Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 9 September 2018
Page 8

What Will Build a Strong Church?

Maxie B. Boren

Maxie B. BorenNot sensationalism! Not gimmicks! Not more committees, mere programs or a “fun and games” emphasis! These things may be “right-on” for civic clubs, social clubs and country clubs, but not for the Lord’s church! What does it take to build a strong church? I believe with all my heart that the following things are essential!

 It is my conviction that these ingredients will build a strong church! I pray fervently that all eight points will become a reality in every congregation more than ever before!

New Testament Giving
Versus Old Testament Tithing

Brian R. Kenyon

Brian R. KenyonA preacher was once asked why he did not preach tithing. He responded by saying he could not afford to preach it because it would cut the contribution too much. His point was that where he preached, the members gave well beyond 10% of their income. However, not many congregations would fall into that category. Some have estimated that our brotherhood’s contributions represent 5-7% of our collective income, while other estimates claiming to be more accurate say our contributions only represent 2-3% of our collective income (Gambill 49). In either case, it is not too difficult to see why many congregations do not have the funds to properly do the Lord’s work. Contributions would probably double or even triple if members gave 10%. This often brings up the question, “What about tithing?” Thus, a comparison of Old Testament tithing with New Testament giving is profitable.

Old Testament “Tithing”

The practice of tithing existed long before the Law was given to Moses at Sinai. Many nations in ancient history tithed property, produce, and currency. Some biblical examples are Abram, who paid a tenth to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20) and Jacob, who promised to give God a tenth of everything (Genesis 28:20-22). According to some sources, when considering all the requirements under the Law of Moses, the Israelites may have given closer to 30% (“Tithe”). According to the Pentateuch, there were three different tithes. First, a tithe was to be given by the people to support the Levites who had no inheritance (Numbers 18:20-32). Second, a tithe was to be given of the land that was “holy unto the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30-33). Third, a yearly tithe was to be given to keep appointed feasts along with a special tithe that was to be given every third year (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote two relevant statements in Antiquities of the Jews concerning tithing. First, “Let there be taken out of your fruits a tenth, besides that which you have allotted to give to the priests and Levites. This you may indeed sell in the country, but it is to be used in those feasts and sacrifices that are celebrated in the holy city” (Book 4, 8, 8). Second, “Besides those two tithes which I have already said you are to pay every year…you are to bring every third year a third tithe to be distributed to those who are in want” (Book 4, 8, 22). To say Jews always only gave a tenth may not be accurate.

As we examine the writing prophets, we note that God’s people abused tithing in at least two ways. First, they “tithed,” but with no intention of showing concern for justice, righteousness or mercy (Amos 4:4). Tithing was supposed to be motivated by genuine love and joy for God and one’s brethren (Deuteronomy 14:23, 26, 28-29). However, when given from wrong motives, tithing was an abomination to the Lord. Second, God’s people withheld their tithes, thus “robbing” God (Malachi 3:8-10). This was also an abomination to God and would result in a withdrawal of God’s blessings if continued. Under the Law, tithing gave Israel the following opportunities: (1) to declare they were giving back a portion of what already belonged to God (Deuteronomy 8:18; 26:10-15); (2) to remember the blessings God gave them by imitating Him and His care for those in need (Deuteronomy 14:28-29); and (3) to serve God sacrificially, at a cost to themselves (Deuteronomy 14:22). These same opportunities are also available to us in our giving.

New Testament Giving

We are no longer under the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:24-25; Colossians 2:14), including God’s law of tithing. However, to say that we are not under the Law does not mean our responsibility to give is somehow lessened or that it does not matter (Black 39). The New Testament teaches that we are to give liberally (Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 9:11-13). New Testament examples show that our giving can exceed 10%. Jesus set forth the poor widow as a good giver because “she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12:44). Note what Jesus required of the rich young ruler before he could inherit eternal life: “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:24). The Lord approved of Zacchaeus because, among other things, he said, “I give half of my goods to the poor” (Luke 19:8-9). The Jerusalem church, recognizing that everything they possessed was not their own, sold their goods and “brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32, 34-35). The churches of Macedonia gave liberally out of far greater affliction and poverty than any of us will likely experience in our lifetime (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). All these examples reflect great sacrifice on the part of the giver. Can we expect any less of our giving today?

Scriptural Giving Today

Let us conclude by noting some principles that must govern our giving (adapted from Brannan 22). First, perhaps the Lord has not set a definite percentage to our giving for the purpose of proving the sincerity of our love (2 Corinthians 8:8). How sincere does our love for God prove to be when measured by what we give? Second, God does not want us to give reluctantly or merely out of duty, but cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Do we give cheerfully or “Just because I have to”? Third, acceptable giving requires sacrifice on the part of the giver (2 Corinthians 8:5). David exemplified this by saying he would not “offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). Do we sacrifice or just give God the “leftovers”? Fourth, we are to give as God has prospered us (1 Corinthians 16:2). Do we increase our giving when our financial prosperity increases? Fifth, God requires us to give liberally (2 Corinthians 9:11, 13). Does God consider what we give now to be liberal or are we robbing Him? Giving is a serious matter, both for our soul’s salvation and for the well-being of the local church! Let’s give as the New Testament directs!

Works Cited

Black, V.P. Rust as a Witness. Chickasaw: V.P. Black, 1968.

Brannan, E.R. “Should Our Giving Exceed the Tithe?” Gospel Advocate Apr. 1994: 21.

Gambill, Steven J. “Should a Christian Tithe?” Gospel Advocate Dec. 1992: 49.

“Tithe.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988 ed.

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