By Reno Omokri
Many of my followers have asked me to comment about the tithe controversy that has been sweeping Black Christendom for years. And in my own opinion, this controversy is unnecessary.
We must disprove those racists who say that if you want to hide anything from a Black man, all you need to do is to put it in a book!
If all those who have opined about this matter had cared to read what Scripture says about tithing, I am convinced that it would not have led to as big a controversy as it is today.
So many people have spoken for and against tithing and the thing that bothers me most about their interventions is that it references their pastor, a certain sermon, their opinion or something they have heard or read, outside Scripture. And when they do quote scripture, they try to make Scripture conform to their church/pastor’s doctrine, rather than make their church/pastor’s doctrine conform to Scripture.
As a matter of fact, somebody commented that if only I read a certain book by David Yongi Cho, I would know that he (the commenter) was right in his opinion on tithing.
On the issue of tithing as well as on any other ecclesiastical issue, there is only one reference point, and that is Scripture.
2nd Timothy 3:16 says:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for DOCTRINE, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (KJV)
This pretty much covers it. Any controversy about tithing must be settled by Scripture.
The truth is that tithing as presently practised by many churches, especially the so called Pentecostal or Evangelical churches, is unscriptural.
Take away tithing and the attraction and motivation to be the founder and president of an ‘international ministry’ would disappear. Many people’s calling would disappear.
Scripture actually warned us of such times as this in 1 Timothy 6:5–6.
Constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (NIV)
The truth is that tithing is an age old AGRICULTURAL practice that predated even Abraham and Moses. Ancient communities, including African communities, set aside a certain potion of their harvest (usually a tenth) and sacrificed
it to their gods through his priests.
Now the tithing that Moses taught about was instituted by the living God because the Levitical priests were not given a portion of the land of Canaan as an inheritance, and aa a result they were to be supported by their fellow brethren.
Numbers 18:20–21 says:
The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.“ I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. (NIV)
From the above it is clear that the tithes were specifically gifted by God to the Levites.
You will never find anywhere in Scripture were God, His Son Yeshua or the early apostles and disciples asked the New Testament church to pay tithes to pastors.
Pastors do not replace Levites. In the New Testament, we are all priests. We see this in 1 Peter 2:9:
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
New Testament priests worked and earned a living. They were not dependent on the church and the following verse proves it.
I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”-Acts 20:33–35. (NIV).
The above was a farewell message from Paul who had pastored a church in Ephesus. I have been to Ephesus. I have been to the market where Paul had his tent making business.
Neither Christ, nor Paul nor any of the fathers of the early church collected any tithes from their congregation because they were not Levites who were prevented from doing any type of work other than temple service. Yes, they did collect offerings. However, these were free will offerings.
Rather than tithing, the book of Acts teaches us in Acts 2:44–45 that the early Christians lived a communal life and shared EVERYTHING they had.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
Too often, pastors try to manipulate their congregation by quoting Malachi 3:8–10
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – your whole NATION – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (NIV)
I want my readers to note the words ‘NATION’ in the Scripture above. Scripture must be used to unlock Scripture.
The above Scripture was directed to the NATION of Israel. This is clear from Malachi 3:6
“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (NIV)
The reason God said the Israelites were robbing Him is because, as I have proved above with Scripture, on their way to the promised land, God made a deal with them that He would not give the Levites a share of the land of Canaan so that they could focus on Him and the work of the Temple.
In return the rest of the Israelites were to give God the tithes of their agricultural produce from the land He gave them and God in turn gave His tithes to the Levitical priesthood.
It is funny that pastors who insist that Malachi’s verses on tithing must apply to them do not insist that other Old Testament provisions should also apply to them.
Deuteronomy 21:18–21 commanded the ancient Israelites to stone their stubborn children to death. Are tithe receiving pastors then prepared to stone their own stubborn children to death because of that Biblical verse?
Quoting an Old Testament verse to justify a New Testament life may appear hypocritical especially as Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith and His early disciples did not preach about tithing. Jesus talked about tithing only in passing while condemning the Pharisees.
However, when Christ mentions tithe, it is clear that it is an AGRICULTURAL tax. This is what Christ said:
“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 practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”-Matthew 23:23.
Notice that Christ mentions only AGRICULTURAL products (mint, dill and cumin).
He did not mention money. This is because tithes were an agricultural tax for the benefit of Levites.
Pay your tithe financially if your conscience allows it, but don’t use Malachi to justify it, and note that you are obeying men, not God.
I am not saying pay or don’t pay tithes. I am just presenting the facts as an ordained pastor.
In fact, when the Pharisees insisted that the first Gentile converts to Christianity must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law, including tithing, the Council in Jerusalem overruled them and in Acts 15:19–20 gave only four commandments to the new Gentile believers and tithing was NOT one of those commandments.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”
Christ mentioned tithe once (in passing when admonishing the Pharisees) but He preached salvation over 100 times.
Let our message in the church focus on Salvation not tithe! Abraham tithed. But He did not tithe to be blessed or that the devourer would be rebuked.
In fact, the tithing that Abraham tithed is completely different from the tithing God commanded the Israelites to do.
The tithing of agricultural goods came into Jewish law by Moses. However, Abraham tithed tithed military plunder. Abraham did not even tithe agricultural goods. He did not tithe from his income.
This is very clear from Hebrews 7:4
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the PLUNDER! (NIV).
And one other thing that we should note is that Abraham paid tithes once. He did not pay tithes on multiple occasions to King Melchizedek, or to anyone else. It was a one time specific event, not a recurring weekly, biweekly, monthly or annual payment.
Are those pastors who insist on collecting monetary tithes aware that money existed during the times of the ancient Israelites, yet God never told them to pay monetary tithes. He only requested for AGRICULTURAL tithes so the Levites, who had no farms, could eat.
As a matter of fact, God told those Israelites who lived far away from the Temple not to even bother paying their agricultural tithes but to convert it to money and spend it on themselves.
We see this in Deuteronomy 14:24–27:
But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
Yes, Abraham tithed from his military victory but it does not mean that you must also tithe. Abraham had concubines. By the same logic, should you also have concubines?
The point I am trying to make is that the faith of Abraham culminates in Christ and under Christ, there is no compulsion to tithe. God has given each of us a conscience and His Spirit. If you are led to tithe then tithe. If you are not, then don’t.
But let him that tithes not look down on him that does not tithe, and he who does not tithe should not hold those who do in contempt. Your salvation is dependent on your faith in Christ Yeshua, and not whether or not you tithe.
You can make heaven if you believe but don’t tithe, but not if you tithe and don’t believe.
As a New Testament believer, what is required of you is a willing offering not a compulsory tithe. This is why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says:
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
We ought to understand that the biblical practice of tithing had two origins. The first was from Abraham, the prophet and patriarch and the other is the Mosaic Law.
In Christ, both the tithing by the prophet and the law have been fulfilled hence in Matthew 5:17 Jesus said:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”
So because of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we do not need the Levitical priesthood as intermediaries between God and humans since Christ is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.” (John 14:6),
In the same way, we already have Abraham’s blessings since God has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3).
As a matter of fact, Colossians 2:10 teaches us that ‘we are complete in Christ’.
So don’t let any pastor psyche you into believing that your worship of God is not complete until you have paid your tithe. Or that things will be tight for you if you do not tithe.
The rich men on Earth do not tithe. The Japanese do not tithe. Yet they are one of the richest people on Earth. Why? Because even though they are not Christian, they are a very moral people.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”-Proverbs 14:34.
Prince once performed his song, Tambourine, at a 30,000 seater stadium in Japan. Ever the eccentric, he insisted on putting a tambourine in several seats so his fans could play along. After the concert, Prince was shocked that not even one tambourine was missing. This is a testament to the legendary honesty of the Japanese people.
I do not know a Christian nation on Earth where what happened in Japan could be replicated.
That is the reason why God blesses the Japanese people. Because they are a very morally righteous people.
As Paul said:
“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves.”-Romans 2:14.
It is impossible to enter God’s kingdom without believing in Christ. But you can prosper here on Earth if you have good moral ethics, like the Japanese. Even when you do not tithe.
If you like, insult me after reading this. However, one thing you can never say is that I teach my opinion. I teach the undiluted word, with Scriptural backing, which will not always be popular, but which brings healing and direction if implemented.