Tithing is a practice that has been observed by Christians for centuries. It involves giving a portion of one’s income or resources to the church or a religious organization. The concept of tithing can be traced back to the Old Testament, but it is still relevant to modern Christianity today.
Many Christians have questions about tithing, such as where exactly in the Bible it is mentioned, how much they should give, and whether or not it is a requirement. In this blog post, we will explore the topic of tithing in the Bible, looking at both the Old and New Testaments, and examine different interpretations of this practice. We will also discuss the role of tithing in modern Christianity and how it relates to our faith and obedience to God.
Understanding tithing in the Bible is important for Christians who want to live out their faith through generous giving. This practice is not only a way of supporting the work of the church and charitable organizations, but it is also an act of worship and obedience to God. By studying the Bible’s teachings on tithing, we can gain a better understanding of God’s heart for generosity and how we can honor Him with our resources.
The Old Testament contains several references to tithing. Here are some of the most notable:
Tithing in Genesis
In Genesis 14:20, Abram (later called Abraham) gives a tithe of his spoils of war to Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God. This is the first mention of tithing in the Bible.
“And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. – Genesis 14:20 (NKJV)
Tithing in Leviticus
Leviticus contains several verses that outline the practice of tithing. In Leviticus 27:30-32, God commands the Israelites to tithe a tenth of their crops, flocks, and herds to the Lord.
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.” – Leviticus 27:30-32 (NKJV)
Tithing in Numbers
In Numbers 18:21-24, God appoints the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle and all its services, and commands the Israelites to give them a tithe of their crops.
“Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.” – Numbers 18:21 (NKJV)
Tithing in Deuteronomy
In Deuteronomy 14:22-29, God instructs the Israelites to tithe a tenth of their produce every year and to use the tithe to celebrate before the Lord.
“You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.” – Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (NKJV)
Other references to Tithing in the Old Testament
- 2 Chronicles 31:5-6 – King Hezekiah commanded the people of Judah to tithe, and they brought in abundance.
- Nehemiah 10:37-38 – The Levites were to receive the tithes from the people of Israel, and the Levites themselves were to tithe to the priests.
The New Testament also contains references to tithing. While Jesus does not mention tithing specifically, he does talk about giving generously to God.
Jesus and Tithing
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for tithing mint, anise, and cumin but neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” – Matthew 23:23 (NKJV)
Jesus emphasizes the importance of justice, mercy, and faithfulness over the act of tithing itself.
Tithing in the Epistles
In 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, Paul writes about the rights of those who preach the gospel, saying that they should receive their living from the gospel.
“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NKJV)
Other references to Tithing in the New Testament
- Luke 18:12 – The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable boasts about tithing.
- Hebrews 7:4-9 – The author of Hebrews writes about Melchizedek receiving a tithe from Abraham and how Levi, who was descended from Abraham, also received tithes from the Israelites.
Interpretations of Tithing in the Bible
There are different interpretations of tithing in the Bible. Here are a few:
Some Christians interpret the Bible’s instructions on tithing literally, believing that they should give exactly ten percent of their income to the church.
Other Christians believe that tithing is not a hard-and-fast rule but rather a proportional guideline. They may give more or less than ten percent, depending on their circumstances.
Voluntary giving interpretation
Some Christians believe that tithing is not a requirement but rather a voluntary act of generosity. They may choose to give to the church or other charitable organizations as they feel led by God.
The Role of Tithing in Modern Christianity
Tithing is still a common practice in many Christian churches today, although there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Here are a few things to consider:
Different beliefs among denominations
Different Christian denominations have different beliefs about tithing. Some churches require members to tithe a certain percentage of their income, while others view tithing as voluntary.
Practical implications for Christians
Tithing can have practical implications for Christians, such as helping to fund the church’s programs and ministries, supporting missionaries, and helping those in need.
Tithing as an act of faith and obedience
For many Christians, tithing is seen as an act of faith and obedience to God. It is a way of acknowledging that everything we have comes from God and giving back a portion as an act of worship.
In conclusion, understanding where the Bible talks about tithing is essential for Christians who want to live out their faith through generous giving. The practice of tithing is mentioned throughout both the Old and New Testaments, with clear instructions on how much and what to tithe. While there are different interpretations of tithing, it is clear that Christians are called to be generous with their resources and to support the work of the church and other charitable organizations.
As Christians, we should study the Bible’s teachings on tithing to gain a better understanding of God’s heart for generosity and how we can honor Him with our resources. By giving back to God, we acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him, and it is an act of worship and obedience. Understanding where the Bible talks about tithing also helps us to navigate the different interpretations of the practice, as we seek to live out our faith in practical ways.
In conclusion, tithing is not just a financial transaction but a spiritual practice that helps us to grow in our relationship with God. May we all continue to seek His guidance in our giving, as we honor Him and support His work in the world.