There are many people that ask about the definition of the tithe. In the broadest sense, the tithe definition means a tenth of one’s increase – Deuteronomy 14:22. That is the simplest definition of the tithe accepted by a majority of the population. Although, there are many more branches of the definition that explain the tithe even further. For instance, some would say that a true tithe is given to the local church. Others debate on whether it is off your gross increase or your net increase. These branches, along with many more, of the tithing definition exist due to how one interprets specific scenarios in the bible. For example in Malachi 3:10, the tithe was delivered to the local storehouse, and in Proverbs 3:9 we are to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our increase.
Scholars and theologians constantly debate about the tithe definition. There is much debate largely because tithing was detailed in the Old Testament under the nation of Israel, and yet this prescription was not outlined for the Church in the New Testament. There seems to be many holes and many opportunities for personal interpretation of how we should prescribe the tithe into the New Testament Church.
The definition of the tithe was very simple and plainly laid out for Israel. They were to gather their harvest and count the tithe out from what they’ve gathered. For instance, if you had 100 apples, you must count them out from one-to-ten, and the tenth one you set aside for the Lord – Leviticus 27:32. As is stated in the previous verse, it did not matter if that tenth one was bruised or under-sized, you still set it aside. Note, that you set the tenth one aside, not the first one aside.
There were other rules under the tithe definition. First, the tithe generally went to the Levites, and in turn the levites gave a tenth of their tenth to the priestly line for the work of the temple. Next, there were generally three different “types” of the tithe. first, was the poor tithe – Deuteronomy 26:12. Second, was the feast tithe – Deuteronomy 14:22-23. Third, was the Levitical tithe – Numbers 18:24. Practically, the tithe included the poor and the Levites all the time, but those are generally how the tithe is categorized. The feast tithe was the most unique and was consumed by the whole nation of Israel as a feast celebration.
Most people argue that the total amount of tithes given by Israel equaled over 23%. I don’t follow that logic, just for the simple fact that when the bible says 10% of all your increase, generally it means just 10%. Maybe that’s too simple minded? I don’t know.
Now that we have an abridged version of the tithe definition for Israel, what about the definition for the Church? Truthfully, you are asking the wrong person. I feel the definition of the tithe for the church is far more complicated than the IRS tax code. Like i said above, the definition of tithing for the New Testament Church has many holes and opportunities for personal interpretation. I’m of the persuasion that it doesn’t belong in the Spirit-led Church anyway. I know. . . I know what you’re saying, how can the Church operate without the tithe? Well, we obviously know how to operate without Levites, so i think we can survive without their salary requirements.
The Church operates under the capacity of the Holy Spirit in tune with the principles of God’s word. I realize that we need to understand the definition of a principle but we’ll make that for another post. In the end, we should all give willingly, cheerfully and liberally.
I know this was a quick synopsis of the definition of tithing, but without writing a few chapters and without a few hours, this seems to work out fine. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas that i missed that describes the tithe definition, we need to hear them. Please share them below.