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Tithing, The Great Conflict. By Greg.


                                                                                                             Tithing, The Great Conflict. By Greg.
One tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the church and clergy.
Verb: Pay or give as a tithe.
Synonyms: tenth
Question: "What does the Bible say about Christian tithing? Should a Christian tithe?"
Answer: Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.
Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent, not the 10 percent which is generally considered the tithe amount today. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Question: "Should we tithe off our gross or net income?"
Answer: The tithe is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10% of everything they earned—or the crops and animals they grew—to the Tabernacle / Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). Believers in Christ are not commanded to give 10% of their income. Each and every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom as to how much he or she should give (James 1:5). Many people believe that the Old Testament tithe is a good principle for believers to follow. Giving 10% of your income back to God demonstrates your thankfulness to Him for what He has provided and helps you to remember to rely on God instead of on riches.
The Bible does not specifically say whether we should give 10% off our gross or net income. The Old Testament teaches the principle of firstfruits (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 2:12-14; 2 Chronicles 31:5). Old Testament believers gave from the best of their crops, not the leftovers. The same principle should apply to our giving today. Again, a believer should give what he believes God would have him give. It all goes back to the attitude of the heart. Are we giving out of reverence for God or out of selfishness for our own wealth? “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Question: "What is the difference between tithes and offerings?"
Answer: When trying to distinguish between tithes and offerings, it is important first understand the concept of tithing. Christians today often think that what they give to their local church is a tithe, when in reality it is an offering. Christian tithing is a misnomer because Christians are under no obligation to fulfill the command to tithe as given to the Israelites as part of the Mosaic Law. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10% of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income as an offering, but this is not a tithe (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
God expected the Israelites to honor Him by giving the first fruits of what He gave to them. Leviticus 27:30 states, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD." Giving the 10% tithe was commanded of the Israelites and was therefore an obligation. When Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the requirements of the Law and made the mandatory 10% tithe obsolete. To continue to insist that it is still in effect is to nullify, at least in part, the sacrifice of Christ and return to the idea of justification by works and law-keeping. The first fruits offering found its fulfillment in Jesus. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
An offering is that which is freely given by Christians to the work of the Lord, the local church, and/or ministries and missions. But offerings are far more than simply the check we write on Sunday. We are to offer much more to God than our monetary resources. Romans 12:1 exhorts us to offer our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” as part of our worship. Romans 6:13 gives the reason for offering ourselves: because we are “those who have been brought from death to life” and, as such, we are to “offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” God is not nearly as interested in our monetary offerings as He is our submission and obedience. The truth is that He doesn’t need our resources to accomplish His plans and purposes. After all, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and needs nothing from us. What He desires, however, and what He values, is the heart that overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving to the God who saved us and who gives us all things, knowing our needs before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). Such a heart gives generously, willingly, and cheerfully in response to the love and grace that abounds in Christ (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Question: "What are alms? What is almsgiving?"
Answer: Alms are money or goods given to those in need as an act of charity. The word alms is used many times in the King James Version of the Bible. It comes from the Old English word ælmesse and ultimately from a Greek word meaning “pity, mercy.” In its original sense, when you give alms, you are dispensing mercy.
Almsgiving is a long-standing practice within the Judeo-Christian tradition. “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31; see also Proverbs 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; and 29:7). Jesus and His disciples gave money to the poor (John 12:6), and believers are to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). The godly Tabitha was eulogized as one who was continually “helping the poor” (Acts 9:36).
The word alms is used nine times in five chapters of the King James Version of the New Testament. Matthew 6:1-4 contains four occurrences:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Here, Jesus taught that almsgiving is for God to see, not to show off before others. Those giving out of their love for God are not to announce their giving or draw attention to it.
In Luke 11:40-42, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for giving alms but “neglect[ing] justice and the love of God.” In other words, these religious leaders gave to charity, yet they did not have true charity in their hearts. Giving to the needy does not necessarily prove a right relationship with God.
In Luke 12:32, Jesus tells a rich young ruler to sell all he had, give alms to the poor, and follow Him. Jesus’ challenge was meant to reveal where the young man’s devotion lay: did he love money more than the Lord? The man turned and walked away from Jesus, unwilling to part with his fortune. Doing so showed that he was not ready to become a disciple.
In Acts 3, a crippled man asks Peter and John for money. The apostles explain that they had no money, and they heal him instead. This miracle was much greater than any alms they could have given!
Biblically, giving financially to those in need is an important expression of the Christian faith. However, we should make sure our giving is done out of a true love for God, without drawing attention to ourselves. When we invest what God has given us to impact the lives of others, we can trust that the results will make a difference both now and for eternity.
Question: "What was the firstfruits offering? Should Christians give a firstfruits offering today?"
Answer: Firstfruits was a Jewish feast held in the early spring at the beginning of the grain harvest. It was observed on Nissan 16, which was the third day after Passover and the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Firstfruits was a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision.
Leviticus 23:9-14 institutes the firstfruits offering. The people were to bring a sheaf of grain to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord. A burnt offering, a meal offering, and a drink offering were also required at that time. Deuteronomy 26:1-10 gives even more detail on the procedure of firstfruits.
No grain was to be harvested at all until the firstfruits offering was brought to the Lord (Leviticus 23:14). The offering was made in remembrance of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, the Lord’s deliverance from slavery, and their possession of “a land that floweth with milk and honey.” The day of the firstfruits offering was also used to calculate the proper time of the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-16).
In the New Testament, the firstfruits offering is mentioned seven times, always symbolically. Paul calls Epaenetus and the household of Stephanas “the firstfruits of Achaia” (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15). His meaning is that, just as the firstfruits offering was the first portion of a larger harvest, these individuals were the first of many converts in that region. James calls believers “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Just like the sheaf of grain was set apart for the Lord, so are believers set apart for God’s glory.
The firstfruits offering found its fulfillment in Jesus. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus’ resurrection has paved the way for our resurrection. Significantly, if Jesus was killed at Passover, then His resurrection on the third day would have fallen on Nissan 16—the Feast of Firstfruits.
The firstfruits offering is never directly applied to Christian giving in the New Testament. However, Paul taught the Corinthian believers to set aside a collection “on the first day of the week” (1 Corinthians 16:2). And, just as the offering of firstfruits was an occasion of thanksgiving, so the Christian is to give with gladness.
In summary, firstfruits symbolizes God’s harvest of souls, it illustrates giving to God from a grateful heart, and it sets a pattern of giving back to Him the first (and the best) of what He has given us. Not being under the Old Testament Law, the Christian is under no further obligation than to give cheerfully and liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
Question: "If you have a lot of debt, can you temporarily stop tithing while paying off the debt?"
Answer: It is permissible to stop tithing while paying off debt. Paying debts is a duty; tithing is "optional." Please do not misunderstand—giving to the Lord's work is very important. Sacrificial financial giving is part of God's calling for every Christian. If it is truly impossible to pay off the debt and continue tithing at the same time, it would not be wrong to decrease giving, or stop giving entirely, temporarily, in order to pay off the debts that are owed.
Our one unalterable duty toward other people is that we love them, dealing with them as we want them to deal with us (Matthew 7:12). All of us want people to pay the debts they owe us. Therefore, as Christians, we should “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
The tithing law of the old covenant was God’s provision for meeting the material needs of the priests from the tribe of Levi. They needed support in order to minister in the temple and meet the needs of the poor (Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 26:12-15). Therefore, when the Israelites failed to give the temple tithe, God warned, "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).
The writer of Hebrews revealed that the tithe was a tenth of a man’s income: “Now 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” (Hebrews 7:5). The Levitical priesthood continued to serve in the temple throughout the earthly lifetime of Jesus. But after the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus, the structure of leadership changed: "For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:12). Christ is now our High Priest. Christians are now God's temple and His royal priesthood (Hebrews 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
Our High Priest ministers the new covenant to us (God's law written on our hearts) by giving us the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:24; 10:16). This law operates powerfully, causing us to love others with Spirit-produced love (Galatians 5:22-23). That is why John writes, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:17-18). Because God’s love compels a true Christian to give, none of the New Testament epistles command or recommend that Christians pay a tithe. Rather than being a requirement, giving results from a Christian’s love.
Christians may, if they choose, give a tenth of their income to the church, meeting spiritual and material needs in their needy world. Some will choose to give less than a tenth; some will choose to give much more than a tenth. Paul recommends giving to the church on Sunday: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Corinthians 16:2a).
Christians shouldn’t hoard but give as much as God directs. It is God’s money. His rewards outweigh the cost. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
What it all comes down to, as far as I am concerned, is this:
Many "christians" try to get out of paying their tithes, and some will just want to pay as little as possible. I don't know if it because they love their money more than God, and helping to spread His word and support His church or if it is because they lack the faith of knowing that if they give their fair share of Gods money back to God He will make sure that their needs are fulfilled. Whatever YOUR reason for tithing and not tithing, I implore you to pray earnestly about it. I can live better on the 90 percent of my GROSS income since tithing than I ever lived on the 100 percent that I TRIED to live on before tithing. In my opinion, TITHE, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
                                                                                                                                                                   God Bless, Greg.

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Published on: 2013-05-16 (960456 reads)

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