10% Tithe??

June 17, 2010 — 3 Comments

I know the Old Testament talks about a 10% thithe in several places but is this also applicable to Christians in the New Testament age? Some say yes and some say no.  It always impressed me when I read in the book of acts how Early Christians sold everything they had and gave the money to the Apostles for the community good.  Here are those verses:

Acts 4:32-35
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

It is amazing to me that this happened. It would be totally unfathomable for this to occur in today’s world. The closest we probably came to this was the hippie communes of the 1960 :). But almost as amazing is the total turn around that occurred just a few verses later. Here is that story:

Acts 5:1-11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.  With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.  Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

I guess Ananias and his wife Sapphira missed the orientation meeting that said you have to give everything. Having held some back (we don’t know how much?) they were struck dead!  I can certainly see where great fear struck others in the church!  I suspect it also drove many out.  I really don’t understand this story. Some say it is simply to make people aware that everything you have comes from God.  But that was a harsh lesson for poor Ananias to learn.

Do we need to feel obliged to give 10% of our income to the church?  From the latest data it seems that most Christians give less than 3%.  Where is that thunder bolt that should be striking them dead (ha). Aren’t we lucky that the Apostles are still not around. I’m afraid that the church population would be approaching zero if this event were repeated many times. Is this story a reporting of an historical event or is it just a parable/myth to teach us an object lesson?  I just don’t know but killing people because the didn’t give everything is a little troubling.

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3 responses to 10% Tithe??

  1. 

    If you ask me, i think you missed the point on poor Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They were not struck dead because they did not give all but because they lied. They were not obligated to give anything from the proceeds of the sale of their property but tried to deceive Peter by keeping back some of the proceeds. Their reluctance to give showed through that act and this is why the bible says we should not give under compulsion or out of neccessity but we should cheerfully and willfully give anything we decide in our heart.

    It is better not to give at all than to give reluctantly!

  2. 

    Tony, thanks for the input. You just may be right but being struck dead because you lie is really not much better :). I suspect I and most Christians lie, in one degree or another, almost every day. And to lie about not giving 100% of your wealth doesn’t seem like a biggie to me. It doesn’t come even remotely close the the lies that King David said during his life!

  3. 

    It was a folksy story that happened to make it in the canon. The early church father’s wanted to intimidate a little – more money to build those huge cathedrals:-)! How can you read the words of Christ and reconcile them with this action? It is not consistent with his loving and accepting nature. However, He does seem to indicate He will one day judge the lives of the “sheep and the goats”. He does mean business when it comes to living a righteous life.

    This seemed like a teachable moment that was taken to the extreme!

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