Our money does not belong to us, but that should give us more freedom to live generously. God calls us to diligently steward our financial gifts, including tithing a portion of our income. Join us to answer the question, “What does the Bible say about tithing?” Discover how we can diligently and faithfully steward the gifts God gives us.
A History of Tithing
The word “tithe” literally means “tenth” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament, it was a requirement for the Israelites to give a tenth of their crops and livestock to the temple. The Lord did not make the Israelites do this because He needed their gifts. The crops and livestock were compensation for the Levites and their work in the temple (see Numbers 18:20-32). The Levites were set apart to work only in the tent of meeting, and they were required to give a tenth of the tithes they received from the Israelites to the Lord. The Lord’s offering had to be the best and holiest part of the tithes made, and the Levites and their families could eat and drink the rest.
After Jesus came to earth and sacrificed Himself, tithing was no longer enforced as law. There was no need for a priest to make sacrifices and tithes to the Lord on behalf of the people because Jesus tore the veil of separation. However, several verses in the Bible talk about the importance of tithing for Christians. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” God wants His people to be cheerful givers. The ten percent tithe is a guideline for believers to prayerfully discern what portion of their income God would ask them to give to the church.
Is a Tithe the Same as an Offering?
An offering is anything you give beyond your regular tithe. If you receive a pay raise or extra financial gift, you may consider giving part of that as an offering to the church. But an offering doesn’t just have to be money. You can offer your time and talents to volunteer in different ministries beyond your normal serving capacity. Maybe that’s giving one night quarterly to help with the special needs ministry or offering your Saturday afternoon to serve your city through local outreach.
What the Bible Says About Tithing
Tithing should be a priority rather than an afterthought. In the Old Testament, the Israelites gave their first fruits to the Lord and lived off the rest. Tithing honors God by communicating that we trust Him to provide for us. When we give our first fruits, we say, “God, I trust You to take care of me, so I will give a part of my income to help my church actively be Your hands and feet.” God doesn’t need our money, but we communicate obedience and surrender to Him when we give a part of our income.
- “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”—Malachi 3:8-10
- “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase.”—Proverbs 3:9
- “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”—1 Timothy 6:9-11
3 Gifts We Must Steward
Not only are we called to steward our finances, but we are also called to steward our time and talent. Our tithes come from our paycheck, but our service for the Kingdom comes from offering our time, skills, and finances to serve the people around us. We diligently and faithfully steward our time, talent, and treasure as an act of honor and thankfulness to God for the things He’s given us. Here is what the Bible says about stewarding these 3 gifts:
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”—Psalm 90:12
Our lives are merely a vapor here on this earth. Only God knows how long we will live, so we are called to live each day intentionally and purposefully.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” —Romans 12:6-8
God has given each of us different gifts to use for the glory of His Kingdom. When we discover our God-given talents, we can use them in specific areas of ministry to bring Him glory.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:19-21
Our earthly possessions cannot come with us when we die. The Bible encourages us to store up treasures in heaven, which we can do by discipling other believers, witnessing to our neighbors, and actively serving our community. Heavenly treasures are the only ones that will matter for eternity.
Live Generously and Trust in God
God is our Provider. Although we rely on Him to satisfy our needs, we must be diligent stewards of the time, talent, and treasure He gives us. The Bible does not promise believers a prosperous and wealthy financial life but a rich reward in heaven if we place our faith in Jesus and serve Him faithfully. If tithing is hard for you, be honest with God! Ask Him to open your heart to receive what the Bible says about tithing so He can help you become a cheerful giver.
Learn more about the financial classes we offer on biblical stewardship and finances here!