Photo of an offering plateWritten by the Department of Stewardship

What is “biblical faithfulness” when it comes to giving money?

Many Christians point to the tithe as the biblical standard for giving.  Several passages in the Old Testament command giving 10% of the increase of fields, flocks, and vineyards.  Such tithes were given on specific occasions to be used to express worship and help carry out God’s mission.

The New Testament broadens our understanding of tithing

Jesus did not teach that the tithe was to be abandoned.  On the contrary, He assumed that God’s people would practice tithing (Matthew 23:23), but He went beyond it. He taught a broader understanding of generosity under grace than was every required under the law (Matthew 19:21) – and understanding not meant to fulfill a legal requirement but to fulfill our calling as grateful stewards of God’s resources.

Jesus calls us to grow as disciples by giving intentionally, regularly, cheerfully, and in proportion to what each of us possesses.  He calls us to faithfulness in giving by accepting His lordship over our finances… by understanding our role as managers, not owners, of His gifts to us.

Five reasons why tithing blesses the “tither”

  • Giving at least 10% of income is a discipline many people have found to be a biblically-based starting point…a great source of joy…one they are coming to regard as both a blessing and a realistic possibility in their lives.
  • Tithing is a Declaration of Dependence on God.  It makes the act of giving significant for most of us.  Those God has blessed with special abundance should consider giving a higher, “proportionate” percentage.  Why?  Because we are created to be dependent on God.  Significant giving must be part of life if our calling as disciples is to be fulfilled.
  • Giving at least 10% puts God’s concern for meeting the needs of all persons in proper perspective.  Instead of being occupied exclusively with satisfying our own wants and wishes, we are directed to help meet the real human needs of others – needs that may keep them from experiencing the unconditional love our Lord and Savior came to make available to them, too.
  • Giving 10% forces us to set aside money before we spend it.  Such giving is from the “first fruits” of our income, not from the leftovers.  This practice leads us to reexamine all of our values.  It means making conscious choices about our money and helps us to view all of our financial resources in light of God’s purposes.  It keeps us from being rich in things and poor in soul!
  • Giving at least 10% helps to further the mission of the Church, which is to “go, and make disciples of all nations.”  The Body of Christ makes it possible for the many to do what an individual cannot.  In covenant (agreement) with Christ and with one another, we commit our tithes for God’s work in the world and follow in the footsteps of the One who came not to be served, but to serve.

Tithing is part of the path of blessing God has prepared for His people.  To take that path is to walk in the way of discipleship and growth.  It is an avenue of obedience that puts tithers in a place to hear from God…to receive His guidance…to be used in His service.  Tithing is a way to avoid side roads of self-interest…a way our hearts remain in tune with God’s priorities and with the One who lovingly reminds us, “Where your treasure is, the will your hear be also” (Matthew 6:21).

What if giving 10% seems impossible?

Figure the percentage of income you give now, then increase it by one percent each year until your goal of at least of 10% is achieved.  If you are currently giving 4% of income, give 5% next year, 6.5% or maybe 7% the following year, and so on.And remember, a tither doesn’t develop overnight.  It takes time to adjust spending habits and establish a budget that reflects God’s priorities.  But God will bless the intent of your yeart and promises to meet your needs as you set out to be an obedient steward!

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)