8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
What does the Bible actually say about tithing and offering? I'll give you a hint, Malachi 3:8-10 is often quoted out of context. Spoiler alert: you are NOT cursed if you aren't giving 10% of your income to a man made institution. The main question we’re asking today are what are tithes? Why do we tithe?
Tithing before Israel
- : a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment
- : the obligation represented by individual tithes
- : TENTH broadly : a small part
- : a small tax or levy
Tithing in Israel
- There are actually 3 types of tithes
- Tithe for festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-27)
- We just talked about the feasts, the Israelites were told to contribute food to the temple which was consumed during these feasts
- The Levites were not given an inheritance (Deuteronomy 9:10)
- The tithe was not because they were priests, but because they did not have land for livestock or to harvest
- This tithe maintained the poor: orphans, widows, and strangers
- Many think the tithe of the Levites is what we give to the pastor
- Levite priest is not the same as a pastor.
- The Levites represent a bloodline; most pastor's today are not from that bloodline
- The Levitical priesthood was rendered unnecessary by Christ, who has ascended as our High Priest (1 Timothy 2:5)
- All believers are priests in the kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:5-9)
- The reason the Israelites were tasked with giving to the Levites is because they were not given a share of the land; they had no way to harvest crops or raise livestock.
More Bible Verses on Giving
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
- Hebrews 7
- Mark 12:32-34
- Luke 21:1-4
- Luke 18:9-14
- Acts 20:28-35
- Christ tells the Pharisees that justice, mercy, and faith are more important than tithing (Matthew 23:23)
Sow a Seed?
- Prosperity gospel pastors teach this idea of "sowing a seed." You will hear people with this idea that giving money to God (re: the church) is like an investment. They believe that giving to a building will benefit them and that is why they give.
- We should not give with the expectation of receiving! That is not what God means by a cheerful giver.
A little more on the history of modern tithing
- It wasn't made mandatory in Christianity until the 8th century (prior to that it was always offering)
- Chapter eight of Pagan Christianity does a good job of summarizing how clergy salaries and how tithing became a requirement/custom in Christianity
- Beyond Tithing is a book on the history of tithing (I haven't read it yet but I've seen it quoted in many places)
- God command the Israelites to tithe to provide for the vulnerable people in their community
- Similarly, if we love God, we will take care of His people (Matthew 25:31-35)
- Some of us have more and God may expect more from us than those who have less (Luke 21:1-4)
- God doesn't need money; He wants you to use what you have to take care of His creation
- What does it say about us if we blindly give money to a building but refuse to give to our neighbor?
- How many grandiose churches have you seen in decrepit neighborhoods? Do you think God, Who sacrificed His only Son so that the Holy Spirit could dwell in us and turn us into living temples, wants His people to suffer so that a building can be top of the line?
- Tithe in the Old Testament was food; your offering can be whatever God is calling you to give: time, money, skills, etc.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
References and Footnotes
- "Tithe". Merriam-Webster; visited April 7, 2020
- Frank Viola and George Barna. Pagan Christianity; visited April 7, 2020
- Tithe. Encyclopædia Brittanica. February 9, 2016
- Stuart Murray. Beyond Tithing. December 19, 2011