Our discussion this week about money would not be complete without talking about tithing. Many believe that we should be giving ten percent of our earnings to the church, which is called tithing. I must admit that I was very surprised when I researched the topic of money to find that it was not mentioned in the New Testament that we should tithe. Does that mean we are not required to tithe anymore?
Let’s start with some Old Testament history. Tithing was a practice back then (Malachi 3:8-12), but if you think you should be following the guidance from the Old Testament, you need to read about all the ways to give money to the church. I won’t go into great detail, but there were some pretty elaborate rules about giving. Check out Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Numbers 18:21-32, Numbers 18:8-11, and especially Leviticus 27:1-21. For example, in Leviticus, if anyone dedicates their house to the Lord, a priest will judge its quality and set a value on it. If the homeowner wants the house back, they can redeem it by adding a fifth to its value. You could also dedicate people to the Lord by giving an equivalent value. A male between the ages of twenty and sixty was valued at fifty shekels of silver, while a female between one month and five years was valued at three shekels of silver. Of course, we are not under the Old Testament law anymore, so these rules are not in place anymore, including tithing.
Again, the talk of tithing is absent in the New Testament so what should we do about giving money to the church? I don’t believe there is an exact calculation to follow so I am going to give you my opinion about what should happen. First, we do not need to follow Old Testament rules anymore, but I think we can learn about God and how he operates by looking at the rules in the Old Testament. Giving ten percent was a popular theme in the Old Testament. I think that is probably a good starting point for our giving today. If God liked using that percentage back then, I think it is likely He still thinks that is a good percentage today. However, don’t forget that there were other rules for giving that didn’t simply follow the ten percent rule, so it is probably a bit naïve to think that is exactly what we need to do today.
Yesterday we learned that all our money is God’s money, not our own. I think we need to consider that when deciding on how much to give to the church. Furthermore, some of God’s money should probably be given to areas outside of the church. For instance, your neighbor’s house burns down. God may let you know that it is a great idea to send some money their way to help them get back on their feet. Should that come out of the ten percent? That is a trick question. We should not be concerned about a particular percentage when 100% of the money we have is God’s. We need to figure out the best way to use that money by listening to God and trying to understand His desires for that money. I think He may want some to give twenty percent, fifty percent, or maybe even more to the church. Perhaps, someone is in a tough situation right now and five percent is the right amount.
I do think church is important, and I do think it is important to give money to the church to further God’s work. I would not want to be selfish in that regard and spend too much on myself and neglect the church. If you want to know what is important to yourself in life, just look at what you spend your money on and what you do with your time. If you don’t spend very much money and time on church, then church is not important to you. If church is important to you, you do not have to tithe to it, but I encourage you to make God’s day by giving an appropriate amount to His work.
While this week we are discussing a Christian perspective on money…you can still keep up with your Bible reading plan. Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 53-54 and 2 Timothy 2