WHAT IS TITHING? (AND BIBLICAL GENEROSITY)
Many people wonder what the Bible says about tithing. The question, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible” is important for sure. Many misunderstandings on this topic have even led people to leave the church altogether. One thing that is often missed is that tithing is about more than money; it’s about our hearts.
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So what is tithing?
Tithing is the term commonly used to mean setting aside a certain amount of our income for God. Typically a tithe refers to 10% of your income because the word literally means, “tenth”, but it is often generalized to mean any amount of money set aside for God. And traditionally this tithe, this 10% is given to the local church, but we believe that you’re giving that 10% to Jesus himself.
Ok but where is this in the Bible? Because 10% can be a lot of money and some of us may not have much leeway to give in that amount.
Well tithing is something we see in the beginning of the Bible, before the Law even. Abraham and Jacob both tithed their “first fruits” to God. Then we see it in the Law, it’s actually a command to tithe. Leviticus 27:30 says, "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.” It was a reminder that everything belonged to God and a thank you for everything that they had received.
So it’s before the Law, it’s in the Law, and then we see it alluded to in Hebrews 7, again in the New Testament. There isn’t a command after Jesus that we HAVE TO tithe 10% of our income to the local church, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t biblical or we shouldn’t be giving back to God now. Because if you look at church history, the early church was all about tithing, taking care of other believers, and knowing that everything they make is because they were blessed by God.
I mean, aside from the Kingdom of God, Jesus actually talked more about money than any other topic. He talked about what we should do with our money, and the importance of radical generosity, and being obedient with what we are given.
As the apostle Paul planted churches around the world, he also spoke on the subject of giving. And his views on giving were a lot more radical than just 10%. He focused on giving generously, consistently and joyfully.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability”. He continued on by saying that, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”. Instead of assigning a certain percentage, he encouraged them to give generously. So number one, give generously.
Number two, give consistently. Paul encourages the church to set aside an amount of money to give every single week. The goal is not for this to be a new rule every believer must follow, but a general principle to encourage consistent giving.
Jesus never looks at the amount you give, it’s always about the percentage and your heart towards giving. If you make more you should give more. $1000 to one person is a lot, while $1000 to another person is a little. We must give in relation to our income.
And God looks at our heart towards it. So the third thing is to give joyfully. Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. A cheerful giver knows that this is not their final destination, that they are meant to build the Kingdom of God and the work of the local church.
So tithing is always about your heart, and never about the amount of money. Giving to God today is about so much more than setting aside a certain percent of our monthly giving for God. It’s about declaring that life is more than the things we can gather on this earth. Giving is about generously using the resources God has given us to improve the world through the gospel. If you are considering giving for the first time, remember to give generously, consistently, and above all, joyfully.