Christians who want to please the Lord often have questions about tithing. The dictionary defines the word “tithe” as “a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment.” It was a common practice in the Old Testament and was required of members of the nation of Israel.
Many Christians believe that this principle of giving one-tenth should be carried over to the New Testament in giving to the church and other Christian organizations. Billy Graham would fit into this category. He has said, “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.” However, even then the question as to whether to tithe from one’s net or gross income is not answered in Scripture, nor is the question of whether to give it all to the local church or to include other ministries. We feel that such decisions should be based on personal conviction.
Other Christians who tithe do so simply because they respect the Old Testament principle and find it a helpful place to begin in their giving. They do not believe, however, that tithing is a New Testament obligation. It is not mentioned in the New Testament except where it is describing Old Testament practices or in the Gospels where Jesus is addressing people who were under the Old Testament law. Note Jesus’ comments to the Pharisees in Luke 11:42.
A New Testament teaching on giving which may be helpful to you is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically and proportionately.
The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances. He knows when they are beyond our power to direct and control. The important thing is that we see giving as a privilege and not a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, but rather out of love for the Lord and a desire to see His kingdom advanced.
Second Corinthians 9:6-7 says: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The deeper question, you see, is this: What has priority in our lives? Is Christ really first—or do we put ourselves and our own desires first? Make sure Christ is first in your life, and then ask Him to guide you.