Is TITHING Biblical?
Ok, because I'm a pastor I get questions about giving, specifically tithing. Is tithing biblical? For those who are unfamiliar, tithing means giving 10% of your income to God. Well, clearly, we have to say 'yes' to this. What we see most in Scripture is the concept of "first-fruits" giving. This giving is ALWAYS focused on giving to God. However, since God is spirit, we cannot actually give Him anything tangible. So, the way that God-followers have always applied this giving was by giving to the "house of God." In the Old Testament, we see people bring their first fruits to the Temple or to the priests. The modern day interpretation of first-fruits or tithing (at least in my experience) has been giving 10% of your income to the local church. So, the question I always get is, "Does the New Testament support tithing?"
To answer this sticky question, allow me to give you my opinion first. I believe the practice of tithing was never taken away by Jesus or any New Testament author. However, I also believe that a new ethic emerged because of Jesus that raised the practice of giving from a commitment of 10% or "first fruits" to a surrender of 100%. This is a vital piece to understand in the world of giving and generosity. The practice of tithing is a great way to build in consistent and systematic giving to the Lord. However, tithing should never replace a mentality that acknowledges that all of my life and everything I have is surrendered to God.
Usually, when I get questions about tithing the question is postured in a way that is negative toward the practice. It's funny because, generally, the people who ask me about tithing in this way don't share the same concern about other issues like prayer, meditation of Scripture or basic morality. This leads me to think that people want some evidence in scripture that allows them to opt out of tithing based on it's absence in the New Testament. Truthfully, we can't throw out tithing any more than we can throw out adultery, the Sabbath or taking God's name in vain. The absence of an Old Testament command in the New Testament does not justify a rejection of the command or principle.
All this being said, I suggest a balanced approach. Systematic tithing (10%) on everything you earn (yes, before taxes) and Spirit led generosity that keeps you open to give out of the abundance God has given you to apparent needs around you. I believe these represent the command we read in the Old Testament and the surrender we read in the New Testament.
I suppose the question that may be raised here is, "If you are Spirt-led, why still tithe?" Great question… Personally, i don't trust myself or anyone else for that matter to simply "live by the Spirit" without supporting disciplines. Granted the disciplines should never replace being Spirit-led however, disciplines are of great value in protecting those things that are important. Jesus was not shy in giving us disciplines. Communion was a recurring discipline He gave us to remember Him and His sacrifice. He also gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. They compliment one another. Likewise with tithing and Spirit-led giving.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."
This passage is a great example of the tithing or first-fruits principle in the Old Testament. This passage reveals the two sides of the the tithing coin (no pun intended).
1. Tithing is about honor. Giving God the first 10% is a step of faith to honor God. We are literally bringing our faith right into our finances and saying, "God I want to Honor you with my wealth." Tithing is a very practical way to prioritize God above self. I cannot help but think that most of our objections to tithing come from a desire to fulfill self-serving desires. Honor is the heartbeat of worshiping God. Honor sets the tone for how we handle all our money.
2. Tithing is about trust. Giving God the 10% right off the top invites God to bless according to His power and His resources. Be careful on this one, some people take it too far. Tithing does NOT twist God's arm to bless you financially, however it does mark your life with a statement of trust in God's ability to bless as He sees fit. Even the act of giving money to a church is an act of trust that God will hold those in leadership accountable with the resources given. I believe when we activate our trust in God that trust grows in our life and expands into other areas. It may be hard to believe but the practice of trusting God through tithing is a way to stimulate your trust in God across all areas of your life. Tithing can initiate a wave of spiritual growth in your life.
Final disclaimer, I am NOT trying to manipulate anyone to give. This came directly out of my Priority Time today. I am intentionally delaying the post until a Monday to create the greatest distance between this post and a Sunday service where we collect an offering. I simply want to encourage you to think and consider what it means to "Honor The Lord with your wealth…"
Agree or Disagree? Please leave your comments on Tithing here!