A Biblical perspective on tithing

Giving of tithe and offering

There are so many teachings against tithing and giving to the Local Church that is circulating these days and hence I feel compelled to write on this topic. The below is the Biblical teaching on tithe and is the position we hold as a Church. In Deliverance Church, we believe in the giving of tithes and offerings, and to quote from the “Statement of our Faith” article 10:
We believe that a believer is a steward over all his earnings and possessions and therefore tithing and giving freewill offering are to be practiced continually by all believers (Mal. 3:6-18; Matt. 25:14-30).

Tithe: meaning, a tenth. A tithe is a tenth or 10% of one’s income, or to give a tenth.
So tithe is the practice of giving a “Tenth” or 10% of one’s income. Not all proportion giving is the tithe. One might give 1% of his income and still be giving on a proportionate basis, but, to tithe, it is necessary to understand the proportion to be a tenth or 10%.
The tithe is God’s part of our income and is Holy unto the Lord (Leviticus 27:30, Proverbs 3:9). A tithe is a tenth of all our income. God set the percentage of tithes, “First-Fruits”, He gets His first.

Tithe was practiced 430 years before the law. Abram, Isaac, Jacob all paid tithe before the Mosaic Law (Genesis 14:18-20). Abram lived till the boyhood of Jacob, and apparently, the latter was brought up in the faith of his grandfather, and at Bethel God confirmed to Jacob and his posterity all the promises He made to Abraham (Genesis 28:20-22). God from the beginning taught Adam that it was the duty of man to render a portion of his increase to His Maker, and that, that portion of his increase to be not less than a “tenth.”

So we can see from the examples above that “Tithe” was practiced before Mosaic Law was given. The tithe was God’s law from the creation of man, not since the Law of Moses.
The tithe was, however, formalized under the Law of Moses. It was commanded (Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:10), it was a must, not optional.

Tithe belonged to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30-34, Malachi 3:8), not to the people who paid them.

The Israelites paid three tithes:

(1) Tithe to Levites (Numbers 18:18-32. There was no limit to this tithe. The offerer had no voice in its disposal. The offerer did not receive any of it back for his personal use. This tithe was not an amount that might be diminished, or as alms that the owner might render or not render as he pleased, but a divine claim, the withholding of which was regarded by God as dishonesty. The Levites to whom this tithe was given, were required by God to pay a “tenth” of what he received as a “Lord’s offering” unto God and to pay it to Aaron the High Priest.

(2) Tithe to support festival expenses, (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). This tithe consisted of the early increase of the land. This tithe was to be eaten by the offerer, his household, and the Levite. The tithe was offered in recognition of God’s bounty and as acts of worship to Him.

(3) Tithe to the Poor, (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). This tithe was for the poor, strangers, fatherless, widows, etc. It was only given every three years.

Note: As an Israelite came to bring his tithe unto the Lord, this is what they did:
He would come to the priests and say, “I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the land which the Lord swore unto our fathers to give us. A sojourner ready to perish was my father and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number, and he became there a nation, great, mighty and populous, and the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. And we cried unto the Lord, the God of our fathers and the Lord heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression, and the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs and with wonders, and He hath brought us into this place and hath given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the ground, which Thou, 0h Lord, hast given me.”

Oh, that we could bring our tithe and offerings to the Lord with this attitude!

If anyone borrowed the tithe for personal use, they were required to pay 20% interest. This law was to discourage them from withholding the tithe, and from using it for personal use (Lev. 27:31).

Tithe could not be diminished, it had to be a tenth. The tither had no voice in the disposal of tithes. The tither did not receive any of it back; it all went to the priests (Numbers 18:31-32).

To whom do we pay tithes? (Numbers 18:21-24). The tithe was paid to the Levites for their priestly service, which Israel could not perform. Levites in turn paid tithe to Aaron the High Priest, (Numbers 18:26-28).

Ministers of God is a type of Levitical priesthood, (I Corinthians 9:7-14).
“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[a] Is it about oxen that God is concerned about? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

The storehouse in Israel was the chambers that were attached to the temple, built to receive the first fruits of the field and flocks (Malachi 3:10). It was the priesthood who had charge of it, not even the king had control over the tithe (Nehemiah 10:37, Nehemiah 13:4-5, 2 Chronicles 31:11-12).

The tithe is the Lord’s and is brought into the equivalent of the storehouse, (the Sanctuary) and managed with the help of the church board that runs the church.

Jesus had this to say regarding tithe: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[a] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

The Apostle Paul may not have directly taught on the giving of tithes but his teachings on “Grace” does not lessen our obligation to God but rather increases it. Our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees… and hence we cannot give less than they did under the law and be accepted by God.

a.  All that a Christian is, and all that may come to him is a gift from God and belongs to his Lord. The tithe should be paid for a purpose other than just a law.

(1) Tithing is an act of recognizing an authority higher than yourself.

(2) Tithing is an act of love and thanksgiving for material things received from God’s Creation.

(3) Tithing is an act of confession of obligations to God who has been your helper in time of need.

(4) Tithing is an act of returning to God a portion of that which he has given to you.

(5) Tithing is an act of payment of your obligation as a member of His Church for the support of His cause.

(6) Tithing is the key to divine blessings. If God gets His part, your part will go further than the whole with God’s curse on it (Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6).


b.  Tithing is an expression of gratitude. One who does not tithe does not consider any of the above things mentioned, they are not grateful, don’t feel obligated to God, cares nothing for His cause, recognizes no higher authority than himself, cares nothing for God’s blessing.


c.  Those who fail to pay tithe not only robs God but hinders the spread of the glorious gospel and for this “Ye are cursed with a curse.” God’s work requires money; tithing is God’s way of financing His cause.

God has a working method of raising money to carry His work, and that method is “tithing”. When people follow the Lord’s method of tithing, church leaders are freed from preoccupation with money-raising problems for more spiritual pursuits. God’s plan and purpose for the church is “Soul Winning,” not raising money. God has ordained no other way for providing of the evangelizing of the world and maintaining of His Church, other than by tithing and offerings. When tithing and offering are practiced, it is a blessing to the Lost, to the Church, and to the individual. The lost is reached, the Church is supported and grows, the giver is blessed. When tithe and offerings are not practiced, the lost is not reached, the Church suffers, the Individual loses God’s blessings.

Those who do not want to support the work of God base their opposition generally on two arguments:

1.   Against tithing they say tithing was an Old Testament practice and is not a New Testament practice. The practice of tithing, however, pre-dates the Law of Moses. Tithing was practiced before the giving of the law. God made a covenant with Abraham Genesis 22:18, and the law did not annul this covenant.

Jesus is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedec (not Aaron), and we are the children of Abraham through faith (Galatians 3:7,29). We should therefore do the works of Abraham, which includes tithing. Just as the people were to support the Tabernacle, and the Temple which was God’s dwelling place or the place where His Presence was to abide, so is the Church the place today where His work is to be coordinated.  Therefore, as the people were to support the coordination of the work of God in the Tabernacle and Temple, so are we to support the work of God today with tithe and offerings, for the Church is the fulfillment of the Tabernacle plan.

In the New Testament Jesus had no objections to the payment of tithe (Matthew 23:23). One often-overlooked truth: Jesus’ way always calls for greater faithfulness and commitment than was required in the OT. Can giving and tithing be an exception? Tithing is for us today; we cannot give less than they did under the law (Matthew 5:20). God’s work is supported by tithes and offerings.


2.   They say that all they have belongs to God, not just the tithes. This means that a person believes in giving more than just the tithe. (We have no objection to this position), however, most of the time these people give nothing or less than the tithe.

C.S. Lewis said in expressing the spirit of the early church, (Acts 4:32-35):  “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small.”

Giving is a service and it is a ministry. In giving we are ministering to others, we are supplementing what others lack. We are contributing to the well-being of another. When we give to God’s cause, we are ministering to the lost, we are helping the unreached to be reached.

Nothing that we possess is exempt from the law of Christian stewardship.

The average church is suffering from “Partial Participation Paralysis.” This is especially so in the area of finances, where the giving of tithes is questioned, vilified, and avoided but the believers will positively respond to other contributions in support of other causes. Giving of an offering of say, 100/- is a big effort but the same person will give a friend 500/- for lunch.

To those that ask whether tithing is applicable today, what other method is there for supporting the Church ministry?

Let me end on a light touch

A PARABLE ON TITHING:  I found it humorous, I can only hope that you do.

“Now it came to pass that a certain rich man invited a churchman to lunch, and they went to a popular restaurant. The waiter was very efficient, and the service was good.

As they rose to depart, the churchman observed that his host laid some coins under the edge of his plate. And the waiter, who stood by, smiled happily; which, being interpreted meant the tip was satisfactory.

But the churchman began to meditate on these coins. Well, he knew that the proverbial tip must be at least a tithe (this was written some time ago), lest the waiter turns against you. And it came to him that few people so honor their God as they honor their waiter. For they give unto their waiter the tithe, but they give unto God whatsoever they think they can spare!”

Verily, doth man fear his waiter more than he feareth his God? And does he love God less than he loveth the waiter? Truly, truly, a man and his money are past understanding!”

What does the size of your offering say regarding the position God has in your life? Do you “tip” more than what you give to the ONE who has given you everything that you have, the REAL Owner?

God bless you!