TITHING – 7th July, 2019.
Tithing is a common practice in the church, and it is a doctrine that is frequently taught from the pulpit, and sometimes quite vigorously, by many. The major question however, that seems to put Christians in separate camps involves whether the Christian should tithe. Should Christians tithe?
Some Christians answer ‘YES.’ Some answer ‘NO.’ Some others say ‘IT IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CONVICTION.’ A person’s understanding of the scripture and the position he holds on this matter determines how he/she treats tithing. Whatever your position, let us study the scriptures together to see what they say and mean about tithing.
What is tithe? Tithe means one tenth of something. Tithing therefore, is the act of giving one-tenth.
In treating this topic, we will, by the grace of God look at the following:
1. Tithing before the Law.
2. Tithing under the Law.
3. Tithing under the New Testament.
Permit me to start with the second point instead of the first, so that we can discuss tithing according to the way it is taught in the church before discussing how it is revealed in the Bible.
1. TITHING UNDER THE LAW – When we refer to the law (Torah), we are talking of the Old Testament in a general sense, but in a stricter sense, it covers the period of Exodus to the time of Christ. A bulk of the messages we read and hear on tithing today fall under the Law. Majority of Christians practise tithing as stipulated under the law. That is why anytime we talk about tithing today, the first thing and biblical passage that comes to mind is Malachi 3:10. Under the law, the first time tithing is recorded is in Leviticus 27:30-34. What does the law say about tithe? If we must answer this question sincerely, then we must consider:
a) What was tithed – crops and livestock (Leviticus 27:30-34; Deut 14:22, 28; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5). What about tithing money? Deut 14:24-26a.
b) How it was tithed – this explains the types of tithes (Deut 14:22, 28; Numbers 18:25-29).
c) Where it was tithed – the people were commanded to bring their tithes, together with their votive and other offerings and first-fruits, to the chosen centre of worship (Deut 12:5-6, 11-13; 14:28; Neh 10:38).
d) Why it was tithed – to make supplies for Levites, widows, orphans, strangers (Deut 26:12; 14:29; 12:7, 12). This is accompanied with a solemn declaration (Deut 26:13).
Tithing under the Law was instituted primarily to provide food for the Levites and Priests who had no inheritance from God (God was their inheritance). The tithe was also used to provide food for the orphans, widows, and foreigners. The process of tithing was procedural in that the people had to recite a declaration and give the tithe specifically and exclusively to the Levite. However, the people in the presence of God also ate the tithe. Another important point about the tithe is that money was not tithed. Tithing was not a tax that was given by the people.