Biblical Generosity, Part 1: Why Tithe?

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This is the first part of a six-part series on Biblical generosity. Our prayer to God and challenge to our people is that every member and regular attender of TCPC be a tithing participant within our congregation. Click here for more information on our vision, goals, budget, and ways to give.

Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.
— Leviticus 27:30

When the Law was given to Moses for the nation of Israel, it included the commandment to tithe; God’s people would give 10% of all earnings to the temple.  In fact, the Old Testament law had tithes for several purposes, such as the support of the priests, for Israel’s festivals, and for the care of the poor. Most estimates have Israelites giving nearly 25% of their income to support the work of Israel.  

Why would God institute a tithe within His law? It would be wrong to view this as merely taxation. In fact, the principal of tithing predates the nation of Israel, going all the way back to Abraham. There was more to the tithe than merely paying the bills of Israel, and this is why it is still important for us today. 

The tithe tells us who owns our money and also keeps us from being owned by our money.

It reminds us that God owns all that we have. As we repeatedly give a portion of our earnings, we are being told, again and again, that it does not belong to us—it belongs to our God. And God has a right to what is His. So as a demonstration of His Lordship over our wealth He continually lays claim to a portion, lest we forget who the true and rightful owner is. 

It also keeps us from being owned by what we have. The Scriptures are clear that money and all that money can provide us are incredibly enticing. In fact, it can be said that idolizing money is the greatest temptation we face. The tithe is God’s primary way to combat these allurements. It is a ritual that continually holds us accountable and keeps us from becoming slaves to our wealth or slaves to the dream of wealth.   

Why is it good for God’s people to tithe? Of course it supports the work of the church, and if God’s people tithed the Church would never lack again. But it’s more than that. It reminds us who owns our money and keeps us from being owned by our money. In this way, tithing isn’t primarily your gift to God. Tithing is God’s gift to you.

- Rev. Robert Cunningham