8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; 12 “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts.
This is the famous ‘give-your-tithes’ scripture. It speaks of tithes, and offerings; of robbing God; of storehouses and food; and of the ‘devourer’. But it is important to recall that it is part of the Old Testament, so what do we find in the New? In Hebrews 7:5 we are reminded that “those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law”. In other words, tithes could only be accepted by the priesthood of the Order of Levi/Aaron. Whereas, we who are in Christ are of the Order of Melchizedek and according to Hebrews 7:11 not under the Laws of the Levite Priesthood, “for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). So, the OT laws regarding tithing are not binding on NT persons.
But what about that bit about ‘robbing God’? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” If everything is the Lord’s, then how can we steal anything? The problem is two-fold. As Lucifer sought to keep the worship for himself, so keeping our blessings for ourselves is a form of idolatry. In addition, the concept of tithing was to ensure that there would be food “in the storehouse” so that others could share in the bounty. We see this principle in the book of Acts where the believers came together, sharing their food and other belongings ‘in common’, and also with the gathering of a gift for the ‘saints in Jerusalem’ in preparation for the coming famine. And too, if we accept the god-ness to be found in all of humanity, then to deny your abundance from those in need is to rob that god-ness of its needs. This is why according to Ezekiel 16:49 that God destroyed Sodom, a city very affluent, but without generosity, and only pursued their selfish acts, including extreme forms of licentiousness.
And from this we can see that the tithe is no longer a legal requirement under Grace, but free-will offerings for the betterment of those in need will always be an acceptable part of our worship towards God found in all of humanity. This is LOVE; the love Jesus speaks of when asked about the ‘greatest commandment’. So be generous with your abundance of blessings towards others, not because it is the right thing to do according to the law, but because it is right!
So, how does a congregation support its ministry team or maintain its property? The congregation needs to establish a fund for this purpose, either by gifts from the congregation or by establishing a business. Though St Paul maintained his finances through his own business efforts, he also admits that ‘a labourer is worth his hire’. As an example of a ‘church’ business we see the principle used in our society by the Seventh Day Adventist Church with Sanitarium. Problem solved without abusing the congregation with shame and guilt using non-applicable laws.