What Is This Doing Here? (Deuteronomy 14:23-26)

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In the midst of all the rules God gave Moses to pass on to the Israelites is one that seems so out of place as to rock everything I thought I knew about tithing.

We all know Malachi 3:8-10 where God accuses the Israelites of robbing Him by not bringing their full tithes into “the storehouse that there may be food in my house…”

I have tithed faithfully since the day God had quickened this scripture to me many years ago. That is, until recently. After moving to a new state, I had found a church but have been blocked time after time from giving to them until I finally asked God, “What’s going on? Don’t You want me to tithe to them? If not, then what am I to do with the money each month?”

I began to get the idea that He had somewhere else He wanted the money to go, so I raised my spiritual antenna a little higher and watched for where He directed. Within a week or so, I think I found it. A 90-year-old lady, living alone in a rundown trailer, overwhelmed with clearing off the neglected land that she wanted to sell. Now new questions flooded me. How? Cash to her? Pay a contractor to clean it up? How much? And most important of all – is this Biblical – to give my tithe money to a lady instead of to a church?

I search the Scriptures for directions on how to tithe. Among them was this passage:

Deut. 14  22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 

I noticed two things I hadn’t seen before. Verse 23 says “you shall eat” – not “you shall give” or “you shall leave with the priests”. And verse 26 says “If the way to too long… too far”, then “turn it into money” and “spend the money for whatever you desire… whatever your appetite craves.”


I eat my own tithe? Or if the way is too long/far, I convert it to money and spend it on whatever I want?

This is blowing my mind!

I was always taught that ten percent of my income belonged to God and it needed to be given to the church I attended for them to do with it as they chose. Isn’t that what Malachi says? But these Scriptures don’t say that. These Scriptures are saying that I am to enjoy it myself -either at the place God chooses for His name to be honored or at my own place for whatever I want.

I know better than to take one Scripture and make a doctrine out of it. And I won’t do it with this one. Yet, isn’t that what we have done with Malachi? What if God’s storehouse is not the church? What if it’s the Church? The people of God? What if we are to give to fellow believers that are in need but not necessarily through a church? This led me to search out what the New Testament says about tithing/giving.

Although I didn’t find anything about tithing, I did find plenty of places where it talks about giving. They gave to groups of other Christians, sometimes through Paul, which is what we do when we give to our churches, but the Bible also talks about giving to those we personally see who are in need. Both are equally important. Neither mentions a specific amount. We are to give what’s in our heart. And neither says to pay our tithe to the church and then give extra offerings to people in need, something else I’ve been taught. I don’t see that differentiation in the New Testament. What I read is that we give what we want where we want with the encouragement to be generous.

I know that my church needs money to do the good works they feel led to do. I know the pastors need an income. So, I know giving to my church is important, and I will continue to do so. But I think God is leading me away from the law of tithing to the spirit of giving. Not locked into a set amount to a set place – but the freedom to be led by the Spirit to give when, where, and how much as He leads.

And, surprisingly, shockingly, what if He leads me to give to myself, according to Deuteronomy? I am NOT saying I decide that I’m going to keep my money to pay for extra expenses when they come up. But I am saying that maybe once in a while, God might choose to meet my need with my own “tithe” money. That would result in as much thanksgiving and rejoicing as it would if I gave to fill someone else’s need or when my need is met by someone else.

So, back to my initial question: What is Deuteronomy 14 doing there in the midst of all those other rules? I don’t know. Without more background knowledge of the culture of those days, I don’t understand what God was telling the Israelites through those words. But for me, today, Deuteronomy 14 is the wind that has started the collapse of my tithing doctrine like a springtime breeze collapses a house of cards. When the dust settles, when every card is still, I will rebuild my tithing doctrine using only the cards the Bible provides. In the meantime, I will loosen my hand and give generously wherever the Spirit chooses.

A side note: I’ve attended churches where the pastors lead moderate lifestyles and most of the money collected goes to places with biblical principles. But as I think of megachurches today, with ministries that are not biblical and pastors who get rich off the donations they collect, I’m wondering if maybe I’m not the only one that is being led away from mandatory tithing to Spirit-led giving. I wonder how many more members of the Body of Christ will have their needs met if we follow the Spirit instead of a law.

Scriptures for Reference:

Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8, 13; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8, 9; Galatians 6:6-10; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 1:27, 2:14-17; 1 John 3:17

Two Sides

A book has a beginning and an end. Without both, it would be incomplete.

A coin has a front and a back. Without both, it would be valueless.

A house has an inside and an outside. Without both, it couldn’t exist.

A staircase has a top and a bottom. Without both, it would be useless.

A toothbrush is a hard and a soft part. Without both, it wouldn’t be a toothbrush.

Many things have two sides, both equally important.

So does our God Most High.

He is loving, kind, long-suffering, patient, faithful, merciful, and forgiving.

He is also just, jealous, holy, righteous, wrathful, and a consuming fire.

He is God.

He is not a god.

He is the LORD God Most High.

We did not create God.

His character is not open for debate.

Liking or not liking His traits does not negate them.

Understanding or not understanding Him does not change Him.

He is who He is.

He is God.

Focusing on only one side leaves you shortsighted.

Those who focus on the ‘God is love’ side tend to become presumptuous and  complacent, accepting everything, even sin.

Those who focus on the wrathful God tend to become fearful and legalistic, rejecting anything outside their view.

To know God you have to know both sides.

We either accept Him as He is, or we need to find a god more to our liking. Even if that god is us.

The truth is…

God Most High is both loving and jealous.

God Most High is both merciful and wrathful.

God Most High is both forgiving and holy.

God Most High is both faithful and vengeful.

The side you see depends on where you stand.

Exodus 3:14  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Psalm 83:18  That they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 46:9  Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Exodus 34:6-7  The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

2 Chronicles 34:21  “Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LOR, to do according to all that is written in this book.”

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

1 Peter 1:15-16  But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all you conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Psalm 11:7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Psalm 86:5 For you, O LORD, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

1 Cor 15:3  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us for all unrighteousness.

My Cross… It’s Not What You Think

She opened her Bible and read Matt 16:24  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

She had heard many interpretations of what this cross might be. Chronic illness, death of a loved one, difficult people in your life…  They all sounded reasonable, but something about them bothered her. And they didn’t really apply to her life at the moment. Did that mean she didn’t have a cross?

So she asked the Lord.

“Do I have a cross?”

“Everyone does.”

” Well, I’m not sick. No one has died. And there are no difficult people in my life.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“So what is my cross?”

“The ability to understand.”

“I thought that was a good thing.”

“To a degree it is. But you want to know and understand every spiritual thing.”


“You’re not capable of understanding everything. You’re limited by your human brain. Besides, even if you could, it wouldn’t be wise. There are some things you cannot handle yet. And sometimes knowing too much would cause you to mess up what I’m doing. You would be tempted to take over instead of relying on Me.”

She thought about that for a few minutes.

“I can see how knowing everything could be a bad thing. It could feed my pride and I would be trusting my understanding instead of trusting You.”


“So how do I carry this cross?”

“Deny your desire to understand everything. Accept and enjoy what you know and don’t fret about what you don’t know. Learn to use the knowledge that you have. Trust Me for the rest. And relax. You’re not carrying this cross alone.”

“I’m not?”

“No one carries their cross alone. I promised to always be with you, in every part of your life, to care for you and help you. That includes carrying your cross.”

“Is the cross the same for everyone?”

“Oh no. Just as every person is different and unique, every cross is different and unique.”

“Wow. It’s amazing that you can help everyone at the same time in so many different ways. I can’t get my head wrapped around how big You are.”

“See? That’s what I’m talking about!”

And she did.