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 The tithe is as outdated as the requirements of circumcision, clothing made of a single fabric, and clean/ unclean animals.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.