Isn’t tithing an Old Testament thing? Should the New Testament believer tithe? These questions have attracted lots of debate and controversy int eh Body of Christ in the last couple of years. As a pastor, I actively encourage members of our church to be faithful in their tithes and offerings. I do it because I strongly believe that tithing is still relevant in the New Testament church.
I will explain. But first, let’s deal with the elephant in the room first – why do I encourage Christians to tithe when tithing was one of the laws of Moses? Don’t I believe in the Gospel of grace?
Well, the biggest misconception about tithing is that it started with the Mosaic covenant. The first mention of the tithe is in the book of Genesis when Abraham gave a tithe of all he got.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.
~ Genesis 14:18-20
Long before the Mosaic covenant was established, Abraham had become a tither. Long before the Levitical priesthood was established, God used a priesthood in the order of Melchizedek to receive a tithe from Father Abraham.
So no, the tithe is not a product of the law of Moses. It was given outside the law of Moses. That is enough reason to continue tithing.
But I have more than one reason for tithing. Here are 13 reasons why I tithe.
13 Reasons Why I Tithe
1. The law of first mention
The law of first mention is one of the techniques we use in interpreting the Bible. Here is how it works – whenever you come across something you are unsure of, just find out when it was first mentioned and, in most cases, you will get the right interpretation from the first time it was mentioned. If we apply the law of first mention on the tithe, we discover that Abraham was the first person to tithe from his income (Genesis 14:18-20).
The interesting bit is, Abraham didn’t tithe because there was a law commanding him to do it. God never asked Abraham for the tithe. Melchizedek just appeared and Abraham intuitively gave him a tenth of everything. And this is the pattern I chose to follow. I do not tithe because God commands me to do it but rather because I want to.
2. Jesus encouraged tithing
Contrary to what some people say, Jesus never taught against tithing. There are two instances in Mathew and in Luke where he rebuked the Pharisees for being too concerned about tithing while they neglected the other parts of the law. While some have interpreted this mean that Jesus was rebuking them for tithing, this is actually untrue. Here is what the scripture says in Mathew;
Yes, woe upon you, Pharisees, and you other religious leaders—hypocrites! For you tithe down to the last mint leaf in your garden, but ignore the important things—justice and mercy and faith. Yes, you should tithe, but you shouldn’t leave the more important things undone. ~ Mathew 23:23
If you pay attention to the wording of the scripture, you will see that Jesus wasn’t telling them to stop tithing. In fact, he told them to continue tithing but to ensure they do not forget the other important things like faith, mercy and justice.
In Hebrews 8, Jesus is described as our high priest. Under the Mosaic covenant, the Israelites would present their tithes to the priests who would then present it to God. As a New Testament believer, I present my tithe to Jesus as my high priest who then presents it to God on my behalf.
3. Tithing is not a debt I owe; it’s a seed I sow
There is a common misconception that the tithe is a debt we owe God. I personally do not tithe because it’s a debt – I always believe my tithe is a seed I sow and not a debt I owe. In Malachi 3:10. The scripture teaches that If I tithe, God will open the windows of heaven. This reveals that the tithe is a seed that has great return. I do not believe in the teaching of “just give without expecting to receive.” No sane farmer sows seed without expecting a harvest. I tithe faithfully because I know that the tithe will unlock God’s blessing until I have more than enough. I know I am not there yet, but I can see the gradual growth and I know it’s just a matter of time before I get there!
4. Tithing is the test of financial stewardship
I believe the tithe is proof of financial stewardship. The Bible teaches that God owns silver and Gold. It teaches that the earth and its fullness belong to him. It teaches that it is him who gives me the power to make wealth. So, every single coin I earn is as a result of his blessing. Whether I got it by using my skill or my connections, the bottom line is it is God who enabled me. So, I view every money I earn as an opportunity to demonstrate my stewardship – and the best way to demonstrate this is through being faithful in my tithe.
5. Tithing is a statement of faith
I do not tithe because I have more money than I need. Even if I was the richest man in the world, I don’t think I would have no use for the money. It is possible to meet all my personal needs until I have no other need but it is not possible to meet all the needs for ministry. My point is, I will always need more money than I currently have. So humanly speaking, it makes no sense to reduce the money I need by 10% every month in the name tithing. But tithing is a statement of faith. Through the tithe, I am telling God that I trust him with finances and I trust that he will multiply my money so that I can have even more in the coming months. And because I tithe as a step of faith, God has continually grown my finances.
6. Tithing is the key to financial prosperity
I can’t stress this point enough – tithing is a kingdom principle of financial prosperity. The people of the world get their wealth through dubious deals and unscrupulous means but the sons of the kingdom get their wealth through appropriating the principles of prosperity laid out in the scriptures. And tithing is the very first principle. That explains why the most prosperous Christians are those who are faithful tithers. John D. Rockefeller was a tither. JC Penny was a Tither. William Colgate was a tither. I could go on but am I sure you get the point. You can argue all day with the theology of tithing but you cannot argue with the results registered by faithful tithers.
7. I tithe as an act of love
I believe that my tithe is not a religious obligation but an act of love. Some Christians tithe because they have been told that God has commanded them to do so. They do it begrudgingly because they fear to get in God’s bad books. But I tithe because I believe giving is always an expression of Love. In John 3:16, scripture teaches that God loved the world so much that he gave his son. Giving is a demonstration of love. Whether I am giving my offering or my tithe, I always do it as a demonstration of my love for God.
8. I don’t substitute my tithe for alms
Some Christians argue that they use their tithe to provide for the needy because they don’t see the point of taking the money to a church that already has too much money. Well, by this argument, you should stop giving completely because God already has too much wealth – he has paved his streets with Gold. Christians who use their tithes to take care of the needy are actually selfish Christians. See, the tithe is not the only giving we should engage in. After giving your tithe, God expects you to continue giving. The tithe is just the bare minimum but God expects you to continue giving. I will not use my tithe as an excuse for not allocating more than 10% of my income for giving. I will give my tithe, I will give my offerings, and I will give my alms.
9. I am not a robber
Malachi 3:8 uses some strong language – it says that those who do not tithe are robbing God. It’s funny and sad at the same time to think that a human can actually rob God. I would never want to be a robber. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lists a group of people who cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Robbers are on this list. I am an inheritor of God’s kingdom. I am not a robber.
10. Tithing is a sign of gratitude and worship
In Genesis 14:20, Abraham had just returned from a battle. He was grateful that God had granted him victory. Melchizedek led him in a worship service by declaring,
“praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Abraham responded by giving a tithe of all. The tithe is a sign of gratitude and worship. I tithe as a way of expressing gratitude to the God who has helped me to make money. I tithe as a sign of gratitude to the blessing that has come my way.
11. Tithing is a way of honoring God
In Proverbs 3:9, the scripture tells us to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our increase. I always view my tithe as a first fruit because whenever I get money, I set apart my tithe first before I use the remainder to pay my bills. I put God first in my finances first – by always giving the tithe first. I do not give tithe as an afterthought but as the very first thing as soon as I earn money. So I consider my tithe my first fruit. And I believe there is no greater way to honor God than giving him a tenth of all I get even before I think of spending it on anything else.
12. The tithe is the Lord’s
In Leviticus 27:30, Moses reminds Israel that they should tithe because the tithe belongs to the Lord. When I saw this scripture, I made up my mind that the tithe will always be the Lords. That is why I cannot use the tithe to pay my bills. That is why I cannot use the tithe to take care of the needy. Yes, I give to the poor but not with tithe money. The tithe is the Lords.
13. Tithing works!
I should have begun with this point because I believe this is the best argument for tithing. I tithe because the tithe works! I have tried not tithing and I know how strained my finances were. And I have tithed for many years now and I know how faithful God has been. There are multiple times when tithing meant I would be left with less money than I need to pay an urgent bill. But I never came late on the bills because God always provided miraculously! Tithing works!
I know a pastor who advised one of his members to try tithing for 2 years without fail. The backstory was, this young man so much in debt that he barely survived. The pastor told him that if he tithed faithfully for 2 years and he was still in debt after that, then he should never tithe again. So, the young man took the challenge. 2 years down the line, the brother was completely out of debt!
I tithe because tithing works! Even if you were to convince me that tithing is not necessary for the new testament believer, I would still continue tithing – because it works!