Pauline Tithing: Part Three The Tithe Ends, The Giving Begins

Where many churches believe in giving a tenth of your income in tithing, we have seen through the old laws that it was more accurately a third each year’s increase. In some cases, this is a personal belief, even if the church asks only for offerings. In the Old Testament, this was done to support the Levites and the priesthood for their labors in caring for the Temple according to God’s very specific instructions. As we have moved away from Levitical priests and the cornucopia of requirements for sacrifices, firstborns, and the three individual tithes, we have to remember that tithing is as outdated a practice as saving the shoulder, internal organs, and heads of a sacrifice for our priests (Deut 18:3).

Instead, with God’s Grace, Jesus’ teachings, and Paul’s guidance, we are now encouraged to give, not out of duty to the laws but freely with a desire to help others and share our blessings. Paul even asked us to give weekly but stressed that this was only applicable if our circumstances would allow. He recognized that those who care for us spiritually, ministering us and giving us guidance, are providing us a service much like any other profession. Because of this, they deserve to be paid for their efforts so that they may make a living as the rest of us do with our day jobs. The balance to that we find in the instructions to the ministers: Paul was an example of doing as much as possible for the church while reducing his own burden to the church. He even refused their money at times and encouraged them instead to give to those in real need.

While we may decide that we want to give 10% or any percent of our money to the church, it is neither our duty to do so nor a tithe owed to God. Neither your salvation nor your standing with God is at risk when you decide to put your money to use elsewhere. It is instead a freely given gift, that needs no recognition if given compassionately, to show others how God has blessed us and the love that he first gave to us. The funds to support the pastor for his labor are due to him from the offerings, but the rest is to help  the community and the church’s own members. This is to make sure he is not without while trying to bring the word of God to you. These gifts to the church of not only money but resources and volunteered efforts should make sure that no one in the church has to rely on the kindness of non-christians for help but can simply make their needs known to the church and be fed.

The widow’s mite tells us that we should give as much or as little with the same sincerity and willingness in our hearts. However, with grace, we know that the only thing that truly defines our salvation is our hearts. With Grace, we are free from the multitude of laws of the Old Testament, but far more importantly, we are under new commands. Jesus taught us about circumstances, about subjective decisions. He never said yes or no, he would give you a situation in a parable so that you knew the right answer, because it was clear when you made it a matter of the heart. In this, the offerings that you give to your church are your choice, so long as they come from a sincere desire to help others and are put to use to do so. God, as always, has balanced his church and takes care of our every need.

Pauline Tithing: Part Two A Heart of Grace

If Christians were to be free from the Law, then the big question was what were they supposed to do now. en Even back then, our inability to earn salvation has been used to excuse repeated bad behavior with no repentance or learning. Grace did not buy us a blank check, rather it brought a forgiveness and a love that we could never have earned and still won’t. There are still expectations of the Lord in Grace.

In Jeremiah 31:31-33 from the last lesson, God tells us that there is a new covenant that will place the law into our hearts and make us His people and He our God. The new covenant is based precisely on the willingness of hearts and the desire to do as he asks, not simply obedience and a checklist for the day’s chores. The inward changes and the true intention of our hearts is what God sees to determine His people. Paul, knowing how different this would be from the old law and how lost many would be, set out something of an outward appearance in order to give us more direction.

Tithing as we saw in Jesus’ life was not mentioned as part of the covenant under Grace, and therefore the old ways are moot. Paul and Jesus never asked for a percentage of your income or your firstborns to support the Levitical priests. However, those of us who have ever volunteered or spent any time in the behind the scenes for a church service know that there is quite a bit of funds and resources that go into creating and maintaining a house for the Lord. This was the original purpose of the tithe, and the new covenant has a plan for this fund as well. Throughout the New Testament, we see references to the grace that we must offer to others, both in taking care of the church that supports us spiritually and providing for the physical needs of the community as well, so as to do as the church would do. These along with the need to give wages to the workers in a church to support them for the work that they offer a very simple structure of funds and resources that support not only the church but its efforts with its people (Romans 15:25-27; Galatians 6:2, 6; 1 Timothy 5:16-18; 2 Timothy 2:6; James 2:15-16). From Romans to Timothy the example was clear: a tithe-less covenant where we look after the needs of others.

Paul, as one of the Law’s greatest students, constantly taught and wrote that the old ways were nothing to this new Grace because they were obligation and effort to earn the love and salvation that Jesus was giving freely, if only we believe in Him. The tithe is as outdated as the requirements of circumcision, clothing made of a single fabric, and clean/ unclean animals. Paul and this new system, as brought to us from Jesus’ teachings, only concerned itself with the genuine gifts of the heart, acts of sincere compassion and willingness. We glorify God not in ten percent, but in giving without concern for material value, for the sake of love. God takes care of His people, if only we will take care of each other.

Paul’s Order: Part One The End of Law

Jesus was gone. This upstart sect of Judaism was nearly dead with its messiah before the news even had a chance to fully spread. Stories of the original disciples performing many acts carried this infant church but as the converts grew so did their need for more than passing stories. In many ways, the people who were being Christ-like still hung on to the Jewish laws, believing only that Christ-like was the story of a perfect life under the law.  As it often is, many of the Jews misinterpreted Jesus’ actions, but it was the voice of a converted teacher of the law, Paul, who was able to restructure the doctrine and the foundations to form what we now know to be Christianity. Because of his profound and respected education, he hit the hardest on the separation from Jewish law in the presence of Grace.

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.


Jesus walked into a deep traditionalism, a people living by the letter of the law, knowing that their ancestors had failed recently. They needed Him to follow the laws as he taught them the new way, because it was so essential to their idea of salvation. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, of the perfect life for the perfect sacrifice, but He also came to teach us that the law was essentially over, to show us a different way of living for God. Paul shows us this exact relationship in Romans 3:19-25, outlining the structure that exists between Grace and law and what Jesus left for us to live and learn from.The Law demanded sacrifice, demanded taxation, and most of all demanded death for sin. Jesus however fulfilled every requirement and entered us into the new covenant spoken of as far back as Jeremiah.

Paul was dealing with those trying to bring their Jewish law into Christianity and force Gentiles to submit to their eating habits and circumcision upon conversion. Paul’s constant contention was that this new covenant had nothing to do with our works in the flesh. His main point was that nothing we could do would purify us, since hundreds of years of the law still left them sacrificing in the Temple for the same sins, and ultimately failing to fulfill the laws on their own. Paul taught that Jesus was the final offering on that altar and with the rending of the temple veil so then was the law declared done.

To emphasize the new structure for salvation, Paul organized the church with ministers instead of priests, local deacons instead of Levites, many churches instead of one Temple. By removing the Temple from the equation, there was not only one way, through sacrifice, to reach salvation, but many ways, many perspectives, and a freedom to be with God everywhere you go. He had sent the comforter to be in you and that by gathering together wherever they found themselves that they could bring the presence of Jesus into their midst. The Law was impersonal legislation to earn one’s way to be with God,  but Grace was to be Christ lived through us.