Tithing and the Christian


The following is from our ONE YEAR DISCIPLESHIP COURSE. See the end of this article for more information.

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HOW TO BE WISE WITH YOUR MONEY - TITHING

Memory Verses: Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

The Bible says a lot about money. Proverbs speaks much about the use of money, and many of Jesus’ sermons were on this subject. He taught that man’s heart is bound up with his treasure.

Practice tithing and giving to God (Mal. 3:8-11).

Tithing, which refers to giving at least 10% of one’s income to God, is a way to honor God and to support His great work in this needy world. God has promised to bless it, and multitudes of believers have learned that they are better off living on 90% of their income (or 80%, etc.) than 100%.

a. Tithing was practiced before the giving of the Law of Moses. Abraham was the first man who tithed (Genesis 14:18-20). He did not tithe out of obligation to the Law; he tithed to honor God through God’s representative king/priest Melchizedek. Jacob continued the practice of tithing (Genesis 28:20-22). We see, then, that tithing is not something that originated with the Law. It was a principle that has been understood by God’s people from the beginning.

b. Tithing was practiced under the Law. Under the Law of Moses, there was actually a double tithe. The Israelites were required to give 10% of all of their increase (Num. 18:24-28; Neh. 10:38), plus they were required to bring offerings to the annual feasts (called the second or festival tithe) (Deut. 14:22-25). They were also to give to the poor (Ex 23:11; Lev. 19:10; 23:22).

Malachi 3:8-12

(1) God says that those who keep the tithe are robbing Him. This is because under the Law of Moses God commanded the tithe and it belonged to Him. Whether or not one considers the exact tithe an obligation on the New Testament believer, it is sure that the believer does have many financial obligations in the church and to fail to fulfill them is to rob God.

(2) God promises to bless those who tithe. The believer can get by in life far better by giving tithes and offerings and living on what is left than he can by not giving to God and trying to live on 100% of his income. This is because it is better to live with God’s blessing on my life than to live without it. Thousands of believers have learned that God does indeed bless those who tithe. When God says He will rebuke the devourer, it means that He will not allow things to happen to us that can rob us of our money. This does not mean that those who tithe will never have trouble, that their roof will never leak or their equipment will never break down or their children will never get sick. It means that many things that would otherwise happen will be stopped because of God’s blessing.

(3) The tithe should be brought into the storehouse. In the Old Testament, the storehouse was the temple in Jerusalem. Today the church is the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15). In the first church, the people brought their gifts and laid them at the feet of the leaders (Acts 4:34-35). That is the example for us today. The church has much more work than the Old Testament temple had. The church has been commanded to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20). This is a very expensive endeavor, and the expenses are to be borne by God’s people. The preachers of the gospel are to be supported by the churches (1 Corinthians 9:14; Titus 3:13-14; 3 John 5-8).

Proverbs 3:9-10

(1) Parents are to teach their children how to tithe. Consider verse 1, where we see that this chapter contains the instruction of a father to his son. Parents can’t teach their children to tithe unless they have first learned to tithe themselves. When the parent teaches a child to tithe, he first gives him a small amount of money to put into the offering each week. When the child starts earning his own money, no matter how small, the parent teaches him to give 10% to God. When tithing becomes a habit from childhood it is easy to continue in adulthood. In October 2012, 11-year-old Baylor Bonham of Oklahoma amazed many people when he said he would tithe on the $106,000 sale of his prize bull, but he had been giving from early childhood and this had already become a habit and a joy in his life. When he won $27,000 the year before, at age 10, he gave a portion to his church’s youth ministry.

(2) The tithe should be given from “all thine increase.” This means that whenever we earn or receive money we should give a tithe unto the Lord from it.

(3) God promises to bless those who tithe. This promise is repeated in Scripture because God wants to emphasize that it is certain. We can trust God’s Word!

c. Some New Testament passages on giving

Haggai 1:5-9

Here God warned His people that because they had neglected the building of His house after the return from the Babylonian captivity they did not have His blessing. They worked and tried to get ahead, but God had cut holes in their earning bags! If you earn $100, it is much wiser to honor God with the tithe and more and to put $80 or $90 in a bag without holes, than to dishonor God and keep all of it for yourself while putting  $100 into a bag with holes. 

Luke 6:38

Here Jesus stated a wonderful promise about giving. He is not talking about tithing in particular, but about giving in general. God loves a cheerful giver. It is something that He takes note of and abundantly blesses.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2

In this passage we see that the believers in the first churches took up collections when they assembled on the first day of the week. This particular offering was a special offering that Paul was collecting for the Christians in Jerusalem that were suffering because of famine (Romans 15:26). Even in this case Paul taught them to give “as God hath prospered.” This means the giving was to be proportionate. That is the same principle as the tithe. Those who earn more give more.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

This passage refers again to the special offering that Paul was collecting for the believers at Jerusalem.

We see that such offerings are free-will, meaning that each believer makes his own decision about how much to give (2 Cor. 9:7).

Paul promises that God will bless their giving. 

d. Tithing must be done by faith

The only way to practice tithing effectively is to practice it by faith. We must believe God’s promises even during times of difficulties. And we must remember that God tests faith to see if it is real and to make it grow stronger (James 1:2-4). Many times if a Christian decides to begin tithing, he will have some financial problem to test his decision.

John R. Rice told about an evangelist named Kuykendahl in Texas in the early 20th century. He had a circuit riding ministry and his offerings were very small, so much so that his large family had a difficult time. One year a wealthy businessman visited the area to share his testimony in several churches, and evangelist Kuykendahl was his host, transporting him from meeting to meeting in his buggy. Among other things, the businessman challenged the people to tithe. As they were traveling along one day, the businessman asked the evangelist if he believed in tithing.

He replied, “Yes, I would love to tithe, but I am very poor and must take care of my large family.”

The businessman responded, “I will make you an offer. If you will tithe for an entire year, I will guarantee you. If at any time during the year you find that you can’t meet your obligations and don’t know where to turn, just contact me and I will send you the necessary money. I am a wealthy man, and I am a man of my word.”

Kuykendahl enthusiastically replied, “I will gladly take you up on this offer.”

The evangelist kept his word and tithed faithfully, but he never had to contact the businessman. At the end of the 12 months, the evangelist was meditating on what had happened. God had richly blessed him that year and had met every need. People gave him more than ever, and the family experienced many special blessings. As he contemplated these things, his heart was suddenly smitten, when he realized that he had trusted the word of a businessman but he had not been willing to trust the Word of the Living God, who had made even greater promises!

e. What if I do not believe that tithing is a law for New Testament believers?

(1) Remember that tithing pre-dated the Law of Moses. It was not because he was under the Law that Abraham tithed; he tithed because he wanted to honor God and support God’s work as represented by Melchizedek. This is a good example for New Testament believers, because we are children of Abraham by faith (Romans 4:16-17).

(2) The Old Testament was given for our example (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). Paul used the Mosaic system of giving as authority for his teaching that New Testament believers are obligated to support preachers (1 Cor. 9:8-14).

(3) It is the express will of Christ that His people be giving people (Luke 6:38). Many people I have met who “do not believe in tithing” are stingy. They do not bear their rightful load in the church. Stinginess and tightfistedness should never characterize the child of God. Even if you do not believe that the tithe is a matter of law, you should be ashamed to keep more than 90% of your income for yourself in light of the great needs of God’s work in this present world. I hasten to add that not all people who do not consider the tithe a matter of law today are stingy. In fact, I know some who give 30%, 40%, even 50% of their income to the Lord.

(4) The believer has many financial obligations.
The Great Commission is an obligation. We are commanded to carry the gospel to every person in every nation (Mk. 16:18; Acts 1:8). This is called Christ’s “Great Commission” because it is repeated five times in the New Testament, thus emphasizing its importance. The worldwide preaching of the gospel is intimately associated with Christ’s death in that Christ’s suffering for man’s sin is ineffective if the gospel is not proclaimed (Luke 24:46-47). World missions is a very expensive enterprise. Every believer is obligated to do what he can to further this work, and this includes preaching the gospel himself, praying, and giving. Supporting preachers and missionaries is an obligation (1 Cor. 9:14; Phil. 4:15-17; Titus 3:13-14; 3 John 5-8). The church is also an obligation. It is the house of God and the pillar and ground of the truth in this age (1 Tim. 3:15). It is the headquarters for world evangelism (Acts 14:1-4). Thus, every believer has an obligation to support the work of the church financially so it can fulfill its God-given function in this needy world.

REVIEW QUESTIONS ON TITHING

1. What does tithing mean?
2. Tithing is a way to ________ God and to ________ His great work.
3. When did the practice of tithing begin?
4. How much giving did the Law of Moses require?
5. Why did God call the Jews robbers in Malachi 3?
6. What did God promise to do for those who tithed?
7. What is the house of God today?
8. What passage instructs parents to teach their children to tithe?
9. In what verse did Jesus promise, "Give, and it shall be given unto you"?
10. Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth to bring their offerings on what day?
11. What verse says, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully"?
12. Why was Evangelist Kuykendahl ashamed of himself?

The preceding is from the ONE YEAR DISCIPLESHIP COURSE. This powerful course features 52 lessons in Christian living. It can be broken into sections and used as a new converts course, an advanced discipleship course, a Sunday School series, a Home Schooling or Bible Institute course, or for preaching outlines. The lessons are thorough, meaty, and very practical. There is an extensive memory verse program built into the course, and each lesson features carefully designed review questions. Following are some of the lesson titles (some subjects feature multiple lessons): Repentance, Faith, The Gospel, Baptism, Eternal Security, Position and Practice, The Law and the New Testament Christian, Christian Growth and Victory, Prayer, The Armor of God, The Church, The Bible, The Bible’s Proof, Daily Bible Study, Key Principles of Bible Interpretation, Foundational Bible Words, Knowing God’s Will, Making Wise Decisions, Christ’s Great Commission, Suffering in the Christian Life, The Judgment Seat of Christ, Separation - Moral, Separation - Doctrinal, Tests of Entertainment, Fasting, Miracles, A Testing Mindset, Tongues Speaking, The Rapture, How to Be Wise with Your Money, The Believer and Drinking, Abortion, Evolution, Dressing for the Lord. Available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature.

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