I was questioned the other day about where it is in the Bible regarding tithing 1/10th of your income. I found it in Numbers 18, but was wondering if it was in the New Testament as well. And if it says 1/10th of “your income", specifically.
I would appreciate your insight into this, so I can "argue" back accurately. Thanks.
Answer: Dear Reader,
1. The word 'tithe' literally translates, 'a tenth part.' It is a self-defining word. The following notes accompany the word 'tithe' in Strong's Dictionary:
1) tithe, tenth part
1a) tenth part
1b) tithe, payment of a tenth part
-Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
2. The concept of tithing is established in the Old Testament way before the law was given: Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in Genesis chapter 14. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is revealed as a priest according to the priesthood of Melchizedek. (See Hebrews 5:10) Therefore, as children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:7) we tithe to Jesus through His church.
Many issues of faith are established in the Old Testament and carried into the New Testament. Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matt 23:23) And in Luke: "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Luke 11:42
Notice in both cases the Scripture quotes Jesus as saying, "These you ought to have done." Jesus validates the tithe as the appropriate measure of giving. As a matter of fact, the tithe (10th part) is the universal measuring stick of biblical giving.
3. Actually, the New Testament standard of giving goes way beyond the tithe. If we were going to use the New Testament to determine the appropriate amount to give we should consider Acts 4:32-36: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common...Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need."
How's that for a measuring stick... Giving everything!
4. Tithing is only a dilemma for people who give less than 10%. I have never met a person who gives more than 10% of their income to the church complain about the teaching on tithing. Only people who begrudge God His portion are offended and become legalistic. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 (NKJV)
Because the Old Testament clearly establishes ten percent as an acceptable measure of giving to God, the Church has recognized this amount as a bare minimum measure for a grateful child of God under the New Covenant. This is a wonderful and right use of Scripture.
5. Leviticus reveals the tithe as the Lord's property: 'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's. It is holy to the LORD. Leviticus 27:30 Because we monetize wealth today and measure it in dollars rather than land and goods, the principle carries over to the money system.
6. In the New Testament, Judas, the betrayer, robbed from Jesus (John 12:6) by stealing money from the box. Church members today rob from Jesus treasury by refusing to tithe:
"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. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:8-12 (NKJV)
Tithing is how the church is funded. It is God's plan to finance the organized establishment of the New Testament Church. People who consider themselves committed Christians and belong to churches but do not tithe are robbing God. It is no different than sneaking into a movie theater without paying admission or sneaking into a college class without paying tuition.
7. Why don't more people, if they are truly Christians, ask the opposite question... "Why does the Church only ask for a measly ten percent? Doesn't the pastor want us to be really blessed?" Consider the following:
"And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6
The very reasonable amount of ten percent is used in the New Testament because it was established in the Old Testament and not specifically abolished by Jesus. The principle of 'an eye for an eye' was established in the Old Testament but abolished by Jesus and replaced with 'turn the other cheek,' which is much harder. If Jesus were to abolish any Old Testament principle, He would replace it with something harder, not easier!
8. Tithing is not 'works righteousness' but the biblically established expectation of minimum giving. It is the 'outworking' of our faith. "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:17-20
I hope this helps. This is just a brief synopsis of a very important subject.
Blessings, Pastor Bob