Before I came to faith in Christ, I advocated tithing because tithing
gave me a false assurance of God’s favor. In fact because I thought of
righteousness in terms of works, everyone who did not tithe seemed very
lax and unspiritual to me. Of course, that should have changed once I
came to understand the way of salvation, nevertheless, I continued to
tithe for several years. However, my opinion of tithing changed
radically after I was confronted by a form of extortion, that is being
carried out in the name of tithing. Through that experience I came to
see that men who would make God’s favor depend upon our ability to pay,
are perverting the gospel.
Those who gouge money out of God’s people by telling them that if they do not give ten percent God may cause them to have a wreck, cause their baby to die, cause their house to catch fire, or cause them to get sick are teaching a satanic lie! Personally, I see little difference between such people and a Mafia thug who threatens harm to those who will not give. Those who teach that doctrine are slandering God by portraying Him as a greedy Ogre who cares only for money. Furthermore, because they think that His blessings can be bought, His word to them is, “Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness” (Acts 8:20-23).
The practice of tithing predates any mention of it in the Bible. It was practiced by pagans in both Egypt and Ur of the Chaldees. Therefore, when Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils to Melchizedek (after defeating an army that had taken Lot captive) he was simply following local custom (Genesis 14:20). The same holds true for Jacob, who vowed to give to God a tenth of all that God would give him (Genesis 28:22). Those who assume that Abraham and Jacob were required to tithe are adding to God's Word, for the Bible says nothing about a requirement (Proverbs 30:6). Furthermore, the question of who Jacob’s tithe was given to, is usually avoided, but it was never given to a church for churches did not exist at that time.
When God did institute a tithe (to support the Levitical priesthood), He said nothing about any moral requirement to tithe. Moreover, the tithe was to be paid on the increase of flocks and crops, not on wages. In addition, some of those tithes were to be eaten by the very people who gave them (Numbers 18-21-24, Numbers 28:26-28, Deuteronomy 14:22-27, Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
While the words of Malachi 3:8 are often used to make people feel guilty if they do not tithe, Malachi was talking about support for the Old Testament priesthood, not the church. Moreover, the tithe that God instituted for the support of the Old Testament priesthood can only be paid to members of the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood. Anyone else who claims that tithe falls under the same condemnation as Korah, for he is taking to himself that which has been reserved for the priests (Numbers 16:40). Furthermore, Christ has freed us from the law, and the storehouse that Malachi spoke of was just that, a storehouse not a church (Romans 7:4, Acts 15:28-29).
Because Christ suffered and died to free us from the bondage of sin, we should want to support the work of His church. However, we should be motivated by the love that flows from that faith, not the constraint of the law. Those who give only because they believe that the law requires them to, are not cheerful givers. As a result, their giving does not please God no matter how much they give, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin”(Romans 14:23). [2 Corinthians 8:9&12 and 9:7]
Once we come to faith in Christ, all of our sins are washed away. And because they are washed away, God sees no fault in us (1John 1:7-9). For that reason, He is not going to be displeased with you (or angry) because you do not give enough (Romans 8:1). Therefore, those who tell you that you must give in order to have God’s favor, or that God may cause harm to befall you if you do not give, are teaching a false gospel (Galatians 1:9).
When Paul instructed the Corinthian congregation in giving he specifically told them that he was not commanding them to give, and did not want them to feel that they had to give out of necessity (2Corinthians 8:8 and 9:7). At the same time, he made it clear that God would bless their giving if it was done in faith, no matter what the amount (2Corinthians 8:12). Moreover, God blesses us so that we might be able to help others, not because our giving places Him in our debt (2Corinthians 9:8).
I also want to point out that when Paul spoke of giving, he was talking about giving to help fellow believers, not giving to pay for expensive programs and projects (2Corinthians 8:14 and 9:12). Nevertheless, there are some who try to get around what Paul taught by claiming that such giving must be given over and above the tithe. However, the Bible says no such thing! The Apostles never commanded believers to tithe, and Jesus never mentioned tithing except to condemn it (Mathew 23:23, Luke 11:42). Therefore, while we should want to support the work of the church, anything we give should be given freely, out of love, not because we are constrained by the law (1Corinthians 9:14 and 16:2, Romans 7:6).
Although I enjoy giving to help Christians in need, I do not even want to know if I am giving ten percent or not. Because the flesh wants to believe that works bring God’s blessing, paying attention to the amount only provides an occasion for the flesh. Since I stopped paying attention to the amount, and began giving out of love, I have seen God's hand of blessing on my life as never before (2Corinthians 9:8). When I was tithing on a regular basis, I managed to pay the bills, even though I often had to struggle to make ends meet. However, it was only as I began to walk by faith that I experienced the true blessing of giving (Luke 6:38, Romans 4:4, 2Corinthians 9:7-11).
I was told of a pastor who, after being shown that tithing is not Scriptural, declared that God had told him to use tithing to support the congregation. When he was then asked why he had not told the congregation that he received that doctrine by direct revelation, he advised the person asking the question to look for another congregation. Apparently that pastor was not willing to submit to God's Word in the matter of tithing.
Over the years, I have encountered people who no longer attend church because they have been turned off by constant appeals for money. Therefore, it is important for pastors to understand that if they are lifting up Christ, as the Holy Spirit wants Him to be lifted up, God will provide any funds needed to support their ministry (without constant appeals for money). In fact, because God does not really need our money, if He uses our giving to help others (or further His kingdom), He does so because He wants to bless us, not because He needs our help. His blessings are not for sale, and false teaching about tithing is the work of the devil (Romans 14:23, Acts 8:20-23).