True Fasting

I once asked a pastor, concerning the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20, if they would have been required to tithe on their wages of one denarius. His response was this:

“The short answer is yes, all Jews were expected to tithe off all their earnings…Ultimately, I can't see how any Christian could justify giving less than 10% of their income when that was the Old Testament standard, and the poorest of Jewish people paid that tithe.”

The Bible is crystal clear that the Levitical tithe consisted solely of agricultural production from the land, not all earnings. And the Levites dealt strictly with owners of crops and livestock, collecting nothing from the poorest Jews. I found his response to be as illuminating as it was disturbing.

I was sitting in church one Sunday morning, listening to this same pastor deliver a sermon on tithing. As I looked around the auditorium, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these children of God were struggling financially just to provide the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families, all the while listening to the man of God tell them that God requires ten percent of their income and that the church comes first.

I thought back to something I had read online once. A single mom needed to buy medicine for her sick child, but she had always been taught to tithe. Not having enough money to do both, she asked her pastor what she should do. He said all he knew was that she would be cursed if she didn’t tithe.

After looking around the auditorium, I found myself incensed with the sheer blasphemy inherent in the church’s stance on tithing. That same feeling came rushing back to me recently when I asked a woman at work if she went to church. She said she used to go, but not anymore. Several years back, when she was struggling just to feed herself, her pastor was constantly pressuring her to tithe. So she just stopped going.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”  (Isaiah 58:6-7)

It’s high time the church loosed the chains of injustice and began teaching and practicing true fasting by removing the unbiblical yoke of tithing. God wants us to treat each other, particularly those in need, the same way He treated us when we were in need of a Savior: with an open hand, not an iron fist.


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.