The Truth about Tithing: Discover What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say
We’re supposed to tithe to the local church, to give 10 percent of our income, right? Hold on. Not so fast. What does the Bible say about tithing?
The Bible talks a lot about tithing, of giving one tenth of what we have to God. However, there are multiple tithes mandated in the Old Testament. Bible scholars say that when these are added up, they average out to 23 percent a year (one tithe is given every three years). That’s close to one quarter, far more than one tenth.
These Old Testament tithes were commanded by God to support the religious institution of the day: the temple, the Levites, and the priests. To equate the Old Testament temple and its priests with the modern day church and its ministers is a misapplication. When Jesus fulfilled the law, he replaced both, turning us – you and me – into priests and making us into his temple.
Instead, Jesus talked about helping those in need and being good stewards. The early church in Acts shared all they had with each other; that’s 100 percent. And being a good steward of all God has blessed us with also implies 100 percent. We are to use every penny in the best way possible.
Whenever the New Testament mentions tithing, it always refers to the Old Testament practice. Nowhere do New Testament writers tell us to give 10 percent to the local church, yet that is precisely what many ministers preach. Rather, we see commands and examples to use the money God blesses us with to cover our needs (not our wants), help others, and advance God’s kingdom.
If you feel being a good steward of God’s money is to support your local church, then by all means, do so. However, if you thinks it’s better used somewhere else, then donate it to that cause, but don’t be misled by preachers who claim something the Bible doesn’t say.
[Read more about this in Peter’s upcoming book, Jesus’s Broken Church.]
Read more about the book of Acts in Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.