To Tithe or Not to Tithe?
Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."1
Some Christians say that it is not required for Christians to tithe because tithing (giving 10% of one's income) was part of Old Testament Law. On the other hand, many Christians believe that tithing (and giving offerings) is still important because this is God's plan for financing his work on earth. However, tithing is not to be a legalistic requirement but a willing offering to God in appreciation for all he has done for us . . . especially for giving his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for all our sins and thereby making it justifiable for God to be able to fully forgive us and give us the gift of eternal life. With this in mind—plus endless other blessings of God—how can we not want to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord?
Furthermore, in today's Scripture lesson Jesus confirms that tithing should not be neglected. If we say that tithing is no longer valid, will we also say that the Ten Commandments are no longer valid because they were given in Old Testament times? Of course not.
Surely the following Scripture, that applied to the ancient Israelites, is even more relevant to Christians for whom Christ died: "Will a man rob God?" God's Word says, "'Yet you rob me.' But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' 'In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"2
Billy Graham, in his sermon, "Partners with God," said, "One of the greatest sins in America today is the fact that we are robbing God of that which rightfully belongs to Him. When we don't tithe, we shirk a just debt. Actually we are not giving when we give God one-tenth, for it belongs to Him already.3 This is a debt we owe. Not until we have given a tenth do we actually begin making an offering to the Lord!"4
As someone else noted, "It is amazing how big a $20 donation to God's work is but how little it is when we spend it on entertainment."
Tithes and offerings have always been God's way for his people to support his work on earth and the fact is that if every Christian tithed, there would be sufficient funds to do all of God's work on earth: the hungry would be fed, the homeless would be helped and given work, the sick would be better cared for, etc., etc., and worldwide missions would thrive and every person in the world would be given the gospel and the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior.
Furthermore, when we give our tithes and offerings to the Lord, we are being an active part in God's plans and what he is doing in the world today. From what I have read, fewer than 10% of Christians tithe. What a slap in the face this is to God. Could this be one reason why America is losing more and more of God's blessings? Are we robbing God? Yes, as a whole, we are. So . . . are you and I an active partner in God's plans or are we among those who are robbing God?
NOTE: When tithing and giving offerings, we need to make sure we are giving responsibly to what is truly God's work and not to some religious program or irrelevant churchianity that may have an appearance of doing God's work but lacking any real substance.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in appreciation for all You have done for me, please awaken in me a need to be as generous in giving to You (including the giving of at least a tithe of my time and talents as well as of my income) as You have been generous to me. And please give me the wisdom to discern what is truly a part of what You are doing in the world today and what is truly Your work on earth. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Matthew 23:23 (NIV).
2. Malachi 3:8-10 (NIV).
3. See Leviticus 27:30.
4. Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, p. 473.