Today, some believers may say that tithing is the lesson of the Old Testament, and Jewish believers should obey the law; and now is the age of grace in the New Testament, not the age of the Old Testament, so Christians do not have to abide by the laws and regulations of Old Testament. In addition, some believers may say that the Lord Jesus had no teaching about tithing, so it does not matter whether a Christian does tithing or not. Should Christians do tithing? My answer is not only in the affirmative, but also to point out that the Lord Jesus asked the disciples to offer more donations by faith. Let me explain the lessons of the Lord Jesus about money dedication from the following three aspects.
First, why didn’t the Lord Jesus directly use the old testament laws and regulations to teach his disciples to make donations? If we study the Gospels carefully, especially the truth teaching in John’s Gospel, we may know that the Old Testament era was guided by the Law of Moses for the Jews to obey. After that, God became flesh and brought truth and grace to the world, opening up the age of the new covenant. This age is not only the age of grace, but also the age of the truth and abundant life. The Lord Jesus use the truth and the Holy Spirit to renew the lives of believers, and in the new life of the Lord, to make them transcend the believers of the Age of Law, and to be closer to God than the Jews living under the law, so that God can become the primacy and core of their lives; and then they can do more financial contributions which exceed the old covenant law of tithing.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus did not use the term “tithing” to emphasize this law, but from the different aspects of truth and law; the new life in the Lord can accomplish things that the law cannot do; I will explain it the second part of this article. Here, let us suppose that if the Lord Jesus used the term “tithing” to teach believers, it would lower His requirements of teaching the truth for believers, and would also be confused with the Old Testament law, that may cause believers not to understand the difference between the abundant life God gave to them and the Old Testament era. In other words, the Lord Jesus wants to give believers a higher standard of life and make them surpass believers in the Old Testament era. Otherwise, if the standard is the same, there would be no difference between the truth and the law, as result the New Testament era does not need to be separated from the Old Testament. Thank God, the Lord Jesus gave His disciples who are willing to believe in Him and follow Him, a brand new and perfect high standard; this is also reflected in the degree of financial dedication of believers. I will explain in detail in the third part.
Second, in terms of money offerings, how did the Lord Jesus deal with the relationship between truth and law? In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, let us first look at verse 23: God said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Here, we see clearly, although many believers in the Old Testament era made tithes, their hearts did not obey God’s teachings. In the New Testament era, the Lord Jesus can renew their lives with the truth and the Holy Spirit, so that they can not only tithe, but also obey God’s teachings. In the teaching of this verse, the Lord Jesus emphasized that the character of life is more important than keeping the law; because when we have this character of life, we may naturally make tithes. Let us look at the second half of this verse again: ” These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Here, God indirectly inspired the indispensability of tithing and pointed out that the former is more important than the latter (tithe); this is one of reasons why God became flesh to preach the truth of the kingdom of heaven.
Let us look at verses one to three of chapter twenty-third: ” Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” Let’s compare verse 23 above, and we will understand that the essence of what they can say can’t is that they don’t do what God wants them to do righteousness, mercy, and faithfulness. This also proves that they did not sincerely believe in God and obey all the teachings of God, but were just religious believers. Therefore, God’s requirement for believers in the New Testament era is that they must not only obey the teachings that God gave to the Israelites through Moses, but also use the new life in the Lord to transcend the limitations of the law and accomplish things that cannot be accomplished by the laws and regulations. Therefore, God said: ” Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” This also includes the tithe stipulated by the Law of Moses; therefore, we should understand that God did not deny Tithing and He required believers with a higher standard, and they must go beyond the life character of believers who follow the tithe religiously.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5 to 7) of Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus showed us the different aspects between the Law of Moses and Jesus Truth, and pointed out: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” If we can compare God’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount with the content of Chapter 23, we will understand that while the Lord Jesus was criticizing the hypocrisy of Jewish believers, He pointed out the way to heaven, truth and life for His listeners and disciples. If we study the lesson of the Lord Jesus about giving money and property, we may understand that Christians must not only tithe, but also offer more money.
Third, why did the Lord Jesus teach the disciples with the example of full dedication? In the Gospel of Mark and Luke, it is recorded that the Lord Jesus used a poor widow who made two mites of money, to teach His disciples. Please look at the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, verses 41 to 44: ” Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; “for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Studying this passage, preachers can make a long sermon; but here I do not analyze this passage in detail, just ask the reader to use tithes Standards to think about how God viewed the money dedication of a poor widow and other people. Except for the poor, most people may have a little money surplus after giving one-tenth of their income (unless they squander money like the prodigal son in the Lord Jesus’ parable). So, we can reason that among those who donate money, many people have done tithes, and there may be people who have given more than one-tenth. But God said, ” Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; “for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” For people who do not believe that the Lord Jesus is the true God of omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, they may think that Jesus was simply making a mathematical joke. But God sees people by the standards of the kingdom of heaven, because Jesus knows everyone’s financial situation and uses the dedication of that poor widow to test their faith and love to God.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it was recorded that a man with a lot of wealth came to Jesus to ask about the eternal life; and God’s challenge to his faith was: ” If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) The following verse tells us that but when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. And Jesus told His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Please read the following verses until verse 30. We know that man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven by his own efforts, but he must obey God’s truth. With the help of the Holy Spirit, one of the cores is to get rid of the greed for money; in this way, we can bear the good fruits of the abundant life in the new life in the Lord, and in the future, we can enjoy the eternal life with God in the kingdom of heaven.
Indeed, the disciples at that time and many believers now are confused by the phrase “a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Especially rich Christians, are not willing to pay attention to the teachings of the Lord Jesus. The teaching of salvation is simplified and abstracted into religious beliefs. However, in the Gospels, we can see that the teachings of the Lord Jesus are directly or indirectly related to money offerings and challenge the relationship between our faith and life. In it, God said: ” He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22) We can understand that the difficulty for rich men to enter the kingdom of heaven is not how much wealth they have, but that they are controlled by their own greed and will not obey God’s teachings. If you compare the fisherman, the shepherd, and the rich man side by side, who will be more confused by money?
Today, some Christians who are unwilling to tithe will make excuses or take the Bible verses out of context to defend themselves. But if we study all the teachings of the Lord Jesus carefully and in details, we will understand that tithing is the lowest or basic standard that God gives to believers; in addition, God also gives believers the highest standard: that is, to give up what we have completely. Regarding such dedication, we must first have the mentality of stewards and servants, consider all our possessions as belonging to God, and give our hearts to God; in this way, we will do more offerings under the moving of the Holy Spirit. To be honest, all Christians who are born again and saved must tithe, but not all believers who do tithe are born again. For example, a church has 70 families attending Sunday worship, of which only 15 families have made tithes; among these 15 families, only ten are born-again Christians, and the other five are just like scribes and Pharisee fulfilled their religious responsibilities like tithing, but they had no the new life in the Lord. Therefore, we must pursue the new life of rebirth, and rely on the guidance of God’s word and the help of the Holy Spirit to learn the lessons of money dedication and life dedication in the process of renewing our lives; so as to not only achieve tithes, but also do more donations for giving glory to God.
Moses Sun wrote this article. The first edition in Chinese was published on November 4, 2013, and the second edition on October 21, 2020. The edition of translation was published on November 5, 2020.
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