Why Do We Tithe?

Tithe is a common word we find in Scripture and used among Christians even today. It refers to the act of giving back to God a portion of one’s financial gain or money earned. Yet for some, the idea of tithing is confusing and unclear. Many believers wonder if tithing is something that God expects them to do. We can look to Scripture to find guidance on giving a portion of what we earn back to God.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).

When believers honor God with their wealth by giving a percentage of it back to God, there is great reward and blessing that comes as a result of their faithfulness. God blesses His children in many ways relationally, emotionally, and spiritually when we remain obedient and live according to His ways. Ultimately, giving a tithe to the Lord is a powerful demonstration of trust in the Lord’s provision.

What Is a Tithe?

The word tithe in the Hebrew language simply means: tenth. In the Book of Numbers, God’s people were instructed to give a tenth of what they earned or produced to God as a way to be obedient and worshipful to the Lord. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people are prompted to give a tenth of what they have earned to God.

“Take from among you an offering to the Lord; everyone who has the impulse in his heart, let him give his offering to the Lord; gold and silver and brass” (Exodus 35:5).

When we understand that magnitude of all God supplies to us, tithing comes from a deeply grateful heart. Our tithe is what we give to God in response to all that He has given to us. Tithing acknowledges that God is our provider and source of finances, food, the roof we sleep under, and truly, all that we have.

Do We Have to Give Ten Percent?

The word tithe (meaning tenth) is first seen in the Old Testament, and it was meant to indicate that God’s people were to give to God a tenth of what they earned or produced. In the New Testament, the instruction to give is affirmed, yet there is not a specific percentage designated.

Jesus fulfilled the laws of the Old Testament, and with that, God’s people are not limited in their giving. Some Christians give more than ten percent, and others may give less. What the New Testament teaches is that tithing or giving should be made prayerfully and in line with how the Spirit is guiding you to give.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

The main principle of the New Testament around giving is to give generously. Tithing isn’t to be done out of obligation or with a reluctant heart. God desires that His people give from a generous heart. The amount you give back to the church from what you have earned should be a decision made from the heart with how God is leading you to give.

God wants His children to give cheerfully as He calls them to give. For some, that may mean five percent, for others, God may be calling you to tithe ten or twenty percent of what you earn. There does not seem to be any indication from Scripture if the percentage you give should be pre-tax or not. Rather, what is strongly instructed is that we should give and give generously.

What Is the Tithe Used For?

When you faithfully and consistently give your tithes to a church, this is an obedient response to God’s instruction and a significant way to worship and praise the Lord.

There are different ways that the money the congregation gives will be used by the church. With tithes, churches will pay their pastors and staff, support missionaries, donate to local organizations that help the poor and oppressed, cover the cost of their building, host ministries and events, and set up care funds that can be used to help their own congregants who are in need or going through a hard time financially. There may also be additional ways your church uses the money received.

All of the ways a church uses money ultimately advances the kingdom of God as the church takes care of those in need, supports those who share the Gospel, and continues to run its own ministry to its local community.

Do We Still Have to Tithe?

Worldly cultures teach that people work hard for their money and should save and spend it how they want. We are inclined to wrongly think that our money belongs to us and that we earned it. Sinful nature makes people greedy, selfish, and lovers of money. This all goes wildly against the biblical concept around money and tithing to God. Tithing is not an outdated principle, but something that God still wants His followers to do.

The concept of giving what one has earned to the Lord is taught in both the Old and New Testaments. God’s word makes it clear that Christians are supposed to give as part of their worship, obedience, and faithfulness to the Lord. In fact, Scripture warns against those who are stingy with their money.

“A man may give freely, and still his wealth will be increased; and another may keep back more than is right, but only comes to be in need” (Proverbs 11:24-25).

When we give, God will make sure we will continue to have enough to keep giving and helping others. The rewards are great for cheerful givers. If a believer is reluctant to give and wants to hold back from God what they earn instead of helping others and tithing, they themselves may end up with less in the end.

Why Is Tithing Important for Us?

Tithing is important for us to do because God instructs us to tithe. If God desires something for us, it becomes incredibly significant for us to do. Tithing is an act of obedience. Likewise, tithing keeps us from putting our trust in money.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

It can be tempting in today’s world to put our hope in money. Money is quickly made, quickly lost, and has become the way in which we attain food, water, and a place to live. God does not want us to put our trust in money or a savings account. We can falsely believe we are safe and comfortable when we have a certain amount of money in the bank. But God does not want us to put our hope in wealth. The Bible warns against this.

It is important for us to tithe because it reminds us that God alone is our real and lasting hope. God alone is our provider and source. Therefore, we are to be generous givers who are willing to share.

Although Christians today are not bound to give only ten percent of their income to God, it is clear from Scripture that followers of Jesus should absolutely tithe and give back to God a portion of what they have earned. The percentage will look different for every person or family unit, but God calls believers to give from the generosity of our hearts as an act of obedience, trust, and gratitude. God has graciously given so much and asks that we simply give back a small portion to Him in return which will advance His kingdom and help those in need.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Marinela Malcheva

Pamela Palmer 1200x1200Pamela Palmer is a writer, speaker, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces devotionals and faith resources to inspire keeping faith at the center of life. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of others. She lives and thrives on Jesus, coffee, and music. She is the author of Living a Deeper Faith: Nurture Your Relationship with God and Live a Faith-Fueled Life. Pamela married the perfect man for her and they have two beautiful kiddos. She has been published on herviewfromhome.com, and you can follow her at upheldlife.com or on Facebook.com/upheldlife.


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