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Tithing

By: Steve Shirley

     The word "tithe" comes from the Hebrew word "maasrah," meaning "tenth." Therefore, from a Biblical standpoint, tithing is in essence to give a tenth for the Lord's work to be done on Earth. There are instances in the Bible of giving a tenth of one's income, property, produce, and more...

     There is an ongoing debate amongst Christians as to whether we are still to tithe today. Tithing was an Old Testament law (see: Lev 27:30-33, Num 18:21-28, Deut 12:6,11,17, Mal 3:8-10), and we are no longer under the law. The command to tithe is not clearly found in the New Testament (the words tithe and tithing are used only 8 times). When the Council of Jerusalem met in (Acts 15) to determine what "laws" Gentile converts needed keep, tithing was not among them.

     However, Jesus does seem to commend the practice of tithing in (Mt 23:23), saying, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: THESE OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE. (emphasis mine) (Lk 11:42 the same)

     It should also be noted that before tithing was commanded by "law" in the Old Testament (verses above), both Abraham (Gen 14:20)(Heb 7:1-10) and Jacob (Gen 28:22) voluntarily gave tithes as an act of gratitude to God. This can serve as an example for us today who are not under the law.

     Personally, I truly believe that Christians SHOULD tithe today. Tithing is an act of trust in God, trusting that He will provide for us. The Bible says that all we have belongs to God (Ps 24:1)(Ps 89:11)(1 Cor 10:26). We are but stewards of what He has given us. To give 10% back to further God's work is not too much to ask. He has promised to bless us if we are obedient to Him. The laws God originally set up for tithing in the Old Testament called for the firstfruits to be given (2 Chr 31:5-6)(Prov 3:9)(Lev 2:14)(Neh 10:35-37). For us today, this primarily is going to refer to our income. Giving the "firstfruits" of our income would mean that the first thing we do after getting paid (before paying bills or anything else) is to give 10% of what we have earned to the Lord's work. (Link below for whether the "firstfruits" should come from our gross or net pay.)

     This is not always easy to do, but that is why it is often called "sacrificial giving." It is stepping out in faith. I have seen God's blessings in this over and over. People share testimonies of how they struggled to make ends meet, or did not think they could afford to tithe, but they stepped out in sacrificial faith, and God worked a miracle in their finances. This financial blessing might even extend to things that we normally wouldn't think about. For instance, our car might last longer than it should, or our appliances might run longer than they would normally be expected to run, etc.... (As I write this, God has kept our refrigerator and stove going for 27 years!)

     In addition, I believe we should consider the tithe as a good starting point. Going beyond 10% would certainly be a worthy goal. Surely God will see and bless this even more. There is a story in (Lk 21:2-4) about people who were paying offerings to God. Most of those giving had plenty and were giving out of their abundance, but Jesus took notice of, and commended a poor widow who offered only a tiny amount, but it was almost everything she had. Giving sacrificially is commended all over the Bible. However, we are warned not to give in order to draw attention to ourselves, or to seek praise and recognition from men, or we will not be rewarded by God (Mt 6:1-4). How many more unsaved people around the world might be reached if all Christians gave at LEAST 10% of our income? (I recently read that if ALL committed Christians in the U.S. tithed, there could be up to around 80 BILLION dollars more per year for world missions!)

     Ultimately, how much you decide to give, and who you give it to is between you and God. We are told to be cheerful givers (2 Cor 9:6-8) and to give liberally (Lk 6:38). Tithing is not commanded today, but is a good standard to follow. God promised blessings for the Israelites if they tithed (i.e. Mal 3:10). Why wouldn't He bless Christians as well for tithing, or giving even more today?

(Mt 6:19-21) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

     I speak more on tithing here:

I want to tithe, but should I give 10% of the gross or net of my paycheck?

Does tithing to the storehouse (Mal 3:10) apply to the church today?

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