I can clearly remember the day I surrendered my heart to Jesus. I still remember the little talk I had with a counsellor who told me things I needed to do to get started in my Christian walk; read the book of John in the New Testament and cultivate a habit of praying always amongst other things.
I truly believed that missing a Church service for any reason whatsoever was a sin, not participating in church activities was also a sin. Armed with these revelations I was already on my way to being a good Christian. I had in my head a picture of how a Christian should be and most Christians around me mirrored that image. We believed the same things; we acted the same way and were really interested in pleasing God at all costs. We had a code of conduct; unspoken rules of how a Christian should act. In our minds anyone who did not conform to this conduct was not a Christian at all.
After a long time of obeying these rules, there came a time when I was totally dissatisfied with the status quo and I wondered if this was all Christianity had to offer? Money was the yardstick for measuring blessings from God; God’s hand could be forced by an act of sacrifice which could include seed sowing, tithing, sacrificial giving et all. All these acts woven together portray Christianity as we know it today.
I began to question Christianity as we know it after I watched a programme on TV about a cult founder and the members of his cult. The cult was accused of terrible crimes including murder and racism. The members, all blacks, were encouraged to kill whites and this was an act of their faith. They did this religiously and were responsible for a lot of killings in their area. As I watched the programme, I could not believe people could be so gullible and so easily lose the ability to reason and think for themselves. They bought into everything the leader said without raising any objections. As I criticised the members for being so gullible, something deep down on the inside of me made me realise I was no different.
How many of us of the Pentecostal faith hold dear the words of our leaders? Get really angry if we feel they are being criticised? Unconsciously put the word of our leaders over the Bible? Believe that if we raise any objections to any action of our leader we have crossed the line and have made God angry? Sounds familiar? Why and how does this differ from a cult? In a cult the leader is always right, his authority should never be questioned, he is seen as God by his members and everything he says goes. Again I ask and please be very truthful to yourself, doesn’t this sound familiar?
Right from the day we give our lives to Jesus we have been conditioned to act in a certain way. Our being told to read the book of John marks the beginning of legalistic Christianity. Works and acts of good will replace God’s intention of justification by faith in Jesus Christ and not of works (Rom 1:17). I also noticed something quite amusing; my knowledge of scripture was based on what I had been taught by preachers and since we have been unconsciously led to believe that our men of God are infallible I never bothered checking scriptures to see these doctrines for myself.
The day I discovered that Jesus was not born in a manger, what! I can almost hear you say, made me question a lot of the doctrines we have been taught. Now back to Jesus’ birth, if he was not born in a manger then where was he born? As trivial as this sounds, it goes further to prove my point. Lets take a quick look at Luke 2: 7 and clear this up:
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
The bible never says where he was born but only states he was laid in a manger AFTER he was born. This discovery made me wonder how many more untrues we may have been taught.
I then decided to KNOW God for MYSELF. And the quest to know more of God began. I bought a bible written in very simple English and started to read it afresh from the very beginning and my discoveries startled me. We Pentecostals have made a smooth transition into legalistic Orthodox Church practise. What started as a protest against these practises has morphed into the very thing we tried to get away from.
We have been told that in order to make a demand on the anointing of a man of God, we have to sow a seed into his ministry; if we are believing God for anything, sow a seed; if we need a new job, sow a seed; if we need a fresh anointing, sow a seed; if we want to get out of debt, sow a seed; if we want healing, sow a seed; if we want financial breakthrough and want to experience prosperity, sow a seed as well as pay your tithes so that God will rebuke the devourer on your finances. Amazing! Since when do we get the things of God by depositing money? I can understand the aspect of seed sowing although it is based on very shaky foundation; we would attempt to discuss this later. The aspect tithing being a requirement for today’s church has been the greatest money related lie ever told. To me it rivals the Catholics sale of indulgence.
Now am sure I have struck a chord and must have put a lot of us off reading the rest of this piece but before you nail me to the cross of criticism hear me out first.
I have been told that the reason why we have to tithe in today’s church is because we are following Abraham’s example, basically he paid tithes before the law was introduced so we should do likewise. Interesting! Then those of us believing God for children should following his example and get the maid pregnant, lie that our wives are our sisters and yes of course sacrifice our sons as a way to show to God how we trust him. Ummm! Please ignore my cynicism and let’s move on. To further lean weight to this doctrine, we are told that all who default on their tithes are under a curse. The plot thickens. If you do not pay your tithe you are endangering the entire congregation you belong to because you have become like Achan and are in possession of an “accursed” thing. Your church would be in trouble because of you! There is no one that hears this that would not be afraid, I most certainly was.
Let us put all that we know or think we know about tithing aside for a moment and examine the scriptures to see what it says about it.
The first mention of tithes in scripture was in relation to Abraham and his meeting with Melchizedek. Gen 14 (KJV)
4And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
It is stated boldly, Abraham paid his tithes! True, but let us see if the events that surround his tithe-paying tally with what we have been taught. We are told that our key to prosperity lies in tithing, in other words if you do not tithe you will not prosper. This suggests that Abraham had to tithe in order to prosper, right? Wrong! Let us look at the preceding chapter before tithing was mentioned. Genesis 13
1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
2And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
He was already wealthy before he ever paid tithes! Genesis chapter 14 does not tell us that Abraham was commanded to give the tithe to Melchizedek, he gave it to Melchizedek voluntarily. The tithe was not ten percent of his (Abraham’s earnings) earnings nor was it from anything that belonged to him. It was from the recovered plunder. He gave a tenth to Melchizedek and gave the rest to the King of Sodom. If this is the reason we have been told to tithe, then we should at least do it the way Abraham did it. Go raid the house of an enemy, cart away all his goods, pay a tithe of all you have gotten and give the rest to whomsoever you wish. Abraham was not under any obligation to pay a tithe to Melchizedek, if he did not give a tithe he would not have sinned or brought a curse unto himself.
From Abraham’s account we can gather the following things
Abraham was already wealthy before he met Melchizedek
Abraham did not give Melchizedek a tenth of his own possession.
Abraham was not following a command to tithe, so he would not have been under a curse if he did not.
He gave the tithe voluntarily, so we can safely say that it was a free will offering. Maybe given in appreciation for his success in the war and nothing more.
Where does that leave Malachi 3: 10? At least it explicitly says you would be under a curse if you do not tithe. Ok, before we look at that let me introduce a new revelation. This revelation would help you seal the promises that God gave to Abraham in your life.
Every male Christian has to be circumcised in order to claim God’s blessings. Someone would say, no that is in the Old Testament and most certainly not a New Testament practice. Well let me build my case from scripture.
God command Abraham to get circumcised before the law. Let’s look at Genesis 17
9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
When the Law was given through Moses circumcision was enforced. No uncircumcised person was allowed to eat the Passover. Exodus 12: 48
And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
The danger of not being circumcised is also seen BEFORE the Law in the life of Moses.
24And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
25Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
26So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
Exodus 4: 24 – 26
With circumcision blatantly present in scripture, why doesn’t the church preach it today? We have certainly shown that it existed before the law; it was practiced by Abraham (the father of faith I might add) and saved the life of Moses.
Let us leave circumcision for a while and go back to our discussion on tithing. Now let us carefully consider the book of Malachi, the most popular book for Pentecostal preachers. How many of us have ever bothered to read the entire book of Malachi? Surely it does not comprise of just chapter three and verse eight to eleven. Maybe it does in some preachers’ Bibles. Don’t worry I will lose the sarcasm and get back to the matter at hand. Lets look at Malachi 3: 8 – 9 together
8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
From my little knowledge of the English language, the above verses do not appear to be a command for a future generation i.e. the church to follow. I can hear some super spiritual brother saying; this guy is trying to use English to explain the Bible when he should be relying on the Holy Spirit for interpretation. If there were not place for Language, the scriptures would never have been written down but would have been delivered to minds by the Holy Sprit straight up. “One verse of scripture coming up”. There is nothing futuristic about these verses but statements made to correct an erring Nation.
Now the bible says in Romans 4: 16 that when there is no law, there is no sin. So in order for one to come under condemnation for not paying one’s tithes, there has to be a law that commands that. We have established that Abraham did not tithe (It was actually a one time event anyway) based on the requirement of a law and so would not have transgressed if he did not pay. I did not mention the second mention of tithe in the Bible, which was in the book of Genesis 28: 20 -22 and this involved Jacob. This as well was not a requirement from God but was done out of freewill. (Although there is no record he ever paid it). Then, there must have been a previous command for those whom the Lord was speaking to in the book of Malachi to tithe and they must have been aware of that law.
Let us consider this for a minute though, who was the Lord speaking to in the book of Malachi? A quick glimpse at Malachi 1: 1 should tell us.
The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
In order to get a proper perspective of this let us look at one of the Pauline epistles, say, The epistle to the Colossians. Paul wrote to them to encourage them as well as address any issues they may have had amongst themselves. This can be said of the Book of Malachi, written to the Israelites living in a particular period. Obviously, a lot of things had gone wrong and when reading from chapter one it is clear that was being addressed including the issue of marriage, divorce, tithes and offerings. Why on earth would we use that as reason to support the tithe doctrine? It was not addressed to the church in the first place. The doctrine of tithe did not originate in the book of Malachi. We need to look at when it was instituted as part of the law in order to enable us understand Malachi 3: 8 properly.
The law of tithing was first mentioned in the book Leviticus 27: 30 – 34
30And 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.
31And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
33He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
34These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
In the above verse we see when tithing was instituted and clearly money was never mentioned as something to tithe. Verse 30 and 32 categorically states that the tithe is from agricultural produce namely foodstuff and livestock and nothing else. Someone would say, “Money was not around then”. We will see what scriptures have to say about that. Before we do that let us look at tithes more closely. They were two major kinds of tithe God instructed the children of Israel to give. Though some people believe they were three. Either way there was more than one kind of tithe required.
The first kind of tithe was to be given to the Levites. The Levites where not allowed to do any form of secular work and thus had to live off the tithes of the remaining eleven tribes.
But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. Numbers 18: 24
The Levites in turn gave a tithe of that tithe to Aaron the priest
26Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.
27And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
28Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.
29Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it.
30Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress.
31And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.
32And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.
Numbers 18: 26 –32
So the first kind of tithe was to take care of the Levites and the Priests. What then was the second kind of tithe?
17Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Deuteronomy 12: 17 – 18
Eat your tithe? I thought we were told you SHOULD never eat your tithe? There is more to come:
22Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
25Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
26And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
27And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
28At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
Deuteronomy 14: 22 – 28
Remember I said we were going to look at the issue of money being available during these times. A quick look at verse 25 tells us money was available then. This means that only the farmers where to pay tithes. All other professions, craftsmen, fishermen, labourers etc. did not tithe wages paid to them. The Lord commanded the children of Israel to eat this other tithe at a place he had commanded them. This other tithe was used during the feast of tabernacles and was also used to feed the widows, the orphans and all the less fortunate ones.
All tithes were collected every three years.
12When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
13Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.
14I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.
15Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 26: 12 – 15
Looking at the book of Malachi through the eye of these scriptures, we see that the book was not written to Christians, telling them the penalty of not paying their tithes but to the children of Israel reminding them of the penalty of disobeying God’s commands.
13And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17And then the LORD’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
Deuteronomy 11: 13 – 17
We rate tithing highly in the church of today but it is not a subject the apostles or Jesus taught about. Its been said that Jesus taught on it and this scripture is given as the reference:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Mathew 23: 23
Yet again I ask, are Christians Scribes and Pharisees? Why can’t we take scripture the way it is without adding to it? This was a rebuke by Jesus and not a teaching to pay tithe! When we read from verse one of this chapter we see that Jesus was addressing the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees.
Let me make this illustration, if I had a friend who washes his car regularly that it gleams like its new and does not service the car at all and I tell him: “You should service your car without omitting washing it”, have I made a general statement to everybody that you must all service your car? No I have made a particular statement to a particular person addressing his habit. That is what Jesus was doing, addressing the bad habits of the Scribes and Pharisees. This is the problem we get when we pick a verse rather read the whole chapter to get a better understanding of the topic being discussed.
The other time Jesus ever made mention of tithing was also in connection with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees again. The Pharisee went into the place of prayer felling justified by his works. Some of our tithing brethren display this attitude.
9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 18: 9 -14
This verse is self explanatory unless we desire to wrest scriptures and add to it.
If tithing was so relevant to the church in the new dispensation why didn’t any of the apostles mention it? Something that important would certainly not have been omitted in their epistles. Luke would have mentioned it in the book of acts when he mentioned the apostles’ charge to the gentiles.
This brings us to the doctrine of circumcision. Some of us may have figured out that I told a fib earlier, some of us may have believed it totally while others may have abandoned this piece after reading the circumcision bit. The so called revelation on circumcision sounds quite outlandish most especially after one has seen it written in the New Testament that it was not a requirement for righteousness.
1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
3And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Acts 15: 1 – 20
Now let us imagine that tithing was the issue, what do you think the response of the Apostles would have been? I presented an argument on circumcision using the same evidence that we use to support the tithe doctrine and it did not stand the test of time after considering the above verses.
This brings me to the crux of the matter. From looking at the book of Galatians, we can safely conclude that it was the Galatian church that was being compelled to get circumcised.
1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Galatians 5: 1 – 6
Paul in very strong terms condemned those that were compelling the Galatians to get themselves circumcised and the Galatians themselves that were considering getting circumcised. They were trying the achieve righteousness by works or by keeping the law and the law brought consciousness of sin. We established earlier that when there is no law, there is no sin. Paul went on further to say that any one that tries to keep the law brings himself under a curse
10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Galatians 3: 10 -11
We as Christians are to live a life of faith and not of observing the law because it will always bring us under condemnation. You will never enjoy true fellowship with God if you think you have to engage in acts of righteousness to please him.
Christ has been made a curse for us and has redeemed us from the curse of the law. It is impossible to be under a curse as a child of God for not paying your tithes because you are not under the law but under grace. And where there is no law there is no sin.
12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3: 12 – 13
I am not advocating stinginess in the church, neither am I encouraging people not to give towards the work of God. I am only pointing out where we have erred. And err we have! How can giving ten percent of what you earn every month keep the devil at bay? If you advocate this doctrine, you are in effect saying that you do not need the sacrifice of Jesus and you are very capable of taking on the devil by yourself with your works. What a pity! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! You cannot supplement your salvation by the works of your hand, you cannot be in right standing with God by doing good deeds in the name of putting God first or giving him the best. Those of the old dispensation could not get right with God by doing that so why do we think we can? God has made it easier for us, we do not have to live by a set of rules, and there are no dos and don’ts that we have to obey to make us right before Him. That is why Jesus came and with the death of Jesus, there had to be a change in the way we relate to God.
I will conclude by saying, if you feel within your heart that you should tithe, please do so by all means but if you tithe because you are compelled, made to feel guilty by your pastor or threatened with excommunication, God is not in it. No one has any right to compel anyone to tithe. If you do not believe in tithing like me, you have not sinned either. Let us look at the book of Romans 14
1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
2 -4For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
6 -9What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
10 -12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:
“As I live and breathe,” God says,
“every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
13 -14Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
15 -16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!
17 -18God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
19 -21So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.
22 -23Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.
Walk in the liberty Christ has secured for you and never again feel condemned for not tithing.