The Bible Speaks

25. Tithing

Not all of us are called to be preachers or missionaries, but all Christians have a combined privileged and responsibility to support this soul saving work by means of the tithes and offerings that are freely given. In fact, the tithing plan outlined in the Bible was divinely appointed by God for this very purpose. By understanding and following this plan of systematic giving, we can all become actual partners together with God in His gospel work.

01. What does the Bible tell us has the potential to ruin the Christian life now, and for eternity?
1 Timothy 6:7,10
7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.
10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

02. As we know, our wealth has its foundation in the world's natural resources. Who ultimately owns all the natural resources of the world?
Psalms 24:1-2
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

03. Is it only the earth's natural resources that belong to God?
Psalms 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8
50:10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
50:11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

04. What is natural for a man to do when he is proud of his accumulated wealth?
Deuteronomy 8:17-18
17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’
18 Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.

Note 1
There is a Bible example of a king who verbalised these very words and a terrible punishment came upon him. See Daniel 4:29-32. This king was warned in a dream, and God was still merciful to him, but he needed to suffer the punishment to learn that the Most High God is ultimately sovereign of the entire world and everything in it (Dan 4:32).

05. So what is Gods plan regarding tithing of our wealth? How is it supposed to work?
Leviticus 27:30
One tenth [ma-sar] of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy.
Note 1
The literal translation of the Hebrew word ma-sar is "tithe" or "one tenth".
Note 2
Even though all the world and everything in it belongs to God, He knows that we need wealth in order to survive and live. The Bible tells us that God only requires a 'tithe' or one tenth of our increase to be returned to Him. On God's part, this is most generous.

06. But isn't tithing just for the Jews? Surely God doesn't ask us to do it today?
Genesis 14:18-20, Genesis 28:22
14:18 And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine.
14:19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
14:20 And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.
28:22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.

Note 1
The stories of Abraham and Jacob were both written in Genesis long before the Laws, statutes and commands were handed down to the Hebrew ancestors of the Jews. And yet both Abraham and Jacob knew of, and honoured the tithing system of returning means to God.

07. Did Jesus agree with the idea of returning title?
Matthew 23:23
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
Note 1
Here Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for being so particular in paying tithe even on garden herbs, yet omitting matters of far greater importance –
judgement, mercy and faith. He said, “These ought ye to have done.” In other words, “You should pay tithe, but not neglect other more important issues”. Jesus was in favour of returning tithe.

08. What does the Bible say that tithe was to be used for?
Numbers 18:20-21
20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You priests will receive no allotment of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your share and your allotment.
21 As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel.

Note 1
The Levites possessed no land, ran no businesses, and did not work for wages. They were the ministers of the people and worked for God in caring for the temple and its services. God regarded maintenance and operation of the sanctuary as most important, and the Levites were to do this work on a full time basis. Their sustaining income was derived from the tithe, given by the other eleven tribes.

09. Does the idea of paying tithe still apply in the New Testament?
1 Corinthians 9:13-14
13 Don’t you realise that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings.
14 In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.

Note 1
Paul makes a comparison between the Old Testament Levites and the New Testament gospel ministers by saying, “Those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel”. In other words, they derive their income from the tithe, even as the Levites did in Old Testament times. This is God’s ordained method of supporting the work of spreading the gospel message.

10. Who should we be giving our tithe to?
Hebrews 7:1-2
1 This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him.
2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.”

Note 1
Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek, who was God’s representative on earth. Today God’s representative on earth is His church. The church uses the tithe to pay ministers, and support evangelistic programs.

11. What is God's response to those of His children who understand the Biblical message of tithing but choose to ignore it?
Malachi 3:8-11
8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ "You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.
9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

Note 1
To rob our fellow man is very bad, to rob God is infinitely worse, yet this is the case if we refuse to return the tithe. The result of such action is to be cursed.
Note 2
Notice how tithes and offerings are separate. The tithe is one tenth, whereas the offerings are freewill. These are to be given as we are able.

12. With what state of heart does God want us to return our tithes and offerings?
2 Corinthians 9:7
You must each decide in your heart how much to give [referring to offerings]. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.

13. What promise does God give to those who are faithful in returning tithes an offerings?
Proverbs 3:9-10
9 Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Note 1
The tithe is the 'firstfruits' or 'best part'. It is our first responsibility when we receive our income. If we faithfully give our tithe, the promise is “our barns shall be filled with plenty". This promise implies that God will not necessarily make us rich, but we will never lack for the necessities.

14. What other wonderful promise does God give to those who are faithful to in all things, including returning tithes and offerings?
Matthew 6:31-33
"So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Concluding Question
In Malachi 3:10 God challenges us to put Him to the test. Are you willing to take up the challenge? If you have sensed in your life that Jesus has lifted your burdens and saved you from your sin, are you willing to return to Him a portion of what is already rightfully His? And are you willing to do this out of nothing more that gratitude for what He has already done for you?