What is tithing according to the bible

What is Tithing According to the Bible?

What is tithing according to the Bible?

Imagine for a moment you’re handed a ten-dollar bill, and the giver says, “Use this wisely.” Now, imagine the giver is God, and the ten-dollar bill represents all the blessings you’ve received. Would you give a dollar back? This scenario brings us face-to-face with a millennia-old tradition deeply woven into the fabric of Christian faith: tithing. But what exactly is tithing according to the Bible? Is it an obligatory religious tax, a generous act of charity, or perhaps something much more profound?

Are you eager to know? Let’s delve together into the scripture to uncover the true meaning of tithing according to the Bible.

TITHE Stands for…

Firstly, let’s begin this discussion of what tithing is according to the Bible by exploring what the word “tithe” stands for.

When we think about the word “TITHE”, it can serve as an acronym that provides further insight into its biblical significance:

T – Thanksgiving

Tithing is a way for us to show our gratitude to God for all He has given us. It’s a tangible expression of thanksgiving, acknowledging God as the ultimate provider of our blessings (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I – Intentionality

Tithing requires intentional giving. It’s not an afterthought or something done with what’s left over. Instead, it’s a deliberate, thought-out decision to give God 10% of our income (Proverbs 3:9).

T – Trust

Tithing reflects our trust in God’s provision. By giving a portion of our income, we demonstrate our faith that God will continue to provide for our needs, just as He promises in His Word (Matthew 6:33).

H – Humility

Tithing fosters humility. It serves as a reminder that everything we have is not earned or deserved but is a gift from God. It helps keep us grounded, remembering that we are not self-sufficient but rely on God’s generosity (James 4:6).

E – Edification

Tithing promotes the edification, or building up, of the Church and the body of believers. Through tithes, churches can fund ministries (Ephesians 4:12). This aligns with the Biblical principle of using our resources to edify and strengthen the Church.

This acronym, TITHE, can serve as a mnemonic device, helping us remember the profound significance of this practice according to the Bible.

Perspectives on Tithing

Tithing is a topic that elicits diverse perspectives among Christians. Understanding these various views can help foster a well-rounded discussion on tithing and its role in a believer’s life. Here are four main perspectives:

1. Traditional Tithing

The traditional view sees tithing as a command from the Old Testament that carries over into the New Testament. Proponents believe in giving ten percent of their gross income to their local church. They point to instances of tithing before the Mosaic law (such as Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20) to argue that tithing is a timeless principle, not confined to the Old Covenant. This can also be refered by some to as the legalistic view, which is the belief that tithing is mandated by the law, as explicitly outlined in the Old Testament, and should be followed strictly. According to this view, believers are expected to give exactly 10% of their income or produce to the church

2. Spirit-Led Giving

Others argue that the New Testament doesn’t explicitly command tithing, and instead emphasizes generous, cheerful, and sacrificial giving (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Proponents of this view believe in being led by the Spirit regarding how much to give, where, and when, which could be more or less than ten percent. The argument is that tithing is not required under the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ. This perspective can also be referred to as the Freewill Offering View

3. Tithing as a Starting Point

Some Christians view the ten percent tithe as a starting point for giving. In this view, tithing is seen as a practical tool to teach discipline and regularity in giving, but not the upper limit. Giving beyond the tithe, or offerings, is encouraged as one grows in generosity and faith.

4. Prosperity Theology

Another perspective, often associated with prosperity theology, views tithing as a transaction where giving is expected to result in material blessing. This perspective is often criticized for misunderstanding the nature of God’s grace and promises, turning tithing into a manipulative, profit-driven act.

Understanding these differing views on tithing can foster healthy discussion and encourage believers to seek biblical wisdom.

Some other views on tithing

5. The Proportional Giving View

This view interprets tithing as a guideline rather than a rigid rule. Here, the emphasis is on proportionality; believers should give in accordance with their means, which could be more or less than 10%.

6. The Historical / Cultural View

This perspective sees tithing as a historical or cultural practice that may not necessarily apply directly to modern Christians. Those who hold this view might argue that tithing was an ancient form of taxation to support the Levitical priesthood and societal needs at the time..

What is Tithing According to the Bible?

Having considered different perspectives on tithing, now, what is tithing according to the Bible?

At its core, tithing is a spiritual practice established in the Bible, where believers are called to give back to God a portion of what they have received. The word “tithe” itself stems from the Old English term for “tenth,” and indeed, the biblical practice involves giving a tenth, or 10%, of one’s income or produce.

This concept first emerges in the Old Testament. In Genesis 14:20, Abraham gives a tithe to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Later, in Genesis 28:22, Jacob commits to giving a tenth to God. However, it’s in the Mosaic Law, specifically in Leviticus 27:30-32, that tithing is formally instituted: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”

The purpose of tithing in the biblical context was multifaceted. On a practical level, this command was given to support the Levites, who served in the Tabernacle and later the Temple but had no land inheritance of their own (Numbers 18:21-24). Tithes were also used for communal feasts and celebrations (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). Moreover, the tithe was used to help the poor, the strangers, the orphans, and the widows, reflecting God’s concern for social justice (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). On a spiritual level, it was an act of worship and devotion, demonstrating trust in God’s provision and expressing gratitude for His blessings.

In the New Testament, while there’s no explicit command for Christians to tithe, Jesus did mention and commend it. He rebuked the Pharisees for tithing meticulously while neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). Rather than discarding the practice, Jesus underscored the need to not neglect the weightier matters of the law.

Moreover, Paul, in his letters, talks about giving – not as an obligation but as a cheerful act, decided in one’s heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). But the question is, was he talking about tithing? Is tithing the same as sowing seeds? For now, what I would say is that, as far as the new covenant is concerned, the heart with which you give matters more than what you are giving.

So, tithing, according to the Bible, is not only about giving a tenth. It is a spiritual discipline that cultivates gratitude, dependence on God, and generosity. It underscores the principle that everything we have comes from God and ultimately belongs to Him.

Importance of Understanding the Biblical Meaning of Tithing

We learn about tithing by paying it.

~ James E. Faust

Understanding biblical tithing is crucial for several reasons:

Firstly, tithing is, fundamentally, an act of worship. It’s a way for believers to express their gratitude to God for His provision. By giving a portion of what we’ve received, we acknowledge God as the source of all our blessings.

Secondly, tithing underscores the principle of stewardship. According to the Bible, everything we have is ultimately God’s (Psalm 24:1). By giving back a portion to Him, we acknowledge that we are stewards, not ultimate owners, of our possessions.

Again, tithing is a tangible expression of faith. By giving, even when it might feel like we don’t have enough, we demonstrate our trust in God’s promise to provide for our needs (Philippians 4:19).

Moreover, tithes provide financial support for the Church’s mission and ministry. Understanding biblical tithing can lead to more effective ministry and outreach.

Furthermore, Regular tithing can contribute to a believer’s spiritual growth. It is a spiritual discipline that, like prayer and reading the Bible, can draw us closer to God.

As followers of Christ, understanding and practicing biblical teachings is part of our spiritual journey. Tithing, being a biblical concept, is part of that journey.

You might also like to read, “The Prayer life of Jesus: 14 Life-changing Lessons to Learn”

There are numerous misconceptions about tithing. Understanding what the Bible truly says can dispel these misconceptions and free us from guilt, confusion, or legalistic attitudes associated with tithing.

By grasping the biblical concept of tithing, believers can deepen their relationship with God, align their financial habits with their faith, support the mission of the Church, grow spiritually, and navigate common misunderstandings around this practice.

So, what do you think about tithing? Let’s hear from you!

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