The king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Abram gave him a tenth of all.
Before Jesus came and died for the sins of mankind, it wasn’t possible for anyone to go directly to God without knowing how to properly do it. Men were employed who were knowledgeable about the appropriate ways to access God. A sinner who doesn’t represent himself before God appropriately could be killed immediately. Even priests in Israel had to be careful not to be killed in God’s presence. We know that when Abram called on the name of the God, he built altars. We know from other parts of the Bible that on these altars, animals were killed in order to represent the punishment for sins.
Melchisedek, King of Salem, was a priest of God Most High. Evidently, he went before God on behalf of others. Later, in Israel, priests were going to be employed full time for this purpose. In order for these men to eat and live, they needed those who they represented to pay for them. Being a priest was a job for a few.
In this section of the Bible, we read that Abram gave Melchisedek “a tenth of all.” Some have argued that this represents a requirement for Christians to “tithe” or give ten percent of all of our money to a church. As you can see, this is quite a stretch from what Abram did.
The Bible says that we are all priests now. We all have access to God directly in Jesus. We all are being paid by God to do His work right now through our jobs. Yes we are all to work, but everything we do is God’s work as we trust in God and do what He wants us to do. So, to follow Abram’s pattern would be difficult since we would have to give money to ourselves as priests. It doesn’t really make sense in that light.
In Christianity, there is no law that says we have to give money to a church. We are all one family in the Church, however, and God does expect us to treat each other like family. We should be sharing everything we have with family members and help those who are going through troubles. We may need help at times as well. This is exactly how the early church worked together and took care of each other.
If tithing isn’t required, how do pastors get paid? I believe that we owe pastors money for the teaching that they have given us. In other words, we are taking free education from our pastors without paying for their needs. The Bible says that workers are worthy of their wages. The fact that the pastor didn’t charge for coming to church shouldn’t stop us from freely paying him for the work He has done for us. He is also helping those we may not be able to help. Paying the pastor is also like paying him do the work we cannot do for ourselves. By giving, we can be a major part of an active ministry.
Setting aside a tenth of our income to do these things is actually a pretty good and practical idea, but in reality, we owe everything to God as Christians. We should always be joyfully giving as much as we can, whenever we can in thankfulness for what God has given to us.