“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.”
NKJV - 23 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.
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In my opinion, the central point that Jesus is making in this passage (as He did on other occasions) is not regarding the requirement to tithe, but the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees in their meticulous observance of even the most minute outward, observable actions required by the Law, while they neglected the more important inward matters of the heart and mind addressed by the Law, through a deliberate failure to possess and exercise such attributes as justice, mercy, faith, and love in their attitudes and actions toward others. The requirement to tithe was part of the Law that was nailed to the cross with Jesus (Colossians 2:14). Its purpose (in addition to acknowledging God) had been to provide sustenance for the priestly tribe of Levi (which had no land allotment of its own, and which was to be dedicated to full-time service to God and to the religious life of Israel); funds for the annual religious observances or feasts required by the Law; charity for Israel's poor; and maintenance of the tabernacle and (later) the temple. Christian giving should now be motivated by gratitude to God for all the grace (undeserved mercy) and love that He has shown us through the salvation that He has made possible through faith in Christ, rather than in obedience to a command. The New Testament does not mandate a specific percentage or amount. Christians can regard the tithe (10%) as a guideline for that giving, but it is no longer a requirement, as it was under the Law.
You can easily research new testament tithing on the web. Paul had many opportunities to teach the church to tithe. I believe he purposely avoided this subject because he knew it to be a pathway back to the temple worship system. New Testament believers are supposed to be Spirit led not under law. When preachers teach their congregations to tithe they wrongly put them under bondage, in my opinion. Our modern day church buildings and top down leadership can often look an awful lot like the Old system that Jesus said was no more.
This verse is also repeated in Luke 11:42, 43. The next verse Jesus says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men walk all over them and are not aware of them." The Pharisees were concerned about the tradition of tithing even down to the smallest thing such as an herb or a spice. Leviticus 27:30, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is Holy to the Lord." However, they neglected the law of Moses. See Numbers 18:21-32, And Deuteronomy 14:22-29. They also skipped the teaching of the prophets. Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love MERCY, and to walk humbly with your God." This is true worship. Zechariah 7:8-10, "The Word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, "Thus says the Lord of hosts: execute TRUE justice show MERCY and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother." They were so busy about the traditional law that they were blind to the big picture. It's all about love, MERCY! Jesus whole life was love MERCY and grace. Matthew 23:25 - 29, Jesus said woe, you cleanse the outside of the cup, but the inside is full of yourself...you are blind... you are like whitewashed tombs...you appear Beautiful, but...you are full of dead bones! You appear righteous, but are full of hypocrisy! 1Samues 16:7, "But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.For the Lord does not see as a man sees; for a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 2 Corinthians 8:12, "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have." 2Corinthians 9:7, "So let each of us give as he purposes in his heart, Not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver." Luke 21: 1-3, "And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all..." God knows each of our minds and hearts. He wants our love, and whatever we do it is to be because we love and honor Him.
As I understand from the scriptures, there are 3 distinctive Tithes in the OT. 1. Tithe for the Levites serving in the Temple in Jerusalem (Lev 27:30, Num 18:21, 24), given annually. 2. Tithe, set aside also annually, to be consumed by the Tither and his family before the Lord in Jerusalem (Deut 14:22-26). 3. Tithe set aside at the end of every 3rd year for the Levites, aliens, orphans and widows in own town, (Deut 14:27-29). Additionally, they had to bring offerings for various festivals, occasions, sins, etc. Now with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, NT Christians have no more mandatory offerings or tithes. So it really seems a shame if we continue to give only 10% to God. Especially, as we would most probably be paying a higher percentage as government taxes. While there’s no ‘compulsion’ to give in NT (2 Cor. 9:7) let us aim higher, 30% at least!
I believe our Lord Jesus Christ addressed two issues here: The issue of paying tithes and showing mercy, as well as being just and faithful. Reading between the lines and focusing on the last sentence, it is my take that he did not condemn or annul tithing. "These you ought to have done without leaving the other undone." That last statement to me means that we can pay tithes but where are the Levites to receive them. I also think that paying of tithe is an act of faith and worship which God accepts and honors. It is part of the law nailed to the cross alright as stated by Tim, but those who practice it, of which I am one, are showing faith in God as the source of their earnings. God rewards faith.
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