The Truth About Tithing And How Your Church Is More Than Likely Lying to You.

Warning, this article will have a lot of scripture references. But this is important to educate you on how deep the manipulation goes and what most churches refuse to tell you. 

I recently wrote an article called “How Growing Up Apostolic Almost Made Me Turn From Christianity” where I outlined many of the things I regret about growing up in an Apostolic church. One of those things is the lack of a financial education and routinely being told that if I paid 10% of my “first fruit” that God will multiply it and I will be financially blessed.  However, we were also told that if we didn’t pay our tithes that we would be “Cursed with a cursed”.

 

I now know this to be a complete lie and nothing but a control tactic used by greedy people who call themselves “Men and Women of God”, to manipulate their followers with either the promise of riches or the penalty of eternal damnation.  They tell people every Sunday that they MUST give 10% of their “first fruit” which as they teach means 10% of your gross pay (As you may have guessed this is a way to just get more money out of them.) in order to be obedient to God.

Prosperity is not a sign of God's favor.

Prosperity is not a sign of God’s favor.

Let me tell you that this manipulation runs deep and is probably worse than you believe.  I have read the story of a woman who was dying from cancer who gave her life savings to a televangelist because she was told that by doing so she would receive “Supernatural healing”.

I have seen with my own eyes a man who called himself a “Prophet” tell another man in the church to give him his entire paycheck in order to be obedient to God. I remember sitting in church when I was younger hearing how everyone was to show appreciation for the Pastor on his birthday and every family was REQUIRED to give $75 and single people $50 to show their appreciation. (I know this doesn’t sound like much, but in the mid-1980’s, this was worth a lot more than it is now).  I have heard sermons where people are told that if it came down to paying your bills or paying your tithes that you pay your tithes to avoid being cursed. People are so stuck in religious dogma that they refuse to question ANYTHING being taught to them and they are being lied to and robbed on a weekly basis.

In a day where many teach a false “Prosperity Gospel” a particular passage of scripture is often used to persuade people to pay their tithes.

Malachi 3:8-10.

“8. Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings.

9. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.

10. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

 

Let me break down how this is used to manipulate.

First, they use verse 8 to tell you that if you don’t pay your tithe that you are “Robbing God”.

Then they go on in verse 9 to tell you that you will be “cursed with a curse” if you don’t pay your tithes (Which means you are now giving under compulsion. I will show you why this is wrong later).

And last they use verse 10 to tell you that if you pay your tithes you will receive supernatural blessings and never have to worry about your finances again since you will live a life of such abundance.

You will hear this passage of scripture used over and over again in churches where greedy men (and women) want to squeeze as much money as they can out of you. Well, in this article I will show you other scriptures that prove you are not obligated to pay a tithe and any religious leader that tries to scare you into doing so is a false teacher.

What are the Tithes?

The “Tithe” means a “tenth” or 10 percent of something. In the Old Testament, Levitical laws were given to Moses to then give to the Israelites in order to keep them in one accord with God. It was a set of parameters that they were to follow because they were God’s chosen people.  The Tithe was one of these laws. It was required that a tenth of all produce and animals be given by the Israelites to support the Levites, who were the priest ancient Israel, and also to support those in need (Widows, orphans, etc.). In turn, the Levites were to give a tenth of what they received to the high priest to offer to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:30-34‘

30. Thus, all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the LORD.

31. If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it.

32. For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.

33. He is not to be concerned whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. It shall not be redeemed.

34. These are the commands the LORD gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.”

There are several points I want to make here.  One is that the tithe was never a transfer of money. Verse 30 says “a tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s”.  Now there are people who will argue that they didn’t have currency and that their crops were a form of currency. This is wrong because it is known that the currency in ancient Israel (and Israel today) is called a “Shekel”. The Shekel was not only the currency of ancient Israel but also used by other people such as the Moabites, Edomites, and the Phoenicians.  Even in verse 32, it says,”every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to the Lord”. Nowhere does it mention money.

My last point here is in verse 34, where it says, “These are the commands the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites”. This was a Levitical Law given to Moses to pass on to the Israelites.  Not a law passed down to us today.  However, many churches will use not only this law, but others as well, and strictly enforce them creating a cult-like atmosphere.  They will have rules such as women cannot wear pants or makeup. Neither can women cut their hair.  I won’t go too much into how ridiculous they can be, let’s just stick to tithing.

 

In the book of Numbers we see further evidence of what the Tithes was used for.

Numbers 18: 21-28

21"I give to the Levites, all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.

  1. From now on the Israelites must not go near the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die.
  2. It is the Levites who are to do the work at the Tent of Meeting and bear the responsibility for offenses against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelite.
  3. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: 'They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.”
  4. The LORD said to Moses,

26."Speak to the Levites and say to them: 'When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD's offering.

  1. Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress.
  2. In this way, you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes, you must give the LORD's portion to Aaron the priest.

So here again we see that the Tithes were to be collected from the Israelites and handed to the Levitical Priest as an inheritance for the work they did in the temple. (No this doesn’t mean handing your Prophet/ Reverend/Bishop/Apostle 10% of your paycheck).

We also see in verse 22 that the Israelites were forbidden to go near the Tent of Meeting or they will bear the consequences of their sin and die. This is VERY important and I will show you why later.

Verse 23 says that instead of the Israelites bearing the responsibility of their offenses that it as the Levitical priest who are to do the work at the Tent of Meeting and bear the responsibility for offenses against it”.  So it was the priest who was to make a sacrifice to the Lord for the sins of the people. What was that sacrifice?

Verse 24 God said, That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites”.   The priest was NOT to be paid by the Israelites. The Israelites were to only pay the Tithe of what they had to the Temple. No “Priest Appreciation Days” or anything like that.  They were to take what they needed from the tithe given by the Israelites as commanded in the law.

Look at verse 26 where God told Moses to tell the Levitical priest, When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering”.

So the Levitical priesthood was to give 10% of what they received from the Israelites and present that to the Lord. Why were they to present this to the Lord and why couldn’t the Israelites present it to God themselves? Remember that the Israelites were forbidden to go into the tent (temple) under penalty of death because of their sins, so the Levitical priest had to make the sacrifice, or sin offering, on behalf of the people. This offering was the tithe of what the Israelites gave to the temple.  So as you see the Tithe was a sin offering required under Levitical Law.

 

Fulfillment of the Law.

Matthew 5:17-18

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

We read here that Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it”. He also said that “not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of the pen, will disappear until everything is accomplished”.

There are two very important points here that need to be made. First, he said he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

I looked up the meaning of “fulfill” in the dictionary.  The definition I was given is as follows.

Fulfill: to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time;”

So, in other words, the law was incomplete and he (Jesus) came to finish it.  He also said that nothing in the law will disappear until “Everything is accomplished”. Meaning the law will not disappear until everything is fulfilled.

Now if we look at John 19:30 it shows Jesus last words as he died on the cross.

John 19:30

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

He said, “IT IS FINISHED”. In other words, that which was incomplete is now finished. Now some may ask what was finished.  Well, I have looked into that also and will describe what this means.

 

Hebrews 10: 1-18

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law.

Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.

10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.

14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time", says the Lord. "I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.


 

Now, let’s break all this down, 

What Paul was saying there was this.  The Law was a shadow of the good things to come. That the law itself could never make perfect those that continued to make the same sacrifices year in and year out. Otherwise, if it did, wouldn’t the sacrifices have cleansed those that were sinful and no other sacrifice would have been required? But since they had to continue making sacrifices they were reminded of their sin year by year, and thus never free from it.

And what sacrifice was this? The sin offering, which was the Tithe. Now we go into why Jesus said he came to fulfill the law and why he said it was finished.

4. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;

6. with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

God didn’t desire any more sacrifices (Tithes). He took no pleasure in the offerings being presented to him.   But Jesus said, “A body you have prepared for me”.

7.Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’

8. First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law.

9. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.

Jesus said to God, “Behold, I have come to do your will” because the sacrifices being made under the law were not desired. And notice he said  “He takes away the first” (the Law) “to establish the second” (Freedom in Christ).

10. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

So all the sin offerings that were given (Tithe) couldn’t take away sin.  But it was Christ, who offered himself as a sacrifice for sins for all time. He came as the perfect sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could cleanse men of their sins so that they no longer had to dwell on it but have freedom in him.

THIS IS WHY WE NO LONGER NEED TO PAY THE TITHE!   Jesus was the ONLY sacrifice that can take away sin. You are no longer cursed with a curse because of what HE DID.  Not what you do, not your tithes, but what Jesus did.  That curse is gone. So when you hear that Pastor/Bishop/Prophet/Apostle/ First Lady, or whoever tell you that if you don’t pay your tithe that you will be cursed, remind them that Jesus already took that cursed away as you walk out the door.

Let’s continue on.

13. and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.

14. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

15. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time”, says the Lord. “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

Through continuously offering a sin sacrifice (Tithe) we were continuously trying to pay God to cleanse us of our sin. Paying the tithe doesn’t take away your sin any more than not paying will curse you. But if you live through Christ it is written, Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more”.

Thus there is no longer a need to pay the tithe.

So, Since Paying Tithe Is No Longer a Requirement How (and Why) Should I Give?

So as you see we are not required to give a tithe which was commanded of the Israelites under the Law. Nevertheless, many churches still mandate that their members do so. This is because they have a “lawful” mindset and not one of true freedom in Christ. They are taking Levitical law and using it to manipulate and control others in order to fill their bank accounts and lift their own names.  You cannot be cursed if that curse has been forever lifted by Christ. But they don’t want you to know that.

I feel that I must say this.  Just because you are no longer cursed since Jesus took that curse, this does NOT mean you have can just live your life as you wish committing every sin in the book under the guise of “forgiveness and grace”. A true Christian lives their life according to the teachings of Christ and avoids living a sinful life.  They avoid it because of the love Christ showed for them. 

John 14:15 says :"If you love me, keep my commands."
Remember, light and dark cannot mix, nor can a man serve two masters.

Now does this mean you should never give?  No, absolutely not. But giving doesn’t just mean in the form of money as most will lead you to believe.  We all understand that the church has needs which require money. However, there are other things you can do to “give”.  In my church, we have people that come and clean the sanctuary. On Wednesday nights we have volunteers that provide meals.  Others do things such as yard work, snow removal, as well as volunteer at outreaches in the community.  Many help feed the homeless, visit the sick, comfort those that grieve.  These people do these things not under compulsion or grudgingly.  They do so because they love the Lord and love people and aren’t looking for a reward.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

6. Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

7. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth where he stated that those that sow sparingly will reap sparingly. And those that sow bountifully will reap bountifully.   Because so many are ruled by their love of money instead of a love for God and people, they believe this means the more cash you give the more cash you will receive. They are greedy and have no one’s interest but their own in mind.

Also, notice what Paul wrote in verse 7.

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”

In other words, we aren’t giving a mandatory Tithe in order to avoid a curse.  This would be giving under compulsion. He also said each man “must do what is in his heart. Once again, not grudgingly or under compulsion”.  He finished by saying that “God loves a cheerful giver”. If you are giving under compulsion or grudgingly you aren’t giving cheerfully.

Giving Isn’t About You.

Matthew 6: 2-4

  1. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
  2. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
  3. So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

This brings up a topic that really gets under my skin. I’ve been to churches where the Reverend/Bishop/Apostle/Prophet/First Lady may announce that they need people to give a large sum of money.  And trust me there are those more than willing to stand up and be seen giving it.  These people are often treated with honor because they give more money.  I even saw a man with a fancy Cadillac with a license plate that said “I TITHE”.  Clearly, he was guided by pride and greed, not obedience to God.

There are also those who love to be seen doing charitable works.  They love to do so not out of love for their fellow man, rather it’s out of pride. They love to show how they give to those less fortunate so that others can praise and lift them up.

However, Jesus was clearly against this.  He said in verse 2.So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men”.  Today we are using social media to announce our good deeds to the world. We look for rewards in the form of likes, views, shares, and re-tweets, instead of doing good simply because it is the right thing to do.

Nowhere in the Bible is the transfer of money included in tithing.

I hate seeing the videos where people film themselves helping a homeless person and everyone comments on how wonderful it is.  I’m not saying the deed in itself was wrong because it’s never wrong to help those less fortunate. However, when you post about it on Facebook looking for the praise of others, that good deed becomes a source of pride and God gets no glory from that.  I’ve even seen people shamelessly take selfies with homeless people after helping them and posting it on Facebook. This is simply wrong.

 

Matthew 23:23

23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

It’s shameful that so many churches place more priority on paying tithes than they do showing mercy, love, faithfulness, and kindness. More concerned with material wealth than they are with their fellow man. As Jesus stated above, we should place more emphasis on justice, mercy, and faithfulness, instead of the accumulation of wealth.

Conclusion

Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.


I’m willing to bet that if Jesus was to walk into most churches incognito he would be appalled by what he saw. He would be appalled by what he would see on television programs like those shown on TBN. He would be appalled at how those in leadership using the Holy Scriptures to manipulate and cheat those claiming to be part of the body of Christ.  Then again, perhaps he wouldn’t be. Since most churches wouldn’t welcome him anyway.

It is ultimately up to us to educate ourselves on what the scriptures really mean. It’s up to us to stop manipulation by those who would use something meant for good and turn it into a tool to fuel their own lavish and prideful lifestyle.


Terrell Cotton is a motivational blogger and a full-time single father of two boys who are his heart and soul.  His blog, Terrellcotton.com, is dedicated to helping men become better versions of themselves by building on biblical principles of authentic manhood and fatherhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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