I’m pretty passionate about how Christians are to be using their money. It has been an area of deep change in my heart and life over the past 10 years, and I have grown in my Biblical convictions about how and where we should be giving our money.
Tithing is introduced as a practice in the Old Testament as a part of the Mosaic Law. The tithe was a way of supporting the Levites – the tribe that performed the religious duties for the Israelites and, additionally, we not allowed to be land owners (see Dueteronomy 18:2). So early on, we see the tithe as a command to the Hebrew people as a way to take care of this specific group of people. However, Romans reminds us that we are no longer under the law – we are under a new covenant – the law of Christ. So, since tithing is an Old Testament/Mosaic Law issue, do I have to do this under the new Testament?
Well, Paul addresses this issue in his second letter to the Corinthian church. He says this:
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV
No longer is there a “command” to give a certain amount under the new covenant. But let’s unpack this a little more. For a long time I hid under this excuse – “I can’t give cheerfully, so I shouldn’t give.” But then I started to unpack some stuff and learn some new things. The Old Testament Law was extremely strict – lots of details. It shows us our inability to live up to God’s standard. But in Christ, we have been forgiven once and for all.
We no longer need to make blood sacrifices. It is not necessary to follow all of the rules as a way to gain favor with God. When Jesus died, the veil was torn, access to God granted, and lavish mercy offered. Paul reminds us in Galatians that it s for freedom that we have been set free!n I started to see that my inability to give cheerfully was a serious heart problem.
Perhaps, John Piper says it best:
“We should value our riches in Christ – in this new covenant relationship – so highly, and our freedom from sin so highly, and our gospel so highly that we would simply LOVE to give…that we would out-give those who lived under the law because we have a better covenant and a better promise. Everything is greater with Christ – why wouldn’t giving be greater?”
Time for a heart check, friends – is your freedom in Christ causing you to live with open hands? Or has the new covenant made you greedy since you don’t have a tithe law to follow? If the latter is true, you might want to consider Paul’s words to Timothy:
“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”
1 Timothy 6:8-10, ESV