By Miles Stanford

The second year after their exodus [from Egypt], God introduced the law of tithing into the economy of Israel. It was included with other laws connected with Israel’s worship via the Tabernacle.

The chief purpose of the tithe was to provide for the Levitical service of the Tabernacle. Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation (Numbers 18:21).

The Levites, in turn, were to give a tithe of their income, to provide for the high priest. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering [best tenth] unto the Lord of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord’s heave offering to Aaron, the priest (Numbers 18:28).

The tithe consisted of the products of the land, the trees, and the flocks. All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever, passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord (Leviticus 27:30, 32).

The law of tithing continued up to the Cross. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). The Pharisee stood and prayed thus to himself, God... I give tithes of all. I possess (Luke 18:11,12).

The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law. Today, Orthodox Jews do not tithe. No one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple are gone.

What of the Christian's giving? Most [erroneously] consider the Old Testament tithe as a "guide line". But the New Testament lays down no specifics whatsoever as to giving. The believer is under no external law for any part of his new life.

As in every other aspect of his life, the believer is motivated and guided in his giving by the indwelling Holy Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).

Our giving is to be governed by grace; it is a gift of the Spirit. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us... he that giveth, let him do it with liberality (Romans 12:6,8).

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace (of giving) also (2 Corinthians 8:7).

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Life, and we belong Him -- all that we are, and all that He has entrusted to us. Not even our human concern and emotions are to motivate and govern our giving.

By His Spirit, the Lord Jesus is to direct our entire life, including our giving. It is to be the "love of Christ that constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). It is to be the lord Jesus reaching out and meeting the needs of others through us -- His love alone is the governing principle. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not (His ) love, it profiteth me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).

Spirit-directed giving requires spiritual growth. The privilege of sharing, and the responsibility of proper giving, is best carried out on a personal, individual basis. Know to whom you are giving, why, when, and how much.

In giving to a specific ministry, for instance, it is essential to find out about the work, and those who carry it out. Develop a personal relationship where possible.

If God has established a ministry and is pleased with the fruit of it, He will move upon the hearts and minds of His people to provide for that work without any pleading, subtle or otherwise, for money. He will cause and enable His people to give specifically and spontaneously.

Instead of heeding the pleas of men for support and dutifully or emotionally contributing out of necessity, we are to listen to the "still, small voice" from within. We are to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and follow where He directs -- and He it is who has promised to care for His needy sheep.

In reliance upon and obedience to Him, we will know how to give; not in response to a plea, but by means of the Spirit's direction in our minds and hearts. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).

But this I say, He who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he who soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work -- as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor; His righteousness remaineth forever (2 Corinthians 9:7-9).