To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’”—Malachi 3:10–11 (NIV)

One of the more telling aspects of our faith is also one of most avoided topics: tithing. If you were to look up the word “tithe” in the dictionary, this is what you’d find: “A tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment.”

Tithing was commonplace in the Old Testament; it was required of the people of Israel. You may be thinking, That was then. The world is different now. We’re not Israelites under the law. Does this even still really apply to us?

The short answer is yes; we’re still expected to give. While the principle of the tithe (a tenth) may be an Old Testament concept not mentioned in the New Testament, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:2 (NLT), “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned.” According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately.”

One thing that is clear, though . . . giving to God shouldn’t feel like a burden. It’s a privilege to give back to God the first fruits from what He’s blessed us with, to show Him the honor, obedience, and trust He deserves, and to be able to participate in His work. It shouldn’t be a responsibility, but a response of love to the Lord and a deep desire in us to see the advance of His kingdom.

As we saw in our last devotional, giving often comes down to the condition of our heart, alignment—or realignment—of our perspective, and our level of devotion, maturity, and faith. Your offering at your church is between you and God. He knows your financial situation and He sees your heart in it.

But how much do we give? The New Testament doesn’t specify. However, many Christians still use the Old Testament one-tenth method and definition as a helpful standard. Regarding this, Billy Graham stated, “We have found in our own home, as have thousands of others, that God’s blessing upon the nine-tenths, when we tithe, helps it to go farther than ten-tenths without His blessing.” You can consider this tithe model as a healthy baseline, a good template for faithfulness. Is it a hard and fast rule? No, but it provides us with a biblical, logical, and completely reasonable model for giving back to God from what He’s generously given to us!

As to questions about whether to give from your net income or gross income, weekly or monthly, how to handle things like bonuses, whether you should give it all to your church or to include other ministries, these kinds of details should be based on prayer and the leading of the Spirit.

If you’ve never given before, read over Malachi 3:10–12 again. God is inviting you to put Him to the test. He is inviting you to receive an outpouring of provision and blessing . . . just ensure you’re giving your first fruit and not your leftovers. Prioritize giving; make it the first thing you determine in your weekly or monthly budget, and let everything else fall into place because the Lord’s promise in Malachi 3 is as true today as it was then. And always remember to see it as a joy and privilege, not an obligation that must be fulfilled. So, tithe cheerfully with a heart after God’s heart, knowing your generous tithes are a sweet aroma to God, knowing that you’re honoring and worshiping Him, and knowing He will provide everything you need.

Tomorrow, we’re going to give you the opportunity to evaluate your budget. We’re going to help you put together a budget that allows you to live within your means, enjoy the blessings God has given you, and prioritize giving back to Him.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.