Biblical Advice About Tithing
Today I got an email asking about tithing. It’s such an important question that I’m going to devote this post to it. Here’s the question:
I would like to understand the commandment in Malachi 3:10 about tithes and offerings. Is God only going to bless me when I tithe and curse me when I don’t? I want to tithe but my finances are so bad I’m not able to now. Based on this verse I feel guilty and am concerned God is going to curse me.
First, all of the Bible is for us to learn from but not all of it is directed to us. Malachi 3 isn’t written to anyone today. Tithing is part of the Old Testament (OT) Law. If we think the tithing commandment applies to us, then to be consistent all 613 commandments in the OT apply to us. No one believes that today. We can still learn from and benefit from this Scripture.
Since this command about tithing isn’t written to us, the blessings and curses related to tithing don’t apply to us either. God is not going to curse you if you don’t tithe.
The Principles Of Tithing And Giving
The principle of tithing isn’t carried over to the New Testament (NT) but the principle of giving is. Here’s how the principle of giving in the NT replaces tithing in the OT.
- We’re responsible to God to use our finances wisely Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus says giving is part of that responsibility Matthew 6:2. Our giving is to be secret because God is the only one who needs to know about it Matthew 6:3-4. There should be no peer pressure to give, just the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
- Giving is to be voluntary and cheerful. This is perhaps the most important principle. In the OT tithing was commanded. It was an obligation. That’s not true today. We’re to give out of gratitude 2Corinthians 9:7. If you aren’t giving cheerfully then stop until you can. God doesn’t need your money. He wants your faith and gratitude.
- We’re to practice proportional giving. Give as your ability allows. In the OT it was strictly 10%. In the NT it can be less or more depending upon your ability and your circumstances Luke 21:1-4; 2Corinthians 8:11–15.
- Give to support local churches 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and ministries outside of our churches Philippians 4:16–18. Make a priority of giving to those in need Galatians 6:8-10, the poor, widows and orphans Matthew 6:2, James 1:27.
- God promises a blessing for giving Luke 6:38; 2Corinthians 9:6–9, Matthew 6:3-4. This is NOT a promise of financial blessing as many people would have you think. It could be but it may not be. God will bless you in the way He chooses. I like the sound of that!.
My Personal Practice Of Giving
I was in my late 20’s when I first learned the joy of giving. I had not been walking closely with God. I made some bad business decisions and ended up seriously in debt. God used the debt to get my attention and draw me back to Him. As I walked closer to God I struggled with how much to give. Every penny other than my basic needs went to pay off the debt. It looked like it would take 10 to 20 years to pay it off. In faith I made the decision to begin to give even though it would slow down paying off my debt. The most amazing thing happened. God gave me a joy in giving I’d never before experienced. And, my debt did NOT go away! That’s right, there was no quick amazing miracle. God did provide however and after a few short years of faithful living He paid off my debt.
Since then my wife and I have used the principle of giving 10% as a starting point. Yes, there have been times when things have been difficult financially and we didn’t give that much. In the times of plenty it’s been our joy to give more than 10%.
What is your experience of giving?
Is there something about which you’d like biblical advice? If so, post your question below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.