Tithing and finances tend to be a sensitive subject in the local church. Some people say you don’t actually need to tithe, some say you do, and some really just don’t know whether they should or not. And why should we give to our local church rather than an organization somewhere else? But what does the Bible say about tithing? Let’s take a look.
Why should Christians tithe to a local church? While there is no place in the Bible that commands Christians to tithe 10% of their income, it is Biblical to give with a cheerful heart. Additionally, giving to your local church aids in missions 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?
So, if the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us to tithe, then why do we? And 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 LordDeuteronomy 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.
But it doesn’t actually say to give ten percent of your income anywhere in the Bible.
In fact, the concept of tithing was not actually a practice of giving God money, but rather, giving and dedicating crops or animals, as we clearly see in Deuteronomy 27.
There was also a temple tax installed during this same time and was required annually in order to cover repairs and maintain the upkeep of the temple. But again, this looks very different than what most Christians are accustom to.
Though tithing 10% of your income is not something that we clearly see in the Bible, we do see principles and teachings that point to benefits of tithing. So, lets a take a look at the big picture here 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. Early Christians 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, that 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 leadership and Widows and Orphans
Finally, perhaps the biggest reason to give to your local church over maybe another organization is that it helps to answer three different principles and commands laid out in the Bible. First, it provides for the church leaders, which is 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 gospel1 corinthians 9:13-14
The second is that it answers the call to walk in pure religion, which is 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 missionaries. And it also helps with local outreach, thus making disciples of your neighborhood.
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. Of course, as was talked about earlier on, God does not command us to tithe 10% to our local church, but it is a Godly practice, based on former practices that were very similar in Bible times. It is good, however, to know where your church’s finances are going.
In another article I wrote, “8 Questions You Must Ask Before Joining a Local Church,” one of the top 8 questions was finances—ask church leadership how they spend the money. It’s good to give, but you need to make sure you know what you are giving to, and that it is Godly. Just because it’s a church does not always mean they are giving and distributing properly.
So, 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.