Tithing–Taxation or Legalism?


(This study is produced from studies published by RBT Bible Ministries).

Giving, is a privilege of our priesthood as a believer.  We are privileged to an even higher degree by God when we give sacrificially. Giving is a great honor for the believer who gives when he doesn’t really have the funds to spare. Sacrificial giving honors the Lord and God rewards the believer’s sacrifice both now (in time) and in eternity (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

 Giving of Himself is what Christ constantly did while here on earth — His life is to be our pattern. Giving is a part of our worship of God as we shall come to understand in this presentation. Christ gave everything for us and we are privileged to be able to honor Him when we give back in praise, song, observing the Lord’s Supper (communion). We give back to God when we give of our time and love; when we share or use our spiritual gift(s); and when we give back His money for the ministry of His local church in the community; and most of all when we learn Bible Doctrine.

There are four concepts of giving in the Old Testament designed for the nation of Israel:

1). Giving in the Old Testament was not tithing. The principle for giving is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament — “Grace Giving” (Proverbs 11:24-25; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10). The word “scattereth” in Proverbs 11:24, means giving liberally to those in need without reservation, but with compassion.

2). Tithing means “ten per cent. Old Testament tithing was a form of taxation and was imposed on believers and non-believers alike. This taxation was based on what was owned (personal property) or received for labor (wages). There were actually three tithes (taxes): one was an income tax for the maintenance of the Levites (Numbers 18, 21, 24). Another tax was for national feasts and sacrifices mentioned in Deuteronomy Chapters 14 and 22 through 24. (Note: for additional related information see chapters 15 and 28). There was also a tax every third year which was used to provide for the poor and retired and sick (Deuteronomy 14:28). So, there were three taxes or tithes.

3). Tithing (taxation) had nothing to do with giving. Giving was over and above the taxes. In Malachi 3:8-10, tithes or taxes were brought into the storehouse (literally treasury) — treasury as in U. S. Treasury. The storehouse was a community project for celebrating harvest; a coming together to give corporate thanks to the Lord for His blessings as well as a means of sharing, caring and feeding the less fortunate — the needy. Our forefathers established the Treasury Department after the storehouse principle of the laws of Israel in the Old Testament. Our Thanksgiving also came from this Biblical tithe. Therefore, “storehouse” does not mean Church! So, when Pastors and the Church as a whole use “storehouse” to mean “Church,” they are wrong! The congregation of the Church is never told by the Lord to be taxed. In fact the opposite is true as we shall learn in 2 Corinthians, below.

4). Giving was done on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2) when the Jews assembled for worship. Notice in our context the norm for giving is “as God has prospered.” This is GRACE GIVING AS GOD INTENDED. The Christian Church today (as a whole), states that a “pledge” is a “faith promise” which means obligating future income based on God’s promises to reward the faithful. This is not only coercion, but counterproductive.

Tithes and pledges can do harm to God’s credibility and the believers faith causing believers to go on guilt trips or even leaving the faith because of the claims of men, not the faithfulness of God. There are too many people speaking for God and too many people saying God is “speaking” to them. God uses Doctrine by means of the Holy Spirit to “speak” to Pastors and believers, He does not employ wild imaginings.


Having clarified the Old Testament form of giving and tithing (above) we will now look at twelve principles of doctrine specifically related to giving for believers in the Church Age (us, right now). These principles should be the foundation for the believers personal giving to the Lord and to the needy. In addition these principles should govern your personal spending habits especially regarding self-indulgence.

1). Giving should be liberal with compassion (love) to the Lord for His work as lead by the Holy Spirit (8:16). Giving is to be an expression of your priesthood without coercion (8:2-5). Giving is a commemoration of Grace — it honors God and it honors Christ who gave His life for us on Calvary.

2). Giving is a mental attitude of inner happiness (from the heart). It is joy celebrated from the heart which is expressed outward in giving with spiritual appreciation. The Holy Spirit causes you to be so glad to give back to the Lord in grace giving (verses 2&6).

3). Giving is a privilege (verses 4&9). We honor God’s Word by freely giving to His work in the world. We are to be willing participants in our giving otherwise it is not giving. If your attitude is not right — don’t give! If you are not “in fellowship” don’t give!

4). Believer’s are to give based on God’s Word in our soul. Giving is a soul-function and is an expression of our Christian character toward Christ (not the Church) (8:5; 9:6&7) When you give to your local church you must understand that you are giving to the Lord.

5). Giving should never be coerced — give only if you are willing and the Lord has prospered you (verse 12). Giving must never be enforced by legalistic guilt trips placed upon believers by legalistic Pastors. God wants you to be a cheerful (relaxed) giver. Manipulation from the pulpit is law-giving! It is deceitful and it is unbiblical!   

6). True grace-giving (as designed by God) will definitely give you back more than you give. You will not lack, but even prosper (8:15 & 9:10). Do not become foolish by over-giving or testing God — this is arrogance.

7). Solicitation results in coerced giving which is the antithesis of grace giving.

8). Giving in Grace (“grace givers”) means we give of that which is immaterial and invisible — it is soul-giving (8:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58-16:2). Never be ashamed or feel guilty if you do not have money to give to the Lord. If your heart is willing, that is acceptable to the Lord. But remember, God knows your heart. Grace giving is motivated by the Holy Spirit through Bible Doctrine resident in the believer’s soul.

9). Approbation (attention) lust, coercion, emotional giving, guilt, peer pressure, or desire for prestige, all destroy free-will giving which defies grace giving. The clergy and any Christian ministry that uses any of these human good tactics and gimmicks are out of line with Scripture and are abusing their authority.

10). Self-righteousness cannot be established because you give money to the church. Salvation cannot be gained by giving to the church.

11). Grace giving is a privilege of our priesthood.

12). Grace giving is an expression of worship that commemorates God’s Love and God’s Grace toward mankind. Grace giving honors our Savior by furthering the gospel.


Some Pastors will read this study and be offended. Some will have nothing more to do with WOTM and that is their prerogative. WOTM is not going to compromise Truth to keep a happy reader or a reader happy … the message is not designed to tickle ears. Other Pastors will realize the truths of this presentation, but their Church is heavily in debt to a mortgage. Pastors and believers should pray and mediate on this study and let the Holy Spirit guide them through Scripture with an open bible mindset. Your Church will stand without the coercion of tithes and pledges if you are teaching your congregation at least two or three times during the week. Once on Sunday is not enough to sustain believers in the devil’s world. The Church Mortgage will be paid and your congregation can and will be blessed if the principles of “Grace Giving” are followed and you are teaching your flock, filled with the Spirit (1 John 1:9).


Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind based on the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross.

Disorientation to God’s Grace is the greatest operational hazard of our Churches. Failure of Christian Universities to teach Grace Orientation has caused the same result from the pulpit.   

Believers are saved by God’s grace, believers are to live by God’s grace, and believers are to give by God’s grace. ‘Grace giving’ is an expression of worship that commemorates God’s grace and honors our Savior. Uncoerced grace giving is compatible with God’s Plan and God’s Grace! Grace giving meets Divine standards with the result that the believer receives the benefit, which in turn glorifies God. Grace giving reflects the believer’s orientation to Bible Doctrine resident in the soul. Grace giving is a bonafide function of believers who are filled with the spirit exercising their freedom to give, sharing what God has prospered. Without these spiritual motivations, giving has no spiritual value.

All too often Christian giving is coerced by guilt, emotionalism, or peer pressure. Gospel Merchandising is anti-grace! It amounts to wood, hay and stubble. Gospel merchandising, solicitation, coercion and emotional pleas are indicative of believers and unbelievers operating in the flesh. These motivations are counterfeit and counter productive to God’s Grace Plan for His Church. Countless people shy away from Christianity because of solicitation by the local church and Christian Ministries standing there with their hand out.

Arrogance rejects grace! The arrogance of Christian ministries that solicit or merchandise the teaching of God’s Word impose their human system over God’s Grace Plan. Pseudo-spirituality undermines the power of the Holy Spirit. Solicitation for money is an invasion of the privacy of the believer’s priesthood.


Tithes and pledges do more harm than good — they are anti-grace. Tithing and pledges also appeal to (or feed) the ego resulting in self-justification, self-righteousness and approbation lust (the lust for attention and recognition from others). Non-Christians use tithing and pledging to justify their guilty conscience because they think they have made peace with God. Religious people think that their salvation is assured because they have given their money to God. Tithes and pledges amount to promising future income or return on investment which is not bonafide in Scripture. Giving does not equate to reward, nor does it earn salvation or peace with God.  

Solicitation results in coerced giving, which is the antithesis of grace giving.

Television Pastors, Evangelists and nearly all other Christian Programming on TV, either ask for money or offers to exchange materials or the teaching of God’s Word for your gift offering. Many churches and myriad other types of Christian ministries coerce believers and some even extract money from senior citizens in the name of Jesus. Guilt trips to manipulate people to give is not from God! God forbid! It is not Grace it is disgrace. When believers do not know Bible Doctrine they become prey to these solicitors and the false prophets. Believers beware!


Debt is a form of slavery — you owe, you are under obligation. You have signed away your personal freedom to the debtor. Debt gives the debtor leverage and authority — a claim to your future earnings as a partner in your paycheck. Creditors have the right to look into your private life to evaluate risk and ability to repay. They have a say as to how you spend your money. Therefore, the believer should not be overloaded with debt.

Debt usually results because of coveting, jealousy, approbation lust, and instant gratification. Debt is indicative of selfishness and human viewpoint. Instant gratification is not waiting on the Lord. God will provide (if it is His Will), in His time, not yours. I’m not saying reasonable debt such as a mortgage, car payment, utilities, insurance, is wrong — our society virtually demands these types of debt obligations. I am saying you must say no to credit card debt that exceeds your ability to repay at statement time. You must learn to say no to self.   

When you are systematically involved in learning God’s Word through your local church, your viewpoint will be in line with God’s viewpoint. You will know when and how much to give because of God’s Word in you and the conviction (leading) of the Holy Spirit. You will be totally at ease with your decision. If you are not at ease then wait on the Lord and pray for His guidance before giving. Your giving should be cheerful.


1). Lust for money becomes slavery to the details of life (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:9, 11, 13). Money is a necessary and legitimate function (Genesis 23:9; Jeremiah 32:44) in our world, but a harsh master.

2). Money causes the rich and the poor; the believer and unbeliever; to put their faith in the wrong things, including money (Mark 10:23-25).

3). The love (lust) for money involves coveting and greed and power and deceit — the root of all kinds of evil involving mans sin-nature (1 Timothy 6:6-12, 17-19).

4). Money is not the means to happiness. The believers happiness is constructed in his soul by the inhale of God’s Word which erects a Grace Place in the Soul (Proverbs 24:3,4; Colossians 2:7; 3:10).” The Grace Place is constructed by the inhale of Bible Doctrine, which is stored in the soul ready for application to the circumstances of everyday life. Thus, Bible Doctrine combined with the filling ministry (control or leadership) of the Holy Spirit, produces the “fruit of the Spirit.” By application of God’s Word we can experience first-hand God’s work through us to our community. What a privilege we have in Jesus Christ to operate under God’s Holy Spirit everyday (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 13:20, 21).  

Grace giving is God’s Love gift to believers so that we can honor our Savior. Giving helps us to understand God. Approbation lust or public display in giving has no place in God’s grace plan for believers. You cannot impress God by what you give. You can impress the Pastor and those whom you have made aware of your generosity, but not God. Self-righteous giving is anti-Christ! It is human approbation. It is evil. Your motive for giving must be pure in humility and love, otherwise God rejects your gifts, but the average Church will gladly accept your human good generosity.

Keep in mind, legalism is intrusion on the Plan of God. God is always waiting to pour out His Grace blessings on every believer (Isaiah 30:18-19). God provided our great salvation. God has a perfect plan for each of our lives. God is perfect — His plan is perfect, therefore, human merit is excluded. Human works and pride are always rejected by God. Self-righteous giving is rejected by God.

God provides everything for giving — both the mental attitude through Bible Doctrine and the financial resources. God never promises material blessing because of giving. He promises to meet all your needs through Christ Jesus — this is Grace!

Grace depends on the character of God, not on the character of man. Because of the Cross, God blesses the believer (His children) with salvation and the assets for fulfilling our spiritual calling which is the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine. God has made every provision for our spiritual walk with Him in this life (1 John 1:9) and in eternity — the Grace Place in our soul goes with us to eternity — it is built now, in time, and will serve us throughout eternity. God will continue to increase our knowledge of Him throughout eternity.


Grace is the antithesis (the opposite) of legalism and religion. Legalism is man’s attempt to observe a strict standard of conduct to gain the approval of God. Even if the standards are correct and in line with Scripture they cannot save — they cannot make us right with God. Human good works are rejected by God because God accepted the sinless work of His Son on the Cross.

Under the concept of Grace, God is transforming and renewing our thinking from human to Divine viewpoint by His written Word and application of His Word to experience. In other words, God is transforming us to be like His Son (Romans 8:29) based on His Word in us, not on what we do for Him to impress Him or others.

Passing the Offering Plate

Passing the basket on Sunday morning to collect the weekly offering is wrong! It is coercion! Other than hypocrisy, the offering plate has done more harm than good to the cause of Christ because it is a subtle form of coercion. Passing the hat puts people on the offensive because those around us are aware if we give and often times, how much.

When your Church passes the “Hat” (if you will), this is bullying and embarrassing to the visitor and the believer who perhaps does not have enough money to feed his family. In this scenario, God does not want the believer’s last dime. He wants his attention and dependence (faith) so God can bless, strengthen and give to the believer in need, not take his money away from his family so that the Church mortgage can be paid. Offering plates cause many to feel guilty and resentful, both believers and unbelievers. They are reminded why they don’t like coming to Church. Money! Money!

Unbelievers need to be able to come to church and be taught the Word and hear the Gospel Message without being solicited. Passing the offering plate is a subtle form of coercion — asking for money. Asking for money is anti-grace and anti-social. I’ve heard over and over again all my life, from the un-churched and the churched, that “all they do (the churches) is beg for money.”

In our attempt to reach the world for Christ, many times we drive the world away from the church by too much solicitation. The Church is designed to be an academic class room. That is the purpose and calling of the Pastor/Teacher — to teach the Word. When the members of a congregation truly understand God’s Grace; when they are truly students of the Word; when the Pastor/Teacher is teaching and educating the sheep, then God will pour out blessing from heaven and the offering plate will over-flow. People will flock to the Church that teaches the Bible verse by verse. Then, there is no need for solicitation and coercion.  

Pastors may wish to try this idea – put a large basket at the entrance to the auditorium. Printed on the outside should be a sign that reads “Deposit ego’s here before entering.” On the reverse side facing the people as they exit is another sign that reads “Deposit your love gift here!” The basket should not be open, but have a cover with a slit for deposits. Regular members could mail their gifts, but they may place an envelope in the basket if preferred. Also acceptable would be Ushers at the exits of the auditorium with baskets. 

If the Church is faithfully teaching from an open Bible, sound expository verse-by-verse instruction and clarification, the congregation will learn, mature and give generously as a direct result of teaching and a relaxed mental attitude. Believers and especially mature believers giving in the right frame of mind (fellowship) will give liberally with joy and love. As a result, God will add daily to the church (Acts 2:47). If members are delighting in the Lord’s Word they will carry this same spirit into the community and work environment. They will give of themselves (love toward God and mankind) and monetarily as God has prospered. This is and always has been God’s Pre-designed Plan for the local church and believers.

The entire community benefits when these Grace Principles are observed. The world can be a better place when believers are functioning in fellowship and learning God’s Word — a simple yet critical grace plan designed by God.

In closing, there is definitely something more enjoyable from giving than receiving. This joy is our God given ability to understand by experience what God feels like as the giver to His creation. Our Lord gave Himself on the Cross so humanity could experience His awesome love, His awesome forgiveness. This joy, this peace, this wonderful feeling from giving is the same feeling God Himself feels when He gives. Giving is our opportunity to feel (experience) the Love of God which is always toward others. When we understand our privilege and our honor to give we begin to understand God. God is understandable! He is incomprehensible without love. Love is giving yourself, your time and your spiritual gift(s) to others. Happy giving!  

 Happy Studying!

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