The Whys of Tithes

By Simeon Young

Most pastors I know are reluctant to talk about tithing. This reluctance is a new phenomenon. Teaching on tithing was not uncommon thirty or forty years ago.

Perhaps the growing affluence of Pentecostal congregations and the public awareness of gross misuses of church funds have contributed to our self-consciousness about discussing money in the pulpit. Our silence, however, is a clever trick of Satan to entrap believers into disobedience that deprives them of God’s blessings.

It is a mistake for honest pastors to be intimidated into silence by the horror stories of larcenous clergymen. I believe that conscientious pastors far outnumber the unscrupulous ones.

Following are three Biblically sound reasons to tithe:

The Principle of Tithing

A principle is a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine Of assumption. Tithing meets the requirements of being a principle on at least two counts: it is fundamental (foundational), and it is a Bible doctrine embraced by both Testaments.

The principle of tithing was established long before Moses received the law at Sinai. The first mention of tithing in the Bible is the story of Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20).

The Mosaic Law merely regulated the use of the long-established principle of tithing. Those Mosaic regulations were temporary. The principle of tithing itself is timeless and unchanging.

Tithing transcends the Law. The fulfillment of the Law did not diminish the principle of tithing. The fact that God now deals with His people in grace does not alter the great moral laws of the universe.

Jesus did not abolish tithing. He said, “These (judgment, mercy and faith) ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other (tithing on mint, anise and cumin) undone” (Matthew 23:23).

The scribes and Pharisees were meticulous about tithing, but sloppy about judgment, mercy and faith. The order has been inverted in modern Christianity-many are scrupulous about judgment, mercy and faith, but sloppy about tithing. Jesus would rebuke our imbalance as quickly as He rebuked theirs. It is a mistake to choose between judgment-mercy-faith and tithing. Jesus wants both in our lives.

The Purpose of Tithing

The purpose of tithing is two-fold: First, tithing was instituted to teach us to fear God. Second, tithing is intended to position us to receive God’s blessings. Moses explains this two-fold purpose of tithing in Deuteronomy 14:22,23,29-

“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase…that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always…that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”

Putting God first The Living Bible paraphrases verse 23 as follows: “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.”

Learning to put God first in our lives is one of the fundamental reasons Christians must learn. Putting Jesus first in finances acknowledges His Lordship over the most touchy area of our lives. One of the reasons God instituted the financial plan of tithing was to teach us a correct sense of priorities.

Tithing and blessings. The earliest mention of tithing in the Bible unites tithing and blessings in holy wedlock.

Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Abraham responded to the blessing by giving Melchizedek ten percent of all he had.

Jacob vowed that if God “will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on…then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee”
(Genesis 28:20-22).

God said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove Me now herewith…if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachai 3:10)

The Privilege of Tithing

Godly people throughout the ages have intuitively recognized that giving to God is more a privilege than a duty.

When you read the ancient story of Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek you get the distinct feeling that Abraham voluntarily gave the tithe, and felt that it was a privilege to do so.

David accumulated monies and materials for the construction of the Temple. He personally contributed large sums of money to this great project. He felt that God honored him by allowing him to participate in such an undertaking. David began to worship when he realized that God had honored him by receiving his

David’s prayer reflects his sense of privilege in giving to the cause of God. He prayed, “Blessed be Thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O
Lord, and Thou are exalted as Head above all. Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine Hand is power and might; and in Thine Hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my
people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee” (I Chronicles 29:10-14).

In Brother Kenneth Mendenhall’s church in South Bend, the people start clapping and worshipping when the service leader announces that the offering will be received. They understand that giving is a duty-but more than a duty. They also know that giving is a privilege.

Why tithe, indeed?

(The above information was published by the TRUMPET/FEBRUARY 1991)

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