Tithing is a controversial topic among Christians. People have many questions and concerns about it, but disagreeing about what to sacrifice to God is not a new debate. This is a very old argument. In fact, one of the first disagreements we read about in the Bible arose between people precisely on the issue of sacrifice — when Cain was offended by Abel because of his sacrifice (see Genesis 4:3-5).
Today I want to tell you what I see in the scriptures about tithing and what I personally believe about it. I have no desire to argue with anyone. From experience I know that if a person decides tithing is optional and unimportant for him, then convincing him otherwise is not easy. He will continue to argue. But for those who believe tithing is an important part of their relationship with God, this post will be an encouragement.
IS TITHING A RULE OF THE OLD OR NEW TESTAMENT?
Some people believe that Jesus abolished all the laws of the Old Testament and that this means tithing does not apply to people living in the New Testament. However, that is not true. Tithing is not a rule of the Old or New Testament. Tithing is simply part of having a relationship with God. It’s a principle that existed long before the law of Moses.
THE ESSENCE OF TEN PERCENT
When a person gives God ten percent of his income, he thereby tells himself, God and all those around him that he is not a self-sufficient person who can perfectly take care of himself, using only his own strength, skills, knowledge and experience. Tithing to God, shows that this person recognizes God as the source of his strength, knowledge, income, security and everything he has!
We see examples of this in the Bible. Abraham was prompted to tithe to the priest Melchizedek 430 years before the law of Moses was given (see Genesis 14:20). And Jacob dedicated a tenth of all he had to God 300 years before the Law (see Genesis 28:22). It’s hard for me to say whether Abraham and Jacob knew that a tenth of everything on the earth belonged to the Lord — this was later written in Leviticus 27:30 — but they definitely recognized that God was their source of security.
WHAT DOES THE LAW OF MOSES SAY?
So, tithing was not an innovation of the Law of Moses. It was part of having a relationship with God long before the Jewish people received the Law. The law of Moses gave the Israelites exact rules and regulations on how to properly tithe, from which fruit they should tithe, and where their tithe should be brought. It also contained other practical instruction about tithing.
However, we learn from the book of Malachi that over time the Israelites either ceased to tithe at all or brought their tithe and forgot how central it was to their relationship with God. Because they lost sight of the purpose of tithing, the people began to bring bad things to God, sometimes even bringing things of such poor quality that they themselves could not have even used them.
But God does not reject tithes — He corrects our motivation and focuses on the attitude with which we bring our gifts to Him. This is exactly what 2 Corinthians 9:7 says:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In the New Testament, the Lord warns us against the mistakes made by people living according to the principles of the Old Testament, bringing their tithes as a duty to the law, under duress.
THE NEW TESTAMENT CORRECTS THIS ERROR
I think that for you and me the opinion of our Lord on this topic is very important. Therefore, I want to remind you that Jesus speaks of tithing in the New Testament:
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22).
That is, it is necessary to honor God as the ultimate authority and power in our lives, and it’s also important to recognize the state as the human authority and power in our lives on earth. And Jesus also said that the Pharisees did the right thing, giving from both a large income and the smallest income (see Matthew 23:23).
WHERE DO I GIVE?
When a believer decides to tithe, he usually asks the following question: where should I give my tithe? Tithing must be given to the local church, the place that is your spiritual home. Ultimately, the local church is meant to be the place where believers attend, submit to the leadership of the pastor and bring their tithe.
But there are also people who, for various reasons, cannot attend a local church. Some of these people are spiritually fed by churches who stream their services online. We have people who watch our church’s service, the Moscow Good News Church, online, and they send their tithes to our church while they’re watching. This tells me a lot. It means that these people consider our church to be their spiritual home and have allowed me to be their pastor. I am grateful to them for this and appreciate their trust.
As a pastor, I pray for our online church family and ask the Lord to:
- pour out blessings upon them abundantly,
- rebuke the devourer from stealing or exterminating what rightfully belongs to these believers,
- give them success in all matters, so that these people would be able to bear good fruit in everything they do.