To Sandy: Is The Reverse Tithe Biblical?

Dear Sandy,

Concerning your question about a reverse tithe, no, there is no such

thing in Scripture, you can be assured of that. There is, however,Sandy, the principle of tithing, which is a giving of one tenth of aperson’s salary, which was a requirement for the nation of Israel. Howthis worked was as follows. The priests, who were not allowed to ownland (Numbers 18:20), collected the tithe. Now realize that the priestswere, in fact, the government officials of the day. So these were thegovernment workers. They collected the tithe on behalf of the nation. If you add up all of the tithes that were collected, it amounts to twoannual tithes (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21) and one tithe that wascollected every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28). In all, you werelooking at an approximate rate of “tithing” (that is, taxation) of about 23%. This figure has been debated, but we’ll go with this for the sakeof our discussion, because it’s probably pretty close. The tithe wasrequired giving and it can be likened to the paying of taxes today,which is also required giving. There is really no difference, because in the days of the nation of Israel, the tithe went to the governmentofficials for the running of the country. And, in our day (though we are not under a theocracy, yet the principle is the same), we pay our taxes again to the government, for the running of the country. On top of required giving (that is, taxation), there was also freewill giving. There was no specific amount placed on this. Itwas entirely up to the one who was doing the giving. This principle applies both inthe Old Testament (1 Chronicles 29:8-9) as well as the New Testament (2Corinthians 9:7).

So, do we see tithing in the New Testament? The fact is, the word

“tithing” or “tithe” is mentioned in a few spots in the New Testament,but never with reference to the church. And this makes sense, becausethe church does not act as the government. Thus, in the New Testament,we see reference to the paying of taxes (Romans 13). So there is stillboth types of giving in the New Testament, as you find in the Old. There is really no difference, except that in the Old Testament, the form ofgovernment was what we call “theocratic” (“Theo” meaning “God” and “cratic” meaning “government,” “rule” or “authority”). I think, Sandy, that inthe millennium, when Jesus Christ comes to reign in His glory, that weshall return to this form of government, but for now, it does not exist, and not even in Israel does it exist. Note, there obviously must be some changes instituted from the Old Testatment to the millenial rule of Christ, because the Old Testament rule included the sacrificing of animals. This was a precursor to the real sacrifice that would happen in Jesus, and the Bible says there is no longer a need for sacrifice since Jesus paid the price once and for all (Hebrews 7:27, 1 Peter 3:18).

There is indeed a lot of confusion concerning tithing in the church,

Sandy. Some preach it as required giving. But this is certainly notconsistent with the New Testament Scriptures, which says that our giving should not be by compulsion but by freewill (2 Corinthians 9:7). Some will quote Malachi 3:10 saying that unless you give the whole tithe, you are under a curse. But remember, this was spoken to the nation of Israel, who were governed by a theocratic form of government. In other words, the lack of giving of the tithe was resulting in the government needs not being met. The nation was under a curse. You cannot directly translate this to the church, because in the church, we are not required to give a certain amount. In the church — and this applies even in the Old Testament — curses are applied when a person’s heart is not right before the Lord. So, if you sin, you could come under a curse. This could apply to any sin. If you abuse your body or fail to spend your money wisely, yes, I believe you could come under a curse. I believe you could come under a curse for failing to show compassion, as well. And so this is where giving comes in, in the church. We definitely should give, but for the right reasons, and not because we are instructed to give ten percent.

In my opinion, Sandy, tithing leads to strife in the church. The reason is (and I have seen this consistently) is that there are always those who belong to such churches who rightfully do not believe in tithing. Thus, they are not persuaded. Such are forced to “keep silent” or risk being expelled because they may be deemed a bad influence if they should speak up. So there is a strong tendency for those who oppose the message of tithing not to speak up in these circles, though I myself have spoken up consistently. In one case, a leader could not defend himself biblically against my arguments. Finally, he said, “We teaching tithing because we are a tithing church.” And that was his only defense. In another case, the preacher told me, “You’re right. We don’t preach tithing based on Old Testament law but because of Abraham’s gift of one tenth to Melchizedek.” However, Abraham’s gift of one tenth to Melchizedek was a one time gift and it was done as a freewill gift, and not under compulsion. So you cannot teach tithing based on that, either! Tithing, then, can lead to disunity and there may be no true agreement in that church unless you drive out all of the people who don’t believe in tithing. But if you drive them out, you have actually driven out God-fearing people.

By continually teaching tithing, preachers are grieving the Holy Spirit

because then people are not encouraged to give liberally, for they feelthey must always give out of compulsion, which is not God’s will(2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:7). This brings me right back to your earlier question about the so-called”reverse tithe”. This practice of “reverse tithing” is promoted by someministers because they find themselves in financial straights and thinkthat it is a way to possibly fix their problems. Thus, such churches mayperiodically promote the so-called “reverse tithe” (the giving of 90% of one’s income, and not 10%). So, on the day that the reverse tithe istaken, the people are expected to give 90% of their income. Of course, no one is “forcing” them. But if you don’t “tow the line,” you are not meeting up to expectations. So a sense of shame and disgrace may prevail. A person may feel that they simply can’t “measure up” to the expectations of the pastor (which is exactly how I would feel). This can lead to a sense of feeling very inferior in the church. And the problem is, the pastor has brought this problem on himself. The church may easily lose people this way, because who wants to stay in a place where you simply can’t measure up? So the rich (who may be able to give 90% once in a while without feeling it) are promoted in such churches, and the poor (who may not even be able to pay for the bus after giving 90%) are demoted. You can see, Sandy, how this can lead to people feeling like they simply can’t measure up — and perhaps they would be better off elsewhere and leave that church entirely. Such churches may find themselves closing down their evening services, for example, because no one really wants to come, anymore. The leaders may wonder “why?” And the reason is, they have not been following biblical practices and teachings. I do not mean to judge the heart Sandy, but I think that pastors and leaders who practice these things need to get on their hands and knees and ask God for His forgiveness.

I am not against giving 90% of one’s income, if the person wants to. What I’m against (and I’m sure the Lord is against) is the compulsion to have to do so. The Bible says that giving is not to be under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7). Ministers who promote the reverse tithe (and even the regular tithe) err greatly because they promote a spirit of compulsion. I’ve even heard preachers say that a person has not even started to give until they have given ten percent. This is just downright sin, Sandy. Such preachers will be downright ashamed and ridiculed themselves when they stand before the Lord at the judgment seat!

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, Sandy,

there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Your friend,

Danny Watts