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Question: Coming from a Catholic background we always knew you should give money to the church but were never commanded to tithe. I know that in the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to tithe. I appreciate that we should give to our church and to various charities, but some preachers say we must give the tithe to our church first even before paying our bills. Please give me your thoughts on this.

Answer: Do not equate the unbiblical emphasis on tithing by some pastors and the constant appeals for donations by religious organizations with genuine evangelical Christianity. Many a sermon has been preached on tithing, and when some American churches include tithing as an article of faith next to the doctrine of the Trinity, we know that something is seriously wrong.

God did command the Jews to pay tithes during the Old Testament, but this law is not imposed on Christians in the New Testament. We are not commanded to pay 10% of our income to the church.

That is not to say that Christians should not give to the church, to missions and the poor. On the contrary, we who have received the greatest gift of all, eternal life in Christ Jesus, ought to be the most generous people on earth.

Christians are required by the Lord in the New Testament to: (1) pay taxes to the civil authorities (Romans 13:6-7); (2) give to the needs of the poor (James 2:14-17); and (3) financially support the church, especially pastors and missionaries. ‘The laborer deserves his wages … The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel’ (1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:6-14).

The New Testament directs us to give willingly (2 Corinthians 9:7), according to our abilities (1 Corinthians 16:2), generously (2 Corinthians 8:2-3), joyfully (2 Corinthians 8:2-3) and regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2). For most of us that means that, having paid our taxes, we should be giving more than we are now giving, both to the church and the poor, being careful only not to be duped by unscrupulous religious crooks.

We are God’s stewards. In our giving, let us truthfully represent the richness of his grace.

© Dr Joseph Mizzi