Supporters of tithing as a requirement for Christians love to point to Malachi 3:10 for proof of why we should tithe. The most common argument is that this is the only place in the Bible where God tells His people to test Him. I’ve already discussed tithing in the Bible, but let’s look specifically at this idea. There are three major problems with claiming that we should tithe because God told us to test Him in it:
- We are no longer under the blessings or the curses of the Law.
- The entire Law of Moses was worded as a test for the Israelites.
- Tithing alone was never enough to guarantee blessings from God.
No Longer Under the Law
Christians are under the New Covenant, and our righteousness comes from the blood of Christ – not our ability to keep all of the Law. To throw ourselves back under the Law – even just the law of tithing – requires us to completely turn away from the imputed righteousness we claim in Christ. If we’re going to say that we are either blessed or cursed based on our giving, we’re saying that Christ died for nothing. We are no longer under the curse of the Law because Jesus has taken that curse for us. And we are not blessed because we tithe – we are blessed because we have received eternal life through the blood of Jesus.
Taking Old Testament commands and saying that they still apply to Christians, along with the blessings and curses attached with those commands, is to completely ignore the necessity of Christ’s death. His death broke the hold of the Law over our lives. We are no longer judged according to our ability to keep the Law. We are judged according to Jesus’ ability to keep the Law and our acceptance of His sacrifice.
The Whole Law Was a Test
The Hebrew word for “prove” in Malachi 3:10 is the only place in the Bible where that particular word is used by God to tell people to “test” Him. But almost every aspect of the Law was worded as a test to the Israelites. God told the Israelites if they would keep all of His commandments, then He would bless them. That’s a test. He also told them that if they didn’t keep all of His commandments, then He would curse them. That’s a test. God is saying if you do (or don’t do this), then I promise I will do this.
To simply look for the word “test” in the whole Bible, only find it in Malachi 3:10, and then conclude that Christians should tithe because that’s the only thing God told us to test Him in is to ignore the context of the entire rest of the Law! It doesn’t matter if a particular word was used in Malachi 3:10 in a certain way and never used anywhere else in that way. God gave almost all of His Law to the Israelites in the form of a test and told them to do it. So Malachi 3:10 isn’t truly the only time God told His people to test His promises (either to bless or curse).
Tithing Alone Will Not Bring Blessings
The final problem with this approach to Malachi 3:10 is that it assumes all you have to do is tithe and God is required to bless you. This was never true for the Israelites, the people this command was written for. They were required to keep the whole Law if they wanted to receive God’s blessings. If they broke even one part of the Law, God told them He would curse them. This false interpretation of Malachi 3:10 as a promise of God’s blessings if you tithe completely ignores Biblical truth.
Was God promising to bless sinners and non-believers who only obey Him in regards to tithing? Was God promising to bless unrepentant Christians if they tithe? How can we look at this one verse as a simple “you do this one thing and I (God) will bless you abundantly”? How does that understanding mesh with the rest of Scripture? James made it clear that this is not the case in James 2:10, and Paul even quoted Deuteronomy 27:16 to show that you are cursed if you don’t keep the entire Law.
Better Giving Principles
It’s clear that despite Malachi 3:10 being the only place God says to test Him we are not called to tithe as Christians. Under the New Covenant, we have much better and much more demanding principles for giving. I encourage you to read more about New Covenant giving guidelines if you want your giving to be founded on Scripture.