Tithing: is it still relevant today?

Back in November 2011 I posted “to tithe or not to tithe?” on the blog. It drummed up a pretty good discussion, and even caused a few people at the church I used to attend to get a little self-defensive over the issue.

Old Testament.

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:8-10

Back in the Old Testament a “storehouse” was a place where the “tithe” was stored. The tithe back then was usually produce (food such as veggies and grains, etc). The storehouse was used for 4 main purposes:

  1. to feed the priests and the tribe of Levi
  2. to feed the prophets
  3. to feed the Jewish widows and fatherless living in the city
  4. to feed the Gentile widows and fatherless living in/around the city

We see in Nehemiah (12:44-45, 13:5,13) that the priests were responsible for distributing the tithes to those in need of it.

New Testament.

While there is no clear commandment for tithing in the New Testament, we still see references to it which means Jesus Christ did not repeal the command to tithe.

While we no longer have buildings that we refer to as “storehouses,” the 4 purposes of the storehouse mentioned above remind me of a building we still do have around today… the church.

If we compare the Old Testament storehouse to the New Testament churches and also the local churches of today, we see the 4 main purposes of the church to provide for:

  1. the pastor and the staff
  2. missionaries and evangelists
  3. the widows, fatherless, and physically-disabled
  4. the surrounding unsaved people

Since we no longer have priests that care for us, that would mean the responsibility rests upon the pastoral staff of the church to ensure the tithes are being distributed to where they need to go.

Can I use it for ____________?

I’ve heard many people say things like “well, I serve in various ministries here and there, so instead of giving 10% of my income, I’m giving 10% (or more) of my time.”

Or some people say, “I’m not attending a church anywhere… so I’ll just give my tithe to my favorite charities, or donate it to non-profit organizations.”

Or I’ve even heard the following: “Since my kid is enrolled in a Christian school and the tuition is pretty expensive, I’ll just give my 10% tithe to the school to help lighten the financial load. After all, by investing my tithe there it’s helping my child get a Christian education, and who knows – maybe he’ll grow up to be a preacher someday. That definitely counts for something.”

The only problem is that I can’t find any verses in Scripture that support any of those ideas. We need to be careful to not pervert the use of the tithe into what we think is acceptable.

How should I give my tithe?

Plain and simple – if you’re going to tithe, do it with a good attitude. Otherwise, what’s the point? Giving 10% of your income as a tithe isn’t something you do just to check off a box on the “I’m a good Christian if…”  list.

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” – II Corinthians 9:7

By the way, nothing says you can’t give more than the 10% — you’re allowed to give more, and if that’s something that the Lord leads you to do He will surely bless you for your faithful and joyful giving.

The Windows of Heaven.

This point is something additional that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

In Malachi 3:10 it says: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

There’s only one other place in the Bible where it talks about the “windows of heaven” being opened and that’s in Genesis 7.

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” – Genesis 7:11-12

The only other time God ever mentions the “windows of heaven” being opened was when there was a flood that covered the entire world.

God promises to open the “windows of heaven and pour…out a blessing” upon us if we are faithful in our tithing.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be flooded with the blessings of God!

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Posted on October 23, 2012, in Doctrines of the Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I particularly like the bit about not just giving 10%. I think the trouble with tithing is that people think they are done with generosity once they have given their 10%. Rather than seeing everything they have as God’s. Rick Warren apparently reverse tithes his income. When asked why his book was so successful he answered ‘Because God knew what I would do with the money!’

    I’d much rather Christians focused on being generous and seeing all their resources as God given than 10%.

  2. Ephesians 3:21 says Unto Him be glory IN THE CHURCH! therefore one cannot give God glory by giving the 10% through Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Heart association. Gifts are given to those and tithes are given to God through the church. Remembering how expensive utilities, insurance, upkeep, and other bills are for your own home, think about the same costs for the church building and its staff and upkeep. If a man or woman will not give to God, God will not bless them as He so desires to do. I have found personally that if I tithe (and I give way more than 10%0, God stretches the remaining percentage more than the 100% if I didn’t tithe. But some will find every excuse they can to forsake God.

  3. As your friend, The Recovering Legalist, I have to put my 2 cents in (although this time it may only be a Widow’s Mite).

    “Relevant” is the operative word, I believe. Required? No. Relevant? Yes.

    Should we give to and for the work of the church? Of course! If no one did, then I am one who would not have an income – or a house to live in. In my opinion, we don’t give enough, regardless what we believe concerning the tithe.

    As I have found in my study of the subject, tithing was a specific ordinance given to Israel. The principle is the only thing that should carry over to the church. And when I talk about principle, I am not saying that we should use 1/10 as a benchmark for spirituality or obedience. I do not believe there is any way one can legitimately argue that point without reading into Scripture what isn’t there.

    Properly instructed and led, a person with a heart for God will give generously, and that is all God wants. A person that regularly checks off the tithe “box” each week and considers that “job well done” is being deceived.

  4. You’ve all said some good things – with most of which I, too, agree. But when we talk about tithing’s purposes I think we have to include Deuteronomy 14:23, where the King James Bible says that tithing’s purpose is to teach us to “fear God;” the NIV says it’s “so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always,” and the Living Bible says it’s “To teach you always to put God first in your lives.”

    If that’s the purpose of tithing, I think it’ timeless, and will always be relevant.

    I’m glad you mentioned that one purpose of tithing is to help the poor. (Various passages in the OT include the poor, immigrants, orphans, widows, and Levites in that group.) The Jews still gave to the poor that way during the Captivity (see Tobit), and many still do it today. Sadly, a lot of Christians seem to have forgotten those verses (I myself have NEVER been taught them in any church I’ve ever attended).

    Where do we draw the line between tithing and not tithing if we’re having a tough time financially? I don’t know. If you all read my “guest post” (“Responding in faith”) a couple weeks ago, you know what we did – but we did that specifically because God started nagging at us (OK, at me) to do it, and he didn’t stop until I gave in. Yet, we know from that same experience how hard it is to do it, and I won’t criticise any Christians going through hard times who don’t. I think that’s where the Bible’s teaching about giving to the poor FROM the tithe comes in. We’re to do our best, both in faith and in love.

  5. I know that up until recently, I have gone through the toughest time financially I ever have. Obviously, when I was unemployed, and I literally had NO money, I could not give (and it killed me). God understood that, and I was blessed. When I had just a little money, and “could not afford to give” but I did, God blessed in amazing ways! My necessities were always met and some of my wants!! I believe we should have a heart like the widow who gave her last mite because it pleases and glorifies God. He also blesses it in ways we can’t comprehend! 🙂

  1. Pingback: The Truth about Tithing | daileytalks

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