Tithing Series: Introduction

Tithing seems to be a commonly requested topic here at The Incomplete Message. We keep all of your questions and constantly look for ways to address questions you’ve brought up. So if you’ve asked a question but haven’t seen it in a post just yet, don’t think we’ve forgotten you. We simply want to give all questions the respect of a thoroughly thought out and Biblically based response.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be diving into the scripture to show the different ways tithing has evolved through Old Testament, the prophets, and now into the New Testament.  First focus will be where tithing came from and its purpose: what does taking a tithe mean, why it was instituted at all and where it ended. During the time of Mosaic law and the Kingdom of Israel, there were strong changes in tithes purposes and what was expected: why was it changed from Abraham’s version, to what purpose, and how it also met its end scripturally. From the time the Israelites were exiled until the end of Jesus’ life, new doctrines once again reinvented tithing, its purposes, and came to a conclusion in scripture. After Christ’s departure, we come to a modern take on tithing that follows both Christ’s teachings as we find the stories in the New Testament and Paul’s doctrinal refinement, learning how it is relevant to us today and how to apply it to our own lives following God’s teachings.

The point of this series will be as always to show the simplicity of Christ and his message of peace in our lives. Just as Jesus Christ was a human to bring balance, so must the Word be made flesh and lived in us towards all fellow humans. I hope you find something in the coming lessons useful, challenging, and enjoyable. If you have any questions or issues, I would love to see the commentary on it or PM me at any time.


“Come now, and let us reason together,”

Isaiah 1:18

We are His Children

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. – Mark 10

It’s hard to question your upbringing. Parents are given the ability to create the norms you judge the world by. The filters they gave me, from inconsistency caused by them disagreeing on new doctrines: are TV’s evil, playing cards of the devil, shorts examples of a sissy spirit, physical discipline guided by the whims of ministers (thinking you can beat the devil out of your child), and money management (why save when the world was ending). For me, one of many cracks in that wall came when my son was born. I wanted to be an example for him because I couldn’t control the outside world, only what I showed him. This was a huge responsibility. Once leaving the group I have had to stop in the midst of things to check my sources, everyday thoughts might have been based on non biblical traditions, I also had to evaluate my parents’ lessons, deciding if they were based on things I still believed.

“…old-fashion mother, see her girl come out on the street, back there in them mountains, with a little pair of shorts on, like you and grandma and the rest of you wear. Let her come in, of a morning, and her clothes half off of her, twisted up, and her manicure, lipsticks, or whatever it is, all over her face, been out with some little Ricky all night long, in a hot rod, running around, come in. She would blister her, one of them hickory limbs, she couldn’t get up out of the bed for six months” 63-0412M – William Marrion Branham

My thoughts on parenting needed adjustment right then and there. I was appalled this had been taught to me, but my parents didn’t want to hear how they were wrong, who does? They had done right in their minds based on how they’d been raised. Every generation trying to fix what they felt was messed up, yet the message froze certain ideas and cemented them in place like the above quote.

I can only imagine that this was the wall that so many of the people in Jesus’ time ran into when he told them that God’s grace had been promised not only to the Jews but to all the Gentiles and all the people of the world. When they had to compare all the rules they’d ever known, taught to them by rabbis, by their parents, by their entire world up until that point that rules and expectations would be what got them into heaven. Jesus told them that the kingdom of Heaven was likened to the starry-eyed curious children running to meet him that the disciples couldn’t hold back. I had to realize like those that converted to Christianity that my salvation didn’t depend on rules and restrictions like wearing skirts and tithing and hiding the TV when my minister said it was evil. Jesus came to show us that there was a good and human (and fallible) way to find salvation. I had to find the loving way to raise my kid, in Jesus’ name.

And everywhere the Lamb went; Mary was sure to go

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

– Luke 21:46

As a parent I have the fear of losing my child in public places. Walking through Walmart, I have witnessed first hand how my child, upon seeing a toy, developed faster than light travel the moment I looked away. I have played through so many scenarios of what I would do if someone took him or he managed to actually disappear, but in all of my instances of losing him, I’ve only needed to find the nearest shiny or toy section to be reunited with him; thankfully, he and I think similarly.

I’ve heard some people talk about how bad of a mother Mary must have been on that trip. How could she lose the son of God? Depending on who you ask it was three to five day trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem at the time of our story. It was not an overnight trip to a family member’s house. This was a yearly trek for the whole family to the hub of nation to take part in one of the biggest festivals. Think about that, a family vacation, to a church function, with ten or so days just for travel, not counting the seven to eight days of the actual feast of Passover, leaving home for most of a month. I can’t make it from Louisville to Dayton (two hours by the way) without forgetting a toothbrush every time.

After three days of being politely told to stop worrying, as all relatives seem to do, the mom-alarm went ballistic. The Bible tells us that after three days they sought him. No one could for sure say when they’d seen him last, so terrified, they had to head back. Jesus had been left alone in Jerusalem for six days by the time they got back. They didn’t find him scared and hiding. No front desk was paging them. They had to search through every place they had been during that week. When they finally walked into the temple to say a prayer for their lost child, they finally found him. Jesus was not lost; He was sitting amongst those that taught the law and doctrine of the temple. I can imagine as they stood there in shock someone seeing the direction of their stares, telling them, hey, have you seen this kid? He knows more than most of us already. Whoever has been teaching that boy is parent of the year. He’ll make an amazing rabbi someday for sure.

So then we read her cry, “My son. Why have you done this to us? Look at me. Your father and I have been searching high and low for you, worried to death.” We can finally attach the motherly pride and pain to it. We can also imagine the anger that Jesus’ words would have spurned. “Why would you be looking for me anywhere but here? Don’t know you know this is my Father’s business?” However, he relented and went home with them.

God has a purpose for all of us. He has given us each a task to complete, though not many of us by angels. He not only knows our every need but every ounce of our potential. We might be day two of heading back into town trying to find Jesus, panicked, but God is still in control and knows what we need. He wouldn’t give you a responsibility without equipping you to handle it.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

– Isaiah 41:10

Mary had a little Lamb

The virgin birth was a paradox. I do not believe that Jesus was any part of Mary. That was not His mother. It was a woman that God used for that purpose, a incubator to bear His Child. If Mary… If the seed of the woman, which, she is the egg and the man has the hemoglobin… If that’s right, doctor, and (See?) the—the blood. The life lays in the blood cell.                                  62-0128A – William Marrion Branham

As Mary looked down into His eyes in the swaddling cloth, she did her best to smile. The stench of the animals was making them all gag. She blinked away tears as she looked over at Joseph who smiled back at her. The last year replaying in her mind as she looked around. The laughter and happiness as she discussed being espoused, learning about the man she would call her husband, Joseph of Galilee. The Angel that had visited him too gave her a companion and a confidante in her struggles, once he could see the truth for himself. They had tried to follow God’s will to give birth to the baby. Yet they felt lost and worried, sitting in a borrowed stable in a strange town. Surely this wasn’t the place God had planned to come to man in. She must have missed something. In the midst of this doubt, there was a knock on the door.

As Joseph opened the doors and a group of dirty shepherds made their way in, the confusion grew. These men had been visited too, more recently, telling them to come, see, and worship. The shepherds didn’t seem sure of themselves, being grown men told to go find the son of God and worship Him. What they found was a confused couple worried about messing up God’s plan and a newborn baby. But as the pieces started to fall into place, it was more and more apparent how these strangers had been brought together as pieces of a bigger plan and the roles they had been given.

We glorify the people in the Bible like fantasy characters, but if we really believe them to be true stories, then they were human just like us. They had to have been flesh and blood people. They used the bathroom, tripped and fell, broke things, told bad jokes, laughed at the wrong times, had no clue what was happening. A lot of times, we imagine Jesus walking around with twelve saints and how they spoke of the Lord and His awesome power. I’ve never seen thirteen men stay focused on one topic for more any amount of time, and they had to have cracked jokes, ones that would make you groan.  When you’re friends with someone for that long, there are running jokes and looks that they share in a way that we experience every day. When we talk about being close to God and talking to Him one on one, so often we think it has to be a formal black tie event. Do you think Peter ever asked Jesus if he could make a million shekels appear? Who wouldn’t ask just once? Jesus came to this earth to live life like us, for the son of God to not only suffer a death that was miserable, but to live and play in the dirt as we do. When I was a youth minister, it was remarkable to see how quickly the kids could relate to things in the Bible when they felt like Jesus really was one of us and not only suffered with us, but laughed with us. Suddenly the Bible actually meant something. God lived among us, His people who were created in His image, and we can be people just like they were, following His plan.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.                                                                                                            – Luke 1:30-31