First, regarding the rich young man who asked Christ how to receive eternal life. The account In Matthew 19:16-23 was not concerning tithing. It had nothing to do with tithing, but Christ said, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus told the rich man if you want eternal life you must keep the commandments.
It was the commandments that the rich man said he kept (Matthew 19:20). Hopefully, that should explain that scripture to you and your mother. It doesn’t have anything to do with tithing whatsoever.
Now, the tithing question. Should Christians pay tithes to the ministry? As you said, many religions today promote the paying of tithes by their members to their church. Biblically, should Christians pay tithes to the ministry?
To understand tithing, we must first ask why did God make a Law for people to tithe to the Levitical Priesthood? There was no law regarding tithing until 430 years after God made His covenant with Abraham (Galatians 3:17).
During the time of Abraham and Jacob, they did tithe. But as you will see they tithed for a totally different purpose or reason than the Law required. The Law, remember, required a tithe (a tenth) of all the land and live stock produced (Leviticus 27:30 and Numbers 18:20-22). God’s Law directly states the reason the people paid a tithe to The Levite was they had no inheritance in the promised land. According to the Law of God, if one believes in The Law of God given to Moses at Sinai, that is the only way and the only reason tithes are to be paid, according to the Law. The Law demands that tithe be taken from The Promised Land only. Not from other lands. Tithing has nothing to do with the increase people receive from wages or their pay.
According to God’s Law, one can only receive tithes if they are from the Levitical Priesthood and they do not have any inheritance in the Promised Land. That is what the Law demands (Numbers 18:20-22). If one tithes to another priesthood, they are breaking God’s Law and that is stealing!
Some churches use Hebrews 7:5-12 as an excuse to steal tithes from the Levites because Abraham tithed to Melchisedec before Levi. Then they further state a Biblical lie that since Christ is now in the office of Mechisedec, Christ’s ministers are The Levites. They quote Revelation 5:10 that Christ has made us kings and priests, we should tithe to the ministry. Wait a minute! This scripture states all Christians are to be kings and priests. Not just the ministry. Anyway, in reality Revelation 5:10 is for the future. I Peter 3:9 also states all Christians are a royal priesthood. Therefore, tithes are not to be paid only to the ministry. In fact, tithes can’t be paid even to the ministry or Christians, even as priests, because we have an inheritance in the future kingdom (Ephesians 1:14). According to The Law one cannot pay tithes if someone receives an inheritance (that is stealing). Christians already have received an earnest of our inheritance, and therefore, do not qualify according to God’s Law! Neither ministers nor Christians have a right to receive tithes. They do not qualify to receive tithes. That is quite clear in The Law and should settle the question.
Malachi 3 is only speaking to Levites in the Promised Land. The stealing God is talking about is that the people were not tithing to The Levites. Anyone else demanding or taking tithes is, therefore, stealing from the Levites which God states is stealing from God! Malachi 3 has nothing to do with Christians or the ministry.
Now why did Abraham tithe? After Abraham and his servants saved Lot from the kings, the King of Sodom came to Abram and said just give me back my people and you can have everything else.
Abram said no. In fact, Abram, after he gave Melchisedec a tithe, didn’t keep anything for himself. Obviously, Abram didn’t tithe because it was the Law. The Law gives 90% to Abram and 10% of the tithe to Melchisedec. Abram kept nothing, so why did he tithe? In Genesis 14:23, Abram tells us why he gave everything back to the King of Sodom and tithed to Melchisedec. Verse 23, Abram said, “I will not take anything that is thine, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich.” Abram tithed because he looked to God to make him prosperous and not the King of Sodom. That is why he took nothing for himself, but trusted in God totally to make him prosperous! This obviously had nothing to do with God’s Law. The Law did not comer for another 430 years (Galatians 3:17).
Jacob also tithed for the same reason as Abram (Genesis 28:22). Jacob prayed to God to keep Esau from harming him and for God to keep him safe and prosperous. Just like Abram, Jacob tithed to ask God to be his protector, provider and security. Christians do the same and Christians are willing to give everything they have just like Abram. Abram’s tithing had nothing to do with the Law (Genesis 28:13-22).
Now, let us look at the real reason for Paul talking about tithing in Hebrews 7. The real context and subject matter Paul is writing about is in Verse 11. The Apostle Paul said, “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical Priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedek and not be called after the order of Aaron?” Verse 12 “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the Law”
Here we have the Biblical answer. Melchisedek was before the Levitical Priesthood where even Abram tithed to Him to show that the priesthood of Melchisedek was first. They were a higher priesthood because Melchisedek could bring perfection. That is the subject of Hebrews 7, not tithing. That is why the whole Law is changed from the letter to the spirit (Romans 7:6). Now Christians serve under Melchisedek in the changed law in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Christians do not keep the Law by the letter, but by God writing His Law in our minds in the spirit.
Christians have an entire new way of giving money than tithing. Now that we see all the Bible proofs why Christians do not tithe for that would be stealing from God (Malachi 3).
Let us go on and see what our High Priest, Jesus Christ, after the order of Melchisedek tells Christians what they have to give and how.
In Matthew 19:16-23, when Christ was asked how do we get eternal life, to the rich man, He said “Keep the commandments and sell what you have and give it to the poor.” Just like Abram, Christians keep nothing if someone has need and we are even willing to sell everything we have, to help others.
Now Christ also tells us how Christians prosper and it isn’t by tithing. Jesus said, in Mark 10: 28-30, if we are willing to give up everything like Peter (verse 28), we shall receive an hundredfold now, in this time, with persecutions and in the world to come, eternal life.
Christian giving is by need, even if we have to sell everything. Pentecost was the first church example (Acts 2:43-45). Tithing or offerings are not the Christian principle. It is all based on need, if our brothers are poor. All the examples in the New Testament are based on need, not tithing or offerings (I Corinthians 16:1-13). During the famine in Jerusalem, ministers needed help, like the ox that treads out the corn, or the Levites who live off of the sacrifice of the temple (animals), likewise ministers also have a right to ask for help with their daily needs if their work isn’t enough.
Again, Paul tells Timothy, in I Timothy 5:8-18, that Christians should provide for their own families and if some are true widows (no husbands to care for them) then the church should do the honor of giving widows their necessities and especially ministers who preach the gospel, should get double honor and the church should make sure they take care of the daily needs, not only the widows but especially the minister. As Paul again said, don’t muzzle the ox, but give him corn or daily needs and especially the ministry (I Timothy 5:18). Remember, every head of a house is to provide for his own house (I Timothy 5:8).
This includes a minister to find a job too. Paul said the same thing in II Thessalonians 3:8-10. Paul said he worked and everyone should work, including the ministry. He said if they do not work, they do not eat or get help.
So the Christian way of helping the work of God is by helping the needy, including needy ministers. But, no tithing or offerings are required by The Bible.