Thursday, July 2, 2015
Is Tithe the Same as Income Tax?
There is a teaching going on that "tithes" in the Old Testament were a kind of income tax that the Israelites paid to the Levites in their theocracy, and so Christians are not obligated to bring tithes to the Church since they are already paying taxes to the government. However, this view is very misinformed. Governmental tithe as tax was separate from the Temple one (1Sam.8:15). Abraham gave tithes, not to a Levite, but to Melchizedek when the Levitical order was not there. In 2Kgs.4:42, a man brings firstfruits to Elisha who was from the tribe of Issachar, at a time when they could not go to Jerusalem. In the NT, Paul talks about Christian workers living by the Gospel in the same way that the Levites lived by the offerings in the Temple (1Cor.9:9-14). There are things of Caesar, but there are also things that belong to God if we belong to the Body. And, in a Body, it is not just about voluntary giving. Suppose, the eye says to the finger, "I am only going to look when I feel like looking, because I am no longer under the Law"; how will the finger of a watchmaker be able to work properly? In the Body, everyone is obligated to give even as one takes. Tithe is just the minimal; we are called to love God with all we are and present our bodies as a living sacrifice. To treat our talents, treasures, and time as first belonging to Christ. This is not to feed the vain, luxurious, "visions" of carnal-minded leaders, but to give in order that the work of the Gospel is provided for (2Cor.9:12)