By Rev. Fr John Damian Adizie, OCD
A lot have been said concerning tithing. While most people, especially Men of God, are of the view that people must continue to pay tithe as in Malachi 3:8-9, few others are of the view that tithing is no long-er necessary since Jesus Christ did not demand ti-the from his followers.
He rather encouraged his fo-llowers to “pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15-21). What are those things that belong to God?
In Numbers 18:26 the Lord declares: “You shall speak to the Levites, say-ing: When you receive from the Israelites the tithe that I have given you from them for your portion, you shall set apart an offering from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe.” To start with, ti-the is not for everybody, tithe is for the Levites, and the Levites are the Priestly linage.
From the above passage the priests themselves who accept tithe from the people are also expected to pay tithe from their ti-the. This is what the pass-age refer to as “tithe of the tithe.” One may ask: How many priests or past-ors are paying this tithe of tithe? Who re-ceives this tithe of tithe?
James 1:27 de-clares, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…” It is obvious therefore that the tithe of tithe belongs to the orphans and widows. In Matthew 25:40 our Lord Jesus Christ declares: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least members of my family, you did it to me.”
Support for the poor, especially orphans and widows is indeed support for Christ.
That was exactly the in-tention of the early Church. According to Acts 6:1, “When the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews be-cause their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.” Note, the distribution of food to the orphans and widows was not just an annual event but ‘daily’.
One may ask, how were the disciples able to fund this daily distribution of food to orphans? It was through this tithe of tithe!
The first deacons were entrusted with this noble task. Only God knows how this ministry gradually disappeared in the Church.
Nowadays nobody cares for the orphans and wid-ows any longer. Men of God are now using the tithe to enrich themselves. The rich are getting richer while the poor are be-coming poorer. This is what I call Religious capi-talism!
Child of God, there is no-thing wrong with tithing but if you discover that your priest or pastor is not using part of the tithe to help the poor, you are free to take your tithe directly to the orphans, the wid-ows, the refugees and the internally displaced peo-ple. As you do so, God will richly bless you, in Jesus name.