What is tithing?

ponderingBefore I begin this topic, I want to say right out of the gate that if you’re not tithing, you’re missing out on God’s best for your life.

Tithing is a biblical principle that is based on the blessing that God has provided for us. Our spirit longs to give, but our flesh does not. We work hard every day to provide a livelihood for our families and there is seemingly a resistance or indeed a fear against giving just 10% back to God as we think we are losing this money and will never see it again. The purpose of tithing is to finance God’s kingdom on this earth and bless the giver. As the giver is blessed financially, he can then pour more into the kingdom again (Luke 6:38).

The demonstration of fear in us, is an indication that we have not been perfected in the Father’s love. If we fully trust the Lord we know that He is taking care of all our matters, the least of which is our finances. By giving to an unseen God, we are demonstrating our faith in His sovereignty over our lives.


Serving God or money?

Friends, before we begin this topic, we must make a decision and that decision is that we are going to serve God, not money during our time on earth. Money is a great servant but a poor master. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24-34 that you cannot serve two masters, either you will hate one and love the other. This contention for service will always be present whilst you are on earth. Who are you going to serve? Choose this day.

There is no better way of keeping that spirit of covetousness constrained than choosing to give to God of your income. Now 10% is a great start but scholars have indicated that the total tithing requirement under the law was as high as 23%, so 10% today certainly isn’t that high compared to historical giving. Jesus mentions in Luke Ch 21:1-4, that a woman gave two mites, and he commended her for her generosity because she gave from her lack, whereas the others in the temple were giving out of their abundance. It is not the amount we give friends but the proportion we give. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). We are accountable for our blessings, certainly to sow back.


Is tithing required today?

Many people today think that tithing is merely an outdated Old Testament practice that was only required under the law. However we must recall that tithing occurred BEFORE the law and if tithing occurred before the law, it was performed by faith. Faith has never passed away and never will.

The first mention of a tithe is in Genesis chapter 14. A group of four kings from the east came into Canaan to attack a group of five that had rebelled and quit paying tribute. Sodom was one of the cities plundered, and Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was carried away with the captives. Abraham, 318 of his trained servants, and three other men of the area who were in covenant with him pursued the invaders and slaughtered them.

When Abraham returned with the people and the goods, the new king of Sodom came out to meet him. Melchizedek, king of Salem, also came out with bread and wine and pronounced a blessing upon Abraham. Genesis 14:20 says that Abraham “gave him tithes of all.” Hebrews 7:4 confirms that it was a tenth of the spoils of the battle (or gain).

Friends, by faith, Abraham tithed to this mysterious figure, King Melchezidik, who had no lineage, he seemingly came from nowhere and some contend to be the Lord Jesus Christ himself or a typology of Him.

It is a fact that tithing in its pure form was never money originally but the harvest of fruit, grain, cattle or spoil. As the Levitical priests had no means of income for themselves a portion of 10% of labors was set aside for the priest’s livelihood and also for the times of Jubilee and other seasonal festivals. (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. As time progressed from a bartering system into monetary affairs, the Hebrews gave of their finances.

Tithing quite simply means a tenth or 10%. Whether or not you tithe Gross or Net is entirely your choice. If you tithe net then obviously if you get a tax return, you would need to tithe on your return to be consistent. To tithe on the gross amount is the preferred method, but it is up to you how you do it.


Well, what did Jesus say about tithing?

What did Jesus have to say on the topic of tithing? Well Jesus never spoke against tithing and therefore approved of it, as He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law. Talking to the Pharisees, he said,

Ye pay tithe…these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).

We need to understand that Jesus became a curse for us on the cross. So we are indeed redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13) and we don’t come back under a curse for not tithing. We are not cursed today if we don’t tithe, I will say it again, we are not cursed today if we don’t tithe BUT we are missing out on God’s best for sure. Some pastors use scriptures on tithing to get people in some sort of guilt trip, but this is simply not true. This is a classic example:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me… in tithes and offerings, Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me.” (Malachi 3:8).

Notice however despite what I’ve said regarding the curse, God does consider that you are robbing Him by not paying the tithe. Notice that Jesus said you ‘pay tithe’ because we are supposed to pay tithes because we are indebted to God. If you pay something, it is required of you…you pay utility bills, taxes etc. these are requirements and tithing is no different…you pay tithe.

If the law of sowing and reaping is in effect, then if you sow nothing you will reap nothing. By choosing not to sow into the Gospel then you will not reap, this is a law my friends and it works every single time. You can read about this law for yourself in (Galatians 6:9). This law has been in effect since the days of Noah and will remain until Christ’s return.


God’s promise regarding tithing

Check this out, God wants you to test him on this aspect of paying tithes, He is waiting for you to prove Him in this!

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse… and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it ” (Malachi 3:10). (See also Luke 6:38).

If we go by strict interpretation of the Epistles nowhere explicitly does it command that Christians should tithe. However, Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye, 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.”

The bottom line is this my friends, in this dispensation of Grace; if God required 10% under the law then do you think he requires less in this time? In this age of grace we are more accountable to God for our actions because of the abundance that has been shown to us. The truth is that we own nothing in the new covenant; we are merely stewards on this earth. In fact Jesus is the owner of everything we have, we are stewards of our time, resources, even our very lives.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Be a cheerful giver friends knowing that Jesus has an abundance for you.


Statistics and tithing

Looking at some statistics I came across whilst researching this segment, only as few as 6% of Christians actually tithe their income. Think about that for a minute. So few actually give to God. Friends I am amazed, shocked and saddened by this statistic! Just think what could be done for the Gospel throughout the earth if only Christians had the courage to give to the Lord a small portion, even if it’s only 10%.

Choose today to obey

Friends, choose to give to God today, don’t be one of the 94% of Christians who will hang their head in shame when they meet the Lord Jesus and have to explain why they didn’t honor Him in giving on this earth. Don’t be one of those servants who hid his talent because he was afraid of the master and fearful of losing what he had (Matthew 25:25).

Have the courage to give at least what was required under the law (which was 10%) but especially to give what the Holy Spirit asks you to give. Pray to the Lord and ask Him what to give as He has prospered you. You can give 10% by faith as Abraham did or better still, you can give in abundance by faith as you can NEVER out give God!


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