Why do I think it's important to talk about? Well, I think if I've learned anything from the many grace preachers and teachers out there, I've learned how serious it is to mix in law with grace, even if it is only the tiniest whiff of the tiniest drop of it. Of course I don't believe any of us will live in 100% pure grace while living in this broken down world, but I do think we can avoid hanging on to bits of the law mentality in obvious teachings and practices.
In fact, I don't think anyone has a good excuse to be teaching tithing (and I think I've probably heard most of the excuses) because I know people have been questioning those teaching tithing, even bringing in applicable Scripture ect... I know this because I personally know people who have done this, including myself. I don't want any 'have to's' mixed in with my good news! This does NOT mean that I don't love and appreciate and learn loads from grace teachers who teach some form of tithing. Some of my favorite grace preachers still hang on to it as far as I know--some in a very gracious way and some in a much more blatantly Old Covenant way.
One important reason to stop preaching tithing is it is VERY confusing to people coming into the revelation of New Covenant grace. I am often questioned about why grace preachers are still talking abbout tithing. In the mind of someone coming out of legalism, they hear the good news that they've been set free from ALL law and requirements in the New Covenant and start to feel new freedom, then they hear the same preacher tell them they must still tithe and confusion sets in. How many other requirements are they still bound to? Maybe the good news is not as good as it initially seemed? Maybe there is still some bondage in some areas? As one of my fellow gracers once commented to me on the subject, "I just don't feel released from tithing yet". So is tithing the one thing Jesus didn't release us from??? Do I need to feel released or believe I'm released?!?!
Let me just say again, I do not want to disrespect anyone who still believes in tithing in grace. I'm not trying to offend and I certainly don't see this as an issue that should disrupt fellowship in any way. I love you tithers! And if you see something in my words that you think is legalistic in any way, please please tell me!
Ahem. So to Abraham. Joel touches on some of this in one of his posts but I want to talk about it a little more, mainly because it is one of the biggest arguments I've heard for New Covenant tithing. When I was first coming into grace, I was having a horrible time because financially it became impossible to tithe. Aaron never bothered much about that stuff, but I had a running tally in my head at all times of how much money we owed God and eventually it got to the point where I realized we would never be able to pay him back. Hahaha, it sounds so ridiculous now!
Anyway, as I said I was coming into grace so of course I was reading and reading Galatians and one day as I was doing this God just spoke to me: "replace circumcision with tithing and you have today's church". Wow!!! That was the end of it for me, I saw it clearly and ever since have been free from the bondage and constraint to give any particular amount of money to anyone at any time. Gone was the idea that part of my money really belonged to God, that I needed to give money to God in the first place etc., ect,... It's a crazy idea to think that giving money to a church or ministry is the same as giving money to God! All our giving is to other PEOPLE. It's more a matter of sharing if you ask me. If we see a brother in need of food or clothes, we share what we have with them. If we see the church needs money to get the good news out there, we see our pastor working hard to feed us spiritually, we share what we have!
Now, I've asked several pro-tithers who say "Abraham tithed out of faith 400 years before the law, therefore I tithe out of faith not under law"; so how is that different from circumcision? You see, in faith, Abraham was circumcised 400 years before the law. Actually, in faith, Abraham sacrificed animals, and was even going to sacrifice his own son, 400 YEARS BEFORE THE LAW. If I have faith should I also take my son up a mountain and lay him on an alter? I mean, Abraham did! So I find this line of logic extremely illogical.
Second point about Abraham: If this example of Abraham tithing was meant to be an example for new covenant believers to follow, why is it not taught ANYWHERE in the new testament??? In fact, Hebrews even refers to the story and still somehow the writer forgot the mention the very important fact that we should still be tithing! I gather that to mean that the point of Abraham tithing to Melchizedek was NOT to show us that we should tithe. In fact Hebrews tells us why that account is in Scripture, and the point of it is the opposite of the tithing idea. So what's the point???
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. Hebrews 7:1-10
The point, as we can see is the whole point of Hebrews as well, is that the new covenant with the new Great High Priest is completely superior to the old system. I think it is safe to say that in the context of Hebrews the point of recounting this story is NOT to teach us that there is still one little rule we should keep from the old covenant, that is, tithing.
So, what do I think is the real reason most people still preach tithing? Well, I do think many people honestly just believe this Abraham thing, but part of it is definately connected to unbelief. It would be very difficult for a leader of a church or ministry to switch gears part way through and start telling people they don't need to tithe. Why? Because they rely and trust in the people's tithe for financial provision, not in God himself. Oh, they think God has given them the tithing teaching for their provision, but I say God is able to put in people a true desire and joy to give without any kind of rule or regulation about how they should give! It's the same argument that legalists use against those preaching grace all the time! If we just tell them they don't have to they won't! It's a panic issue, a fear that is based in unbelief in the power of God to produce sons in the image of Jesus. Sons who will naturally be generous, really!
And as many of these preachers have noted, sometimes when we kick out the props of law from under people they will wobble and even fall around for a time. But then they will learn to stand on their new grace legs and will infinitely healthier and stronger for it in the end. So couldn't we believe God to carry us through that time financially?
So those are some of my main thoughts on it all...What do you think?