Random Thoughts on Tithing and Justification
by Gbanaibolou Burutolu
I recall the last tithe, as a student, I paid, many years ago: N79,200. I paid it to a small boy, one RCCG pastor. Mehn, hurts me till now.
Tucked it in a white envelope, went to his house, knelt down, and said, “Behold my tithe, O man of God!” My folly back then knew no bounds.
Ancient Israel had a theocratic system of government. The tithe was a tenth of the goods that they produced, that was paid as a tax to the government.
Today, we don’t run a theocratic system of government, but we are required to pay taxes (a percent of your income) to our government (Romans 13:6-7). So, the only continuation of the tithing system I find, is not that which is paid to a prophet, but that which is paid to the government. As a Christian, if you don’t pay taxes to the government, you are an irresponsible and unfaithful Christian, even if you give hundred percent of your income to the prophet.
I imagine that that would be a biting one too, to ask Christians to be faithful tax payers, but that’s the truth. Nigerian Christians are ready to pay tithe to a prophet which is unbiblical, but grumble to pay taxes to the government which is biblical.
Again, the tithing system was the Jewish tax system, by means of which they settled and attended to the national well-being. No Scripture in the New Testament asks believers to pay tithe, the system (like every other civil and ceremonial Jewish system) doesn’t exist anymore, but Romans 13:6-7 clearly asks believers to pay taxes.
How about Matthew 23:23?
Good. It was a rebuke to Old Testament Jews, not to the disciples. Christ never rebuked His disciples for not paying or receiving tithes. In the context of Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces seven woes upon the Pharisees (not His disciples) in that passage. Christ was rebuking their hypocrisy and inconsistency. They were selective in the laws they keep. So, Christ is saying, if you keep some laws according to your preference, and skip some others, woe to you, hypocrites!
The same I think, could be applied to tithe proponents today who always rush headlong to Malachi 3 for Scriptural backing. Woe to you if the only law you observe strictly is the law of tithing. You must be consistent and follow through in your obedience of all the laws therein contained.
In Luke 18, Christ narrated the story of the Pharisee and tax collector who went to pray.
The Pharisee stood and prayed, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I posses.”
The tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
Christ said the tax collector went home JUSTIFIED rather than the Pharisee. Let that sink in. The non-faster, non-tither was justified, and the faster, the tither was not justified.
I see many Nigerian Christians who act like this said Pharisee, boasting all the time about their commitment to giving a tithe of all their income, of their commitment to fasting weekly. And thus, think that they are justified before God upon those grounds, and parade themselves of attracting and courting the divine blessings and favours.
The point of the narrative is not necessarily to disprove the discipline of fasting as unnecessary, or the discipline of rendering worship to the LORD with our substance, the point made is that justification before God does not rest in your fasting, tithing, giving, your outward works and spiritual exercises, but in a humble and self-renounced walk before the LORD, having nothing to boast about save in the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14) Who Himself was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25).