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  • Writer's pictureSophia Coleman

Tithing 101

The History of Tithing

Tithing is generally a charge levied on labour and/or possessions for a religious cause. The Jews were not the first to practice tithing. It is a very ancient and widely known custom, having been practiced in Athens, Arabia, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Syria, Babylon, and China! In Deuteronomy, tithing 10% was applied to all types of produce and livestock. The tithe was given to the priests and Levites, because they were completely dedicated to God’s service and thus could not support themselves. The Levites in turn gave a tithe of the tithe to the LORD. Also, in each third year, the Israelites in each town would contribute 10% of their income to a big feast, to which Levites, travellers, widows, and orphans were welcomed.

The Reason for Tithing

There are many reasons to give tithes:

  1. To give back to God.

Malachi 3:8-9

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.”

"It is not how much money I give to God, but how much of God’s money I keep for myself."*

-R.G. LeTourneau

boy counting coins

2. To support the Church.

Nehemiah 14:10

“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field.”

1 Timothy 5:17-18

' "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer deserves his wages." '

3. We will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”

"The Christian who tithes will be surprised:

(1) At the amount of money he has for the Lord’s work,

(2) At the deepening of his spiritual life in paying the tithe,

(3) At the ease in meeting his own obligation with the nine-tenths,

(4) At the ease in going from one-tenth to a larger percentage,

(5) At the preparation this gives to be a faithful and wise steward over the nine-tenths remaining,

(6) At himself for not adopting the plan sooner!"*

Pile of Coins

Tithing Today

So what does this all mean for us? Jesus criticised the Jewish religious leaders for tithing regularly yet neglecting the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faith. So when you tithe, tithe with an attitude of gratitude, not legalism. Don't forget to build your character by God's power in other ways, too. Don't feel limited by tithing 10%; many famous businessmen, including the founder of Colgate, even tithed up to 90% of their income! And don't neglect freewill giving too. Be generous! But just start by giving 10% of all the money you get to your church.

"I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work, I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a tenth of it to the Lord. I did, and from that week until this day I have tithed every dollar God has entrusted to me. And I want to say, if I had not tithed the first dollar I made I would not have tithed the first million dollars I made. Tell your readers to train the children to tithe, and they will grow up to be faithful stewards of the Lord."*

-John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839-1937), who is considered the richest person in modern history.

*Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopaedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 474–475.



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