Is Tithing Wrong?
Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their legalistic attention to tithing. Was he saying that tithing was wrong?
Jesus certainly took the Pharisees to task for their hypocrisy. In Matthew 23, we find a long list of woes that Jesus pronounced upon these religious leaders. In the midst of that monologue, He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone” (v. 23). We must be careful as we analyze this verse. Jesus was not attacking the Pharisees for their attention to tithing. Rather, He was pointing out that they had failed to give the same attention to other matters that they gave to tithing. Nowhere in this verse does Jesus say they were wrong to tithe. In fact, He says they should be giving the same level of attention to what He called “weightier matters,” such as justice, mercy, and faith, but not at the expense of tithing. They needed to do both, not abandon tithing to tackle more important things.
It is interesting that our Lord did not include tithing among the “weightier matters” of the law. That doesn’t mean God won’t be upset if we rob Him by failing to tithe. But it does imply that tithing is a small thing in the sense that it is one of the easiest things to do in the Christian life. It’s so easy, even the hypocritical Pharisees could handle it. But we often find it to be one of the hardest disciplines to begin and maintain.
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