One of the more controversial topics among churches and Christians is the legality of tithing. Some people insist that tithing is mandatory and will quote scripture in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” They will tell you that because the word tithe literally means “a tenth” that that is what should be given to the church.
In fact this goes back to Levitical (priestly) law, that the people would give a tithe to the temple or to the priesthood. This tithe was typically an offering of their share of crops, they would set aside the very first of their harvest and offer that as their tithe. Leviticus 27:30-32 states, “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. Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD.
Most of the time we would dismiss Levitical law because as we have seen with arguments on other issues such as tattoos, those laws served a specific purpose and were typically for the protection of the Jewish people or were to set a defining line between worship of the true and living God vs worship of pagan gods. In almost every Levitical law, the law was there as to not defame the Lord and His holiness, but the tithe law is not the same.
From the beginning of humanity we see God’s people offering their first fruits to Him. The main reason that Cain killed Abel was due in fact to Abel’s sacrifice being appropriate and Cain’s not. We see that the heart of the matter has always actually been a heart matter. The difference in the offerings to God were that one gave to the Lord of the first of his share, and the other a secondary offering. The heart spoke louder than the action. We see this again with the woman who gave all she had in Mark 12. Even though what she gave was significantly smaller in denomination the Lord was pleased by what she gave because it was all she had. It’s a matter of our heart.
When the tithing dissenters like to rail against giving of tithe I have to ask an earnest question, “why”? I think the majority reason behind being against tithing isn’t that it is supposedly unbiblical, but because, as most things, it has been abused by the church. I know for a fact that my mother expects to hear about nothing but money no matter what church she goes to. She has been so burnt by the church asking for finances from people that it is all she knows about church anymore. She has become bitter to the idea of tithing because of the abuse that has taken place.
The other question I have is “how are churches supposed to operate”? We don’t live in a time where there is a solitary temple we go to worship at, and we aren’t living in a place that the church has the ability to tax the common people, so there is no other way for a church to sustain its life but to collect money. Typically the dissenters rail against those pastors that make a lucrative amount of money, more than their own congregation, and I would be in agreement with them.
The main reason I am pro-tithing is actually one of the best arguments I have heard about it. The fact that we tithe a considerably large portion of our financial income (there are weeks when 10% is a huge amount), is so that money doesn’t become our master. The scriptures warn us on many occasions that money can become an idol. In fact the love of it is the root of all evil. We are also told that man cannot serve two masters Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.“
The reason we should tithe is to prevent it becoming our master, and there is only one realistic way to keep money from becoming your master, we certainly can’t live on giving all our money away, but 10% is quite a fair amount to keep our idolatry in check. So much of our obedience to God’s ordinances are internal struggles such as lying or being jealous, but the only way to suppress the power that money has over us, is to treat it in a way that shows ourselves that it does not control us.
In all things we are called to do what we do to the glory of God, and when you understand why we tithe, to keep it from becoming a master, we can give it away to the glory of God with a joyful heart attitude because it is not in control.