Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to give the first part of our resources to God as an expression of honor and gratitude. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9–10, emphasis added). One way to give of our “firstfruits” is to give a tithe, or the first ten percent of our income.
Understand the Biblical Basis for Tithing
Tithing is mentioned throughout the Old Testament, particularly when God commissioned the Israeli tribe of Levi to serve by caring for the tabernacle and providing spiritual leadership for the nation of Israel. Since the tribe of Levi was given these two unique responsibilities, God did not assign to them a portion of land as He did to the other tribes of Israel, but He instructed the rest of the Israelites to bring tithes of their increase to provide for the priests and Levites. (See Numbers Chapter 18.)
In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the practice of tithing (see Matthew 23:23), and the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to give to those in need and to those who were ministering in the Gospel (see II Corinthians 9:6–15). When you tithe today, you enable those whom God has called to serve as pastors, missionaries, and ministry personnel to faithfully build up the Church and expand the Kingdom of God.
Put It into Practice
Tithing is one way to worship God—to honor Him as your provider and to remind yourself that all of your resources belong to Him and are provided through His grace. As you give Him that first ten percent of your income, you set your course to honor God in the way you handle the rest of your finances.
What to Give
The tithe is ten percent of your gross income. In addition to giving ten percent of your monetary income, consider giving God the firstfruits of other resources as well. You can give the firstfruits of your time by spending the first part of each day with the Lord in a personal quiet time. You can set aside the first day of each week for worship and rest. You can also give of your talents and abilities through service to your church and community.
When to Give
Consider your pay schedule and establish a regular time to give as your resources increase. This habit allows you to regularly remind yourself of God’s faithfulness and to express gratitude to Him by giving to meet the needs of others. The early church set aside the first day of the week to take a collection of offerings as God had prospered them. (See I Corinthians 16:1–2.)
Where to Give
When possible, the tithe should be given to your local church to carry out vital church ministries. Not only do tithes support your pastor and ministry staff who actively serve you, but they also go toward caring for the needy, reaching into the community, and getting the Gospel out to non-Christians. As God prospers and directs you, gifts beyond the tithe can be given to other known needs and ministries that are advancing the Gospel.
How to Give
Your motives for giving are important to God. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:7–8, emphasis added). The tithe should always be motivated by love rather than a sense of duty (see Luke 11:42). Love is giving to meet others’ needs. Also, when we give secretly and in faith, the Lord has promised to care for our needs and our rewards will be eternal in nature (see Matthew 6:1–4). Give cheerfully, lovingly, and generously, with the expectation that God will faithfully supply whatever you need to abound in good works!
Grow in the Fear of the Lord
The practice of tithing provides a regular reminder of your dependence on God. In good times, tithing helps you remember that God is the source of all blessings, and it allows you to demonstrate your gratitude for His care. In hard times, tithing motivates you to remember God’s faithfulness, and it enables you to demonstrate trust in God to provide for all of your current and future needs.
In Deuteronomy 14:22–23, God instructed the Israelites: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed . . . . of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.” Whatever your current situation, tithing is a key to learning to live in the fear of God, and God has promised to give wisdom and blessing to those who fear Him. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
Store Up Treasure in Heaven
As Christians, we are encouraged to set our hearts on what truly matters, not on the frivolous things of the earth. (See Colossians 3:1–2.) Jesus challenged His disciples, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21, emphasis added).
Giving a tithe and beyond are ways that you can honor God and be a part in meeting the needs of others. As we obey the Lord by faith in this area of our lives, He also promises to pour out His blessings upon us. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).