The next scripture we are going to examine that has been misused is 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 which states, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.”
This scripture has been misused by some to say that this was a weekly tithe mandated by Paul. Unfortunately for them the context doesn’t bear witness to this fact. Let us examine the text more closely. Notice, right at the beginning Paul states the reason why a collection is being taken. He states that the collection is for the saints in Jerusalem, this is not a weekly 10% being collected. The reason it mentions the first day of the week is because they were already gathering on that day and it would make it easy to collect contributions for those in need in Jerusalem. He has also given this same command to the church in Galatia as well. Then he states that they should give, not a certain percentage, but rather, “…storing up as he may prosper.” In other words, to set aside a portion of what they have earned. Notice Paul did not say they must give 10% or tithe. Now the reason he asked them to do this before he came was to make it easier and quicker for him to get someone they trusted to go on the journey to Jerusalem quickly. If they had waited for him to get there to start collecting, it would have delayed him getting the contributions back to those in need. This scripture has nothing to do with a mandatory tithe, but rather a free will offering and collection for those who were in need.
The next verse we will examine will be Mark 12:41-44 concerning the widows offering it states, “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
This is perhaps one of the most beautiful portions of scripture written. It is a fine example of what it means to give sacrificially, but it is not a verse that should be used to enforce tithing on members of the church today. First, the woman did not tithe given that her contribution did not meet the “requirements of tithing according to the law, because her offering did not consist of crops or animals” instead; she gave 100% of the money that she had towards the treasury; which is different from the storehouse. Therefore, her giving was not provoked by obedience to the law, but rather her desire to give to the Lord. Pay special attention to how the Lord honored her offering when he states, “…I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury…” If there is any lesson we should take from this is that the Lord honors whatever amount you are able to give, no matter how much it is, as long as it is given from the heart cheerfully with the right motives.
The next scripture that we will examine is used at times to promote tithing to Pastors under the New Covenant in Acts 4:32-35 it states, “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”
There are some who believe that this text promotes tithing due to the portion which reads, “…and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet…” Some teachers take this text as meaning that this is proof that tithing or money is to be given to the pastors because the apostles received money at their feet; therefore, Pastors or leaders should be given money as well. Again, I know that I have said this multiple times, but when someone uses scriptures like this to fleece the people, they are hoping that you have not taken the time to read the context. When examining the context of this portion of scripture we discover several things.
First, this was not a mandatory tithe commanded by the apostles or God. Second, it mentions that the people were of one mind and soul when giving. In other words, this offering was given of their free will as a result of hearing about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and was given in different amounts. They were so blown away by the Gospel and Jesus’ sacrifice that they were willing to sacrifice their lands and property to ensure that no one had a need. Again, they did not tithe, but rather, gave an offering, and the apostles did not keep the money for themselves; but rather, redistributed the money right back out to everyone evenly. If anything… this scripture should be an example to leaders that people do not have to be manipulated to give, because if you preach and teach about Jesus correctly, they will be motivated out of pure love to give in abundance.
Another scripture that is often quoted in ignorance to promote and encourage tithing is Luke 6:38 which states, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” There are some that have used this verse as a catch phrase during high emotional moments in a worship service or even in simple conversation to say that if you give 10% of your money to the church you will get much more in return. Let us first view the context of this statement starting at Luke 6:35 it states, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Notice how the context provides a mental landscape of having eternity in mind and not treasures on the earth. The context of this verse tells us to be merciful to everyone, especially our enemies. Not to judge wrongfully or condemn; but rather, to forgive. Simply put, the transaction taking place has nothing to do with finances, but rather, mercy and forgiveness. Therefore, when the scripture states, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” The giving here is speaking of the mercy and love you show to everyone, and as a result that same love and mercy will be given to you by God in abundance. It is speaking of God’s mercy on your soul, not treasures on earth being given to you as a result of “giving 10%” of your income to a church.
Now, I can probably imagine what some people may be thinking at this point. I have given so much attention and evidence stating that the New Covenant does not mandate that 10% of our income go to churches, and for many, they take that to mean that I don’t believe in giving to God’s work, or supporting our local ministers, leaders, and pastors in the work that they do. That is simply not the case! As a matter of fact, I believe in giving to God’s work in abundance and as much as we are able, and at times even sacrificially. The contention that I have is people being misled, shamed, and threatened with the word of God for not giving, and also being pressured to give a certain amount when nowhere in the new covenant are we taught that. As a matter of fact, not one Gentile in the new covenant, which is what most of us are, were ever mandated in any of the epistles and letters to the churches to give 10% of their income. I believe that many have mistakenly equated the term tithe with money. Honestly, I believe that the word tithe should not be used when referring to people donating to the church or any ministry. It is misleading. With that said I will now give you evidence of what the Lord has taught concerning giving under the new covenant, and I truly believe that after understanding the scriptures I am about to share, given all the scriptures we have covered, I truly believe that you will be even more motivated to give to God’s work without the burden of guilt that has been laid upon many brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us begin with what I believe to be a foundational chapter when it comes to our offerings. I will read the entire chapter, but the reason I do so is to give you the full context so that you may have a right understanding of what is taking place.
In 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 it reads, “I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. 2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. 4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! 5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalemwill be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
The apostle Paul writes this beautiful portion of scripture as an encouraging letter to the church about their generosity, and it is one that we as believers today should hold close to as it pertains to giving. The apostle Paul drops what I consider to be gems throughout this chapter. He tells the church that he is sending this letter to them so that they are prepared with their offering to help those in need. Very Similar to what we read earlier in 1 Corinthians 16. He then states, “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” Unfortunately, I have heard some teachers misinterpret this verse to mean that when you give more money, you get more blessings. I truly believe that that kind of thinking and interpretation actually reduces the impact that this verse is making. The problems arise when we reduce God’s blessings to merely financial or earthly gain; especially, when this chapter actually tells us what the harvest is, but before we get there let us look at verse 7. This verse alone should be your go to scripture whenever you plan to give to any church or ministry. It reads, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” Let us unpack that as I believe that if you have been struggling with bondage in the area of giving, you are about to be set free.Notice in verse 7 it states that, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give.” Let that verse sink in for a moment and ask,—how am I able to make the decision on how much to give if I am mandated to give 10%? Do you see the dilemma? The children of Israel under the law were not given the option to choose how much they were to tithe, but rather were told that they must give 10% of their crops and animals. There was no choice in the matter. A person could not simply choose to offer 4% instead of the required 10%. But since what Paul is talking about is not a mandated tithe, but rather a free will offering, the text makes much more sense. The verse continues by saying, “…And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure…”
In other words, don’t give if you feel pressured to give or if you are filled with grief, heaviness or sorrow. Many of the teachings concerning tithing today are filled with buzz words meant to invoke fear and guilt. Statements like, “You will be cursed with a curse! You are robbing God, your friends, and the people if you don’t give your money!” Or perhaps you’ve heard that, “The goal of your giving should be at least at 10% and everything else below that doesn’t count!” These are guilt ridden and wicked words meant to invoke fear so that you give up your money. Paul states that we should be happy and cheerful when we give. He did not say that God’s happiness begins when you give 10% of your income. This means that whatever you want to give to God’s ministry; whether it is $1, or a million dollars. As long as you are joyful when you give it and don’t feel any pressure, than the Lord will honor it, and he honors it by making sure that you have everything that you need in life when he states in verse 8 that, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” This kind of giving from the heart is much better than laws of 10% because it gives people the opportunity to share in the Lord’s work at every level despite their income, and they will never feel ashamed by how much they give; rather, they will be joyful in that they gave from the heart and are able to participate in God’s kingdom. Thus, causing them to want to give even MORE!!!
Okay, let’s get back to verse 6 which states, “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” This verse is beautiful as long as it is understood rightfully. Let me make it as simple as I can. The seed is what they are donating to help those in Jerusalem, and the generous crop mentioned begins in verse 12 which states, “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”
Let’s dissect that. First, Paul states that one of the “generous crops” that they will see will be the needs of the people in Jerusalem being met, and the second will be that those individuals will glorify God as a result of their ministry of giving, and they will pray for them with deep affection. Simply put, the more you give, the more people you help, and because you have helped you will never be lacking in the things that you need. This kind of freedom and motivation without burden only increases people’s giving; it never diminishes it
Let’s move on!
Do I believe that ministers should be compensated for the work that they do? Absolutely! In 1 Timothy 5:17-18 it reads, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Many people do not truly comprehend the gravity and responsibility that is laid upon individuals who are responsible for the souls of men and women in the Lord. Every word, every action both hidden and seen carries a weight of responsibility that can either move people toward God or away from Him. Hours of prayer, hours of study, and hours of tending to the sheep of the Lord leaves leaders with little time to do much else. With that kind of burden and responsibility, it is up to us as believers to support them so that they can focus on God’s word and His people and not be worried about anything else. But this also doesn’t mean that they are to become rich from the work they do; but rather, to have their needs met. Unfortunately, many false teachers have taken advantage by mandating a tithing doctrine and have used it as a way to become rich.
Consider this statement by Paul in 1 Timothy 6:9, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” It should never be the Goal of a leader to become rich, but rather a servant. Paul also states in Acts 20:33-35, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” The Apostle Paul, seeking not to give an excuse for anyone to say that he was trying to take advantage of the people, decided to work with his own hands to supply his needs. That is the heart that we as leaders should all have when serving God’s people. In that way it is more blessed to give than to receive, because when you give to the Lord’s work out of a genuine and cheerful heart you spread the saving message of Christ and help people to know God and inherit eternal life.
As we come to the end of this lesson, there is one more thing that I feel I need to address. Many people who have been deceived and taken advantage of due to the false teachings of tithing have often had to struggle with giving in their dire circumstances; Often, having to choose between paying their bills, feeding their family, or giving to a church. After being told for years on end that no matter what their financial status was that if they didn’t give 10% of their income that they would be cursed because they weren’t trusting God. Individuals who truly love the Lord and want to be faithful were often placed in difficult positions. To give or not to give? If they gave they increased their debt, if they didn’t give they were viewed as unfaithful. No matter what, they lost! But out of their desire many took on the debt, many went hungry, and many could not feed their children because they genuinely wanted to please God. 10% to some people is barely even missed because of their wealth, but 1% to some can really devastate their lives. With so many false teachers today who are insensitive and indifferent to the struggles people face, we as teachers and leaders have a responsibility to lift that burden off of peoples backs and replace their burdens with the weightlessness that Christ provides. I would like to make it absolutely clear right here and now that those who are not able to give because of poverty are not mandated by God to give. They are free to give sacrificially if they so choose, but they are not mandated by God to do so, and will not be cursed by God if they can’t give. In fact, the responsibility of taking care of your family supersedes any offerings you give to the church. 1 Timothy 5:8 states, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
If the Lord has blessed people with a job and has blessed the work of their hands to be able to take care of their families, why then do you think that people feel like they cannot give to the Lord’s work and take care of their responsibilities? They feel that way because they are told that they must give a certain percentage, but not only that, but also that the 10% must come out first before they even pay any bills. Where is that in the bible?
Imagine this, what if leaders taught the truth and said that whatever amount you give is a blessing to the Lord’s ministry, there is no pressure or law hanging over you. Take care of your families, pay off your debts, and give to the Lord’s work when you can…and He will richly bless you with everything that you need. There will be times where you will not be able to give financially to a ministry or church, and that’s okay, there are many ways to serve. The Lord knows your heart, and if you can’t give, there are many who are able to give. If the Lord has truly blessed a ministry then he will not let the inability of one person to give stop His work from moving forward. I want you all to ask yourself a question. After reading this lesson Do you feel more motivated to give to the Lord’s work or less motivated? Place your answers in the comment section below as a testimony to leaders in churches all over the world that manipulation is not required to encourage believers in Christ to give; instead, it is the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that motivates us all to give. I pray that this bible lesson has blessed you… and be sure to share it with everyone you know who may be struggling in this area. God bless!
Jourdan Ortiz, Founder of Servant of Christ Ministries