Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money".
The teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ cuts right through external religious performance and hypocrisy. Men can be very religious, but they cannot sustain a performance of the duty of giving, private communion with God and secret giving as prescribed in Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:6 and Matthew 6:17.
Fasting, giving and prayer all continue from the Old Testament, as does also the worship of the LORD in the prescribed manner that He requires. Ceremonies, sacrifices and other means, such as the ordained office of Levites do not continue exactly, because the OT was in Shadow, now the reality has come.
Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ”.
Hebrews 10:1-2 “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near”.
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”.
Did you notice that Jesus says “these you ought to have done” and by thus he endorses tithing, but not as a religious performance without the heart. Perhaps the key verse for us to emphasise is “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. This is searching and we must ask ourselves some searching questions? Does your giving to the church reflect biblical principles? Does your giving to the church reflect that your heart is really committed to obeying the Lord and that your giving is a matter of priority and of devotion to the Lord? Religious hypocrites do not like any duties, they only want vague guidance to allow them to do what they will.
As I set forth the binding principle of the tithe upon the new covenant church, you may or may not agree. What you cannot disagree with is Matthew 6:21. Where is your heart? Remember that in Hebrews 8:6 that we have promised a better covenant established on better promises. If a Christian rejects the tithe as binding upon their conscience, then we would expect them to give more than a tenth if they claim to be consistent as a disciple of Jesus Christ. However, this rarely happens in my experience.
The Continuity of Tithes and Offerings
I. Before the Law Came
Genesis 14:17 "After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!'. And Abram gave him a tenth of everything".
We know from the Book of Hebrews that Melchizedek is a type of Christ, but it is not Christ pre-incarnate. Christ Jesus, the eternal Son did not come in Person until his incarnation. Here, we have laid down the clear principle of giving a tenth of everything, as unto God Most High. This was continued through the Patriarchs and this principle was declared by Jacob at his conversion (most likely when it happened) in Genesis 28.
Genesis 28:18-22 “So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Jacob’s heart was changed and his desire to give to the LORD changed, and the guiding principle is a tenth. This is something anybody can calculate anywhere in the world. If an orange farmer is told a tenth belongs to his owner, he may not be able to read or write but he knows what a tenth is!
II. After the Law Came
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts".
This was binding upon the whole nation of Israel and there are several matters for us to consider briefly.
Departing from the LORD and ceasing to give to the LORD’s church in the OT and the new often go together.
How do we return? It is by giving the tenth and contributions, which the LORD says is robbing God, if we do not.
The full tithe is to be brought into the storehouse which was for the provision of the Levites and the temple worship. The tithe was to maintain true worship and this continues into the New Testament.
The Lord says “put me to the test” and he offers blessings. This is in shadow, but the Lord requires giving to his church (not para-church organisations) for the perpetuity of true worship.
In my experience the Christians who are most happy and holy are those who attend morning and evening worship services as the recognition that they delight in the Christian Sabbath and the ones who also tithe in season and out of season. There are times that tithing is a sacrifice, but we do not shrink back at such times.
III. After Jesus Christ Came
There is no biblical evidence that the tithe is discontinued. Some Christians want explicit proof texts before they will do anything, but oftentimes it is not so that they can obey the LORD, it is because they want to release themselves to a life of self-governed freedom. In short rebellion.
Hebrews 7:1-10: “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him".
Tithes/tenth is mentioned seven times here. Why? Jewish Christians were still giving their tithe to the temple worship and the writer is explaining that this should cease and instead it should be brought to the church and to our great high priest who is Jesus Christ.
The pattern continues, with changes.
We bring it primarily on the first day of the week: 1 Cor. 16:1-2, the Lord’s Day
It is brought for the church, not the temple
Jesus Christ is the king of peace and king of righteousness and we anticipate his blessings upon us: the inferior is blessed by the superior.
It must be given to support a true church. What is a true church? Where the word is purely preached and heard, and the sacraments are rightly administered and received.
Teaching elders need support in the NT. The pattern of ruling elders and teaching elders (Levites) in the OT. 1 Timothy 5:17-18 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer deserves his wages”.
As elders we do not monitor people’s tithing and giving.
In conclusion, giving a tenth/paying tithes is found ten times in the NT (also Luke 11:42 and 18:12). May we remember two guiding principles:
First-fruits Proverbs 3:9-10. We attend to giving first to the LORD and then we must make sure this is done diligently.
I. A cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7)
III. This is an example to our children and others
IV. This reveals your heart. Proverbs My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. Your giving reveals your heart and it is that which the LORD wants.
V. Tithing and contributions helps to guard us against lukewarmness, covetousness and self-centred living, besides many other sins.
VI. The Lord rewards us in heaven for our giving and we store up heavenly treasure. It takes faith to believe this, but it is true.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, Matthew 6:21.