Some Christian denominations make tithe mandatory for their Christian followers. This is how funding is generated among those Churches. Clarification is necessary to benefit those who are after the truth, more than religiosity. Tithing is Biblically mandated, but not applicable to God’s Children.
There is no record of Jesus ever paying tithe. The reason why Jesus did not pay tithe is that He was the Son of God. At that time He had been the only Son of God. But, later, there were several other children of God, added. Those Children were not under the obligation to pay tithe, just as Jesus was not under the obligation to pay tithe. God’s children take instructions directly from their Father.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21 NIV).
The behaviour of God’s children is not according to instructions from anyone in this world. Their activities are designed by God and instructed directly to each of His children. Hence, the talents and abilities are peculiar to each, as designed by God. No one can superintend over another, in the process.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:1-3 NIV).
This passage of Scripture is directed at God’s Children; expected to be different from those of this world. What qualified these to be God’s children is sacrifice. They sacrificed everything to become Christ’s followers.
This does not mean that it is impossible for them to revert to their old ways of doing things. Hence, the apostle Paul is reminding them of their obligations of taking instructions directly from God. None should regard oneself more highly than others. Neither should they also despise those with different abilities.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:5-8 NIV).
The above passage reveals that each member performs according to the functional gift. In other words, the person with a gift of giving cannot demand that others should be givers, as well. That person gives generously, without considering whether others behave likewise or not.
Those of this world may complain that others are not giving as much as they do. This is the mindset that Paul advised God’s children to desist from. For instance, the hand does not instruct other limbs to function in some particular way. Each limb acts according to the body owner’s will.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality”(Romans 12:9-13 NIV).
What is observable is that God’s children are peculiar. Rather than being controlled by tithing laws, they are living sacrifices, dedicated to God. Rather than embrace the idea of tithing, they provide their entire lives for service to God. They serve God, according to their spiritual convictions.
Paul’s exhortation is directed at God’s children. The spiritual fervour that rests in them is the one that serves the Lord. The person might be found to be extraordinarily working harder than others, on some function. There is no need to view that person as holier than others. The person would be working according to God’s instruction.
Tithing may be applicable to Christian followers, just as it was applicable to the Jewish community. That would be alright, as long as such people do not consider themselves as God’s children. Many people invalidate tithing, based on the fact that Jesus did not specifically teach about it. Neither did Jesus advise the Jews to stop tithing, but, instead, He encouraged them to continue tithing.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel”(Matthew 23:23-24 NIV).
Jesus was castigating the teachers of the Law for having departed from the actual intent of the Law. He stresses that justice, mercy and faithfulness, ought to be paramount. The Law of tithing had been applied as a provision for the Levitical workers who served in the Temple.
The principle can still be applicable in administering financial projects. However, this does not include those in the category of God’s children. Outside the functions of God’s children, the provisions of God’s Laws still apply, and can produce splendid results, but are not applicable to God’s children.
The distinction should be clarified, rather than conflate everything into one. Those who would have become God’s children behave according to their spiritual conviction. Each of God’s children does things according to God’s calling, rather than according to the Law.
The behaviour of God’s children is not that of impulse, where a person decides what is considered to be right, without God’s involvement. God’s children do things according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Other people, in the surrounding, might not always understand such a person. But that person would be functioning according to God’s directions.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to keep the Law. But, obviously, the wrong thing is for one to be choosy. One cannot conveniently select a few aspects of the law, leaving others undone. If one is zealous about Law-keeping, one should go all the way. I suppose that should be commendable to God.
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment”(James 2:10-13 NIV).
The Law provision is found in the Old Testament Books (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). No one should judge those sincerely desiring to keep the Law. But it cannot be possible to keep the Law and be merciful, at the same time. For instance, the Law requires stoning adulterers.
By not stoning adulterers, one would have violated the Law. Hence, there is no freedom in Law-keeping. The tithing principle can be practised by anyone who desires discipline, in financial management. But the person should then not be under the illusion that He would be a Law-keeper.
One cannot require others to do likewise, and regard oneself as God’s child. God’s children are those who would have surrendered everything to follow Christ. (Luke 14:25-33). After receiving the Holy Spirit, they behave according to spiritual directions, not according to Moses’ Laws.
God’s children are not commonly understood by those in their surroundings; who would be yet to receive God’s Spirit. Just as Jesus was not understood, God’s children are also not easily understood by ordinary people. However, God’s children would only be clearly understood by those connected to God’s Spirit.
While appearing as if God’s children are detached from God’s Law, their freedom lies in their connection with God. Those people cannot be envied by the ordinary people of this world. Bear in mind, that these are the people who would have renounced everything to follow Christ. Some of them would be those submitting to death, for the testimony of Jesus.
Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:25-28 NIV).
This passage of Scripture is commonly ignored by most people, identifying themselves as God’s children. But the above passage suggests that the person who decides to follow Christ would have left everything to follow Him. If Jesus carried His own cross, the person ought to understand that his/her own cross would be awaiting him/her, as well.
The aspect of tithing is too junior for God’s children. Like Jesus’ interests, God’s children’s interests are pegged according to their calling. Those people are not under the supervision of anyone but look to God, for everything they do. They cannot be envied by those of this world, as carrying tasks that cannot be admirable to ordinary people.
They may be enjoying what they do; including receiving punishment for doing well. Ordinary people may ridicule them, as their tasks may not be of interest to ordinary people. Jesus instructed that they should rejoice only when persecuted for doing God’s work.
“……They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah”(Acts 5:40-42 NIV).
There is no way that ordinary people could admire flogging for preaching the gospel. But the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. What the apostles had gone through cannot be equated to tithing. Their behaviour showed the condition of those having surrendered their lives to Jesus.
Those in the habit of mourning the dead may as well be advised to mourn for those having surrendered their lives to Jesus. Those people are no longer part of this world. They would be better off, losing their physical lives, at that stage. They would have become a living sacrifice, more than living for their personal gains.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me” (Philippians 1:21-26 NIV).
In the above passage, Paul is demonstrating to us, an example of being a living sacrifice. His choice of living in flesh had ceased to be for his own good, but for others. It was for the purpose of those that he was serving, rather than for his own benefit. Paul did not consider the principle of tithing when he was here but gave himself to God, wholeheartedly.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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