By Jessica Brodie, Crosswalk.com
Six years ago, shortly after we got married, my husband and I started tithing. We weren’t brimming with extra money at the time, but I’d been reading the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus and Deuteronomy. As I read, I kept feeling God nudge me to do as the Israelites had been commanded: Give ten percent of my income to the Lord.
Ten percent felt like a lot, especially as our new marriage meant we now had a blended family of four children in the house. Instead of slipping a twenty-dollar bill in the collection plate as I did before, tithing meant we needed to intentionally calculate ten percent of our income in our monthly household budget, and pay it to the church or a ministry as if it were an actual bill.
Also, I thought my husband would balk at the idea. But he didn’t. In fact, and much to my surprise, he agreed readily.
We haven’t stopped tithing since and never intend to.
Here’s what we’ve learned about tithing and how it can be a powerful act of love toward the Lord.
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What Is Tithing and Where Is It in the Bible?
Tithing isn’t simply donating money to church. The word “tithe” means tenth. In Leviticus 27, during their time in the wilderness, the Law of Moses directs God’s people to give ten percent to the Lord. This was a mandatory act, for as the law explained, it “belongs to the Lord” and “is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). Later, as God was preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, they were instructed to continue tithing in their new home (Deuteronomy 12:6).
The tithe acknowledged that all belonged to God, and they were simply repaying to God what God has already blessed them with.
Even before it was a command, other men of God tithed. In Genesis 14:19-20, we see how Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of his possessions in grateful response to God’s blessing. In Genesis 28:20–22, we see how Jacob pledged a tenth to God.
Later, when tithing had stopped, Nehemiah reestablished the tithe (Nehemiah 10:35-37).
Indeed, the Israelites gave even more than their tithe, for they were also obligated to give even more at certain times of year, such as in honor of religious festivals, when holy structures were built, or in care for widows, orphans, and the poor.
As children of God, we know we belong to God. We know God created the earth and everything in it. All we have comes from God. Tithing to God’s church, then, is the least we can do to honor that.
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Tithing Is an Act of Faith
For my husband and I, tithing can sometimes be an act of faith. There are still times when it pinches to give that ten percent. Maybe I’m saving up to pay for a doctor’s bill or a special trip, or my expenses were higher that month than normal and I really could have used that extra money. But by giving it and feeling the pinch, I’m trusting that God is going to provide for my needs. Basically I’m stepping out in faith, knowing that God will provide for my needs.
God’s words in Malachi 3:10-11 address this, as God commands, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
And in Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Give in faith. You’ll see how God takes care of you.
Tithing Is an Act of Obedience
Tithing is also an act of obedience. I don’t know why God asks us to tithe, but He does. My job is to do God’s bidding with joy, knowing that God is almighty and has a purpose and plan, even when I cannot see that plan. When He asks us to do something, we should do it—period.
As the apostle Paul writes in his second letter to the church in Corinth, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Give happily because God asks us to.
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Tithing Is a Way of Loving Others
Tithing is a practical and tangible act of love, also. When we tithe, we are providing funds that a church or ministry can then use to do God’s work directly in the world, whether that is discipleship or evangelism through worship services or feeding the hungry or anything else they do in the name of the Lord.
In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus urges, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When we freely give our tithe to a church or ministry to use for the Lord, we’re making an investment in God’s people and God’s house. We’re loving others in a way that can truly help not only their bodies but their souls.
Tithing Is an Act of Humility
When we tithe, it’s also a way to show humility, acknowledging that this money belongs to God. When we give it back to Him, we’re claiming Him as our boss, our lord, our master. Essentially, we’re saying that God is the one who gave us the gifts and intelligence and skills that we use to do the work we do. It is not our money, something that belongs to us or something we earned on our own.
We receive money for doing things, but we have the ability to do those things through help that God bestowed in the first place. As we’re told in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
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Tithing Is Good for My Marriage
Finally, we’ve learned that tithing is good for our marriage. It acknowledges that no matter what plans we have for ourselves as individuals, as a couple, or as a family, our plans factor in the Lord. It’s not an “us-centered” marriage but a God-centered marriage. It’s a project we are devoted to together. Together, we give cheerfully, knowing that this money—a gift from God in the first place—is going to help further God’s kingdom on earth. In what can be an all-about-me world, this is a healthy recognition that God is sovereign, not me.
There are other reasons tithing can be a powerful way to love God and love others, but these are my favorite. What do you think? Do you tithe, and if so, does tithing bless you?
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