10 reasons why tithing matters
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”
Tithing is the practice of giving one-tenth (10%) of one’s income to the Lord. Old Testament believers were required to tithe as a matter of law. New Testament believers may practice tithing as an expression of their Christian freedom.
Lutherans have sometimes hesitated to commend the practice of tithing. Why? Because Lutherans are careful to avoid making rules and regulations where the gospel has given us freedom. Lutherans are also careful to avoid saying less than what God says on an issue. It is certainly true: Christ has fulfilled the tithe as a matter of law. But it is also true that Jesus may inspire our tithing as a matter of grace. What does the Bible teach about giving in general and tithing in particular?
1. Tithing can help us recognize God as the source of all things.
“My car… My house… My children… My shoes…” Americans love to use the word my to describe their possessions. Tithing helps us recognize that all things are truly his: The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters (Psalm 24:1-2). Americans love to speak of “self-made millionaires.” In reality, no one is self-made. They are God-made: But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). Tithing reminds us the source of all things is God.
2. Believers practiced tithing long before God commanded tithing.
God’s promises worked powerfully in the lives of Abraham and Jacob. In thanks, they offered God a tithe of their possessions: 10 reasons why tithing matters “Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek the Priest) a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). Jacob vowed, “of all that you give me I will give you a tenth” (Genesis 28:22).
3. God commanded Old Testament believers to tithe.
In an age when most people lived a hand-to-mouth existence, God commanded his Old Testament believers to offer the tithe as an exercise of faith (Leviticus 27:30). In our age, Americans live in the most affluent country in the history of the world! Could we, just maybe, be in a prime position to give more than a tithe? We are free from the law of the tithe. Could Jesus’ grace therefore inspire us to out-give what was once required by law? You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11).
4. Tithing helps make giving a key priority.
God is many places; may second place never be one of them! Some worship God by giving more than a tithe. Others – due to circumstances known to God – worship God even while offering less. Either way, a faith-filled heart puts the Lord first. The discipline of tithing can help make giving a priority.
5. Tithing helps us revere God.
Moses told the people of Israel that through tithing they would learn to revere God (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). It helps us to revere him as our gracious Father in heaven – not just with words, but in actions.
6. Jesus, born under law, upheld the practice of tithing.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give
a tenth of your spices… But you have neglected the more important
matters of the law… You should have practiced the latter, without
neglecting the former (Matthew 23:23). Jesus didn’t tell the Pharisees
to stop tithing. He did command them to start loving! It was a classic case of do the one, but don’t leave the other undone.
7. Tithing helps show gratitude to God.
“What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me” (Psalm 116:12)? Jesus can never be repaid with gold or silver for his holy, precious, blood. But generous gifts are a gospel-inspired response to the treasure we have in Christ. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?
8. Tithing helps establish a habit of giving.
Paul wrote, On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income (1 Corinthians 16:2). Regular tithing prevents giving from becoming something that is “hit or miss.”
9. God promises to bless those who give faithfully.
God promised his Old Testament believers that he would pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Malachi 3:10). God has graciously given us the gift of his Son. He is a God who knows how to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11)!
10. Tithing gives glory to God and shows love to our neighbor.
Tithing is certainly not the only method of showing God our thanks for Christ. It is, however, a method that has been freely used by God’s people for over 4,000 years. In so doing, God has been praised, the gospel has been furthered, the Church has prospered, the needy have been helped, and greed has given way to generosity!