The word tithe literally means tenth. Farmers, herdsmen, and even people growing herbs in their backyard would submit 10 percent of their harvest to the Levitical Temple as a tithe.
Did you tithe if you were not a farmer, herdsman, or didn’t have a yard? Yes. But not of your harvest or your livestock, but of your wealth. Please note that there were several reasons to submit to the temple other cash too. First, to prevent the Levites from going extinct, the firstborn male of every household was to become a Levite unless they were redeemed with a cash payment. These children would be raised as if they were born into the Levite bloodline, not second-class citizens. However, if redeemed for the published temple price, they would be the head of the household they were born into.
This is because God (aka Adonai, which translates as “My Lord” in Hebrew) claimed the firstborn as His since before Abraham’s time. This firstborn didn’t just include humans, but the firstborn of every animal, the first fruits of a harvest, the first of everything. It was a recognition that without God’s creation, you would have nothing. With His creation, you have everything that you do.
Tithing is an extension of that firstfruits offering, but it is regular and constant.
- Proverbs 3:9-10 NASB Honor the LORD from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; 10 Then your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
- 1 Samuel 2:29 NASB Why are you showing contempt for My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded for My dwelling, and why are you honoring your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father was to walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be insignificant.
- Rom 11:16 YLT and if the firstfruit is holy, the lump also; and if the root is holy, the branches also.
So what about Tithing?
- Putting God first stores up treasures in heaven for you
- Matthew 6:19-21 NASB 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Trust God with your wealth.
- Malachi 3:9-11 NASB 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the entire nation of you! 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and put Me to the test now in this,” says the LORD of armies, “if I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. 11 Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruit of your ground; nor will the vine in the field prove fruitless to you,” says the LORD of armies.
- God is the provider of this world and is still providing for us
- Deuteronomy 8:18 NASB 18 But you are to remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, in order to confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
- Deuteronomy 26:10 NASB 10 And now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, LORD have given me.’ Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God;
- Matthew 22:18-22 NASB 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He *said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 And hearing this, they were amazed; and they left Him and went away.
- God first, to honor Him
- Deuteronomy 14:23 NASB 23 You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
- Proverbs 3:9 NASB Honor the LORD from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce;
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.
- 1 Timothy 4:7 NASB 7 But stay away from worthless stories that are typical of old women. Rather, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
- Motivates joy
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB 9 as it is written: “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”
- Psalm 4:7 NASB 7 You have put joy in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine are abundant.
- To help others
- Hebrews 13:16 NASB 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6 NASB 6 Now I say this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows generously will also reap generously.
- Proverbs 19:17 NASB 17 One who is gracious to a poor person lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.
- Does not replace the other aspects of giving
- Luke 11:42 NASB 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithes of mint, rue, and every kind of garden herb, and yet you ignore justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
- Proverbs 11:25 NASB 25 A generous person will be prosperous, And one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty.
- We don’t have the temple today, so this is our sacrifice until the restoration
- Psalm 4:5 NASB Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.
- To advance the Kingdom of God
- 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 NASB 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
- Numbers 18:21 NASB 21 “To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel as an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.
- Test or measure where one’s heart is at.
- Luke 12:34 NASB 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
How much should you give? Do you give of what you grew or harvested? The tithe is literally 10%. Every bit over that 10% is a sharing of your abundance, which is a blessing to you, the church, and God. You cannot title off of what the crows ate, or the robbers stole; the same holds today. Some say tithing is 10% of your pretax; I’m telling you now, if your government says pay tax or be put in a cage, you are being robbed, and it is no different than a wolf killing from your herd or crows eating from your field. Even the biblical church tax was a tax the people imposed upon themselves to pay, not that it was imposed upon them so that they would not deduct from their tithes. So if you decide to pay the pretax and do it joyfully, then you are tithing and abundant sharing; you are truly blessed indeed.
So what says the church:
They repeat these things, so:
- Measure them by their wisdom with the tithes. They should not be dripping with wealth nor baren with famine.
- Their expenditures should be traceable to the promotion and glorification of God.
- They should be answerable for their trust in the Lord, the words from their mouth, and the expenditures of their purse.
- They MUST understand the benefits of tithing, to the point where when they receive the tithe, they too know that they are to tithe also.
I have seen pastors who have driven expensive vehicles and others who drive junkers. Neither should be judged until you understand how and why they use those vehicles.
- A minister in Southern California was diagnosed with lupus and eventually had to relinquish his position in the church. But the congregation got together and bought him a Corvette, that in the last few years of his life, he could travel and see others in comfort. Before he passed, he gave his car to another lupus patient, who also repeated the pattern and passed it on. This was not an abuse of tithing and the church.
- A minister bought two personal jets for the church. He used them to send ministers, send supplies, and move people to where they needed to be, without charging them. He didn’t even pay for the jets from the tithes, but from abundant sharing that parishioners earmarked for keeping that service running. Again this wasn’t abuse.
- A minister went on stage, wearing “bling”, some looking like some sort of holy symbol or relic, while others were of dubious audacity. But from his silver tongue, he had bewitched the people to give generously. This continued until his other sins were exposed. Rarely is the rotten fruit of an abuser this flagrant, but when it happens, make it known and leave. He is cursed, and he is passing his curse to his parish, who are perishing without God.
I pray you found this helpful, and a blessing to you. Please share if you found fruit in this teaching.