Biblical Thinking About Tithing

June 30, 2012

Biblical Thinking About Tithing

            It’s extremely important that Christians have the proper understanding and attitude about tithing.  It’s unfortunate that many sincere Christians feel guilty before God because they aren’t tithing.

In the Old Testament it’s obvious that God’s people were under obligation to tithe.  The first mention of tithing is found in Genesis 14:20.  Abraham delivered Lot who became a prisnor of war when Chedorlaomer invaded Sodom and took everything of value.  Genesis 14:16 says that Abraham not only delivered Lot, but he brought again the goods and the people.  On his way home Melchizadek met him.  Since he was “the priest of the most high God” Abraham gave him tithes of all the goods.  Since this took place before the law was given, some say the tithe was not part of the law.

Later on we see that God’s people were commanded to tithe.  Leviticus 27:30-32 says that the tithe is the Lord’s.  Again in Deuteronomy 12:6,11 we see that it was the obligation of God’s people to bring the tithe to the sacred place.  Malachi 3:8-10 speaks of the tithe as a sacred obligation.  God’s people were accused of robbing God if they didn’t give the tithe.

There is much that we can learn from the Old Testament, but we need to turn to the New Testament to know what God asks of us today.  There we only find six verses that mention the tithe.  They are the following: Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42 and Hebrews 7:5,6,8,9.  None of these verses lay upon us the obligation to tithe.  Hebrews 7:5 says that the priests, the sons of Levi, had a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.  Later it talks about how Abraham gave the tithe, but of his own free will. Some say Jesus commanded us to tithe based on Luke 11:42 where it says “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone”, but Jesus spoke those words to the Pharisees when they were still under the law.

In our day we are under what is called “the dispensation of grace.”  In each of the dispensations God tests his people under different circumstances.  Now he is proving us to see if we will serve him out of love and gratitude. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  For us, the key verse about giving is II Corinthians 9:7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Pastors do well in encouraging their people to tithe, but they shouldn’t make them feel guilty if they don’t. What we give should be our own decision.  Many Christians choose to continue with the custom of the Old Testament saints in giving the tithe, but they do it from their heart.

In the New Testament God never threatens to punish his people if they don’t tithe, but there is the promise of his blessing if they do.  II Corinthians 9:7 is followed by verse 8 which says “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”  There is also the promise of Luke 6:38. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Due to the importance that God gives to the New Testament church, it seems only logical to think that our giving, in great measure, should be to our church.  Every believer, of his own will, should make a decision to give a certain percent of his income to his church.  Someone has said, “This is saying thanks with money.”  “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (I Corinthians 16:2).  We might start with only 5%.  As our faith increases, it might go up to 10% or 20%.  I have read about one business man who was giving 90% and he was still prospering.

Above and beyond the percentage that we regularly give to the Lord, we ought to be willing to take part in special offerings.  Frequently a special need comes up and God lays it on our hearts to help.  It might be a missionary, a relative, or someone in our church that has a special need.  Often churches take up special offerings to meet those needs.  The good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 is a good example.  The offering could be given through our church or it may be personally.  I Corinthians 16:1-2 talks about offerings.  These were offerings they took up to help the poor saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:16).

II Corinthians 9:7 says we should be cheerful givers.  “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”  We should give because we love the Lord.  If we have a clear understanding of what the Bible says about tithing, we will have the right attitude towards it.  Don’t miss the joy of giving or the blessing of the lord for doing it.


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