Thoughts on the Law of the Tithe

Brother, I still can’t locate anything you sent on tithing so if you have an opportunity and locate it, please send again. I apologize but really would like to see what the Lord has revealed to you regarding tithing.

Dear sister and friend, I will be looking for that piece. I’m sure I’ll find it shortly, but I can summarize my view in a few words. The specific law of tithing given to Israel as a binding ordinance is quite different from the freedom of new covenant giving. I see little difference in principle between coming under a legal necessity or ecclesiastical demand to tithe than to submit to circumcision in order to accommodate the party of the concision as Paul called it. To this disposition of spirit, Paul was determined not to give place, no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue. The law was a tutor to bring us to Christ. If it hasn’t yet brought us to the freedom of daughters and sons, it hasn’t done its job. However, a tutor that has done its job can retire. In fact, we are said to be dead to the law and married to another. It’s easy to see what Paul says about circumcision and imagine that we are square with the issue, but then we turn around and do the very same thing (in principle) with baptism, the sacraments, or tithing etc. When we get the cart before the horse, all is spoiled. When leaven is introduced, even a little, all is spoiled. The gospel will not bear mixture (Gal 5:2-4). Grace and works will not mix (Ro 11:6); simply because flesh and Spirit will not mix. If someone can honestly tell me that the Spirit is leading them to tithe, they better obey. I would also wonder if the law has accomplished its goal if someone claiming to be in Christ is not constrained by the love of God to freely give out of their abundance and even their want. But if such giving is being done under the constraints of a yet legal, and therefore, yet troubled conscience, then I am in doubt of their freedom to say the least. We must, however, be patient and not strive. We are dealing with mystery, because the gospel, though once and for all revealed, is yet a mystery to the flesh and must yet be revealed to many. We wait for them in patience of love and forbearance.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

On Jan 1, from Australia.
I’m glad you sent me this. I”m dealing with an issue at the moment so it was a very timely. I do have one question though, it relates to honoring the Lord with the firstfruits, though not a law it can be considered a biblical principle to embrace, especially when it is born out of love, worship and honor. If acceptable what is that amount, would not a tenth be a good place to start?

Jan 12, 2008
Hi, Sorry bout being so tardy in my response. I’ve been on a car trip across part of the country and haven’t had much time with email. I will send that article. I hesitate to send anything I’ve not looked at more closely, as I’ve not gotten to it yet, but I’ll go ahead and forward that, and you can judge of its value.

As to ‘first-fruits’, that is always how I have referred to our family’s approach to giving. The law was given as an index to manifest and expose as well as to guide. It was to educate and prepare. Before first-fruits or the tithe ever became part of the law, both existed first as a free and unconstrained response to grace received. It seems apparent that that Jacob was conscious of the principle and precedent shown in Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek. So Jacob’s desire to set apart a portion wasn’t entirely original. Still, in all instances, it was nothing required or constrained. The tithe, on the other hand, was not a free choice. That is why if the purpose and temporariness of the law is misconceived, things like the tithe can be so easily manipulated by well meaning, and some not so well meaning, church authorities.

So yes, the principle of first-fruits seems a universal and trans-dispensational principal that can serve as a statement of gratitude, love, and honor. You suggest: “Might not a tenth be a place to start? Well, I think the best rule is each person’s sense of the leading of the Spirit in all of our approach to giving; that’s what pleases the Lord (Heb 11:6). The law was given to shut us up to faith, but when faith is come, the personal leading of the Spirit takes up where the law left off; the tutor can retire.

With the greater light comes the greater freedom. God can trust His divine nature in His people to abound in giving without necessity or external constraint. One reason the dispensation of the law is to be so carefully contrasted with the grace and truth that has come by Christ (Jn 1:17) is the circumstance that the legal covenant assumes. Except for a comparatively small remnant, the larger part of the nation would not be regenerate until the promised ‘day of the Lord’ when the entirety of the nation would come under the New Covenant at once (Isa 66:8; Ezek 39:22). Until then, there was the necessity of civil enforcement of the law’s requirements in Israel for the sake of order and social continuity as a theocracy. The change towards the law that is assumed by the newly revealed (not newly existent) phenomenon of the Spirit’s indwelling of the corporate body of Christ is made apparent by such passages as Mk 10:5; 1Tim 1:9; Act 15:10.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Reggie

Jan 12, 2008
Mr. Kelly,
I have just a quick question regarding the conversations regarding the tithe. Though the answer may well be as you often suggest, the “leading of the Spirit.” What I am wondering is to whom should the money be given? For example, most Churches that I have been insist that ten percent be given to the local body. Which is to say there respective Church. Also that any additional giving to say missionaries, people within the Church that need money, the poor, whomever that that is outside the tithe and does not count towards the ten percent law of tithe. It seems to me that all to often that the greater the giver the more prestige and respect within the upper echelon of the Church. That so and so is a great Christian because he gives. Which seems to create division.

Also what do you think about keeping track of people’s giving throughout the year for tax break reasons? I think that is not right, is that not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing. I mean rich worldy people give simply for tax advantages?

I only ask because my wife and I simply set aside money and take the issue of where it should go, to the Lord. Be it to someone struggling to pay for their bills, or food (within the Body), to missionaries, or to the Pastor or whomever. Whatever it is we try to make it anynomous. I am just curious as to what your thought is behind these other issues surrounding the tithe and it being led by the Spirit or other?

When the gift will bring a precious edification in the inner man, this is confirmation that it has been given by the leading of the Spirit. There is a sweet smell where the sacrifice is true. He rewards the works, gifts, or sacrifices He inspires and those only.


Filed under
Church Doctrine, The Law
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