What Does the Bible Say About Paying Tithes?
Tithing, the practice of giving one-tenth of your income to your church or religious organization, has been a topic of discussion and debate for centuries. Many believers wonder if this practice is still relevant today or if it was simply a commandment for the Old Testament era. To understand what the Bible says about tithing, we must explore various scriptures and consider their historical and cultural context.
1. The origin of tithing: The concept of tithing can be traced back to the Old Testament, specifically to the story of Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20. Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils of war to the priest Melchizedek, who was a representative of God. This act laid the foundation for the principle of tithing.
2. The Mosaic Law: In the book of Leviticus, the Israelites were commanded to give a tithe of their agricultural produce, livestock, and finances to support the Levites, who were responsible for the service of the tabernacle (Leviticus 27:30-34, Numbers 18:21-24). This tithe was seen as a way of supporting the religious community and maintaining the worship of God.
3. Jesus and tithing: In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the practice of tithing but emphasized the importance of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). He criticized the religious leaders of his time for focusing on tithing while neglecting these weightier matters of the law. This suggests that tithing should not be seen as a substitute for practicing genuine love and care for others.
4. The principle of giving: While tithing is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament, the principle of giving generously is emphasized. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul writes, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This encourages believers to give willingly and joyfully, according to their own convictions.
5. Personal conviction: Ultimately, the decision to tithe or give financially to the church is a matter of personal conviction and stewardship. Each believer should prayerfully consider their financial situation and the needs of their church or ministry. While tithing can be a helpful guideline, it should not become a legalistic burden or a means of gaining favor with God.
13 Interesting Questions about Tithing:
1. Is tithing applicable only to monetary income, or can it also include other forms of wealth?
Answer: Tithing traditionally refers to one-tenth of a person’s income, but some argue that it can also include other forms of wealth or resources.
2. Should tithing be based on gross or net income?
Answer: The Bible does not specify whether tithing should be based on gross or net income. It is a personal decision based on individual conviction.
3. Can tithing be fulfilled by giving to charities or other worthy causes?
Answer: While giving to charities or other worthy causes is commendable, tithing specifically refers to giving to one’s religious community or church.
4. What if I cannot afford to tithe?
Answer: Tithing should not cause financial hardship. It is important to prioritize basic needs and give according to one’s ability.
5. Should tithing be a fixed percentage, or can it be adjusted based on personal circumstances?
Answer: Tithing is traditionally seen as a fixed percentage, but personal circumstances and convictions can influence the amount given.
6. Is tithing a requirement for receiving God’s blessings?
Answer: God’s blessings are not contingent on tithing alone. He looks at the heart and the overall posture of generosity and stewardship.
7. Can tithing be done through service rather than monetary giving?
Answer: While service is vital in the Christian faith, tithing typically refers to financial giving. However, serving the church can be an additional act of worship.
8. Should tithing be done regularly, or can it be done sporadically?
Answer: Consistent and regular giving fosters a sense of stewardship and supports the ongoing work of the church. However, sporadic giving can also be done based on individual circumstances.
9. Does tithing guarantee financial prosperity?
Answer: Tithing is not a guarantee of financial prosperity. It is an act of obedience and trust in God’s provision.
10. Should tithing be done in secret?
Answer: Jesus encourages giving in secret to avoid seeking recognition or praise from others (Matthew 6:1-4). However, transparency in financial matters within the church may also be important.
11. Can I tithe to multiple organizations or causes?
Answer: Tithing traditionally refers to giving to one’s religious community, but giving to other organizations or causes is a personal choice beyond tithing.
12. Is it acceptable to tithe to a church that misuses funds or engages in unethical practices?
Answer: Discernment is crucial, and it may be appropriate to reevaluate where one’s financial support is directed if a church or organization is misusing funds or engaging in unethical practices.
13. Should tithing be a private matter or a topic of discussion within the church?
Answer: Tithing can be a personal matter, but discussing it within the church can foster transparency, accountability, and encourage others in their giving journey.
In conclusion, the Bible provides principles and guidance regarding tithing, emphasizing the importance of generosity, stewardship, and cheerful giving. However, the decision to tithe and the specific details surrounding it are personal and should be prayerfully considered in light of one’s own circumstances and convictions.