We spoke on Tuesday about whether or not a Believer under the New Covenant should tithe. Today, we’ll talk about where the tithe should go.
“When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13 Then say to the LORD your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.” (Deuteronomy 26:12-13)
Most mentions of the tithe in the books of Moses are about supporting the Levites. We chose this passage because it not only mentions them, but also the alien – the fatherless. And the widow. Let’s look at these groups.
The Levites were those responsible for the spiritual leadership of God’s people. In other words, if you lived in that time, the Levites were there to help maintain your right relationship with God and teach you His ways.
Today, this is represented by those who disciple you in Christ. Christ made the sacrifice for you and His Body is the Church. The Lord puts people into your life to teach you His ways so that you mature to the point of being taught directly by Him. Even then, you will always need the other parts of the Body to learn from and live with. If those teaching you need support, pray to see if God would have you give your tithe to these.
Jesus mentioned this here:
“Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” (Luke 10:7)
Jesus did not mention a tithe, but was speaking about the principle that those who come to you in the name of the Lord should be supported (when and if needed).
Paul expanded this by saying, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
Most American Christians today are part of a large congregational body. If this is you, pray about supporting them with your tithe. They should be pouring into your life spiritually. You should be growing as a fruit of this labor, and these people who give of their lives to you need to be supported.
A growing number of Americans today are being lead by the Lord out of the established congregational church system and into small fellowships which typically meet in one member or another’s home. In this case, (as in all others), you must really seek the Lord for where He would have you tithe. If the person or people pouring into you do not need your tithe, you have more freedom, but also more responsibility with it. Perhaps the Lord will lead you to give to a congregation that is training believers up (and helping the poor as we’ll get to below).
In this case, you should seek the Lord for whom He would have you support with your tithe.
Careful consideration should be given to who the Lord has put into your life to disciple/discipline/mature you in Christ. The next consideration should be taking care of the poor and less fortunate.
The poor and less fortunate are, in Deuteronomy, called the “alien, the fatherless, and the widow.” A good local congregation will usually be giving in these areas as well. If you are giving your tithe to a local church, you should be aware of who they are supporting. Don’t blindly give to a group who is not following the Lord with careful stewardship of His money. But at the same time, you should not be able to overly influence what they do. We’ve heard the story many times of a wealthy person who ends up controlling a local church because his giving dwarfs the rest of the congregation’s. A wise Pastor would not allow himself to be corrupted in this way, but it is a mighty temptation and far too many fall under this spell. If you have these sorts of resources, you should consider giving anonymously or dividing this money to multiple areas.
If you are not part of a fellowship which needs a tithe, then you should seek the Lord more diligently in how He would have you support your less fortunate neighbors. He will show you as you seek Him.
Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales Collection