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Tuesday: Purpose of the Tithe — 37 Comments

  1. True HOLY biblical tithes, as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus, were always only FOOD from inside Israel which God had miraculously increased (16 texts). They support Levite servants to the priests (Num 18:20-24) who a tenth of their tithe to the priests (Num 18:25-28). Neither were allowed to inherit property in Israel or amass wealth (Num 18:20). NT post-Calvary gospel workers are supported by principles of the gospel, not the Law (1 Cor 9:14). Tithes ended at Calvary (compare Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18).

    • I think you should re-read Hebrews 7, as it is about Jesus priesthood, not about abolishing tithing! ( or the law). Careful!

    • Russell, I am very interested in having you elaborate further on what you are saying about tithes ending at Calvary and what the post-Calvary 'system' was/is in greater detail.


    • The sacrificing of animals ended at Calvary, not the need to fund the Gospel via the tithe! The words of the Apostle Paul in Timothy 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 9:14 and also the entire chapter seven of Hebrews is very clear that Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek as an example to ALL jews and Christians who would later be counted as Spiritual Jews in Abraham because of Jesus to pay the tithe to support the gospel financially to the end of time.

  2. I am confused by today’s lesson where it clearly states that tithe is to be used to support those who preach the gospel.Here is my challenge,I know a number of graduated pastors from our SDA seminaries,who are serving in districts as volunteer pastors while awaiting to be employed by the church,but they are not being paid and depend on handouts for their sustenance.is it wrong to give them my part of my tithe?Abraham gave his tithe to Melchizedek,Paul it appears received support directly from church in Macedonia

    • The Apostle Paul also encouraged those who decided to make THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL their "Lifelong Work For God," to do as he did and support themselves financially via some TRADE. He made tents for his financial support. Yes sometimes he was supported by Church Funds, but for the most part he supported himself financially via his trade of making tents.

      • True, Pete, but Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:14: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." If we read all that Paul wrote, we find that he saw his practice as an exception to the rule of preachers living off the gospel. Thus we should not expect ministers to have to support themselves by making money through ordinary means.

  3. God has given special direction as to the use of the tithe. He does not design that His work shall be crippled for want of means. That there may be no haphazard work and no error, He has made our duty on these points very plain. The portion that God has reserved for Himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which He has specified. Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord’s work. Counsels Stewardship page 101

    • They are educated young men and women.There are no excuses.They can work in other fields until a position as a paster is available.

      • But don't you think they deserve wages for their labor in keeping with today's lesson ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages”? Don't they also do the gospel work just as other workers do? Why in the world would a lay-evangelist's family suffer with no food or shelter when he is for example; conducting a crusade? We call them volunteers, really? What is the biblical justification for paying only ordained Pastors and not anybody else involved in spreading the gospel?. Where i come from i have seen many lay evangelists who are even more involved in the Gospel Ministry than pastors. You will even find that the church depends on them alot when there efforts to be conducted etc, they are practically assistant Pastors. Why they do not get paid when ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages” is a big puzzle to me.

        • The role of volunteer pastors is a complex one and we should be careful about making too many judgement about what should and should not be done. Here are a couple of points to consider:

          1) The tithe is not an infinite resource. In spite of our comments to the effect that there ought to be more transparency about tithe distribution, we are acutely aware that the tithe has not kept up with expectations. Consequently the ability of many conferences to commit to full-time employment of more ministers is often something outside their control. In that respect it must also be remembered that committing to a full-time worker is much more than just the cost of wages. Typically a full-time worker costs between 25-30% more than their actual wage (don't hold me to that figure because its a while since I have seen an actual costing - but you get the picture)

          2) There are some folk who seriously want to volunteer. They may have another source of income and want to contribute their time to working for the church. I know that here in Australia a number of retirees (both ministers and lay-folk) have volunteered to look after churches that have small congregations simply because that is what they want to do.

          3) I have no doubt that some churches exploit that volunteer situation and that does need to be addressed.

          • Women to Receive Wages for Their Work—

            There are ministers’ wives—Sisters Starr, Haskell, Wilson, and Robinson—who have been devoted, earnest, whole-souled workers, giving Bible readings and praying with families, helping along by personal efforts just as successfully as their husbands. These women give their whole time, and are told that they receive nothing for their labors because their husbands receive wages. I tell them to go forward and all such decisions will be revised. The Word says, “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” Luke 10:7. When any such decision as this is made, I will, in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it my duty to create a fund from my tithe money to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls.

            -- Daughters of God Page 106

            I believe this could help...

        • We have been told that many will "feel" called of God whom God has not called. We are to be cautious of what we support outside of the appointed means. We are accountable for all we do which reveals whether we trust God or not. Circumstances don't matter if God has made a clear path to follow.

  4. God has created the tithing system and it is perfect! Again and again, He does not need it! We need it! With all the failures that we as humans are, just look at the countries that are most organized in taxes! Here, we are not talking about taxes, we are talking about the freedom of choice! Freedom to choose whether the Bible is the Truth or not. If we are not convinced that we are the ones most benefited with tithing, why do it? Why return or give back to God if we doubt that He is the donor of all our talents? Tithing not only confirms our faith but makes it grow! It represents an exercise of real faith, perhaps with the thing that people may put more trust than all, money!!!!

  5. The Lord instructed Moses, for Israel, “Thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.” Exodus 27:20. This was to be a continual offering that the house of God might be properly supplied with that which was necessary for His service. His people today are to remember that the house of worship is the Lord’s property, and that it is to be scrupulously cared for. But the funds for this work are not to come from the tithe.

    A very plain, definite message has been given to me for our people. I am bidden to tell them that they are making a mistake in applying the tithe to various objects which, though good in themselves, are not the object to which the Lord has said that the tithe should be applied. Those who make this use of the tithe are departing from the Lord’s arrangement. God will judge for these things.

    9 Testimonies to the Church, p. 248

  6. Then why did Jesus tell the leaders that they need to show mercy and kindness to others as well as pay their tithe? What are these principles of the gospel that the preacher should be supported by? Will a man rob God? God say that we become not robbers when we do jot return a faithful tithe. Not a Jew but a man. This tithing was only for the Jews argument is also used for not keeping God's holy Sabbath . Let us trust God and live by faith in his Word.

  7. Russell Earl Kelly, PHD: Do you think full-time ministers of the gospel deserve to be paid? If so, what method do you suggest for determining how much is your fair share of what they are paid?

  8. In regards to the purpose of the tithes. This is very interesting. Someone once said that paying tithing is going to hasten the second coming of Christ. So, the reason why Christ has not return is because of not paying tithes so the administrator cannot do the work…In the NAD at any local church they pay one pastor and the rest is what they called lay minister actually do the the work for free. So my question is why has not Christ returned?

    • Tau, the Bible teaches that "when the corn is RIPE, then the harvest" (paraphrased quote).

      So, the harvest is not yet ripe it would seem. (Mark 4:29, Rev 14:14-19, etc)

  9. It's interesting to me that the Apostle Paul who was the apostle to the Gentiles who knew nothing about tithing, never mentions tithing. He said god loves a Cheerful giver. We have always tithed but you can't prove it from the NT. Pastors today have homes, land and are paid a very nice wage. Many perks has been added such as the pastor's children education, auto insurance, etc. God wants us to give from a grateful heart for all He has done for us.

    • How many times does Paul mention/teach Sabbath observance? Perhaps some things were not in question, and Paul wrote to address the questions, not the things no one questioned. Just something to consider. You also have nothing from Paul that states tithing is no longer required by God.

      Lastly, does anything in the New Testament cancel the specific commands of God in the Old Testament? Among these is tithe or the Sabbath included?

  10. I observe a series of dots and wonder if I may attempt to join them.

    1. The book of Malachi is about God calling for major reform by His people - leadership and laity included. The reform being called for was a return to being motivated by (and subsequently also expressing) beneficence/benevolence rather than greed and exploitation. Tithing was a but one expression of a return to a motivation of beneficence/benevolence.

    2. The lesson seems to emphasise the laity's "obligation" to return tithe and to do so to the Adventist church treasury,

    3. There is a relatively low rate of tithe return possibly partly due to a loss of trust in how tithe may be being used and a perceived lack of voice to raise and deal with concerns.

    I wonder if the lesson took a more broad exploration of the topic of tithe that included examination of issues of relevance to both leadership and laity - and that there was room for constructive conversation on the topic - that confidence in tithing might be recovered? Just my observations and thoughts...

    • I think you are right in your analysis of the book of Malachi. And the call for Church reform for both leadership and laity is appropriate. To be fair to church leadership though I have seen signs of leadership becoming more transparent about tithing and here in Australia, you are probably aware that there is a move to ensure that tithe funds flow back to support local church activities. Such initiatives help to build confidence, but at the same time put more responsibility on the community of believers to ensure that the funds are used wisely.

      • Maurice, i think Australia is a model of how things should be done and it should be copied in the church globally if the confidence in tithing is to be restored.

    • Phil, how much of that "low rate of tithe return" is simply unbelief? Love of the world/money? Selfishness? Isn't a lack of trust nothing less than unbelief?

      • Hi Robert.
        It is true that love of the world/money and selfishness are likely to be the factors for some people. For others, fear that they won’t have enough to live on if they pay tithe might be their reason.

        I would however see a distinction between (a) those who don’t trust God and (b) those who do trust God but don’t trust certain people’s/a system’s actions.

        Is low rate of tithe return simply unbelief? I suspect it is a more complex phenomenon consisting of a range and diversity of factors.

  11. Please read Deuteronomy 26:11-13 and explain the E.G. White quotation contained in the Tuesday, 2/20 lesson: "Tithe is to be used for a particular purpose and must remain so. “The tithe is set apart for a special use. It is not to be regarded as a poor fund. It is to be especially devoted to the support of those who are bearing God’s message to the world; and it should not be diverted from this purpose.” – Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 103."

    • Roslyn, your observation and question is a good one and needs a fuller answer (which I am currently working on) Briefly though, the OT tithe model was more complicated than just paying 10% to the priesthood. There were effectively 3 tithes in OT times, not all of them yearly, and some of those other tithes were to be directed to the poor. I hope to have a fuller explanation later in the week.

    • The second and third tithes were eaten by the poor. The second in the streets of Jerusalem during the 3 annual feasts. The 3rd in the towns and villages. That is what Deuteronomy teaches.

      • That is almost what it was like but it was a bit more complicated than that. I am in the process of trying to summarise the tithing model in the OT at the moment and will hopefully give a report soon.

    • Feeding of this quote but not answering your question is another issue.. The emphasis she seems to be making is use tithe to spread the gospel, as opposed to using it for funding general benevolence that we should do anyway.

      Thus Malachi's 'storehouse' fits as any genuine endeavour that fits this 'particular purpose'. For example spreading the gospel to the world is something that missionaries do as well as pastors. This begs the question is the storehouse not directly linked to missionaries' work? I'm thinking in particular about medical-missionaries, eg Paul/Jesus/Peter etc, who blessed the world both through the power of the Word and their healing hands.

      Also when we compare the OT model to the NT model of sharing God to the world, we see a shift from having Israel as a strategically-placed-but-stationary missionary hub with the help of tithe (eg what Hezekiah should have done in 2 Kings 20:12) to a more dynamic-mobile missionary style where the apostles went out, met the world in their own homes and marketplaces, and ministered to them there also with the help of tithe.

      So again, is our general approach of using tithe solely for our local church pastors (who are somewhat a 'stationary hub') closer to the OT model than the NT one? Not to say funding pastors isn't important because it most definitely is; keeps our churches open and functional, but maybe we're limiting tithe and putting it in a box a little.

  12. Dear fellow brethren, my first time on this platform...hailing from Africa, Kenya.

    This is a practical lesson and wish to give an individual experience(Tithes usage and management aside), i literally prayed and began the obedience to tithing some 8-12 months ago and i have seen God's blessings.

    The blessings have been coming from every side, health,finances, job etc..

    Our Work: Let's be faithful in our part and pray for the church. Lets give suggestions and recommendations to our leadership but do this with LOVE. I personally feel blessed with this revelation!!

  13. Thank you all for the valued and varied responses to challenge Tuesdays lesson triggered within me about ‘providing for those who work in the Lords vineyard ‘,I am praying for the Lords direction and guidance,thank you my brothers and sisters

  14. My dear brother's and sister's, when we have love in us we are able to conquer anything with our God, but only through him. We shouldn't be worrying about anything but holding on to our faith and believe.
    Luke 1-37
    for with God nothing shall be impossible.
    Matthew 22-37 jesus said to him, You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
    So our tithing should not be an issue in our lives. Because, we trust and obey in our God.
    For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son so whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3-16.
    We must remember that God is love.
    Enjoy your weekend. Happy sabbath and stay blessed with our Lord Jesus Christ.


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