Tithing – the practice of giving 10% of one’s income to the church – is an important act of worship and sign of faith for many Christians. But questions often arise around exactly where or how tithes should be given.
If you’re looking for clear, biblical guidance on where you should direct your tithe, this comprehensive article will walk you through the scriptural wisdom on the matter.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The New Testament does not prescribe one single place or way to give tithes. Most Christians tithe to their local church community. But tithing directly to those in need is also Biblically supported.
The Old Testament Law on Tithing
Tithing in the Mosaic Law
In the Old Testament, tithing was a significant practice outlined in the Mosaic Law. The word “tithe” comes from the Hebrew word “ma’aser” which means “tenth.” According to the Law, individuals were required to give one-tenth of their income, crops, and livestock to support the priests and Levites who served in the Temple.
The practice of tithing was seen as an act of obedience and worship towards God. It was a way for the Israelites to acknowledge that everything they had belonged to God and that He was the ultimate provider.
Tithing was not only a financial obligation but also a spiritual one, reflecting the Israelites’ trust and dependence on God.
The principle of tithing can be found in various passages in the Old Testament, including Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:21-24, and Deuteronomy 14:22-29. These passages provide detailed instructions on how tithes should be given and used.
Where Tithes Went in Old Testament Times
In the Old Testament, tithes served multiple purposes. The primary recipients of the tithes were the priests and Levites who served in the Temple. They did not own land or have other means of income, so the tithes provided for their needs and sustenance.
Additionally, tithes were used to support the maintenance and operations of the Temple. This included the upkeep of the building, the purchase of sacrifices, and the provision of resources for the various religious ceremonies and festivals.
Furthermore, tithes were also used to support the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners within the community. The Israelites were instructed to set aside a portion of their tithes for these vulnerable groups, ensuring that they were cared for and provided for.
It’s important to note that the specific allocation of tithes varied throughout different periods in Israel’s history. However, the underlying principle remained the same – tithes were meant to provide for the spiritual needs of the community and support those who served in religious roles.
Today, while tithing is not mandated in the same way as it was in the Old Testament, many Christians still choose to tithe as a way of honoring God with their finances and supporting the work of the church.
The New Testament encourages believers to give generously and cheerfully, but the specific practice of tithing is not explicitly commanded.
If you would like to explore more about tithing and its relevance in the Christian faith, you can visit www.gotquestions.org, a reputable website that provides in-depth biblical insights and answers to common questions about tithing.
Tithing Principles in the New Testament
Jesus on Giving
When it comes to tithing, Jesus emphasized the importance of giving with a sincere and generous heart. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches his disciples about the principles of giving, stating, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
This verse highlights the idea that giving should be done willingly and without hesitation, as an act of love and compassion towards others.
Furthermore, Jesus commended the widow who gave all she had to the temple treasury, saying, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44).
This story teaches us that giving should be sacrificial, regardless of the amount, and should come from a place of faith and trust in God’s provision.
Instructions from Paul
The apostle Paul also provides guidance on tithing in his epistles. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages believers to give generously and cheerfully. He writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
This verse emphasizes the importance of giving with a joyful attitude, recognizing that it is not a burden but a privilege to contribute to the work of God’s kingdom.
Paul also teaches about the principle of sowing and reaping. In his letter to the Galatians, he states, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). This principle highlights the idea that when we give generously, we can expect to receive blessings in return.
However, it is essential to remember that our motivation for giving should not be solely focused on what we can gain, but rather on the desire to honor God and bless others.
Giving to Meet Needs
In the New Testament, we see a shift in the purpose of giving from strictly tithing to meeting the needs of others. The early Christian community in Acts is an excellent example of this principle. They sold their possessions and shared with those in need, ensuring that everyone had enough (Acts 2:45).
This demonstrates the importance of using our resources to help those who are less fortunate and to support the work of the church.
It is worth noting that specific instructions on tithing percentages or where to pay tithes are not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament. Instead, the focus is on the heart behind giving and the desire to support and bless others.
While tithing can still be a valuable practice for believers today, it is essential to approach it with a spirit of generosity, love, and a desire to meet the needs of others.
Common Christian Practices on Tithing Today
Tithing to One’s Local Church
One common practice among Christians when it comes to tithing is giving a portion of their income to their local church. This practice is often based on the belief that the church is the spiritual home and community where believers gather to worship and grow in their faith.
By giving their tithe to the local church, Christians support the ministry and work of the church, including the salaries of pastors and staff, maintenance of the church building, and funding for various programs and outreach initiatives.
Many Christians see tithing to their local church as a way of being obedient to the biblical command to bring the tithe into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10). It is also seen as a way of expressing gratitude to God for His provision and blessings in their lives.
Tithing to the local church can also be seen as an act of faith, trusting that God will use their giving to further His kingdom and bless others.
It is important to note that different churches may have different guidelines or expectations regarding tithing. Some churches may emphasize the importance of tithing as a biblical principle, while others may place more emphasis on voluntary giving according to one’s means.
Ultimately, the decision of where to tithe lies with the individual and their personal beliefs and convictions.
Tithing Directly to Ministries or People in Need
Another practice that some Christians follow is tithing directly to ministries or people in need. Instead of giving their tithe to the local church, they choose to support specific ministries, missionaries, or individuals who are doing God’s work or are in need of financial assistance.
This practice is based on the belief that tithing is not limited to the local church but extends to the broader body of Christ and those in need. Some Christians feel led to give their tithe to organizations that focus on missions, evangelism, or humanitarian efforts.
Others may choose to support individuals or families who are facing financial hardships or are in crisis situations.
While tithing directly to ministries or people in need can be a meaningful way to make a difference, it is important to exercise discernment and ensure that the organizations or individuals being supported are reputable and accountable.
Researching and seeking recommendations from trusted sources can help ensure that the tithes are being used effectively and responsibly.
In the end, the decision of where to tithe is a personal one, guided by one’s understanding of biblical principles and individual circumstances. Whether tithing to the local church or directly to ministries or people in need, the act of giving is seen as a way to honor God and participate in His work of blessing and transforming lives.
Questions to Consider in Where to Give Tithes
Is the Church or Ministry I’m Supporting Biblically Sound and Acting with Integrity?
When deciding where to give your tithes according to the Bible, it is crucial to consider the spiritual foundation and ethical conduct of the church or ministry you are supporting. The Bible encourages believers to give their tithes to institutions that align with biblical teachings and demonstrate integrity in their actions.
It is essential to ensure that the organization is teaching sound doctrine and upholding biblical principles. By doing so, you can have confidence that your tithes are being used in a way that honors God’s instructions.
One way to assess the biblical soundness of a church or ministry is by examining their teachings and comparing them with the teachings found in the Bible. Are they preaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ? Are they emphasizing the importance of love, grace, and obedience to God’s Word?
These are essential aspects to consider when evaluating the spiritual integrity of an organization.
Additionally, it is important to research the reputation and track record of the church or ministry. Are they known for being transparent with their finances? Do they have a history of using funds wisely and responsibly?
Checking for accountability and transparency can help ensure that your tithes are being used for their intended purpose and not mismanaged.
What Needs Do I See Around Me That I Can Help Meet?
Another crucial factor to consider when deciding where to give your tithes is the needs that you see around you. The Bible teaches that giving is not only an act of obedience to God but also an opportunity to help those in need.
By identifying the needs in your community or society, you can make a significant impact with your tithes.
Consider the various areas where your tithes can make a difference, such as providing food and shelter for the homeless, supporting organizations that empower the marginalized, or funding educational initiatives for underprivileged children.
By giving to causes that resonate with your heart, you can contribute to positive change and make a tangible difference in the lives of others.
It is essential to research and identify trustworthy organizations or charities that are actively working to meet these needs. Look for reputable NGOs, nonprofit organizations, or community-based initiatives that have a proven track record of making a positive impact.
Websites like charitynavigator.org can provide valuable information on the credibility and effectiveness of different charitable organizations.
Remember, the decision of where to give your tithes is a personal one. It is important to seek guidance from God through prayer and allow Him to direct your heart towards the causes and organizations that align with His purpose.
By making an informed decision and considering both the biblical soundness and the needs you see around you, you can ensure that your tithes are used in a way that brings glory to God and brings positive change to the world.
In summary, the New Testament does not prescribe one definitive way or place for Christians to give tithes. The priority is that giving stems from a cheerful heart, meets urgent needs, and supports the proclaiming of the gospel message around the world.
Christians today commonly give tithes to their local church or directly to ministries making a difference for the kingdom of God. As you make tithing decisions, bathe the process in prayer and search the scriptures for wisdom to be a faithful steward of God’s gifts in your life.