(April 16, 2021) Robert McQuillan responds to a troubled family man’s question…
Dear Dr Robert
Not naming my church, but our pastor demands we pay tithes to God, that if we don’t, we won’t be blessed. He quotes people receiving great new jobs or healings because they tithed and others receiving neither because they didn’t tithe. I feel uneasy about this… must I tithe to God? ‘Victor.’
This instantly causes me to query ‘What kind of a God of free grace are we worshipping if we have to pay for his blessings?’ The truth is that we could never financially pay God for all he has done for us! Your pastor is using God’s name but referring to the church and its responsibilities.
Tithing, first found in Genesis 14:18-20, has Abraham honouring Melchizedek, the ‘priest of God Most High’ by giving him a tenth of everything, not just finance.
Mentioned in several OT scriptures, tithing covers not just money but is like that ‘everything’ above. I think of Numbers 18:24 in particular, saying that tithes were for the Levites, the priests – who had no inheritance as the other tribes had – so that God’s ministers were looked after.
This was God’s requirement of his Hebrew people. Yet the Malachi 3:10 demand to Israel is the most popularly quoted scripture by pastors on financial tithing to Gentiles in respect of ‘their church’ ie the building, vision and commitments, not God!
‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house’ was God insisting that his ministers were cared for, not himself or some new temple was built or maintained.
Jesus taught that ‘God is spirit’ (John 4:24). Message Bible reads: ‘God is sheer being itself – Spirit.’ What would our Almighty Spirit-God want with money? A spirit can’t even hold money. It’s like that old joke, supposedly told by a Rabbi, ‘Offerings? With raised hands, we worship God by throwing our dollars in the air. What stays up is his, what comes down is ours.’
In reality God cares for Christians so much that he blesses us whatever! He does, of course, require that we honour him by loving him, worshipping him, forsaking evil and being obedient to him whatever he may ask us to do. He requires more from us than finance, he requires us to give him our all (Matthew 22:37, Romans 12:1).
As you’ll be picking up, Victor, one thought leads to another here… so let’s keep it simple now and cut to the chase! There’s no outright demand that Gentile Christians should tithe as the Hebrews did! Rather we should be caring for one another! (Paul’s thoughts below).
However it’s a good idea, sound practice that we contribute with a generous heart whatever we can to the needs of our local church – but not so that we get blessed by a new job, healing or whatever! Many can testify that they have been highly blessed even though they hadn’t contributed financially to their local church.
Paul had a good idea re giving to help ‘other’ Christians in need… ‘On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income’ (1 Corinthians 16:2). He added in 2 Corinthians 9:7… ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.’
‘God loves a cheerful giver’ he wrote, andI think that, as we owe God so much, tithing is only the beginning! But not demanding that God bless us in turn.
William Colgate felt the urge to tithe, recognising that God was the giver of all that he possessed, not only of opportunity, but even of the elements which were used in the manufacture of his Colgate products. In later years he gave five-tenths of all his income to the work of God in the world.
Now he was able to give this generously… you should give as you’re able, not ‘to God’ but as you sense the Lord directing you. A personal note: Even as I type, I sense God asking me to transfer support to a friend in troubled India… and having shared with Maureen who agrees, we will.
Interestingly Maureen has also been asked along these lines and I encourage you to read her response (Tithing to the Church).
Got a question for either Dr Robert or Pr Maureen McQuillan? Email to OnlinerConnect@gmail.com