Tithe: What the Bible says
What does the Bible say about tithing
Tithing is the practice of setting aside 10% of your increase or profits to support the work of God. The first real mention of tithe in the Bible is found in Genesis 14:20 where Abraham gives a tithe to Melchizedek.
Jacob also pledges a tithe to God a few chapters later in 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, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 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.’”
Many years later when the Israelites conquered Canaan the priests and Levites didn’t get a portion of the land for an inheritance. Therefore, their livelihood came from the tithes of the other tribes who would give a tenth of their increase to support the priesthood.
God was and still is serious about tithing, even considering the withholding of tithe to be a form of robbery and theft. Malachi 3:8-9 says,
“‘Will a man rob God?
However, consider God’s promise in Malachi 3:10,
Living on only 9/10 of your total income just doesn’t make sense on paper. But people who follow the practice of tithing will tell you it works! Remember that 9/10 with God’s blessing goes much farther than 10/10 without God’s blessing.
As humans, we can be afraid of giving up a portion of our income for tithe. God knows this and He says, “Prove me!” If you put God to the test, you will find that God will take care of you and provide for all your needs.
Tithe is often considered an Old Testament practice which no longer applies to modern-day Christians. However, the New Testament teaches the exact same principles of tithing.
Matthew 23:23 says, “‘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.’”
Paul also points out an equivalence between the way priests in the Old Testament made a living and how gospel workers in the New Testament era made a living. “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? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14).
God commands His people to return a 10% tithe to support the work of the gospel. However, think about it for a moment. Why would you choose not to return a tithe? Here are just a few of promised blessings for tithe paying.
“Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).
“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse...And try Me now in this...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. ‘And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ Says the Lord of hosts;” (Malachi 3:10-11).
A biblical tithe is a tenth of your income. It’s in the Bible, Leviticus 27:30, TLB. “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s, and is holy.”
What is tithe used for? In the Old Testament, the tithe was used to support the priests. It’s in the Bible, Numbers 18:20-21, NKJV. “Then the LORD said to Aaron: ‘You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.’”
Does God need our tithe? No. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 50:10-12, NKJV. “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.”
Why should I tithe? Tithing is a way of teaching us that God must be our first priority. It’s in the Bible, Deuteronomy 14:22-23, TLB. “You must tithe all of your crops every year. Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.”
When should I tithe? We are to return the tithe to God first—before we start spending money on other things. It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 3:9, TLB. “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income.”
Christ endorsed tithing. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 23:23, NKJV. “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.”
How does Paul say the gospel ministry is to be supported? It’s in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, TLB. “Don’t you realize that God told those working in his temple to take for their own needs some of the food brought there as gifts to him? And those who work at the altar of God get a share of the food that is brought by those offering it to the Lord. In the same way the Lord has given orders that those who preach the Gospel should be supported by those who accept it.”
Returning the tithe to God helps us remember that He is the owner of everything. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 24:1, NKJV. “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
God is the source of all our wealth. It’s in the Bible, Deuteronomy 8:18, NKJV. “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
God says we rob Him if we don’t give tithe and offerings. It’s in the Bible, Malachi 3:8, NKJV. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.”
Do I tithe when in debt? We should pay what we owe to God first, and God will help us take care of our debts. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 50:14-15, NKJV. “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
What if I can’t afford to pay tithe? God promises to richly bless us if we are faithful in tithes and offerings. It’s in the Bible, Malachi 3:10, NKJV. “‘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.’”
God owns all the money in the world. It’s in the Bible, Haggai 2:8, NKJV. “‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
God asks us to give voluntary offerings for His work—in addition to the tithe. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 96:8, NKJV. “Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.”
We should give to God’s work willingly. It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:7, NKJV. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver...”
What if I think the church is corrupted, am I still required to tithe and give offerings? The temple practices were corrupt in Christ’s day, but Jesus still recognized the offerings as for God. It’s in the Bible, Luke 21:3-4, NKJV. “So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.’”
You can’t out-give God. It’s in the Bible, Luke 6:38, NKJV. “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.”
We should give in proportion to the blessing God has given us. It’s in the Bible, Deuteronomy 16:17, NKJV. “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”