In seeking to answer this question, I would like to draw your attention to several lines of argument in Scripture that show that tithing is a good idea.
NKJ Genesis 14:18-20 “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tithe of all.”
NKJ Genesis 28:20-22 “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’”
NKJ Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
NKJ Luke 18:10-14 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”
NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”
NKJ Hebrews 7:1-8 “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace,’ 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive [present tense] tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives [present tense].”
One objection to thinking of a tenth of our income as especially belonging to God is that ALL our money belongs to God. Psalm 24:1,The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.That is absolutely true. It’s why my main way of talking about money year in and year out at Bethlehem is not to focus on tithing, but to focus on lifestyle. What you do with every cent says something about your view of God and what he means to you. And what your values are in this age. And what you think your few years on earth should be spent for. That’s true. But God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, “What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.” That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any “especially time.” Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it.
And this is the way it is with our money and God. Giving God a tenth of our income does not deny that all our money is God’s, it proves that we believe it. Tithing is like a constant offering of the first fruits of the whole thing. The tenth is yours, O, Lord, in a special way, because all of it is yours in an ordinary way.
I believe the tithe should be the first check we write after the income deposit is made in the bank. And when you write it, you put a seal over what’s left: GOD’S. The tithe reminds us of that, and proves that we really believe it.
When he came to prepare the way for Christ and to call God’s people to repentance, John the Baptist taught, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (Luke 3:11, NKJ). This is a kind of giving that goes beyond simply a tithe! It is giving away half of what you have!
NKJ Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
NKJ 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us — see that you abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”
NKJ Malachi 3:10 “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’”
NKJ Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Although Christians are not commanded to tithe in the New Testament, we are certainly encouraged to give in proportion to what we have, to give self-sacrificially so long as we can do so with a cheerful heart, and to be encouraged to give by remembering that we cannot out-give God, who will always provide for us. But perhaps it would be best to end with another quote from John Piper, who again states my own view better than I probably could. In a sermon entitled I Seek Not What Is Yours But You he observes:
I think God took the focus off giving a tithe in the early church because he wants his people to ask themselves a new question. The question that Jesus drives us to ask again and again is not, “How much should I give?” but rather, “How much dare I keep?” One of the differences between the Old Testament and New Testament is the Great Commission. By and large the Old Testament people of God were not a missionary people. But the New Testament Church is fundamentally a missionary people. The spiritual hope and the physical and emotional sustenance that Jesus brought to earth is to be extended by his church to the whole world. The task he gave us is so immense and requires such a stupendous investment of commitment and money that the thought of settling the issue of what we give by a fixed percentage (like a tenth) is simply out of the question. My own conviction is that most middle and upper class Americans who merely tithe are robbing God. In a world where 10,000 people a day starve to death and many more than that are perishing in unbelief the question is not, what percentage must I give?, but how much dare I spend on myself?
10 thoughts on “Tithing – A Good Place to Start”
Great article brother, thank you. Another point I bring up some times, is that those who use the 2 passages in 1st & 2nd Corinthians to disprove tithing, really shouldn't because they are dealing with a special collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. I'm with you on this one brother and wrote a short article called “Ten Reasons Why I Tithe” several years ago.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Brother Bret Lovitz
Just found this article that you wrote in 2009…and I just wanted to say that it was such a help to me. The past day or so I've really been struggling about the tithing thing….not whether to do it or not, as I DO tithe and love what tithing has taught me so far…but more about what the correct view of tithing is.
I was brought up always feeling like it was a rule that I had to follow, and more recently was challenged in a message I heard from Robert Morris about God blessing the 90% or cursing the 100%. I was not, of course worried about being cursed since I WAS currently tithing, and the rest of his message was a series of things (along with some scripture that just kept coming up, no matter where I looked) that God was using to show me that I was to make a bigger sacrifice financially to help a friend move across the country for an internship at a church.
While that sermon was definitely used by God in my life…I started thinking about money being cursed if not given over to God,and started digging through scripture to figure out if Christians were commanded to tithe, and I was finding a lot of the verses you used here. Then I found your post, and I feel like it REALLY hit home with me…and while it hasn't really changed what I'm doing, since I have already been cheerfully giving, it has changed the way I am able to talk with others about the subject.
Frankly, I think Robert Morris is way off the mark with his teaching on the subject. He regularly takes Scriptures out of context in order to say that we are required to tithe and that the rest of our money is cursed if we don't tithe. And he apparently does this in the context of a prosperity gospel teaching that only exacerbates the problem. I would run far from his teaching.
Readers of this article may also want to check out John Samson's article entitled “Tithing Today” here: http://effectualgrace.com/2014/08/06/tithing-today/
What amazes me about this subject is the casual attitude men display when issuing what must be a divine command. Nowhere in the entire Scripture does God command anyone, at any time, in any place, ever to give 10% of their income to His kingdom, be in the Jewish Church-State or the NT Church. Never has tithing been universal as if everyone under the covenant or the law had a divine mandate to tithe. By its very nature, only land, the produce of the land, and animals were objects of the tithe. Now, what I am curious to know from those claim tithing is still in force is this: do you excommunicate people who do not tithe? Do you believe a person can love God and rob God? You see, there is NO middle ground where the tithe is concerned. You must either embrace it and be faithful to what you think the text teaches or you must reject it. Any attempt at a mediating position risks the charge of hypocrisy. If you embrace that tithing has continued and refuse to excommunicate those who reject it, you are a hypocrite. A person that is guilty of deliberately robbing God and openly, continuously rejecting the divine command must be dealt with. It is nonsense to claim that tithing has continued and it is simply arbitrary to get people to do it because you think it is a good idea. If the Church managed funds today like they did in the first century, then perhaps we could talk about giving with the same urgency. But since we spend our money on brick, mortar, carpet, fine instruments, and many other luxuries, let us not compare our need with the needs of starving saints, men, women, and children. The two are apples and oranges don't you think.
Is this comment intended as a response to my post? If so, then what amazes me is how many people comment in response to my blog articles without apparently having read them. I specifically stated in the article that Christians do not have a command to tithe, and my suggestion that it may be a good place to start giving was based upon the overall Scriptural teaching regarding the practice, not just what was commanded in the Mosaic Law. There was nothing arbitrary about offering it as a suggestion for a place to start our giving, therefore, since the Scriptures offer it as the example of godly men who have gone before us, even if not as something required of us now. At any rate, my clearly stated conclusion was that, “Although Christians are not commanded to tithe in the New Testament, we are certainly encouraged to give in proportion to what we have, to give self-sacrificially so long as we can do so with a cheerful heart, and to be encouraged to give by remembering that we cannot out-give God, who will always provide for us.” That is my final assessment of what the Scriptures require of Christians, and I fail to see how it may be seen as in any way hypocritical or inconsistent with what I argued in the main body of the article.
Yes Keith it is. There is no overall Scriptural teaching regarding the specifics of tithing. It is almost like you threw all these texts into a big bag, removed the context, shook them up, and then dumped them out on a table and said, looks like a good idea. Unless you hoist the tithe out of its historical and exegetical context, you cannot get beyond the plain fact that it was a Jewish national tax specific to that structure and that it was never done with money. If you read about the history of the practice, this is basic. If you read church history, you will know that the Church never practiced it until it was reintroduced into a system that was already well on its way into corruption. Why can't we just stick with what Paul taught Christians about giving? Second, why can't we also acknowledge that NT giving was not for the purpose of making sure we had kingdoms to attend every Sunday and that our pastors can keep up with the Jones? Before you misunderstand me, i am NOT saying we should not have these things. What I am saying is that how we frame up giving in modern times should reflect the need. To use Paul's language about giving in some cases is overblown in modern times. People in the next city over are not on the brink of starvation and that is NOT where my funds are going for the most part. All I am asking is that we be fair in how we talk about this. No one has a right to impose on others. The tithe is likely NOT a good place to start. The last time I checked, that would place me at living on less than 50% of my income when all is said and done. And for what? Now, if we have some brothers and sisters on the brink of starvation, take what I have. I will not withhold it. But that is simply not the case.
Well Ed, I can only say that I don't think you have understood my point of view very well at all, and I would obviously not, therefore, agree with your assessment of it. But what is also apparent to me is that it would be a waste of time to even try to discuss it with you. But you have had your say, so now I will end any further interactions with you on the matter.
I think your answers would have been much better if you would have used the term “giving” for we can give generously and even if you used such ideas of what tithing consisted of in percentages you would get certainly more than 10%. But to keep referring to giving and generous giving as tithe keeps the concept of LAW going on all the time. Drop the term totally is my understanding since it is not under the New Covenant teachings.
I continue to wonder that people comment on posts without apparently having read them, at least not fully, or perhaps they simply haven't understood my arguments and need to read them again. I'm not sure which category into which you fit, but you clearly don't to get what I'm actually saying or how I am actually using the terminology. That is all I can say. I wish you a good day.