Matthew 23:23 KJV 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, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

I was intrigued by Jesus saying that they were fastidious in their tithes, but omitting judgment, mercy, and faith. So I looked up the meaning of both tithe, and alms in Webster's dictionary.

TITHE  The tenth part of any thing; but appropriately, the tenth part of the
increase annually arising from the profits of land and stock, allotted to the 
clergy for their support. Tithes are personal, predial, or mixed; personal, when
accruing from labor, art, trade and navigation; predial, when issuing from the 
earth, as hay, wood and fruit; and mixed, when accruing from beasts, which are 
fed from the ground.

ALMS  Any thing given gratuitously to relieve the poor, as money, food, or clothing,
otherwise called charity.

I also ran across the following verses:

Luke 6:38 KJV Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 12:34 KJV For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

I have taken those to say that Christians have a bigger obligation, than just giving a tenth to the Church.

I have checked for similar questions on the site, but found that none specifically answer my question.

4 Answers 4



We're not commanded to give to The Church. Giving to the poor is giving to God. Giving is about demonstrating our thanks to God for providing for us in the past and our trust in God to provide for us in the future.

In what way are we commanded (or even urged) to give?

I don't see a command in the NT mandating details (quantity, timing, etc.) of giving. Some attributes of the method are given, but certainly not anything regarding quantity. The object of our giving isn't necessarily prescribed either. I certainly don't see a precedent for saying that we ought to give our money to The Church.

The closest example I see of giving as it's typically done in American churches is found in 1 Corinthians 16.

1 Corinthians 16:2a (NASB) On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper,

This instance is speaking about a specific need that the saints in Jerusalem had. I don't think this is the same as "giving to the Church." The local assembly of believers was giving the money to help starving people in Jerusalem. You could perhaps argue that Jerusalem is where the Church leadership was centered, but I don't read the text as emphasizing any special use the leaders had for the gift. It seems more likely that they would just immediately hand the money to one of the deacons (i.e. "servants"; Acts 6:2b (NASB), "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.") and not use it for any special "Church work" or administration.

Paul was the recipient of some gifts, and said that supporting apostles (maybe even evangelists?) was acceptable.

Philippians 4:16 (NASB) ...for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.

Again, I don't see this (and perhaps I'm predisposed to think so) as supporting the Church as a whole, but a specific individual or a specific need.

Neither is tithing a command under the new covenant. At least, it is not said to be so by Jesus or the NT authors.

How should we give?

Secretly—or Not Ostentatiously

Our motives should not be for selfish glory.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NASB) Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Also confer: Acts 5.


2 Corinthians 9:7 (NASB) Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.


2 Corinthians 9:6 (NASB) Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

There's no limit on how much (or little) we're supposed to give.

Luke 21:1-4 (NASB) And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering ; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on."

In fact, the greatest value in giving is in the quality of the sacrifice on our parts.

Philippians 4:17 (NASB) Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

This harmonizes with what Jesus said about the widow who gave a small amount of money.


Jesus says:

Acts 20:35 (NASB) "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Like nearly every other requirement of Christianity, giving is about our hearts. Do we give freely out of generosity (without selfish motives)? Do we give out of love for God or someone else? These are the essentials of Christian giving.

God doesn't need our money. He doesn't seem to care about balancing his bank account. In terms of what he can do, there's always "more where that came from," no matter how much he has already given.

I don't see the Biblical authors prescribing the object of our charity, nor do I see that we have any sort of minimum standard of giving to maintain.

It's very simple (though difficult): Everything I have is God's to do with as he wishes. When I know of a need, I ought to do something about it.

  • @ mojo If we are not required to give to the Church how do you interpret: Deuteronomy 26:1 and 2 ------- 1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which יהוה thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; 2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that יהוה thy Elohim giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which יהוה thy Elohim shall choose to place his name there.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:40
  • @Cecil Beckum, This is a requirement of the old covenant that God made with Moses (and the people). Jesus fulfilled the old covenant, and we are under a new covenant made through Him.
    – mojo
    Dec 16, 2013 at 19:12
  • @ mojo the fact that Jesus fulfilled the law does not mean that the law is no longer in effect, Jesus fulfillment of the law was in that his obedience of the law negated our unwillingness to obey the law, when he became an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. And the fact that we are and will no longer be found guilty of the law, does not excuse us to continue breaking the law it only atones for our not doing so:...Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?.... Romans 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 20:30
  • The tithe was needed under the old covenant to support an entire tribe. The Levites were not given land is Israel - they were set aside as a priestly class. The tithing laws supported the tabernacle / animal sacrifice system where priests were needed to intermediate between God and man. Applying the same rule to churches now is to misunderstand the role that the Church fills - it doesn't intermediate between us and God, it is us.
    – Eclipse
    Dec 16, 2013 at 21:35
  • 1
    @CecilBeckum, how does one distinguish between "procedures for living" and "law given to Moses", particularly when they are intertwined throughout the Pentateuch?
    – mojo
    Dec 17, 2013 at 3:56

Christians have a bigger obligation, than just giving a tenth to the Church

Absolutely! The point of Jesus' message is that the Pharisees were giving a tenth of their earthly goods (perhaps just those spices, since they could possibly be considered "extravagances" where a 10% gift would not be missed) but neglecting real needs of others. His last statement is that they (and we by association) should be doing to help others as well as giving to support the Church so that others can "do" as well.

  • @ D Stanley So how do you rate the question are you saying it is a good question or a bad one a vote would either up or down is appreciated since I use them to help me understand how to ask or answer questions, and from your answer I am unable to determine which way you feel.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:42
  • @CecilBeckum I was answering the question, not judging it. Are you more concerned with the answer or the quality of the question? It's a perfectly valid question.
    – D Stanley
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:44
  • @ D Stanley from the Absolutely with an exclamation mark, and the remainder of your answer I got the impression you were saying in effect 'f course you dummy can't you read' and if you didn't want to be that bold a down vote would tell me my impression was right. So was my impression right?
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:49
  • @CecilBeckum My apologies, I did not mean to imply that the answer should be obvious - just being clear that a tithe is by no means the main obligation a Christian has.
    – D Stanley
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:50
  • @ D Stanley no problem I am also relatively new to the site, and sometimes I do get the wrong impression from answers, and in truth I have a lot of learning left to do myself, and I too apologize for flying off the handle.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:01

The larger message here is a rejection of the Pharisees' belief that they could be righteous in a quantitative, mechanical, rule-based manner. Their belief was that if you followed the letter of the law, and gave ten percent, you were a good person by definition.

Jesus' quote rejects this logic, demanding that the Pharisees engage with the moral responsibility underlying the legal one.

  • @ Chris Sunami I agree with your synopsis of that particular verse, but I have learned that sometimes it takes several scriptures to extract the true meaning of many Scriptures, I was using that one to elucidate my question about the overall concept of Mercy.
    – BYE
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:56

If something is wrong and God is with you then you will know because he will write his new covenant in our hearts and we will know wrong from right, that is why if God really resides in you then you dont need to live according to the laws because the holy spirit will guide us against evil things. I never thought it was Godly to pay the tenths in this day and age because the minute you feel like you are bound to pay a certain amount every month then its not out of your free will and it wont be worth anything in the sight of God. Whether you give half your money or all of it to the poor is not really necessary, whts necessary is giving to the poor with a willing heart and it should be done in private because there is a reward from Jesus when it is done that way

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This answer needs more support. It needs sources and citations, if necessary, to support what you are saying. Otherwise, it just looks like your opinion. Please add more to it to make a truly academic answer. Thank you. References: Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer?
    – user3961
    Sep 20, 2014 at 0:49
  • This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Sep 20, 2014 at 3:59
  • Although I have to say, the question does invite opinion... As a new visitor, you could hardly be expected to get what the site expects by looking at the question. Sep 20, 2014 at 4:02

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