Where Does it Say to Tithe in the Bible
Tithing in the Bible
Tithing and giving money to the church is an important subject to understand for followers of Jesus. Many wonder, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible?” Others wonder if it’s even necessary to give to the local church and if so, how much? People have many questions on the subject.
Understanding the concept of tithing can unlock a key for spiritual growth in a person’s life. Tithing can be a source of joy and freedom. But, tithing is also a commonly misunderstood Christian concept. Confusion on the subject can lead to mistrust of the church. These misunderstandings can lead some to believe the church only cares about money. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what the Bible says about tithing to help answer those who wonder, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible?”
What is Tithing?
Tithing is a term commonly used today to mean setting aside a certain amount of one’s income for God. Typically a tithe refers to a tenth of one’s income because the word literally means, “tenth”, but it is often generalized to mean any amount of money set aside for God. This money is traditionally given to the local church. The roots of tithing are found in the Bible.
In the Beginning
The concept of setting aside any portion of one’s income begins within the first book of the Bible. In Genesis, Adam and Eve’s children, Cain and Abel brought “portions” of their flocks and crops before the Lord. The idea was to set aside a portion of the first crop of the season to thank God for a successful harvest. This general practice continued with the Israelites as they grew and even as they were enslaved in Egypt.
In the Law
After God freed the Israelites from Egyptian captivity they wandered in the desert for many years. During this time their leader, Moses passed along laws from God. These laws were intended to separate the Israelites as a people dedicated to God. The concept of offering “first fruits” turned into offering God a “tithe” or a tenth of one’s income.
Leviticus 27:30 says, “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.” Again, these gifts were a reminder that everything belonged to God and a portion was given back to God to thank him for what they had received.
The practice of tithing continued throughout the Israelites’ history. Eventually, God established priests and a temple for worship. He instructed the Israelites to bring their tithes to the temple as an act of worship. But, the tithes were also used to help support the temple and priesthood.
The concept of tithing changed and developed with followers of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
Where Does it Say to tithe in the Bible
“Tithing” is not mentioned by name in the New Testament. If you are wondering, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible,” you might believe this means the concept is not Biblical. But, this is not the case.
In the book of Matthew Jesus was sharing with a crowd and condemned the teachers of the law for their hypocrisy. They worked hard to follow every law to the letter, but paid no attention to their heart. Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Jesus was not discouraging the practice of giving. Instead, he was reminding religious leaders that giving was about something more than merely money. Giving to God was about a person’s heart. It was one of the many ways a person could offer their lives and dedicate their hearts to God.
This sentiment echoes another time Jesus expressed frustration with the practices of the Pharisees and leaders of the law. In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” More than anything, Jesus is after the hearts of men and women. Monetary only mattered to God when it was done with a worshipful heart.
Tithing and the New Testament Church
As the apostle Paul planted churches around the world, he spoke on the subject of giving. His, and other church leaders’ encouragements on giving moved beyond the “tithe” or 10% giving. In fact, there were three pieces to New Testament giving. Giving generously, consistently, and joyfully.
As Paul encouraged the church in the city of Corinth, he shared how generous the Macedonian churches were giving. He says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:3). He then follows up his encouragements by saying, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”(2 Cor. 9:6).
Instead of prescribing a certain amount or percent, the New Testament churches were simply encouraged to give “generously”. For those wondering, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible”, you may not find a prescription to “tithe” in the New Testament, but you will find multiple encouragements to give “generously”.
One goal of giving is to re-orient the giver’s heart to the things of God over the things of this world. It’s a declaration that God is first in our lives, before anything else. In order for this declaration to be effective, one should give consistently.
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he writes, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Cor. 16:2). The church was encouraged to set aside an amount of money to give each week. The goal is not for this to be a new rule every church goer must follow, but a general principle to encourage consistent giving.
Paul also makes a distinction in this verse that the giving should be “in keeping with his income”. Yes, a person should give generously, but those who make more should be encouraged to give more, while those who make less should give less. Based on these verses, giving should be both generous and consistent. But, the manner in which we give also matters.
If God is after a person’s heart, then the heart with which a person gives matters. Paul writes, “ Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Paul notes that giving should not be done so “reluctantly” or “under compulsion”. Another version of the text says, “grudgingly”. Instead, the follower of Jesus should joyfully engage in giving.
The joyful giver understands that earth is not our final destination. This is why Jesus said, ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). These givers understand the value of investing in the kingdom of God and the work of the local church.
Many people wonder what the Bible says about tithing. The question, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible” is important. Many misunderstandings on this topic have even led people to leave the church altogether. Tithing is about more than money; it’s about our hearts. Giving to God today is about so much more than setting aside a certain percent of our monthly giving for God. It’s about declaring that life is more than the things we can gather on this earth. Giving is about generously using the resources God has given us to improve the world through the gospel.
If you are considering giving for the first time, remember to give generously, consistently, and above all, joyfully.