2:14
‘For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances…’ Eph 2:14
‘..now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.’ Rom 7:6
‘For truly there is a putting away of the commandment which went before, because of its weakness and uselessness. 19 for the law made nothing perfect..’ Heb 7:18
‘Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?’ 2Co 3:7/8
‘But (the Jews) minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.’ 2Co 3:14
‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.’ Gal 5:4
Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law, but fulfill it. Once He had fulfilled it, it was abolished, that is brought to an end.
“Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to destroy them but to fulfill them.” Mat 5:17 *
Because the law has ended, the priesthood that served that law is also brought to an end, along with the temple and all of its required offerings and sacrifices.
The law, the Levitical priesthood and the temple now represent the old wineskin which could not contain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
‘And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.’ Luk 5:37
We the saints made righteous in Christ, hidden in Him as co-heirs of the new living way, are now the living fulfillment of the law.
‘For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.’ Rom 8:3
We have a new High Priest, a new priesthood and with it a new law has been established, the law of the Spirit.
‘Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.’ Heb 7:11
‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.’ Rom 8:1
In this new royal priesthood, every believer has become a priest, replacing the Levites as God’s own possession.
‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…’ 1Pe 2:9
And we also replace the Levites as God’s firstborn portion.
‘For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.’ Rom 8:29
‘and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.’ Heb 12:23
Not only do believers now replace the Levitical priesthood, we also replace the physical temple, receiving the honour of becoming the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
‘Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”’Joh 4:21
‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.’ 1Co 3:16
Because the law, Levitical priesthood and the temple are now not only set aside but fulfilled in us, it should be obvious that the tithe and every other offering based on the old law are now also rendered completely void.
To take the tithe argument to its extreme – as believers are now both priest and temple, and the tithe was for the sustaining of the old priesthood and stored in the temple – if we were to continue tithing in the New Testament, believers would have to tithe to themselves.
For those Christian leaders who don’t believe in the priesthood of all believers, they still have no claim on the tithe as it was given to the Levites only as an inheritance. The burden falls on them to somehow prove there is a transference of the tithe from the Levites to those employed by a local church.
As churches (in the form of organizational entities) are not the replacement temple, they cannot claim to be storehouses as some interpret Malachi 3:10.
The true storehouses of the New Testament are believers since as the temple they must also by definition be the storehouse, whose treasure and provision is now the Holy Spirit.
Hopefully it should be clear to the reader that the tithe served a different covenant and a different priesthood, and both are no longer active.
Whenever the tithe is demanded in churches – or even used as a recommended guide or principle for giving, we resurrect a past covenant that legally has no hold on New Testament believers.
Beyond this, we are no longer called to measure what is God’s by percentages.
Under the New Testament, everything we have, all of our finance, all of our possessions – our very lives – belong to Him and are for His use as He asks of us. In Christ we are all called to give everything we have to God, not just a portion.
And the Holy Spirit is now our only guide, measure and rule in giving. Only in following Him can we find true freedom from obligation to a written law.
‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.’ Rom 8:14
Any prescriptive principle is by definition law and the opposite of freedom, which is defined by the absence of obligation.
‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’ 2Co 3:17
‘Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ 2 Cor 9:7
The tithe and Jesus
But didn’t Jesus agree with tithing since He was a Jew?
Jesus commended the Pharisees for tithing as teachers of the law, but only as part of a rebuke. That is they tithed the tenth of their herbs (the only food they produced), yet forsook the righteous principles of the law.
‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.’ Luk 11:42
But Jesus never taught tithing to His disciples.
Some argue this was because they were all Jews who tithed and thus He took teaching the tithe for granted. This argument clearly lacks a historical understanding of the tithe and the exact purpose of Jesus’ ministry.
Regarding the tithe, as we have seen it was a produce offering, thus many urban and most professional Jews never tithed as they had limited space or time to grow anything. And in all likelihood neither did Jesus or His disciples during their wondering ministry years.
But far more importantly Jesus never taught tithing because He was to become the high priest of a separate priesthood to the Levites which demanded a new law. This new priesthood had no more need of the tithe or any other offering commanded by the old law.
Indeed the tithe not only has no more reason to exist in the New Covenant, it was contrary in nature to the new priesthood Jesus instituted, as the tithes entire purpose was to sustain the old priesthood.
Further, because the tithe is law, Jesus never taught it because He was the seed who came to end the law.
‘Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made..’ Gal 3:19
And thus he only proclaimed the law or the prophets according to their relevance to His kingdom. The effective rule of the law ended with John, the last prophet of the Old Testament.
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” Luk 16:16
This good news of the Kingdom is freedom from the letter of the law in every part, because the law only brings death and condemnation.
‘Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory…8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation…’ 2Co 3:7
And lastly Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of the law and all its requirements, thus He has fulfilled the tithe. Just as the tithe to the old priesthood was their sustenance, provision and inheritance, so Jesus now replaces the tithe as the sustenance, provision and inheritance of His new priesthood.
What Jesus did command of his followers was living in abundant generosity, especially to the poor, and living by faith in the unseen provision of the Father.
‘…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Act 20:35
“give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luk 6:38
‘Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”‘ Mat 19:21
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mat 6:31
He also commanded that those who labour in sharing the gospel should receive material support, as seen when He sent out the twelve and later the seventy two disciples.
“Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the labourer deserves his food.” Mat 10:9
“And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the labourer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.” Luk 10:7
The tithe and the apostles
Like Jesus, His apostles never taught tithing.
It is conspicuous in its absence from early church practice and theology as recorded in Acts and the epistles.
Indeed the only time it is specifically mentioned is by the author of Hebrews as we have read above. This is incredibly relevant because we have a Jewish author addressing the Jewish Christian population (those who used to tithe), and he clearly calls the tithe law.
This counters the argument that the silence in the New Testament regarding tithing exists due to it being a common practice among the Jewish Christians.
Rather the silence exists because Jewish believers didn’t tithe. They understood that the tithe was part of the law, they understood that the temple and the priesthood were obsolete – and they understood that the tithe which served that priesthood and temple was also obsolete.
This is clear in the theology of the author of Hebrews.
Another supplemental argument against the proposition that tithing was a common practice among the early believers is the council of Jerusalem (which was held before the theology of the letter to the Hebrews was established).
Here the apostles and elders appealed to the law to enforced Mosaic food obligations onto the new Gentile believers, yet they made no mention of tithing – which is no small matter – given the importance the modern church places on it for the provision of ministers and the church organization.
‘Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.’ Act 15:19
Regarding money the apostles simply taught what Jesus had before them; sowing and reaping, abundant generosity and faith in God’s provision, and generosity towards the poor without the compulsion of the tithe or any other fleshly coercion.
‘The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.’ 2Co 9:6
‘Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.’ Gal 2:10
‘Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.’ Gal 6:7
They encouraged the sharing of wealth and practical support among each other, especially giving generously towards brothers in need;
‘There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.’ Act 4:34
‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’ Gal 6:9
‘for the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.’ 2Co 9:12
They encouraged partnering with apostolic gifts;
‘And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.’ Php 4:15
And willingly supporting those who labour for the gospel;
‘The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should live by the gospel.’ 1 Co 9: 14
‘Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.’ Gal 6:6
‘Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching. 18 for the Scripture say, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer deserves his wages.” 1 Ti 5:17
Let us look finally at 1 Corinthians 9-14 which is sometimes also used in defense of the tithe.
‘Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the ploughman should plough in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.’ 1Co 9:7
Note that Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain’ in both 1 Tim 5:17 and 1 Cor 9:9. In neither instance while building an argument for the church body supporting spiritual leaders financially does he refer to a scripture from the law about tithing.
One must ask why in quoting the law to support his argument, he chooses an obscure analogy regarding the care of oxen, rather than any number of scriptures about tithing.
Yes he certainly refers to tithing in 1 Cor 9:13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?
But he does so only as an analogous support for his broader argument that those who proclaim the gospel have a right to get their living by it.
Paul of all the apostles understood that the law is in every part ended. His appeal is simply what is stated – those who labour spiritually have a right to material provision – just as the priests of old could expect their material sustenance from the temple they served.
However, in the New Testament right to material support for ministers of the gospel is not according to the obligation of a law.
For freedoms sake we cannot bind people to give according to rote methods or principles of percentages.
The new and living way is found in the free will gifts of saints, according to their own consciences, as led by the Holy Spirit. This is the only way a congregation can be led into maturity, taking responsibility to hear God for themselves.
Why the tithe is proclaimed in the New Testament church
In modern law judges cannot rule over cases in which they have an inherent bias due to self interest. Such conflicts of interest involve any association with another entity in which there is a financial interest or benefit.
In the church its leaders are also its judges. Unfortunately those who rely upon the tithe for provision, and whose church structures are dependent upon the tithe for their financial survival, are inextricably compromised in their judgement.
That is to say leaders who are dependent on their churches for finance will lack objectivity due to their need. Thus despite the tithe being part of the law and contrary to our new priesthood and freedoms, and not being taught by our founder and apostles, it continues to be justified.
If church leaders do not stand in faith for God’s supernatural provision for their ministries, they will inevitably put the burden of that provision onto their congregation. This releases the work of the flesh (in strategies, programs and worldly principles) to draw people, keep people and ultimately grow the tithing base.
Obligated giving alone allows church leaders to calculate to some measure their church’s monthly income and plan accordingly, achieving a measure of financial stability and predictability – that is living by sight and not by faith.
It locks leaders and followers into a worldly mindset based on worldly principles, and robs them of a higher kingdom revelation, limiting freedom and spiritual development.
We cannot hold onto the law with one hand, and freedom in another. The two are opposed. You either trust in principles and percentages, or you trust in the Spirit. Either the Spirit is our guide, or the law is our guide.
Once we lay down our personal and corporate dependencies on percentages, we begin to understand more completely the liberty of walking in step with the Spirit and becoming a vessel completely poured out for His purposes.
Let us move on from the elementary principles of this world and the law, for they are weak and worthless, utterly unable to guide us towards perfection.
‘In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’ Gal 4:3
‘But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world…’ Gal 4:9
Jesus made it clear that men serve, love and trust God completely, or mammon. There is no middle ground – It is impossible to be a bond slave to both masters as both demand complete devotion. The degree to which we live for the world is the degree to which our service for God is limited.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Mat 6:24
Those who live according to the wisdom of the world are enslaved to what can be seen and measured. If we look only to our own limited supply and the provision of our circumstances, we will operate only out of that limited supply. We will live in the fear of running out and not having enough. Our obsession will lie in increasing our income, because our income is our security and our source.
We have to learn that God is our secure foundation and source of all provision.
‘John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”’ Joh 3:27
‘For us there is only one God, and he is our Father. All things came from him, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things were made through him, and we also have life through him.’ 1Co 8:6
‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.’ Jas 1:17
‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way..’ 2 Cor 9:8
The principles of Heaven are not those of earth. The world concerns its self with lack and receiving, heaven concerns itself with abundance and giving.
‘For He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure.’ Joh 3:34
If the Spirit is our supply, then He is without measure. The vaults of heaven are always full; the great challenge is exercising the faith to rest in them.
There is a great difference between belief and faith. Our worldly desires for pleasure, success, power, significance and security always prohibit us seeing reality from heavens perspective.
‘For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.’ Gal 5:16
It’s through the child’s eyes that we rightly understand God and every other aspect of life, including finance.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mat 18:3
We must always remember that God sustains that which He commissions. Let Him move the hearts of His people to give as He leads, to whom He leads and as much as He leads. The burden of provision is always, only, on Him for our expenses and those of our ministry.
Let us constantly remind ourselves that the tithe is a work of the law and is thus not of faith (that is being led by the Spirit). To teach one law is to bring the church into the bondage and curse of all the law.
‘Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us..’ Gal 3: 11
* Some translations of Matt 5:17 read, ‘I did not come to abolish the law’. This creates confusion concerning the idea of the law being abolished. However the Greek word in Matthew is Kataluo – to demolish, destroy, dissolve, throw down. In Eph 2:15 the word abolished is Katargeo – to render useless, to end or make void. This same word is used in 2 Corinthians 3 and rendered ‘brought to an end’.