PART 3 HAVE TO? WANT TO?
PART 3 HAVE TO? WANT TO?
What was the protocol for giving financially during the time Christ lived on the earth?
THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST
FROM THE BIRTH OF CHRIST TO THE DAY OF PENTECOST
This period of time began with the virgin birth of the Messiah of the Jews, who is called Jesus Christ, God incarnate. When He was 30 years old, He began His public ministry. He chose twelve disciples to accompany Him and began teaching concerning a new kingdom, which involved a new way of life that was to come. He lived a sinless life; was rejected by the Jews; crucified on a cross; paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world; forgave these sins; rose from the dead after 3 days never to die again; witnessed or seen by many after his resurrection as he abode on earth in His glorified body for 40 days, and then ascended into heaven.
The Mosaic Law, and all that pertained to it, was still in operation during this time.
Let’s start reading and learn more about this topic of tithing. Surely Christ must have expressed His mindset concerning it? Right?
What did Jesus mean when He said that He came to fulfill the Law?
- I AM NOT COME TO DESTROY
Matthew 5:1-2, 17-18
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Jesus is in Galilee near Capernaum and is teaching the crowds. The Scriptures in Matthew chapters 5-7 are otherwise known as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said that He didn’t come to destroy (deny the divine authority of) the Law, but to fulfill (to fulfill the many sacrifices and rites by the offering of Himself as a sacrifice to God) it. Neither did He come to destroy the prophets, but to fulfill and fully accomplish their many predictions respecting His coming and death. These were all to be fulfilled and fully accomplished by [His] life and [His] sufferings.12
It’s interesting to note that Jesus emphasized that having a proper mental attitude should precede giving financially in the temple.
- THEN OFFER THY GIFT
Matthew 5:1-2, 22-24 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:…and taught them, saying,…whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause Shall be in the danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave therefore thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Jesus is teaching His disciples. He is contrasting the idea of being judged for committing a crime and being judged for making a free-will monetary offering in the temple with the wrong mental attitude. If a person out of anger committed an outrage against another person without cause or for no purpose, then he/she would be brought before a court of justice in order to be tried for what he/she had done. Likewise, if a person is making a monetary offering in the temple, and he/she remembers what another person had said or done to him/her, then the gift should not be given. They should first go and address the matter with the perpetrator, and then go back to the temple and offer the gift. Judgment is no longer relegated to committing a crime against another person. It also involves having a proper mental attitude when giving an offering. In this case, Jesus wasn’t talking about the amount that was to be given, but about the proper mental attitude that one should have before giving it.
Did Jesus say anything about whether tithing should be discontinued? No.
By not saying that tithing should no longer continue, was He condoning tithing as a practice to be continued in the Church Age?
Should giving be no one else’s business, but the giver?
- WHAT ONE GIVES IS NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS
Suggested Reading: Matthew 6:1-4
Matthew 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret…
In the temple, there was a place called the Chambers of Secrets. The financially blessed Jews would go into the temple in the Chambers of Secrets, and they would put in money. The poor people would go into the temple, and if they needed money the leaders of the temple would distribute it to them. Both the givers and the recipients had privacy.
Were there more important matters of the Mosaic Law that should be addressed than tithing?
- TITHE OF MINT AND ANISE AND CUMMIN
Suggested Readings: Matthew Chapters 21-23
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Jesus was speaking at different times to different peoples such as to the multitudes, the scribes, the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the disciples. In this particular instance, He was talking to the scribes and Pharisees about how they were so meticulous in tithing to the minutest detail, but yet they were very far away in treating the weightier matters of the Law such as judgment, mercy, and faith without the same precision. Jesus was aware that it was God the Father, who gave the Jews the Mosaic Law and as such no part of it ought to be omitted or be treated with less intensity. However, the weightier matters of the law such as judgment, mercy, and faith ought to be what the Jews focused on initially while making sure that they didn’t leave the less important laws (e.g., tithing) undone (not attended to). They were majoring on minors, while minoring on majors.13
Why was wealth an impediment to this person’s salvation?
- CAN A RICH MAN BE SAVED?
Suggested Reading: Mark 10:17-27
Mark 10:17, 19-20, 25, 27 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.…with God all things are possible.
After Jesus discussed the subject of marriage and divorce with the Pharisees, a stranger came up to him, and asked, what should he do in order to inherit eternal life? Jesus told him to observe the Ten Commandments, and to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. Hearing this, the man went away sad. Then Jesus spoke to His disciples concerning how hard it was for those, who trusted in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God. Another way of saying this was, Jesus was affirming that a person could keep God’s Ten Commandments and not automatically enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus knew the heart, what it was that this person had an inordinate affection for. While he might not have broken the Ten Commandments, they weren’t necessarily a priority in his life. It happened to be that his riches were his priority. However, his priority could have been in any area (e.g., recognition, pride, political power, etc.). If we serve God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, then He will provide us with the proper mindset for us to have and operate in, in all areas of our life.
Why did Jesus consider the widow’s giving of two mites more than those who gave much more?
- TWO MITES
Mark 12:41-44 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury…many that were rich cast in much…she threw in two mites…And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, has entered Jerusalem and is now in the temple answering questions, by means of parables, which were asked of Him by the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees. Following this exchange, Jesus called unto himself His disciples after watching people cast money into the treasury. He observed the rich casting in much, and then he observed a poor widow casting in all that she had, which was two mites. He declared to the disciples that she had given more than all that the rich had given. In this regard, He was not talking about the amount that they both gave, because obviously the rich gave more, but the quality or the heart attitude behind her giving.
When she gave, she gave with a heart reliance on God. All that she had was because of Him, no matter whether it was little in amount or great in amount. Giving much or little isn’t the issue. Giving should be with an attitude of thankfulness because all that we are and have is because of Him. In this example, what we have is a different perspective on giving. It’s not how much that is given, which determines the acceptability of the gift, but the proper motivation in the giving of the gift. I wonder what the disciples thought about this analysis.
What is the proper mental attitude behind giving?
- GIVE GRACIOUSLY
Suggested Reading: Luke 6:30-38; Matthew 5:42
Luke 6:30, 38 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Jesus was with His disciples in a geographical area known as a plain, where a great number of people had come to hear Him speak. The admonition that He presented to them was to give graciously to those, who are in need. In other words, when we give in grace (with the proper mental attitude) our gift will be returned to us in full measure and overflowing.
We have just looked at the pertinent Scriptures on tithing taken from the time when Jesus lived on this earth.
Did He say anything in regard to tithing as to whether it should continue in the age, the Age of the Church to come?
- Jesus didn’t come to destroy (to deny the divine authority of) the Law, but to fulfill (to fulfill the many sacrifices and rites by the offering of Himself as a sacrifice to God). Neither did He come to destroy the prophets, but to fulfill and fully accomplish their many predictions respecting His coming and death. Matthew 5:1-2, 17-18
- Judgment was no longer relegated to committing a crime against another person, it also involved having a proper mental attitude when in this case, a person was attempting to give an offering while harboring ill will towards another. Matthew 5:1-2, 22-24
- There was a place in the temple called the Chambers of Secrets, where both the givers and recipients had privacy. Matthew 6:1-4
- Jesus admonished the Jews, because while they attended to one of the smallest details of the Law, e.g., the command to tithe, however, they neglected the weightier matters of the Law such as judgment, mercy, and faith. If the priority was to attend to the weightier matters, then the minor matters would also get addressed. Matthew Chapters 21-23
- Inheriting eternal life is not determined by keeping the Ten Commandments, but by following Jesus, who will unveil to us what sin or sins need to be repented of (having a changed heart toward) beforehand. Mark 10:23-27
- Giving that is acceptable to God is not based on how much or how little one gives, but on the attitude of the heart. Mark 12:41-44
- When we give with the proper mental attitude to those who are in need, our gift will be returned to us in full measure and overflowing. Luke 6:30-38; Matthew 5:42
So, what did we gather from these Scriptures on giving? Jesus seemed to place more of an emphasis on the motives of one’s heart rather than on how much was given. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Jews were still operating under the Mosaic Law and as such were giving tithes.
How would the dispensationalist or non-dispensationalist use these verses to support their view as to whether the practice of tithing should continue for the New Testament believer?
The dispensationalist would admit that the Jews were still obligated to obey the mandates of the Mosaic Law, one of which was to tithe. They might add these additional thoughts.
- Jesus didn’t say anything in regard to the Jews that they should stop tithing. Neither did He say anything to them about not observing any of the other tenets of the Law.
- It’s likely that Jesus and His disciples observed the Law by attending to the temple or synagogue on the Sabbath; by attending to the 4 yearly feasts; by tithing, etc.
- There were winds of change in the air. The Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come, whom they believed would be their king on the earth that would take them out from Roman oppression. However, Jesus’ message to them about His kingdom in that it came not with observation must have totally confused them.
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
- The Jews were looking for a king, who was born naturally of a father and mother. Jesus said to them that He existed before Abraham.
John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
- The Jews believed in one God, Jehovah (Yahweh). Jesus said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus did not line up with the Jews’ expectation of their coming Messiah.
By using these examples, the dispensationalist would say that a new kingdom was forthcoming. Was it a kingdom in which the Mosaic Law would continue to be the way for the New Testament believer to follow God? Whether this is the case or not will be determined by what is conveyed in the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
On the other hand, the non-dispensationalist would say that the Jews were still operating under the Mosaic Law. Jesus and His disciples were attending the temple or synagogue on the Sabbath, participating in the 3 yearly feasts, tithing, etc. There was no indication or statement made by Jesus that tithing was to no longer continue to be practiced during the age to come.
They would further emphasize that tithing began before the institution of the Mosaic Law, was observed during the Age of the Jews when the Mosaic Law was instituted, and continued to be observed during the time when Christ lived on the earth. Therefore, they would conclude that this practice should continue during the age to come.
The next dispensation that we will look at, the Church Age, should provide us with a clearer perspective regarding whether tithing is still for today.
But before we go there, I would like to leave you with one last story about giving financially. I graduated from Bible college with a two-year certification in Christian Leadership and soon after was asked by a pastor if I would consider working in a brand-new Christian day school that was opening up in another state. I thought this would be a good opportunity, especially considering that I already had a four-year certification as a high school math teacher. Off we went again on another new spiritual adventure.
I loved working in the day school. Worship services were usually held three times a week, once on Thursday evening and twice on Sunday. All seemed to be going well except for one area, money. Apparently, there was not enough coming in to pay the bills. The church building was formerly a hotel. When the church purchased it the rooms were converted into apartments where church members could live and pay rent. Along with paying rent, they were expected to tithe.
One evening right after the worship service message was given, the pastor mentioned that not enough money had been coming in from the offerings and that he believed he knew why. He suspected it was because not everyone was tithing. He said that an emergency meeting was needed in order to address this matter. The meeting was scheduled for the following day. He went out of his way to assure everyone that the dialogue would be civil and no one would be ostracized if it was discovered that they were not tithing.
I arrived at the meeting as did most other church members. We were told how much money was needed in order to pay the outstanding bills on a weekly basis and how much money was coming in from the offerings. The pastor asked if anyone had an issue with tithing and said that if they did they should feel free to express it. One of the church members whose family was living in the facility housing stood up and said that he couldn’t afford to tithe. However, he did say that whatever the monetary amount was that he and his wife were not giving as a tithe they would be willing to make it up by volunteering to do carpentry work or whatever else was needed. When the pastor heard this he exploded. He said there was no trade-off. Either they tithed or move off the premises. Unfortunately, they decided to move off the premises and subsequently leave the church.
I wondered if at some point in time I would have a different opinion on a doctrinal topic and like this family would be asked to leave the premises and church. Well, I actually was asked to leave a short time later, because I presented a doctrinal view at a Bible study on a biblical topic from opposing views. This doctrine that I titled, Should a believer abstain from drinking alcohol? was presented upon request from a family in the church that was conducting a weekly Bible study at their house of which I presided over. The same pastor who asked the couple to leave the premises because of their refusal to tithe showed up at the Bible study, heard the message, called me into his office the next day, expressed his displeasure of the opposing view teaching, removed me from conducting the Bible study, and told me that my family needed to leave a.s.a.p.
You might be thinking whatever happened to me? We left the premises and the church. I eventually got a job teaching high school math in a public school where after 25 years I retired in 2011. So, here I am writing to you about a topic that I have always wanted to know more about!
12Barnes. 13Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament, 2000,˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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