The Law Was Never
The Means Of Righteousness
But Is Still The Standard
It is true that Jesus did not give a fully developed lesson series on tithing but He didn’t need to. It was not the intention of Jesus or any other New Testament writers to re-teach in the New Testament any well established Old Testament truth. Why spend time telling us what we already know. That would have been redundant, wasteful even. If Jesus only restated Old Testament truths it would have given skeptics a very good reason for rejecting the inspiration of Scripture.
When Jesus did refer to Old Testament laws and He mentioned many of them, He always added insight and perspective to those truths, He never just restated them and He never eliminated them. His remarks about adultery surprised the people of His day, not to mention the generations that followed, and “an eye for an eye” took on a completely different spirit under His instructions. The fact is, the teachings of Jesus often focused on Old Testament laws. He never said or did anything to suggest that “grace” is the antithesis of “law.” He taught the opposite. Without the principle of law we don’t need grace.
The law is not the means of our righteousness, and never was, but it still represents the standard of righteousness.
Jesus expanded on murder, adultery, oath-taking and how you treat an enemy in just one sermon (Matthew 5-7). He made some interesting remarks about marriage and divorce later in His ministry (Matthew 19). Obviously, Jesus wasn’t eliminating the law. If anything, He was emphasizing it. He had problems with popular interpretations of the law not the law. His stated purpose was to fulfill it not deny it (Matthew 5:17-20) and anyone who teaches otherwise is not held in high esteem by God.
Later, Paul echoed those same sentiments never implying the law was outdated, outmoded or served no useful purpose in the New Testament. According to Paul, it is the existence of law that enables us to see our need for salvation (Romans 7:7-13) and he made it clear that we are to respect even human governments and the laws, sometimes-unfair, they uphold (Romans 13:1-7).
And Jesus did mention tithing. In Matthew 23:23, a chapter in which Jesus scathingly denounced the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, He actually endorsed the principle of tithing. The Scribes and Pharisees were the most knowledgeable (not to mention obsessive) students of the law but they failed in two ways.
Firstly, they were hypocrites. What they required of others they did not do themselves (Matthew 23:1). And most importantly, they missed the primary point: judgment, mercy and faith. That is a mouth full and we don’t have space to discuss it in this post. The point is, His mention of tithing was a very subtle but clear endorsement of the practice.
To use this verse to deny tithing is to also suggest that judgment, mercy and faith are no longer valid for the present.
Here is the truth. The only two things Jesus could have done relative to tithing was one, deny it outright, which He did not do, or two, make strong statements which reinforced the idea philosophically and that is what He did (Matt. 6:19-34).
Those who wish to deny tithing for the New Testament must do two things: One, they must present some very strong and clear, non-emotional, evidence to prove it is no longer a valid life principle and two, they must tell us what to do instead.
In Tithing, Douglas Leblanc provides much more than a narrow discussion on a traditional issue. It isn’t the same old arguments presented the same boringly technical way.
Instead, and probably because he is “no theologian or exegetical writer,” Douglas has found an intriguing way to cut to the real heart of the issue – compassion and concern for others. He shares the experiences of twelve different homes, mostly couples with the exception of one lone Monsignor, all of whom endorse tithing for a very similar reason: selflessness.