There is no argument when it comes to giving to God. It all belongs to Him – ALL OF IT – period. (Psalm 24:1) When King David and all his people had given so willingly, generously and sacrificially to build God’s temple, He said to God, “Who am I, and what is my people that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:14). David knew what most people today still don’t get: we never give God anything of ours. Everything we have came from Him.
Mark Batterson, in his excellent book, ALL IN, writes: “I cannot prove this quantitatively, but I know it’s true: the more you give away, the more you will enjoy what you have. If you give God the tithe, you’ll enjoy the 90 percent you keep 10 percent more. You’ll also discover that God can do more with 90 percent than you can do with 100 percent … Most of us spend most of our lives accumulating the wrong things. We’ve bought into the consumerist lie that more is more. But in God’s upside-down economy, our logic is backward. You ultimately lose whatever you keep and you ultimately keep whatever you lose for the cause of Christ.”
Jack Graham, who pastors the great Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, said, “The purpose of tithing is to teach us to put God first in our lives. God doesn’t need our money. Instead, He wants what our money represents: our priorities, passions, purposes. Make a commitment to tithe and dedicate yourself to it. And more than anything … trust God and let Him prove His promises.”
Tithing is giving back to God 10% of whatever He blesses us with financially. God said, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” (Malachi 3:10/NIV1984)
Dr. Charles Stanley explains the storehouse generally meant “His tabernacle or temple in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament. We are to give our tithes wherever we regularly worship the Lord – not only to care for the church building and those who work there but to support the expansion of His kingdom by spreading the gospel and ministering to the community for His name’s sake.”
Tithing is not the finish line in giving. It’s the starting line. Every Christian ought to at least be a faithful tither of everything God gives them. It’s hard to “run the race” that has been set before you (Hebrews 12:1) if you haven’t begun to trust God with your finances. Why is it so easy for us to trust God to save us? But, when it comes to trusting Him with our money (more accurately, the money He has given us), we struggle? Especially when He’s told us to bring the whole tithe and “test Him” to see if He won’t “open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing” that we won’t have room enough for it.
You may have heard arguments against tithing. Here are 6 arguments FOR tithing:
(1) The LOGICAL argument.
Consider the logic. In Matthew 5:27, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus raised the standard to a higher level than before.
In Matthew 5:21, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Once again, Jesus raised the standard to a higher level than before.
Over and over again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say to you,” and He raised everything to a higher level than before. So what makes people think, when it comes to tithing, Jesus would now say, “I understand about the tithe, giving 10% back to God in the Old Testament. But here’s how it works now: you just decide whatever you want to give and whatever you want to give is fine with Me.”
Some will quote 2 Corinthians 9:7 where Paul said, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” as their response. However, the context is an over and above, “love offering” for the poor saints in Jerusalem. In the case of love offerings above and beyond the tithe, each one should decide in his own heart, and we should give cheerfully and generously as we are able.
(2) The CUSTODIAL argument.
Whose money is this anyway? The fact is we brought nothing into this world and won’t be taking anything out of this world (Job 1:21). We’re just privileged custodians, and we’re supposed to be faithful stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2) of whatever blessings God gives us for a few years here on earth. He gives them, and He can take them away (Haggai 1:5-11). Because He’s God and everything belongs to Him and everything we have comes from Him, we’re to honor Him with the “first fruits of all our produce (income)” (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Even when we are faithful tithers (giving 10% of our income back to God), we need to keep in mind the 90% left over is STILL HIS. We’re just managers. Stewards. Custodians.
(3) The BIBLICAL argument.
Tithing is a Bible doctrine not just an Old Testament teaching (Malachi 3:8-12; Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:11; Proverbs 3:9-10). It’s in the New Testament, which comes as a surprise to many. Especially to those who don’t tithe and have used that erroneous claim as an excuse not to do so. We have two reliable eyewitness accounts in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 where Jesus affirmed and encouraged the practice of tithing. In Luke 18:12, Jesus used the example of tithing in telling a parable to illustrate the folly of self-righteousness. If tithing were only for the Old Testament Israelites and had no bearing whatsoever on, or importance to, anyone living during New Testament times or beyond, why would Jesus use it in an illustration when He’s communicating biblical truths?
Tithing is also mentioned in Hebrews 7:1-10 no less than seven times. It recounts how Abraham gave tithes (or a tenth) to Melchizedek the king/priest. The point of the passage is that Jesus is better than Melchizedek and His priesthood is far superior to that of Melchizedek’s.
By the way, Abraham did this long before the law was ever established. So did Jacob. In Genesis 28; after Jacob had an incredible dream about how God was going to bless him and use him, he set up a memorial stone and made a commitment “of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you” (Genesis 28:22).
(4) The CHRISTOLOGICAL argument.
What did Jesus say about tithing?
Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
Luke 11:42, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
If tithing were irrelevant or unnecessary, wouldn’t Jesus have said, “Why are you still tithing? You don’t have to do that anymore.” Instead, when referencing tithing, He said, “These you ought to have to done.”
Tithing is also clearly implied in what Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, “Therefore render (or give) to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” How would they know what was Caesar’s? Simple. Caesar told them. Just like Uncle Sam does today, and it is always a percentage of our income.
(5) The TEMPORAL argument.
Think about this … We give at least 15%, more likely 18-20% to “temporary servants” for “temporary meals” in a “temporary world.” So why would we give less than that to The Eternal God of the universe Who has given us eternal life and blessings, which, if we were honest, would take us an eternity just to list them all?
(6) The FINAL argument.
In the final analysis, what are you going to be glad you did once you step out into eternity? Some people excuse the fact they don’t tithe by saying they tithe in other ways. The Bible says, “A tithe of everything belongs to the Lord and is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). We should tithe our time and our talents, etc. But we must also tithe our treasure (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 22:21).
Do you want to stand before God and explain why you looked for every opportunity and rationalization you could find to get out of giving what was rightfully His?
Do you want to have to answer why you gave yourself the best and gave Him leftovers? If there was anything left over. Even though Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Or do you want to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
Luke 21:1-4 tells us one day Jesus was watching what people gave as they put their gifts in the “offering box.” He noticed several rich people putting their gifts in and Luke says, “He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
Jesus’ point was: out of her pittance came abundance. Out of their abundance came pittance. We can’t say our heart is right until our treasure is right.
… and it all begins with the tithe.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.