My friend (who shall remain nameless) told me a story about a church he went to. The pastor explained rather matter-of-factly to anybody within hearing distance that people are required to give ten percent. The reason is because the Bible says to. Huh?
I’ve already beaten this horse to death, but I’ve thought of a few more arguments why the tithe (or 10%) is an irrelevant amount to give.
An Analogy About Christian Giving
Phil was dating a girl named Alice. Phil was very a great gentleman to Alice and opened the door for her, let her order first, and drove her around. One day Phil stopped opening the doors, ordered first at restaurants, and didn’t really feel like driving. Alice was appalled. How dare Phil not perform the gentlemanly acts. He’s a man. He should open doors for women. He should let women order first. And the man should drive.
Now can Phil resume his gentlemanly acts without compulsion? If Alice keeps nagging him to open the door, the answer is no. Can Phil resume his gentlemanly acts cheerfully? Once again, the answer is likely no.
Now imagine a different man going to church and this man gives cheerfully and without compulsion. Nobody is telling the man to give. Suddenly the pastor tells the man, “You’re not giving enough. You’re robbing God.” Is this man now able to give to the church cheerfully and without compulsion?
The reason I keep bringing up that giving should be done cheerfully and without compulsion is because it’s in the Bible. Check out this verse from 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV):
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving should not be done reluctantly, or under compulsion. If you can’t give without reluctance or compulsion, God doesn’t want your money. But keep in mind that man does. Which is why we still have pastors giving people guilt trips over giving.
You Are Not Commanded to Give
Back when tithes were actually commanded, there was no church. I will say this again: the Christian church as we know it did not exist yet when the tithes were commanded. Even with Jesus talked with the Pharisees over tithing, the church had yet to be formed.
Christian giving under the new covenant is designed to assist the church and other Christians. There’s no commandment to give. Paul makes this very clear:
2 Corinthians 8:8-9 (NIV) – 8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Why the Tithe was Commanded
The reason I think that the tithes were commanded and modern giving is not is due to one key factor: the Holy Spirit. Every person who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit as a gift. The Holy Spirit is what guides Christians towards sanctification and holiness. Back when the tithes were commanded, the Holy Spirit had not yet been cast among the masses. There was nothing to guide people to give.
Paul said that each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give. What Paul should have said was, “You’re a Christian now. You’re being led by the Holy Spirit. Make up your mind what you want to give and give it. If it’s above ten percent, great. If it’s below ten percent, great. Just be happy about what you’re giving and don’t let anybody pressure you into giving anything. This includes pastors.”
But Why Not Give Ten Percent?
You can give ten percent if you want if you can do it without reluctance or compulsion. I’ve written about several reasons for Christians to give and not all of them have to do with money.
If a pastor demands ten percent, the church might as well get each person’s salary and start charging admission on Sunday. Church should be about worshiping God. Why would someone tolerate a church environment where you have someone snooping over your shoulder each time you pull out your checkbook to make sure you’ve written the proper amount?
As I stated earlier, this topic is a beaten horse on this blog, but my friend reminded me of the feelings I have towards guilt-trip pastors. If you really want to know how much to give, please read my article on how much to give.
Thanks for reading.