Tithing reflects a grateful heart that wants to give back to God a portion of what He has given us; in reality, what is already His. Tithing is our opportunity to show God that He is first in our lives. James 1:17 says that “every good and perfect gift is from above …,” so we have an opportunity to tangibly show God He is the “owner” of our finances by giving back to Him the first of what He gives us.
There are three reasons why we should tithe.
1. Tithing reflects our heart.
What is the most important thing to you? Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We can see the reality of that in the world today and the exaltation of the financially successful, and more personally you can see that by looking at your own checkbook.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
2. Tithing is biblical.
Long before tithing was a practice of the Israelite people, Cain and Abel, the second generation of the human race, brought an offering to the Lord. The Lord blessed Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. Abel brought the “firstborn of his flock,” while Cain brought “some of the fruits of the soil” as an offering. God wants to be first. The following scriptures show how tithing is biblical.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
“And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to you.”
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.
And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
3. Tithing is a benefit.
God’s kingdom is built on multiplication, not division. God uses the tithe as an investment where everyone involved gets a return on the investment. Obviously, the church and the kingdom are blessed, and yet God’s nature is to also bless the giver. This principle is highlighted in the passage below.
2 Chronicles 31:4-10
Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.
In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance.”
A. Abram, the progenitor of the Hebrew race, tithed before the law (Gen. 14:20).
B. Jacob, following Abraham’s example, tithed before the law (Gen 28:18-22).
C. Thus, if tithing was an outflow of a surrendered heart BEFORE the law, it should be an outflow of a surrendered heart AFTER the law.
D. In fact the New Testament spirit is that we go beyond the law: Matthew 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (by the law), you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
A. Jesus certainly tithed, in fulfilment of the Old Testament law Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
B. Joseph set the example by tithing as prescribed in the Mosaic law Luke 2:22-24 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”),[a] 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
C. Jesus approved of the practice of tithing and did not abrogate it given the opportunity Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
“…every case of giving that received special mention in the New Testament was cited because it went beyond the tithe. The tithe, then, we may infer, did not deserve honorable mention because it was one’s plain known duty.” – Dr. R.V. Clearwaters
D. Jesus raised the standard in every area of living, including giving. Jesus challenged his hearers to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees (Mt. 5:20). The Pharisees were exacting tithers, but Jesus raised the standard!
A. Old Testament saints brought their tithes to the storehouse in the temple. The Temple was the locus of worship for Old Testament Israel, so the local church is the locus of worship for New Testament Believers. God has ordained no other institution as His visible, representative body on earth.
B. The church is the “body of Christ” (I Cor. 12:27). Since Jesus is to receive tithes (Heb. 7), it makes sense to bring the tithes to the place that visibly represents His body on earth.
Mark 12:17…”Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”…
Good Giving Guide
The New Testament offers guidelines for giving that can help us fight the pull of materialism:
- Give. Giving affirms Christ’s lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me and transfers my center of gravity to Heaven.
- Give generously. How much is generous? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. If you’ve never tithed, start there—then begin to stretch your generosity.
- Give regularly. Stewardship is not a once-a-year consideration, but a week-to-week, month-to-month commitment requiring discipline and consistency.
- Give deliberately. Giving is at its best when it’s a conscious effort that’s repeatedly made.
- Give voluntarily. When we catch a vision of God’s grace, we will give beyond our duty.
- Give sacrificially. We don’t like risky faith. We like to have our safety net below us. But we miss the adventure of seeing God provide when we’ve really stretched ourselves in giving.
- Give excellently. Paul says, “See that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).
- Give cheerfully. If we’re not cheerful, the problem is our heart, and the solution is redirecting our heart, not withholding our giving.
- Give worshipfully. Our giving is a reflexive response to God’s grace. It doesn’t come out of our altruism—it comes out of the transforming work of Christ in us.
- Give more as you make more. Remember: God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving.
- Give quietly. Showiness in giving is always inappropriate. (But sometimes our acts of righteousness will be seen by men and even should be.)