The mystery of tithing.

I’m very passionate about tithing. Sometimes I’m not incredibly responsible about it, but it’s always something I feel strongly about. Monetary tithing, I mean. There is the thought that you can give your time and your talents, and while this is an essential part of our Christian walk, it is important for us to financially trust in the Lord.

A few years ago I started thinking of how we say “tithes and offering” when we pass around a collection basket at my church. Are these words synonymous? They are not. A tithe is a percentage (10%, traditionally) of your wages/crops/etc. An offering is something offered in worship or devotion, something given as a gift. This is how I’ve come to think of it: a tithe is 10% of what I’ve been given, and an offering is anything that is not that. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put .50 in the basket, I’ve given an offering. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put 1.00 in the basket, I’ve tithed. If I earn $10 babysitting and I put $1.50 in the basket I’ve given my tithe AND an offering.

I love that God doesn’t expect us to give more if he gives us more. Numerically, the number will change, but he just asks for a percentage. and 10%, such an easy number to figure out. The reality of tithing is this: it doesn’t benefit the Lord. He doesn’t need our money. John 21:9-10 says this:

9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Notice what it says in verse 9. There was already fish cooking, and yet Jesus invited Peter & co to bring their fish. Not because he needed it.. but because it was a way for them to present Jesus with part of what he’d given them (they weren’t catching any fish and Jesus was like.. hey put the net on the other side.. then they got a lot of fish). The Lord has all the fish and all the money in the world.. and beyond, because these are not things he HAS to have. God has no use for our money.. he has unlimited resources and chooses to use money to be involved with us.

That said, the benefit of tithing then falls…. on us. I was talking to my [ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL] friend Sarah last week and was telling her how I felt that tithing was essentially buying blessings. I know that when I tithe, God rewards my faithfulness. It’s not always in a monetary return, though. The return has been in: new friends, unexpected money, changes in heart..

My stepmom and my dad are beautiful testimonies of the benefits of tithing. They live so simply; their house is not extravagant, nor their car. If Edna wants to go home to the Philippines, they will eat rice and beans for a month to save money. They went from being a two income household.. to a one income household after my dad hurt his shoulder.. and then Edna got her hours cut. My dad and I were talking about tithing and he said that the first thing Edna does each month is sit down and set aside their tithe. and look at how the Lord blesses them.

One of the biggest misconceptions about tithing, I think, is that God will understand if we choose to meet our basic needs BEFORE we tithe. Tithing is a matter of trust. It’s saying that even if our tithe puts us in a place where we can’t meet our basic needs [which would be food, shelter, resources to work.. gas, bus passes, etc] we trust that if we are responsible with what we have, that God will provide for us. It can be scary, but that’s when miracles happen. We all want miracles, but never to be in a position where we need a miracle. and miracles, really, are those things that happen when our resources are limited and God steps in and says “here, let me take over.”

Anyway. I just love tithing and want to encourage everyone to really make it a discipline. My prayer is that I myself will be more diligent in my tithing. and also. God is so creative. So even if you have no idea how he’s going to bless you or take care of you after you tithe..

be confident in God’s creativity and faithfulness.

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5 thoughts on “The mystery of tithing.

  1. I love love love this! Tithing is sooo important! It’s amazing how God has provided so many opportunities to me, my family, and others when we have been faithful with out tithing.

    One of our family-friends was avoiding tithing when he moved to Washington DC and he and my dad talked and my dad kept reminding him of how important it is. Soon enough, he decided to tithe and within a week or so he was offered a job where he could do exactly what he wanted and got paid a whole lot more! God is so faithful to us.

  2. Pingback: Tithing Us » The mystery of tithing. « just a little bit louder.

  3. It does irk me quite a bit when we come up with our definition for biblical things. The bible never says that the tithe is 10% of one’s earnings. That is so unscriptural! The tithe was THE TENTH of every food produce from WITHIN THE LAND OF ISRAEL! It was something pertinent to the Jewish nation alone!

    You cannot buy God’s blessings by tithing, they are His to give to anyone without a price tag. Please take time to fully study this topic of the tithe and you will discover how it has been misapplied and misconstrued.

  4. Paul talks about setting aside money for the church. Biblically I am not sure that the 10% is important however as sinners it is easy to slide and say I’ve been saving for a new TV and so I’m only going to give what’s leftover this month so I can get my TV. Having a set amount to live by is wise. In my opinion 10% is not too much for a beliver to sacrifice. It costs money to run churches and to provide for those in need. I know how you feel about “buying blessings”, it can sometimes feel like that. We are acustomed to paying money for things in return and in a sense we are being blessed because of our faithfulness, the sacrifice of tithing being a part of that. I thought this was a great topic that we should talk about more often and I appreciate you taking the time and having the courage to speak up about it. It “irks” me when people feel the need to be so negative about something that seems to have been intended as positive.

  5. Now you are saying something completely different. When Paul talked about setting money aside, he did not stipulate a “10%” benchmark. A good look at 2 Cor 8: 10 – 14 tells us how we are encouraged to give and no 10% is mandated as an absolute minimum.

    The tithe was instituted as a form of taxation system with which the public office holders (Levites) were sustained and it was also used to take care of the less privileged within the Jewish community. It comprised of agricultural products from within the land of Israel and was to be collected by the Levites alone and stored in the store houses (Store house does not refer to church or the temple) within the Levite cities. Money was not something you could tithe! If you speak to any Jew today, they will tell you they no longer tithe and any attempt to do so would be a sin because these three things have to happen before you can tithe; 1. It has to be on agricultural produce from within the land of Israel, it has to be collected by a physical descendant of Levi only and it has to be collected at the place God has chosen. In effect, no matter how hard we try what we call tithing is actually just giving 10% of our income because it is impossible to tithe today.

    That being said, the church is gone way overboard with this financing the church thing. People are being made to feel guilty if they decide to take care of their needs and those of their family. There is no balance, we exaggerate and twist scriptures so badly that the truth has been marred by man-made ideas. There is no verse of scripture that says we should give money to God. There are many things God requires from us; money is just not one of them! Worship, praise, your body, your life but not money. When it comes to money, the simple scriptural requirement is; give to meet the needs of the brethren. Hence we see Jesus commend those who clothed the naked, fed the hungry and visited those in prison. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, this you do unto me.” And we also see that the early church took collections to meet the needs of those in their midst. But this is not supposed to be done at your own expense. You have a responsibility to you and your family to ensure their needs not wants (or unnecessary luxuries) are met. Hence the bible says anyone who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel (a very strong word!) and has denied the faith!

    Your giving never commends you to God! That is works mentality! One would be guilty of trying to obtain God’s blessings through acts of piety! If you want to give, give because you want to and not because you are expecting a blessing or trying to fulfil some religious obligation or trying to avert the proverbial “Malachi” curse.

    I have written something detailed on tithing on my blog, feel free to read it and cross check it with the bible and not popular opinion. God bless you.

    http://eliteinchrist.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/why-should-i-tithe-myths-about-tithing/

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