The Truth About Tithes
Why I Decided To Write This Article
The whole reason why I decided to write this article comes from something that was said by a pastor in a chapel I was in. He said, “If you don’t tithe exactly 10%, you are stealing from God.”
This claim caused me to do some research on tithing and why we do it. And by researching the topic I was able to separate facts from fiction. So I’m writing this to help Christians understand the principles of tithing and how believers under Jesus’ covenant should give.
The History of Tithing
The practice of tithing began with the ancient Israelites. God gave them a scriptural mandate that required them to give 10% annually back to Him. Here are some verses in the OT pertaining to tithes:
- Genesis 15:19-20: And blessing him, said, May the blessing of the Most High God, maker of heaven and earth, be on Abram: And let the Most High God be praised, who has given into your hands those who were against you. Then Abram gave him a tenth of all the goods he had taken.
- Leviticus 27:30- And every tenth part of the land, of the seed planted, or of the fruit of trees, is holy to the Lord.
- Numbers 18:21- And to the children of Levi I have given as their heritage all the tenths offered in Israel, as payment for the work they do, the work of the Tent of meeting.
- Numbers 18:26- Say to the Levites, When you take from the children of Israel the tenth which I have given to you from them as your heritage, a tenth part of that tenth is to be offered as an offering lifted up before the Lord.
These verses make it clear that the practice of tithing in the OT is clearly scriptural and was commanded by God.
Important Stuff About OT Tithes You Should Know
Now regarding OT tithes, there are several facts that you should know about how and what people tithed, and who was required to.
- The Israelites didn’t mainly tithe money. More often than not, they tithed their assets- things like their crops, cattle, food, or even jewelry.
- Many of the tithes went to the Levites, who were the priests. Leviticus describes how they were also required to tithe a tenth of the tithes they received.
- If you did the math on how much the average Israelite gave, oftentimes it was much higher than 10%; estimates put it at 20% or even a bit more.
- People who didn’t tithe could get cursed, while people who did tithe were blessed.
What About Tithing Today?
Now that we have covered tithing in the Old Testament, you may be curious as to whether or not there is biblical precedent for today’s Christians to continue this practice. This ultimately comes down to how covenants in the Bible work. In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed certain parts of the Law and also changed some things. For example, Jesus declared many unclean meats as clean and appropriate for consumption.
When it comes to tithing, the new covenant does not mention that we must give 10%. Therefore tithing was only required of those under the old covenant. Certain rules they followed, such as not eating pork or shellfish and not wearing clothing contains different fabrics, are not applicable today. Tithing is one of them.
So What Does This Mean?
By saying that tithing is not required of today’s believers, I’m not advocating for you to now go and give absolutely nothing. While the new covenant does not require tithes, many verses teach us that we should be generous in our giving, whether in church or to those in need, such as for the poor and homeless. We should still give, but there is no law saying that we must give exactly 10%.
How much to give is up to you; some people may feel that they should give less than 10%, and others may feel compelled to give more than 10%. Also, giving 10% may also be the right fit for a lot of people too. The NT teaches that we should give generously. Focus on being generous and don’t focus on the amount. Intent is more important than the number.
I’ll put this verse here to sum it all up-
- Proverbs 11:24-25: A man may give freely, and still his wealth will be increased; and another may keep back more than is right, but only comes to be in need.
How much to give is up to you, and it’s really a matter of your heart and your intentions. Don‘t be selfish. But also don’t let anyone guilt you for not tithing exactly 10%.