Generosity is an inseparable part of building wealth God’s way. The Bible has a lot to say about giving. Jesus himself said, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). Tithing is one way we can experience this blessing. Many brush off tithing as an old covenant commandment that modern Christians no longer have to follow. However, they are missing out, and after reading this blog, you’ll see why!
This blog explores:
- What is tithing?
- The History of the Tithe in the Bible
- The Purpose of Tithing
- Are Tithes Mandatory?
- Tithe and Offering Scriptures in the Bible
What is Tithing?
Tithing is the practice of giving 10% of your income to your local church. Ten percent is a baseline for giving–not the limit. Traditionally, an offering is given over that 10% amount.
The History of the Tithe in the Bible
The first account of the tithe in the Bible is in the book of Genesis. It all started when Abram’s brother, Lot, was captured by rebel kings. Abram assembled a small army of men to rescue him, and he was successful. Then, Genesis 14:16-20 (NLT) explains,
“Abram recovered all the goods that had been taken, and he brought back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives.
After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
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.”
Melchizedek blessed Abram, and in response, Abram gave the priest a tenth of the possessions he had with him. In other words, Abram valued the blessing and wanted to give a blessing in return. Today, our church leaders bless us and provide a spiritual covering. Tithing is a way to express our gratitude and feed back into the people and places that are feeding us spiritually.
From there, the tithe continued to evolve. The Old Testament recounts three different kinds of tithes:
1. The Levitical, or Sacred Tithe
2. The Festival Tithe
3. The Tithe for the Poor
The Sacred Tithe was given to members of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:21). This special group of Israelites lived in the area directly surrounding the Tabernacle and had specific religious responsibilities. They did not receive land as an inheritance, so the tithe helped sustain them. In return, the Levites gave the priests a tenth of that tithe.
The other two tithes provide unique, creative opportunities to give back and honor God. For example, The Festival Tithe is exactly what it sounds like– it involved saving for a party! The Israelites saved one-tenth of their crops, traveled to a designated place, and then hosted a big feast honoring God. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).
Though it’s not an obligation, there are fun ways to adapt the festival tithe to modern times. For example, you could set aside a portion of your income to attend a faith-based conference. Or, you could save for a family vacation where you take time to reflect and celebrate everything God is doing in your life. Perhaps you have a “hosting fund” where you save a portion of your income to invite friends and family to dinner. (Note that the festival tithe does not replace tithing to the local church, but it is a fun addition!)
The final tithe in the Bible that’s mentioned was the Tithe for the Poor. The Israelites set this aside every third year. The Israelites set it aside locally in each city or town so that the poor, foreigners, fatherless, and widows had provision (Deuteronomy 26:12).
The Purpose of Tithing
Many people have the question, “Is tithing mandatory?” Under the New Covenant, you are not required to tithe. However, I highly recommend it. Tithing will bless your life and the lives of others.
Tithing has many purposes. Practically, it is one of the ways to fund and grow the local church, thus expanding the Kingdom of God on the earth. When you give to a church, ministry, or nonprofit, you actively partner with God’s work in the world. Here’s the amazing part: your tithe will help transform your church, but it will also transform you.
We can say that we trust God with our finances, but tithing is how we put our money where our mouth is. Your trust in God will grow as you give your tithe, offerings, and first fruits. Consequently, any financial anxiety you may have will dramatically decrease, if not be entirely eliminated. If you struggle with greed, giving is a way to directly combat selfishness. Nothing will get the Spirit of Mammon off your life quicker than generosity!
Finally, when we give God the first 10% of our income, He makes our 90% more than enough. As Proverbs 3:9-10 (NLT) says,
“Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine.”
With that, here are a few more scriptures about tithe in the Bible.
12 Tithe and Offering Scriptures in the Bible
1. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:20-22, NKJV)
2. Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD.” (Exodus 35:21-22)
3. “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s, and is holy.” (Leviticus 27:30 TLB)
4. “The entire tithe of the herd and flock– every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod– will be holy to the LORD.” (Leviticus 27:32)
5. “And he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.” (2 Chronicles 31:4–5)
6. “(God’s people) offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing…could be heard far away. Men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits and tithes.” (Nehemiah 12:43–44)
7. “I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected?” Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts. All (God’s people) brought the tithes…into the storerooms.” (Nehemiah 13:11–12)
8. “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord 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.” (Malachi 3:8-10, NKJV)
9. “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (Proverbs 28:27)
10. “Woe to you, teachers of the law…You give a tenth…But you have neglected the more important matters– justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)
11. “If you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give– large or small– will be used to measure what is given back to you. (Luke 6:38)
12. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)
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