An Example on Tithing

Matthew 17: 22-27
Dt 10:12-22/Ps 147:12-15,19-20

From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
(Matthew 17:25)

Jesus went to all the trouble
Just to show us what is right;
If we can pay man-made taxes,
We also have to pay the tithe.

When they came together in Galilee, He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. After Jesus and His disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, He does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” He asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax —from their own sons or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Reflection

Among the four Gospel accounts, it is only in the version of Matthew that we find this incident about the payment of the temple tax. Being a former tax collector himself, Matthew (Levi) could not let this incident pass unrecorded. For the benefit of his Jewish readers, he must have wanted to show that the Messiah, true to His word, was always faithful in observing the law in all respects. At the same time, this incident was intended to be a lesson in obedience, humility and the practice of tithing. Jesus demonstrated His power over all creatures when He made a fish bring forth the money needed to pay the temple tax. If God Himself would willingly comply with ‘petty’ man-made laws, then His message was: no one was exempted from paying all dues, whether required by the state or by the church.

Jesus employed every event and circumstance that He encountered in His brief life on earth for an important lesson or purpose, including the devious schemes that His detractors and enemies used to entrap Him. By submitting to the temple tax, He showed that no one is exempt from supporting His church in the payment of tithes. ‘That we may not offend,’ He said, using the plural to mean that it must be imitated by all His followers. Jesus set the example for all members of the temple (Church) to follow. All the churches in the world were established because of this legacy. Let us continue supporting our churches for all future generations to follow.

Timeless lessons from our timeless God, may we live them faithfully in our lives, so that we will always give You the glory, loving Father. Amen.

2 Responses to “An Example on Tithing”

  1. Russell Earl Kelly  on August 13th, 2007

    You wrote “By submitting to the temple tax, He showed that no one is exempt from supporting His church in the payment of tithes.” You also called it a :”petty” tax.

    In the first place all Israelites were required since Moses’ time, to pay a temple tax –whether rich or poor.

    Secondly, OT tithes only supported Levites and priests. The moder Levites are the ushers, deacons, chior member, builders and judges adn they ae not paid from tithes. See Numbers 3; 18 adn 1 Chronicales 23 to 26.

    Third, The OT temple was replaced by the temple of the beleiver and the storehouse principle disappeared since the NT church did not have buildings for over 300 years.

    Fourth, tithing carried the curse of the whole law and anybody trying to please God by tithing places himself/herself under the curse of the whole law. See Galatians 3:10 and Deut 28:1.

    Fifth, tithing is nowhere taught to the church after Calvary and has been replaced by better new covenant principles motivated by love.

    Sixth, OT priests were replaced by the priesthood of believers and not by the pastor/elder.

    See my 19 point essay and free book. Russell Earl Kelly, PhD, author of Should the Church Teach Tithing?

  2. Momong  on August 14th, 2007

    Dear Dr. Kelly,

    Thank you for the illumination. You are right on all counts. I guess that’s the reason why our Church does not mandate the practice. But I still believe that like almsgiving, giving to our church for its missions and the support of our clergy’s needs are a great way to “put our money where our faith is”, and helps us in our need to detach ourselves from our obsession to our possessions. God bless you.