Ever had a burn out hearing about ‘paying’ tithes? Actually no one in the new covenant is supposed to ‘pay’ tithes. Though the word tithe is a Bible term, it cannot be applied to the new covenant in the same sense as it is found in the covenant of Moses. I think this area of ‘paying tithes’ is likely one of the most misunderstood issues today.
Here’s snippets of the Scriptures most often used for the ‘paying’ the tithe:
“Will a man rob God … You are cursed with a curse … ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” Mal3:8-10)
Now that I have your attention, let’s look at another term that speaks more in line with how believers can honor the Lord in the new covenant. The term ‘first fruits’ speaks to honoring the Lord, but it must be understood correctly.
The struggle folk often have is wondering where a tithe fits in the new covenant. Actually it doesn’t fit, not in the sense of what it relates to under the law of Moses. No one has to tithe to be saved. Next we hear, ‘But wouldn’t NOT tithing put us under a curse?’ The simple answer is, no. The Law of Moses is not the instrument of righteousness for God’s people of the new covenant. Jesus alone is our righteousness.
Yet, the apostle says that the Law of Moses is good if we learn to use it lawfully. Using it lawfully speaks of learning to view the Law through the lens of the new covenant. This simply means that the Law does contain certain principles of guidance that we can appropriate into our walk with the Lord. These principles of guidance pertain to life itself. They are not simply a matter of which covenant they belong to.
A place to begin is where Paul says that the curse placed upon a non-performance of the Law of Moses is removed in Christ. The Law of Moses was a separate covenant given only to the nation of Israel. Even at that, the Law was nailed to the cross. This means that the Law as a covenant is no longer in effect.
If the curse has been removed, what then remains? What remains is the blessings of the Lord, that is, the blessings that belong to a walk of righteousness. But even the blessings have to be understood properly.
This is where the term ‘first fruits’ takes on a special meaning for new covenant believers. Listen to the Sage:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes … Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Pro3:5-10)
Did you catch it The issue of first fruits is an issue of honoring the Lord from one’s heart. This is what the first fruits is teaching. The apostolic writer said that in the new covenant, God places His laws into our minds and writes them on our hearts. What laws is he speaking of. Certainly not the Law of Moses. (Heb8:10)
The laws the Holy Spirit writes in our hearts are the laws of learning how to live. They are laws of life. Listen to these New Testament Scriptures: (Pay close attention to the words in ‘CAPS’. They are for emphasis only.)
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together and running over. FOR BY YOUR STANDARD OF MEASURE IT WILL BE MEASURED TO YOU IN RETURN.” (Luke 6:38. Notice how the Lord says our returned ‘blessings’ are measured by our own measure of giving.)
“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal6:6,7. God expects His servants to be provided for. To be a receiver of good teaching with no regard to blessing the teacher is something God does not overlook.)
“This I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. EACH ONE MUST DO JUST AS HE HAS PURPOSED IN HIS HEART, NOT GRUDGINGLY OR UNDER COMPULSION, FOR GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” (2Co9:6-8. In this case the giving is in regard to helping others who belong to the Lord.)
What we need to key in on is that giving must always be in accordance with our heart. Our giving is never to be grudgingly, or under compulsion.
See where the struggle comes in? The laws of life don’t swing back and forth according to the covenants. Spiritual laws are always in place. One of the greatest of God’s laws is the law of sowing and reaping. The difference in the new covenant is that the Holy Spirit teaches us how to give, what to give, where to give, and when to give. It will always be a thing of the heart. If it is not in your heart to give, then don’t give.
However, you also need to be forewarned. Don’t expect the blessings of the giver if you have not learned to be a giver yourself. So ask yourself these questions; ‘Am I having all sufficiency in everything?‘ Or, ‘Do I have an abundance for every good deed?’ ‘Or am I living on barely get along avenue?” Keep in mind what Paul said about not being deceived.
A young couple in our church shared this testimony. They were into tithing on a regular basis. But things were slipping. They would wait until everything else was paid, then they would write a check to Christian Challenge. Even at that, some times they would hold on to their tithe checks for a while just to make sure things balanced out right.
Their ears perked up over something that Nathan or I had said by way of a passing remark. They went home and talked about whether they were honoring the Lord, as they should. This is where they made a decision. From that moment on the very first check they would write would be their first fruits. It would be on the gross and not on what ever was left after taxes. (I’m simply relating a testimony. Not telling you to do anything.)
Guess what? They got so excited. The very next week the blessings began to roll in. They started naming the things that began to happen to their finances. It was as if the windows of heaven had opened.
Here is the lesson. What the Bible teaches is that we should always sow with a view to righteousness. Jesus told us not to judge by appearance, but to judge with righteous judgment. This means that we must let the Lord lead us in what is right in His sight. We do this by learning to listen to Him.
Why not begin by counting your blessings. And in doing this, ask the Lord if He has any special directions for your life. He has promises to lead you in the paths of righteousness. After all, He is your Father.
So I will simply leave you with what the apostle told his young disciple:
“Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2Ti 2:7)
Here is your song for today:
Your servant in Christ,