I have heard many Christians ask where they should tithe to? I recently decided to research if Christians are supposed to tithe to the local church.
Should my tithe go to the local church? Your tithe should go to the local church because we are giving back to God what he has given us. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.” Christians give 10% of their first fruits to the local church as an act of surrender to God.
Tithe refers to giving money. Many define tithe as the giving of 10% of our income to the local church, but does this need to be strictly followed? We should look at God’s Word to see what He says about tithe and where it should go.
What the Bible Says
In the Old Testament, we see the Israelites tithed a tenth of all they had to God. When Christ came and fulfilled the old covenant, we as Christians had to decide what that means for us as we give back to the Church. We continue to see verses in the New Testament that help us understand tithing better.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7
The heart behind giving is explained in 2 Corinthians. We do not give out of compulsion but with cheer in our hearts since we are simply giving back to God a percent of what he has given us.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.Galatians 6:6
In Galatians, we see Paul telling the church we should share with the ones who teach us. We can see that although we are not commanded to give money to our pastor in this verse, Paul strongly suggests that as we are being taught to share with the teacher.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.Proverbs 11:24
Proverbs, which is one of the wisdom books in the Bible suggests that those who give freely will be blessed and the opposite for those who do not give. This verse is not a promise but wisdom on giving.
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce;Proverbs 3:9
We tithe to honor God. Not only should we tithe just anything, but the first of all we have in order to show honor.
Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.Luke 18:10-14
Looking at this passage from Luke we see the contrast of a Pharisee praying and a tax collector praying. The Pharisee prays in a way to get attention from others. He stands by himself and thanks God for making him, unlike other sinners. The Pharisee then goes on to brag about his own accomplishments.
Jesus tells those listening that the Pharisee who exalted himself will be humbled. He reminds us that those who are humble will be exalted.
We should look at these verses and avoid taking a prideful position on our tithing. It is very easy to fall into the trap of discussing what you tithe and find yourself bragging. We can see the consequences of turning a God-honoring act into a self-honoring one instead.
May God help us be humble as we tithe.
Two Views on How Much to Give
There are a couple of different views that people today take on tithing. The different ways people choose to tithe should not divide anyone in the church. The two ways are tithing a percent and giving as you feel lead.
Tithing a Percent
Many people look at the Old Testament and see how the Israelites would give a tenth of what they had to the Lord and follow this same pattern.
Many Christians tithe to the church because of this passage in Malachi:
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.Malachi 3:10
This verse is seen by many as strong advice to only give to the church. People believe the storehouse is the church.
Tithing is definitely important in the Old Testament as it is mentioned eighteen times.
The point of our tithing is to honor God. We can often miss that point when giving an exact amount. Giving 10% is a biblical way for you to tithe. It also helps you give consistently from the first fruits of all you earn.
You do not earn anything by tithing. You don’t earn more love from God. Instead, you are showing God you trust Him with your finances.
Beware of legalism as you tithe. You are not better than Christians who don’t tithe.
When looking at the Old Testament we see how the religious leaders also tithed.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.Matthew 23:23
When we tithe we do not want to simply follow the laws as the Pharisees and other religious leaders did in the Bible time.
We need to check our hearts as we tithe and continue to follow God’s commands.
While the scribes and Pharisees were very good at tithing the exact tenth of what they had, they ignored other like justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Giving as You Feel Lead
There are Christians out there today who feel like there is no exact obligation to giving and should happen more on a whim when they feel lead or something tugs on their heart.
Although this can seem like an okay idea, we as humans do not always walk in the spirit, sometimes we make decisions in the flesh.
Without a safeguard to keep us continually honoring God with our first fruits, we can easily fall into the trap of excusing ourselves when we don’t give and fall into the habit of not giving.
We cannot trust our hearts on when to give to God. Scripture gives a good picture of our human condition and why we cannot trust ourselves.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?Jeremiah 17:9
With a set goal of giving in place, we can make sure we honor God and give back to him a percent of what is his even when we do not feel like it.
Without a commitment, there will be moments when it seems easier or more convenient to skip tithing. This happens especially in financially tight situations, it can seem like tithing is not possible but that is when we can trust God to provide.
When we don’t know how it will work, we can let God work.
Whether you are tithing or giving a one time gift, you should do it sacrificially. Don’t seek attention for your gift, but give to honor the Lord.
Sacrificial giving is a whole different way to look at giving. We are told in the New Testament that God loves a cheerful giver.
When looking at examples in the New Testament, we see those who gave by faith were giving more than they thought they could.
In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, a story is recounted of a widow who at the temple gives two coins, in fact, Jesus says that was all she had to live on. Jesus commends this woman for giving out of her poverty while others were giving out of their abundance and was not a sacrifice to God.
And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’Luke 21:3,4
The rich in this passage were giving more money but it was out of their abundance. These people had plenty to live on and when they were giving it did not hurt them financially.
Although the widow had little to offer, she gave not because she could, to honor God. We do not hear anything else about this woman who gave all she had to the Church, but we can infer her sacrificial heart.
The widow now has to rely fully on God while those who were rich may not have even had to consider God. They could give out of their abundance and still fall back on their money so they have no need to fully trust in God.
Giving sacrificially looks different for everyone since everyone is in a different place financially. The amount that the widow gave was a very little amount, but she
…has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.Mark 12:43
She gave a much greater percentage of what she owned than any of the rich people.
The amazing thing is that God blesses us when we give. When giving sacrificially we are depending on God to help us with all of our needs. This is what the widow did.
Acts shows us another example of giving:
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had needActs 4:34,35
When this verse says “there was not a needy person among them,” this includes those who were selling their land and houses. God was taking care of his people in the early church, and he will also do that now.
Results of Tithing
Giving to the church is important it helps support the leaders in the church who help encourage and convict us. Not only that but the church building itself has needs, and tithing helps makes Sunday morning worship possible.
The amazing thing is that the church is there for others in addition to you and your family. The church is able to support different ministries and can help those who need it because of tithe.
Those walking into your church for the first time may not be believers, but we as believers who tithe are a part of reaching out to those people whether we know it or not.
While tithing is beneficial to others, it can also be beneficial to us. Tithing helps as we grow in our relationship with God. We can increase our trust in what he will do through us, and increase our joy as we give. Even in Scripture, we see Jesus tells us the benefits of giving.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”Acts 20:35
When we tithe consistently we will create a lifestyle of giving, helping us to honor God even in difficult times.
We want to give in a way that honors God, not legalistically, or only when we feel like it, instead intentionally and sacrificially. Giving as we trust God with our resources and give back some of what he has given to us.