Tithing and giving, and what the Scriptures teach us about this important aspect of our relationship with God.
Tithing and giving are often misunderstood or neglected by many believers today, but they are actually a vital part of our worship and obedience to God. Tithing means giving a tenth of our income or produce to God, as a way of acknowledging that everything we have comes from Him and belongs to Him. Giving means offering more than the tithe, as a way of expressing our gratitude, generosity, and love to God and His people.
The concept of tithing and giving goes back to the Old Testament, where God instructed His people Israel to bring their tithes and offerings to the tabernacle or temple, as a sign of their covenant with Him. In Leviticus 27:30-32, we read: “Thus any tithe from the land, whether from the seed of the land or the fruit of the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD.” (NIV)
The tithes and offerings were used to support the priests and Levites who served in the sanctuary, as well as to provide for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the foreigners among them. They were also a way of celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness, especially during the festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
However, tithing and giving were not just a matter of duty or ritual; they were also a matter of heart and attitude. God wanted His people to give willingly, joyfully, and generously, not grudgingly, reluctantly, or stingily. He also wanted them to give faithfully, honestly, and obediently, not sparingly, deceitfully, or rebelliously. In Malachi 3:8-10, we read: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (NIV)
God challenged His people to trust Him with their finances and resources, and promised to bless them abundantly if they did so. He also warned them of the consequences if they failed to honor Him with their tithes and offerings. He wanted them to experience His provision and protection, as well as His presence and power.
In the New Testament, we see that tithing and giving are still relevant and important for us as followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself affirmed the practice of tithing when He rebuked the Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness while being meticulous about tithing (Matthew 23:23). He also commended the poor widow who gave all she had as an offering to God (Mark 12:41-44). He taught us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
The apostle Paul also encouraged us to give generously and cheerfully as an act of grace and love. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, we read: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)
Paul reminded us that God is the source of all our blessings, and that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). He also assured us that God will reward us for our generosity both in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 6:17-19).