March 1, 2011 (updated March 2012)
A Biblical tithe is one that’s given by church members regularly (1 Cor. 16:2), joyfully (2 Cor. 9:7), sacrificially (Luke 21:1-4) and proportionally. The word “tithe” literally means tenth. In the Bible, tithing may be observed (1) before the Old Testament law was given, (2) under the law and (3) after the law.
Before the law was given, Jacob vowed to tithe, crying to the LORD, "Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee (Gen 28:22). And Abraham demonstrated tithing by giving a tenth to Melchizedek, a king who was perhaps the clearest Old Testament type of Christ (Gen 14:20).
Later, while God’s people were living under the Old Testament Law, the prophet Malachi proclaimed that because the people failed to give both tithes and offerings, they were guilty of “robbing” God (Malachi 3:8). (Offerings involve giving above a tenth).
The New Testament does not reiterate a formal obligation to tithe. However, we may observe that Christ commended tithing in the New Testament. First, in the course of chastising the Pharisees, the Lord commended their tithing! (Luke 11:42). Second, in Mark 12, Christ commended the widow who "of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." In the Lord’s commendation of these New Testament tithes and offerings, we may observe that this practice is consistent with God’s model for this age.
Clearly, throughout history, the LORD has intended for His people to support His work through tithes and offerings. Today, church members must understand the practical implications of giving tithes and offerings. From a practical perspective we must understand that our church requires financial support in order to carry out the purposes that God has given it. Equally important is the spiritual importance of giving Biblically. We must understand that our failure to give Biblically is disobedience to our LORD.
Tithing involves giving at least 10% of our gross income as a basic guideline for giving. You may be wondering how you can begin (or continue) tithing in such a difficult economy. The answer may be found in the LORD’s promise to meet our needs:
(Matthew 6:31-33) “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Tithing is a matter of faith. Lord, increase our faith!