Should Christians Tithe Today? (Part 1)

In Blogs, Devotional by Jesse King2 Comments

When the offering plate comes my way, or when I’m directed to give online during my church services, I experience conflicting emotions. It’s sometimes hard for me to balance the feelings of responsibility, honor, and sacrifice that arise when I consider giving my money to the Lord.

Though I want to honor God with my money, I’ve found it hard to determine my responsibility with giving today in light of Scripture. Regardless, whenever the subject comes up, talking about money gets messy.

So, what should we give to the Lord? And are we commanded to tithe today?

Over the next two articles, we’ll examine a biblical way to view tithes and offerings and explore the dangers of two giving traps—greed and legalism. 

Why God Established Tithing

Many of us learned about tithing at our churches and implemented this principle in our weekly giving. The Hebrew word for “tithe” is ma’asser, which is translated “tenth,” which is why tithing means giving 10 percent of our income to the Lord.

When God gave the Israelites the Law, He instructed them, “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lᴏʀᴅ’s. It is holy to the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Leviticus 27:30). But God gave Israel a framework for tithing prior to this law. Tithing existed as early as the days of Abraham, who gave Melchizedek, the priest of God and king of Salem, 10 percent of all he had (Genesis 14:20). As the priest Melchizedek received Abraham’s tithes, the priestly Levites were later tasked with collecting Abraham’s descendants’ tithes for the Lord (Hebrews 7:5).

Tithes functioned as an essential part of Israel’s theocratic government. God designed Israel’s government to have the people support the Levitical priests through their tithes, similar to how we pay income taxes today. Therefore, tithing served both a political purpose (supporting the priests and Israel’s government) and a God-glorifying purpose (carrying out the Lord’s work and worshiping Him through the priests).

God values our love and obedience (1 Samuel 15:22) more than money.

God instituted this tithing command for the Israelites, not for Church Age believers, who are not bound to give 10 percent of their income. Rather, we are to walk in righteousness under His grace, striving to be holy, as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16; cf. Leviticus 19:2). God values our love and obedience (1 Samuel 15:22) more than money.

Why We Should Give

While we may not be required to give the Lord a set amount under the Levitical law, the apostle Paul established a precedent for giving our money to our local churches, saying, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1–2). Paul highlighted the importance of consistently giving of our income to support our churches. 

Accomplishing the Lord’s work reaps spiritual benefits that last forever.

God uses our offerings to strengthen our local churches, support missionaries in carrying out His work and sharing the Good News throughout the world, and to meet the tangible needs of others to show them the love of Christ. Accomplishing the Lord’s work reaps spiritual benefits that last forever. 

God’s Word teaches, “Honor the Lᴏʀᴅ with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9). All that we have belongs to Him, as “the earth is the Lᴏʀᴅ’s, and all its fullness” (Psalm 24:1). We have no justification for withholding from God the money He’s given us. 

Defeating Greed

Trying to handle our finances without God leads to trouble. Four hundred years before Jesus came to Earth, God, through the prophet Malachi, condemned the Israelites for withholding their tithes, saying, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

God promised to bless Israel greatly if the people demonstrated faithfulness in trusting Him with their tithes, saying, “‘Try Me now in this,’ says the Lᴏʀᴅ 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. And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land’” (vv. 10, 12). God rewards obedient giving.

Clutching our cash too tightly occurs naturally for many of us trying to keep our finances in order in our expensive world, but it demonstrates a lack of faith in the Lord who gave us the money to steward. We can always trust Him to provide for us when we give unselfishly (Philippians 4:19). Money is a tool God has given us, not an idol to be worshiped, a shield to trust in for deliverance, or a means to fulfillment. 

We must serve God in every aspect of our lives, including the way in which we use our money, which belongs to Him.

Jesus taught that living in pursuit of the almighty dollar is at odds with living for the almighty God, saying, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money]” (Matthew 6:24). We must serve God in every aspect of our lives, including the way in which we use our money, which belongs to Him.

While God does not command Christians to tithe today, we are called to love and trust Him in all areas of life—our finances included. Scripture instructs each of us to “give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We can rejoice in the privilege of giving to God out of the provisions He has given us from hearts of gratitude, determining how much to give according to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

In our next article, we’ll examine how we can escape the snare of financial legalism.

About the Author
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Jesse King

Jesse is the managing editor of Israel My Glory magazine and a staff writer for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Comments 2

  1. The tithe was given to Israel as part of the Mosaic covenant. Contrary to what is taught today, the amount wasn’t 10%, not weekly and not monetary. There was 1 tithe setup in stages during the year, primarily at the Feast of Weeks and Tabernacles. Upon its initiation, the first year was 20%, the second year 20% and every third year a 1/3 tithe was added to make approximately 23.3% or if one wants to round up 24%. After that, the 4th year was the 3rd year of the 2nd and so on. But the church has never been under the standard of the Mosaic covenant and giving is called grace giving. There are 4 principles involved: self-determined, cheerful, generous and faithful. The principles can be found in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, Philippians 4:14-20.

  2. You wrote “Tithing existed as early as the days of Abraham, who gave Melchizedek, the priest of God and king of Salem, 10 percent of all he had” Was this 10% of all of Abraham’s current assets, or 10% of the spoils of Abraham’s victory? (In vs 21-24 it appears he returned the rest of what would rightfully have been his spoils to the king of Sodom.)

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