We are starting our series of posts called “Tithing on Trial” and begin with this argument defending tithing.
There is no place in the Bible where it says to give less than a tithe.
There are plenty of examples in scripture where the Israelites gave an offering or a sacrifice that was less than 10% of their increase. To say that there is no place in the bible where it says to give less than 10% is a closed-minded and ignorant statement.
If we want to get technical about giving, we should remind ourselves that there is no place in the bible where it encourages us to offer less than 100%. If you want to dissect this even further, God doesn’t require us to give back 100%, he requires us to give back 100% plus interest. We can see this concept in the parable of the bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30. “…Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest…”
In this parable a master leaves three servants entrusted with his riches while he’s away on a journey. When he comes back, the master finds that two of the servants give back even more than what was given to them, but finds the third servant returning only 100% what he was given. Although this parable is ultimately about lost souls, we can reflect on the implications this has on stewardship in general. This parable shines new light into my heart and brings conviction about how i should truly view stewardship and giving.
9 Occurrences Where Giving Was Less than 10% in the Old Testament
- Abraham – Gave from the spoils of war and not a tenth from his own wealth. (Hebrews 7:4)
- Israel – They were only required to offer 1/500 of the spoils of war. (Numbers 31:9, 27-29)
- The poor – They received but never gave from their gifts. (Nehemiah 10:38)
- Occupational income (Not including farming and herding) – Doctors, Lawyers, Carpenters, etc didn’t tithe from their increase. (Leviticus 27)
- First fruit offerings – This included a small portion of first of the crop. This was the first offering of the crops as well as the best and was less than a tithe. (Exodus 23:16)
- High Priests – The Levites tithed to the house of Aaron, but what did the house of Aaron give from the tithe they received? As far as I know, it wasn’t a tithe. (Numbers 18:8-20)
- Temple Tax – Only a half Shekel was used for the maintenance of the Temple. The Bible states, “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less” (Exodus 30:13-16)
- Herdsmen – Every tenth animal was given as a tithe, this means if a farmer had 9 cows, he was commanded to give 0%. If he had 19 cows, he gave 5.3% etc. (Leviticus 27:30-33)
- Promised Land – The Israelites gave no tithes from animals or agriculture they raised outside the promised land of Israel (Deuteronomy 12:5)
A misconception about tithing is the belief that everyone was required to give tithes off everything. The Bible repeatedly clarifies that the tithe was only given from the crops or animals, which means that tithes were not given off of wages earned from other occupational incomes. Bankers, lawyers, doctors, blacksmiths and carpenters did not give a single cent from their occupational income. On the other hand if they garnished an increase from their herds or from their personal crops, they were to give the tenth one to God. One can only conclude that some carpenters may not have tithed at all if they never had crops or animals.
If you read every single bible verse about tithing from the time it was commanded to the end of scripture, you will see that neither money nor other goods were involved in tithing. Even when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in the New Testament about tithing (Matthew 23), he confirmed that herbs and spices from the garden were to be tithed upon.
Many people also forget that the poor received the tithe; they didn’t give it (Deuteronomy 14:28,29). There is no scripture stating that the poor must give back 10% of what was donated to themselves. As you can see, this is another group of people that not only gave less than 10% of their increase but in reality were benefactors without even being a contributor.
I’m sure there are some of you who think I am looking at tithing legalistically, and I’m focusing on the legalities of the Mosaic law instead of tithing under grace. There is a pre-mosaic example of Abraham’s tithe which didn’t include animals or crops that we can look at. But let’s compare scripture with scripture and really understand whether or not Abraham’s example prior to the law sets the tone for tithing throughout scripture. Let’s read Numbers 31:25-30, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Count up the plunder that was taken–of man and beast–you and Eleazar the priest and the chief fathers of the congregation; and divide the plunder into two parts, between those who took part in the war, who went out to battle, and all the congregation. And levy a tribute for the LORD on the men of war who went out to battle: one of every five hundred of the persons, the cattle, the donkeys, and the sheep; take [it] from their half, and give [it] to Eleazar the priest as a heave offering to the LORD. And from the children of Israel’s half you shall take one of every fifty, drawn from the persons, the cattle, the donkeys, and the sheep, from all the livestock, and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.'”
I know it is kind of a lengthy passage, but in summary, God just told Israel to divide the spoils of war in half, take 1/500 of the first half and give it to the family of the high priest, and then take 1/50 of the second-half and give it to the Levites. For those of us who are bad at math, I had a genius figure this out for me, and it seems the Israelites gave 2.005% of the spoils of war to God. So, in other words, this is a clear example where Israel was commanded to give less than 10% of their increase.
Now that the evidence has been given in this court of law, it is your turn to decide; Does the Bible allow less than 10% of your increase- Guilty or not guilty?
YOU BE THE JUDGE
Anthony Fierro says
Our example is Christ, and Him crucified…the ultimate example of giving 100%.
We squawk at 10%.
Jared Brian says
No. I’m sorry. . . We squawk at anything outside of 100%, spirit-led freewill, sacrificial giving. We squawk at mechanical benchmarks performed by legalistic rituals. We squawk at laws, rules, and regulations that do not clean the inside of the cup
Mercy Toralba says
In the OT they used barter trade. I haven’t read any one in the Old Testament people who went to the Office or making business.Their source of income came from the land’s harvest so God demanded them to give the 10 percent of what they harvested. We are now in the New Testament time and what are the sources of the income of the people? they work and
the employers pay the salary.Others have their own business.
So according to my conviction,I gave the 10% of my salary because I am earning a living
through my service not the crops I harvest.Take note also, I haven’t read anything in the Ot that only those farmers will give the 10 percent
Mamatu Zwane says
amen to that.
Colorado Strong says
They had money then. Shekels. Read your bible. http://www.mythofthetithe.org
Wangchai Vang says
I believe the only way God will bless us is to give what God required, if you trusted God enough you welling to give to the Lord, but if you don’t than you are not. Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matth 6:19-21). This mean if you trusted the Lord enough, you will have no problem go give tithe to the Lord, remember what Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. May our God bless to whom tithe to the Lord.
Constance Dobbins Lowery says
Mamatu Zwane says
to Mercy Toralba and Wangchai, i could’nt have put this better myself. Just as I thought when I was reading this article that we dont have crops and livestock ti tithe with, we make a living by going to work using our proffessions. Thank you for the emphasis
Elias Kimathi says
10% OF OUR earnings n produce as the bible states.Read the bible with pray.n understand.let us not complicate the matter.
I agree about reading the Bible because numbers 18:26 clearly states why 10% is a part of tithing……
“Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.”
Eric Edwards says
I will say this… I love tithing. Lately money has been tight (because my business tends to slow down in June and July)so…TEMPORARILY I had to cut some or I would be borrowing from family. I am trying to get back to the full 10% or above though. God blesses it when you give period! Believe that! I don’t believe it’s sin not to tithe but I do believe giving helps bring our hearts close to God.
The most important part of it is to give to God before you pay anything else even before you buy a soda or a lunch. That teaches us to put God first and that’s what he wants….OUR LOVE. He doesn’t need our money. God loves a cheerful giver. Amen!
Sharon Gibbly-Mooney says
You are Jewish then , huh ? As they were the only ones required to tithe. You would rather believe a LIE rather than believe YOU have been LIED to.
Legalism/blindness is ultimately a choice. It’s not difficult to understand that where our treasure is, so our hearts will be also. So if we don’t see ourselves as stewards of ALL of God’s resources He has provided for us, including our wages, then we are blind to the reality of what it means to be “of Christ”. To segregate giving by “loving” a 10% OT religious practice is idolatry at worst, especially when it impacts the admonition to provide for your family and those under your direct care (“worse than an infidel” comes to mind). What we are called to is to follow the Holy Spirit’s direction to us personally in regards to ALL of the resources he has provided to fulfill the purposes He reveals to you personally. This practically means there is no basis for directing anyone in the church to give, other than being transparent with the needs of the church and allowing God to confirm or deny the alleged need through the elective responses of the members. To do otherwise is to engage in spiritual abuse of Christ’s followers and reveal questionable motivations. The “tithe” has done more to promote the reputation of the church as a “club” or social organization” rather than the body of Christ through this one ritual practice that is so obviously convoluted, self-serving and unsupported through good exegesis of Scripture.
Not a Simp like Jim says
Jim even your name says that you are a Simp. Only JEWS that raised animals or crops were required to tithe on those items only. The tithe was NOT for the Gentile you SIMP. You have been LIED to by a flatulence filled flock fleecing fellow that tells you the tithe is on money and you are too much of a Simp to read the bible on your own to understand.
I have struggled about this tithing 10% for years , I prayed constantly for conviction .I don’t believe that God requires a certain percent , nor does it mean to give it all to the church .We give to individuals whom we know need a hand . We give to charities of our choice , we give our time and talent . Am I wrong ?
If our giving is to “receive a blessing” – could this be tantamount to attempting to manipulate God to receive His “blessings”, a sort of “pay for play” scheme? We run the race for the prize (quoting from Paul the Apostle), which is not an earthly crown, but an eternal one. Running the race is a good analogy of how all of our strength is to be used in the race – both mind and body. Who does the race ultimately benefit? If it is our eternal position in Christ, then the deception that serving Christ by providing 10% of our income to a local church is serving God falls way short of what should be our response to God’s indescribable gift to us. Give to the local church but be careful in interpreting that as a biblical requirement for one who serves Christ. The sins of pride and lack of faith are tightly woven into the idea that there is a tithe requirement for those who follow Christ. The greater biblical admonition seems to be that we give liberally (since He liberally gave to us), and that giving is not limited to our wealth, and it certainly is not limited to the local church.
FARMER'S WIFE says
Thank you. Today I had a fellowship with a Christian Mom who was filled with guilt for not giving her tithes. She’s a young mom with a baby and her husband recently lost his job. They have a little sideline here and there, but barely enough to cover their basic needs. They don’t have their own home and live under her father’s house. I give 10% because I have work, and earn enough to support my family’s needs. I don’t believe the 10% is an absolute rule like most church preach and I’m glad this post is online.
Tithing was FOOD not MONEY Where do you sacrifice the Ox and goats ? Tithing is the price you pay for Biblical Ignorance. Here it is before your eyes and you still put yourself under the law. Why ?
I’d probably give the church ten percent if those very same leaders don’t own houses like the Levites, or degrees, or cars, and the luxuries of modern life, while most people who are in need in the church don’t have any of these, and yet these very same leaders would require 10% anyway.
It’s also in the Bible that those who don’t work, don’t eat.
This was by Paul. Paul was a preacher, and he made tents for a living. And yet when he got a donation, he didn’t use it for himself, even if it were basic necessities, but gave it to those who needed it more( like poor Gentile orphans and widows who believed).
If you have more than enough, giving is good. But for people who struggle, especially food etc, they should be the recipient of the tithe. Love your neighbor as yourself.
forgot to put the verse for Paul
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
As a low income senior I need the faith that wilderness travelers had regarding earthly obligations. SS takes more than 10% of monthly income & prices are rising steadily. I love giving – only pleasant expediture but I do not give a total of 10%. Guess I need radical faith .