Below are sermons that address the Old Testament tithe system, its conspicuous absence for the most part from the New Testament, and what application (if any) the tithe has for us today.
A Biblical Model For Giving: Part 3
John MacArthur. A Biblical Model For Giving sermon series, no. 3. Sermon preached 1997.
Examining 2 Corinthians 8:3, pastor John MacArthur continues his description from a previous sermon of the sacrificial giving of the Macedonian Christians: (6) They gave proportionately according to their ability. (7) They gave in sacrificial proportions. (8) They gave voluntarily. MacArthur finds sacrificial giving incompatible with the traditional notion of the tithe. He spends a considerable amount of time explaining the nature of tithes in the Old Testament, arguing that this antiquated system of giving does not continue apart from the temple system in the New Testament age. Surveying the Old Testament, MacArthur explains that a required amount for giving was not introduced until the Law of Moses. There were several tithes: one tithe in the form of taxation to fund the religious responsibilities of the Levites and the priests; another tithe for festivals, feasts and national celebrations; and still another tithe to be given every third year to support the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Beyond these God called his people to freewill giving: People gave voluntarily out of thanksgiving and gratitude to God. While the New Testament certainly expects us to pay taxes to human government, our giving to the Lord is no longer as prescriptive as it once was, but freewill, not according to any set percentage.
Back to top
A Biblical Model For Giving: Part 4
John MacArthur. A Biblical Model For Giving sermon series, no. 4. Sermon preached 1997.
Pastor John MacArthur argues from 2 Corinthians 8:4-8 that giving principally is the same in both the Old and New Testaments. It is simply not the case that people today are required to give one-tenth of their incomes, nor has anyone ever been required to give merely this tithe: Rather, the law required the Israelites to give roughly 25 percent of their incomes for the maintenance of the government and community. Anything beyond this was considered freewill offerings to the Lord. Christians today still must pay taxes for the maintenance of our civil government, and our giving to the Lord beyond what is required is considered freewill offerings as well. The tithe, argues MacArthur, has never been about gifts to God but taxes to human authorities. On the other hand, giving to the Lord is a generous, spontaneous and joyful act in response to the grace that God has done in our hearts. In closing, MacArthur concludes his description from a previous sermon of the giving patterns of the churches in Macedonia; how the grace of God turned them into voluntary, sacrificial and joyous givers: (9) Their giving was a privilege, not an obligation. (10) Their giving was an act of worship. (11) They gave in submission to their pastors. (12) Their giving was in concert with other Christian virtues. (13) Their giving proved their love.
Back to top
J. Ligon Duncan. Sermon preached at First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Miss., November 3, 2002.
The prophet Malachi charged Israel with severe spiritual problems by pointing to seven aspects of their lives that were symptomatic of their unfaithfulness to God. Surprisingly, one of those areas was failure in giving and stewardship! In Malachi 3:8, God accuses Israel of robbing Him because they neglected the tithe and offering. Malachi 3:7-12 points to three aspects of biblical stewardship: (1) Failure of stewardship is a serious and culpable sin, and a certain mark of a heart problem. Even though Israel was in a time of need, their neglect of the tithe was still a sin in Godís eyes. Duncan explains the Old Testament tithe, showing that the tithe was actually more than 10 percent in the Old Testament. In fact, it was at least 27 percent. (2) Failure of stewardship results in the curses of God. Specifically, God promises to take away those things that are dragging us away from Him. (3) By Godís grace we have three motivations to give generously: promise of blessing, promise of protection and promise of witness. We can never out-give God, and He will protect us from that which will cause loss. Furthermore, when we are faithful to give what God has commanded, He brings about fulfillment of his covenant promise to Abraham.
Back to top
Stephen Davey. Sermon preached September 26-27, 2005.
Beginning with the account of Abraham in Genesis 14, Stephen Davey (founder and senior pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, president of Shepherds Theological Seminary, and head of the Wisdom for the Heart radio and Internet ministry) gives a thorough treatment of the history and teaching concerning giving and tithing in the Bible. Following the progression of teaching in the Old Testament, Davey outlines all the different tithes (of which there were three, totaling 23 percent of oneís yearly income) and offerings that were expected of the Jews. He then proceeds to delineate principles, gleaned from the New Testament, regarding how Christians should give today. Also included is a systematic treatment of the many ways that we as Christians should use our money, the ways that we do in fact misuse our money, and the sinful attitudes from which the practice of generous giving protects us. This sermon is an intelligently arranged and very thorough treatment of what the Scriptures say about our money.
Back to top
Rob Bell, Jr. Money series, no. 3. Sermon preached at Mars Hill Bible Church, Grandville, Mich., June 3, 2001.
Since God owns everything already, He does not need our gifts. In the area of offerings, He is more concerned about the heart of the giver than the size of the gift. 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 teaches the principle of planned giving: We must plan our gifts prior to the assembly of worship in order that our gifts might be cheerfully offered. Yet planned giving raises the question of tithing: Is tithing, or percentage giving, the proper way to execute planned giving? The important principle to remember is that one must examine the state of the heart. For example, Jesus always discussed tithing in a negative light, not because tithing itself is wrong, but because the Pharisees were using scrupulous tithing as an excuse to neglect heart issues of justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). If a man gives his wife a dozen roses out of obligation, she will not appreciate them. Rather, she desires the giverís heart along with the actual gift. Similarly, God desires a cheerful giver while despising a begrudged gift. Indeed, any kind of gift must be offered in cheerfulness, whether the gift be worship, singing, prayer or finances. Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.
Back to top
Where Is Your Treasure?
Robert Johnson. Money Matters series, no. 2. Sermon preached at Hixson (Tenn.) Presbyterian Church, November 12, 2000.
Now that the church has entered the period of grace and is no longer under law, does a Christian really need to tithe? No, argues this pastor, pointing instead to the example of the widow who gave all her possessions to the Lord (Mark 12:41-44) as proof that Christians are called to an even higher level of generosity under grace. Jesus noticed the poor widow among the crowds. Though most probably didnít even hear the sound of her tiny copper coins landing in the offering receptacles, Jesus penetrated her heart and saw the sincerity, sacrifice and love within. When a Christian gives, we must ask ourselves where our hearts reside. The widow did not calculate how much of her money would meet the requirement of the law, but she worshipped God with all that she possessed. Giving, for the Christian, is part of a spiritual act: We experience Godís grace and freedom in order to follow Him wholeheartedly. Overall, Johnson provides an excellent analysis of the higher standards which Godís grace enables us to achieve in the area of giving. Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.
Back to top
The Giving by a Leader of the People of God
Joseph V. Novenson. Stewardship Series, no. 2. Sermon preached at Lookout Mountain (Tenn.) Presbyterian Church, November 4, 2001.
In looking at Genesis 14:17-24, the story of Abrahamís tithe to Melchizadeck, Novenson teaches that in light of all God has blessed us with and because He has provided a way for us to be right with Him, ďThe question is not how much should I give, but how can I hold back?Ē This resource is available on streaming audio.
Back to top
The Proportion Principle
John Meador. Treasure Principles: Jesus on Giving sermon series, no. 5. Sermon preached at Woodland Park Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tenn., July 7, 2002.
The fifth sermon in pastor John Meadorís series on Jesusí principles of generosity from Matthew 6:19-34 develops the principle of proportion. Are Christians to give 10 percent of income, or are we free from the stipulations of the law? In the Bible the tithe predates the giving of the law, nor was it condemned by Jesus. This might suggest that the 10 percent standard continues even today. Examples of New Testament Christians show that they gave beyond the minimum standard of tithing, meeting the needs around them with the joyfulness that Christís Spirit had placed in their hearts. Those who insist that we do not need to be bound to the tithe are right, but not in the way they may think: The standard has been raised. In other words, does God expect less from those who now have His Spirit dwelling within than He did from those under law? Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.
Back to top
More on This Topic
Articles & Papers