Have you ever been to a church that not only encourages but requires you to tithe? We still see this Old Testament law being applied today. Is this a command that still applies to Christians? Should Christians tithe?
What is a Tithe?
Most Christians today understand a tithe to be giving a tenth of your income as your offering. The first time we see this concept in scripture comes from Genesis 14, when Abram gives a tithe to Melchizedek. Some use this to argue that it predates the Mosaic law and thus applies universally. Leviticus 27 introduces the tithe as an actual command. However, the command for Israelites was not just to save 10% as an offering to God. They actually had multiple tithes, giving towards the Levites, various festivals, and as their offering. Ultimately they were giving much more than 10% every year. However, much of that was closer to paying taxes than charitable giving. The tithe was not a voluntary offering but paying back to God what was legally owed.
Are We Still Required to Tithe?
Whenever looking at an Old Testament command, we must always ask if this was only meant to be part of the old covenant law or a timeless command for all believers. With this one, I think it can safely be said that it does not apply to modern Christians as a command. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see Jesus or the apostles reinforcing the need to give precisely a tenth. Instead, we see statements like “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).
But Should Christians Tithe?
Just because we are not required to tithe does not mean it is a bad idea. Plenty of Christians use this as their benchmark when planning out their gifts. Some can and do give more. Others justifiably give less. Christians who struggle to get by and feed their families could understandably give less, especially if doing so would result in them needing support from their church. In that situation, the command to take care of one’s family would be far more critical than tithing.
So should Christians tithe? Sure, if you can. Do not feel obligated to, though, and certainly do not shame others into doing so.
Discuss your thoughts for this post on our Facebook Group here.