What is a tithe?

Grounded in the concept of stewardship, tithing is a primary way by which we, as Christ-followers, can recognize and demonstrate that God has primacy in our lives. When we tithe, we are returning to God that which is already His.

Tithing, though, also has very practical implications which God described in Deuteronomy 14:22-29. These are:

  • To honor and revere God;
  • To provide for others; and
  • To receive God’s blessing.

To “honor and revere God” means that when we tithe, we demonstrate that God is first in our lives, that He is supreme. We demonstrate that as stewards of all that God has given us, we are trusting Him, not money, and that we are confident in His provision (Matthew 6:19-34).

Tithing also is the God-appointed manner in which His ministry on earth is funded. For the Israelites, tithes primarily supported the priests who did God’s work since they had no other income (Deuteronomy 14:27-29). Jesus directed His disciples to receive support from those to whom they ministered (Matthew 10:9-10) and He Himself was supported by several women “from their own means” (Luke 8:1-3). The Apostle Paul affirmed Jesus’ teaching outright (1 Cor. 9:14), was himself supported by the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 11:9) and took up offerings to provide for those in need in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:5-15; Acts 24:17). For a modern-day Christ-follower, tithing supports all that the church does, whether purchasing curriculum for children’s ministry, rescuing women from the sex trade, or planting a church in a new community to reach more people who are lost and hurting. Tithing funds everything God has called the church to do, and importantly, tithing plays a large role in determining the church’s ability to fulfill the specific vision God has for it.

Finally, God promises blessings when we tithe (Malachi 3:10; Proverbs 3:10). While such blessings may come in various forms, such as financial blessings, protection, favorable health, and the like, there is no limit to what this may mean. Indeed, being “blessed” quite simply means having supernatural power working for us. While God doesn’t “need” our money, we most certainly need His blessing.