The word “tithe” means “tenth”. To tithe is to give 10% of your income to God.
I’ve been tithing since I was in the cradle. I kid you not. My parents ensured my brothers and I had tithe cards, and whenever visitors came to “greet baby” and dropped money, a tenth of it went into the tithe card. Consequently, I grew up knowing that if someone “dashed” me ₦500, automatically only ₦450 was actually mine. It didn’t even require any calculating; it was ingrained.
I have never stopped giving God a tenth of all my income and I don’t intend to, ever. I simply came to the point in my faith where I had to evaluate and own my beliefs and practices based on the gospel of Jesus Christ and not on which pastor said what. Then I realised the truth about tithing for Christians. IT IS NOT COMPULSORY. In fact, NO giving in the Body of Christ is compulsory.
Under the Law, tithing was compulsory.
“And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Numbers 18:21 KJV).
Hebrews 7:5 explains:
“And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham.”
The passage often quoted to support the mandatory nature of tithing is Malachi 3:8-11, where God made it known to Israel that they robbed Him by withholding tithes and offerings:
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.”
It’s clear what happened to those under the Law when they gave tithe and when they didn’t. You’re a Christian, so does this apply to you? You don’t live under the Law: women fellowship with others while menstruating, we wear clothes made from two different materials, and do a host of other things that the Law forbade. Why then are we bound by the law of tithing? We are NOT bound by it.
The first record of tithing was over 400 years before the Law was given. Abraham gave a tithe to God’s priest, Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20). Jacob also made a vow to serve God and give Him a tenth of all he owned IF he answered his prayers (Gen 28:20-22).
The view of tithing as taxation, a form of levying, is legalism. Abraham’s tithe was not a tax. It was an act of worship. Vows, as we know, are also voluntary, Jacob made a vow.
These unsolicited, free will offerings of tithe show that it is indeed praiseworthy to give God a tenth of all your earnings.
In Luke 12:20-21, Jesus urged us to be rich towards God, and in the light of that, 10% is a good starting point.
Christ admonished the Scribes and Pharisees of the Old Testament, UNDER THE LAW, “that ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). This was not a command to the Church of Jesus Christ, but a reprimand to those under The Law who were being hypocrites.
Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that the curses of Malachi or any other curses apply to us if we do not tithe. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13).
For us under the New Testament, we are NOT bound by the Law (Law doesn’t refer to the books of the Old Testament, which we obviously read and quote from through the lens of the New Testament but to the Laws handed to Moses, which the Bible clearly states we are no longer under. Christ has fulfilled the Law.)
In the New Testament, the focus was on meeting needs willingly and cheerfully. No percentage is suggested, so even though 10% is a good place to start, to teach a Christian to tithe or else suffer the curses in Malachi is a slight to the Cross of Christ. If tithing were to be enforced as law, then we have left grace.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 would have been the opportunity for the Apostle Paul to tell or remind the Christians in Corinth that the Jewish Law of tithe applied to them, but he did not, because it did not apply. Instead, he expounded the principles of Christian giving:
“But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
“Every man ACCORDING AS HE PURPOSETH IN HIS HEART, so let him give; NOT GRUDGINGLY, OR OF NECESSITY: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
There is nothing to add to that, really. God owns 100% of what we have; we are stewards. Sure, we should give to God 10% of our earnings, and more, consistently, freely, generously, and cheerfully — not in order to escape the curses in Malachi or as obedience to the Law. Let us stand firm in the liberty wherein we have been made free. (Galatians 5:1).