Tithing and finances tend to be sensitive subjects in the local church. Some people say you don’t need to tithe, some say you do, and some just don’t know whether they should or not. And why should we give to our local church rather than an organization elsewhere? But what does the Bible say about tithing? Let’s take a look.
Why should Christians tithe to a local church? Giving to your local church aids in missional work, local outreach, church upkeep, and the care and provision of the leadership, as well as those who are in need.
Where did the Concept of Tithing Come From?
Why do we tithe? Where does this idea even come from? Let’s dive into scripture for our answers, beginning with the Old Testament, where it all started.
‘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. Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. Deuteronomy 27:30-32
First, the word ‘tithe’ literally means “tenth,” or ten percent. This is why, as a whole, the church generally teaches that we are to give 10 percent of our income to the church.
The concept of tithing, as a whole, was not a practice of giving God money but rather giving and dedicating crops or animals, as we see in Deuteronomy 27.
There was also a temple tax installed during this time and was required annually to cover repairs and maintain the temple’s upkeep. But again, this looks very different than what most Christians are accustomed to.
We see principles and teachings that point to the benefits of tithing throughout scripture. So, let’s look at the big picture and find out why we should tithe, though we are in no way required to.
Giving Helps You To Focus on the Right Things
In Acts 2, we see a beautiful picture of how the early church operated. Believers were so set ablaze for Christ that they had no care for their earthly possessions. Instead, they were overcome with love for God and their brothers and sisters. Ultimately, they were looking forward to their heavenly home and heavenly treasures.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2:44-45
Some people find it much easier to give than others do, and tithing is a great way to help you get into a healthy and Godly pattern of giving and releasing your earnings back to God.
Giving Shows Reliance on God
Another example we see is in Mark 12, the widow who had nothing to give gave everything. And it was her great faith that moved Jesus’ heart.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
She demonstrated that, though she was alone and without money or provision, she trusted in God above money. And so, she gave as both an act of worship and trust in her creator. Likewise, giving to your local church can be an act of faith, obedience, or worship.
Giving Supports Biblical Principles
Finally, perhaps the biggest reason to tithe to your local church over maybe another organization is that it helps to answer three principles and commands laid out in the Bible. First, it provides for the church leaders, a practice instructed by God in the Old Testament and re-affirmed in 1 Corinthians.
Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:13-14
A second reason to establish a habit of giving is that it also answers the call to walk in pure religion, defined in James chapter 1 as caring for the widows and orphans. Tithing helps to make a way for widows and orphans by providing for their needs when they have no possible way of doing it themselves.
And finally, the third call it answers is the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. In the Great Commission, Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. Therefore, tithing helps to answer this command by sending, supporting, and training believers to impact their world, locally and worldwide. We are called to make disciples in our neighborhoods and across the border lines.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
These are just a few reasons to give to your local church. And it is important to understand that giving should not be done as a means of trying to get something from God, but from a place of thankfulness and love towards Him.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever. 2 Corinthians 9:6-9
Giving serves multiple purposes and, in turn, does bless you. Tithing 10% is a Godly practice based on former practices that were very similar in Bible times. Be wise in how you give. Know that you are not required to, but that in the long run, giving benefits you and so many others in the local church.
If you want to learn more about biblical giving, we want to recommend Bill Boylan’s book, “LIFE Giving”. Bill attends Destiny and wants every believer to know the benefits of a lifestyle of giving. You can find out more and pick up your copy here. Here’s the description from his website:
This book is about giving some of God’s money back to Him. That’s it. That’s all this book is about. If you’re not interested in giving money to God or even learning about it, reading this book would waste your time.
Honestly, the book is all about giving money to God, including why, when, and how much. It is actually designed to be used as a workbook, including an exciting “Giving Project.” It will help you plan regular and consistent giving to God, so He can ensure you always have enough money to meet your needs and, sometimes, your wants.
If you want to be successful and prosperous according to God’s definition of “success” and “prosperity,” this book will give you clear directions for your remaining journey through this life.