Criswell Theological Review 2.1 (1987) 85-97.

          Copyright © 1987 by The Criswell CollegeCited with permission. 





                             TO TITHE?



                                     GEORGE B. DAVIS

                           Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201




Malachi (ca. 430 B.C.), speaking prophetically for God,l charged

that the Israelites had actually defrauded God (Mal 3:8-9) with re-

spect to both "tithes" (ma’aser)2 and "offerings" (teruma).3 The main

verb (qaba), which occurs only here (four times in 3:8-9) and in

Prov 22:23 (twice), means "to rob, to defraud, to overreach."4 It


            l Out of a total of 55 verses, 47 are first-person addresses of the Lord to Israel. Cf.

J. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1972) 216.

            2 Mosaic legislation regarding the tithe is found primarily in three places. (1) Ac-

cording to Lev 27:30-33, a tithe of the crops, of the fruit of the trees, and of the herd or

flock had to be given. The tithe of the grain or fruit could be redeemed, i.e., bought

back by the owner, at one fifth above the market value (v 31). Regarding the flock or

herd, however, the tithe was determined by passing the increase of the cattle under the

rod, with every tenth animal, whether perfect or defective, being reckoned as the tithe.

(2) Num 18:21-32 further specifies that the tithe of the produce of the ground and of

the cattle be assigned to the Levites, who in turn were to give a tenth of their receipts,

i.e., a tithe of the tithe, to Aaron, who, as the head of the priests, represented the whole

priesthood (vv 26-28). (3) Deut 12:5-18 further specifies that a tithe (possibly a

"second" tithe) was to be brought to an appointed sanctuary (later Jerusalem) each

year for a festival celebration, a sacred meal to be shared by the family, the household

servants, and the Levites. If the distance to the sanctuary was too great, the tithe could

be exchanged for money, with the offerer using the money to purchase whatever was

needed for the festive meal upon arrival (Deut 14:22-27). Every third year this special

tithe was to be stored in one's respective hometown, with the stranger, the fatherless,

and the widow, as well as the Levites, sharing in the goods as needed (Deut 14:28-29).

After bringing his tithes, the offerer was to go to the sanctuary and make a declaration

of honesty and ask the Lord's blessings upon his tithes (Deut 26:12-15).

            3 The "heave offerings" (teruma) denoted the priestly portions of the sacrifices

enumerated in Lev 7:32-33 and Num 18:8-19.

            4 W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Malachi: God's Unchanging Love (Grand Rapids: Baker,

1984) 89.



occurs more frequently in Talmudic literature and carries the mean-

ing "to take forcibly."5 Such a picture is almost incomprehensible--

insignificant man attempting to cheat and swindle the Omnipotent

God! The pronoun "me" in v 9 is emphatic, stressing the fact that God

Himself, not just the Levites or the Temple, had been defrauded.6

            The Word of God has much to say about money matters, because

money matters. The fundamental principle of the tithe (one-tenth of

the increase of produce of the ground or livestock) was the recogni-

tion on the part of the Israelites that all their possessions ultimately

belonged to God. This acknowledgment of God's ownership was

accomplished through the tithe, in that the surrender of the tenth

symbolized the consecration of the whole. Since the emphasis in Mal

3:10 is on the "whole" (kol) tithe, the Israelites apparently had been

offering only portions of the prescribed amounts.

            Because Malachi's accusations are found in the OT, they often

have been dismissed as either irrelevant or inapplicable to the con-

temporary Christian. But, could believers today be just as guilty as the

Israelites of Malachi's day? Could sincere Christians, unknowingly

and unintentionally, be defrauding God at the offering plate? To pose

the question more specifically and succinctly--are Christians sup-

posed to tithe? In an effort to be both objective and thorough, the

principle of the tithe will be examined from two perspectives.


                        I. Why Some Christians Don't Tithe


            The matter of tithing does constitute a real problem for many

sincere Christians. They simply are not sure if tithing is an appropriate

scriptural practice for believers today, or if they should simply prac-

tice what is commonly called "grace giving," i.e., an undesignated

amount. What arguments do contemporary Christians most frequently

give for not tithing?


Tithing Is Legalistic

            Non-tithing Christians quite often seek to exonerate themselves

by saying that tithing is legalistic and that Christians are no longer

"under the Law." What is often overlooked, however, is the fact that

tithing came into the biblical picture long before the Law was given

through Moses. Two passages merit attention.

            Gen 14:18-20. The first mention of tithing in the Bible is found

in Genesis 14. When Lot was taken captive by pagan kings, Abraham


            5 E. Cashdan, "Malachi," The Twelve Prophets (London: Soncino, 1961) 351.

            6 Kaiser, Malachi, 00.


            Davis: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?          87


armed his 318 "desert berets" and pursued the captors. Upon his

victorious return, Abraham was met by that mysterious king-priest

Melchizedek.7 Spontaneously Abraham gave tithes of all the spoils to

Melchizedek. The fact that not one word of question was raised

concerning the patriarch's action obviously indicates that tithing was

an accepted principle of worship in Abraham's day, long before the

existence of any Mosaic commandment to do so. In retrospect, Paul

viewed Abraham as the classic exemplar of justification by faith;8

never once was he labeled a "legalist."

            Gen 28:20-22. A second example of pre-Mosaic tithing is found

in Genesis 28. In response to God's anticipated watchcare and provi-

sion, Jacob vowed, " . . . of all that thou shalt give me I will surely

give the tenth unto thee" (v 22). No details are given as to why Jacob

specified a tenth rather than some other percent. Neither is anything

said as to how the tithe would be given. Further, nothing is specified

regarding to whom the tithe would be given, i.e., who would receive

it in God's stead.

            The important thing to remember in both patriarchal episodes

is the common denominator, namely--that tithing was a recognized

and accepted practice of worship centuries before Mosaic legislation

commanded it. Nevertheless, many well-meaning Christians have so

welded the tithe to the Law that they have refused to acknowledge

that the practice of the tithe predates the giving of the Law by at least

600 years. Just as the patriarchs gave the tithe before the Law without

being branded as legalists, should not Christians be able to do the

same after the Law without the taint of legalism? If a believer is not

careful, he can easily fall into the trap of categorizing obedience to

any of God's statutes as legalism.


Tithing is OT

            This is the most prevalent reason for not tithing. The church is

besieged today by those who say that the tithe, even though it was

practiced before the Law and incorporated into the Law, should not

be considered a valid requirement for the present. "Grace giving" is

advocated as being far superior. Any attempt to solve the dilemma

must address several issues.

            Jesus and the Tithe. Opponents of tithing often make the state-

ment that, as far as the gospel records go, Jesus never commanded his


            7 Melchizedek is best identified as an OT type of Christ, though some competent

conservative scholars interpret this event as a Christophany, an appearance of the pre-

incarnate Christ (cf. Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6,10; 6:20, 7:1,10-11,15,17,21).

            8 Cf. Romans 4; Galatians 3.



disciples to tithe. Consequently, believers today should feel no com-

pulsion or obligation whatsoever to give at least a tenth of their

income to the work of the Lord. To be sure, Jesus never specifically

commanded his disciples to tithe. But if the argument from silence is

deemed definitive, one could just as easily conclude that Jesus whole-

heartedly endorsed the practice of the tithe because nowhere did He

specifically command his disciples "not to tithe."

            Jesus' attitude toward the tithe is contingent upon His overall

attitude toward the Law, which is summed up in Matt 5:17-19:


            Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not

            come to destroy, but to fulfill.

            For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle

            shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

            Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and

            shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:

            but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in

            the kingdom of heaven.


Jesus' problem was not with the Law per se. Jesus' problem was with

the scribes and Pharisees' wooden interpretation of the Law. Jesus'

advocacy of a freedom from legalism is not to be understood as a

freedom from the Law.9 A necessary distinction must always be made

between Jesus' attitude toward the Law and His attitude toward a

legalistic and Pharisaical interpretation of it. Matt 5:17-19 demon-

strates Jesus' uncompromising acceptance of the authority of the OT,

even to the minute details.10  Jesus vehemently disavowed the charges

of the legalists that He had charted a course which would result in the

obliteration of the Law.

            Additionally, Jesus' vituperative upbraiding of the scribes and

Pharisees for their meticulous approach to tithing is often cited as

evidence that Jesus was opposed to tithing:

            Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithes of

            mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the

            law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to

            leave the other undone (Matt 23:23).11


            9 A similar analogy can be observed in Paul's warning to the Antinomians (cf.

Rom 6:1-2). Paul's advocacy of liberty was not to be construed as license.

            10 Cf. Matt 5:18. "Jot" is a reference to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet,

the yod. "Tittle" refers to the small extension on a Hebrew letter which differentiates

one letter from another.

            11 Also cf. the parallel in Luke 11:42.

            Davis: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?          89


Once again, the distinction between Jesus' attitude toward the tithe

and His attitude toward the Pharisees' legalistic interpretation of it

must be made. Furthermore, the very fact that Jesus said "not to leave

the other undone" actually puts Jesus in the position of confirming

and commending the tithe.

            Paul and the Tithe. Non-tithing Christians are also quick to

point out that Paul did not mention tithing a single time in any of his

epistles. On the surface this might appear to be strong evidence. But

arguments from silence are always precarious. To conclude that Paul

was against tithing simply because the word dekate does not occur in

his epistles is an erroneous and misleading assumption. To be consis-

tent, one might as well aver that Paul did not believe in eternal

punishment because the word "hell" (hades, geenna, or tartaros) does

not occur in any of his letters.12 That Paul both encouraged and

commended sacrificial giving on the part of God's people needs little


            The Writer of Hebrews and the Tithe. Of further significance is

the fact that the writer of Hebrews appealed to the priesthood of

Melchizedek as being a type of the eternal priesthood of Christ13 and

then proceeded to discuss the principle of the tithe:

            Now consider how great this man was unto whom even the patriarch

            Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

            And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the

            priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according

            to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of


            But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of

            Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

            And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better (Heb

            7:4- 7).


            12 Paul's lone use of hades in 1 Cor 15:55 denotes the earthly grave, not the place

of eternal punishment.

            13 The priesthood of Melchizedek serves as a type of the priesthood of Christ in at

least three aspects: (1) in the person of Melchizedek the offices of king and priest were

combined (cf. Gen 14:18), (2) Melchizedek represents a man ordained by God as a

priest irrespective of genealogical credentials (Heb 7:3); the priesthood of Christ is

similar in that He was of the tribe of Judah rather than the priestly tribe of Levi, and

(3) the priesthood of Melchizedek both began and ended in himself, i.e., there is no

evidence of any priestly lineage in Melchizedek's family either prior to or subsequent to

that of Melchizedek.




The important deduction to be made is that Abraham paid tithes to

One who is described by the author of Hebrews as being greater than

Abraham (v 7). When Melchizedek received the tithes, he obviously

was acting in the place of God, even if the position is adopted that he

was not the pre-incarnate Christ. The point is simply this--just as

Abraham paid homage to Melchizedek with his tithes, believers today

are encouraged to pay homage to their Eternal High Priest and King,

Jesus Christ. The tithe, then, becomes a continual expression of love

and devotion to Christ until He returns.

            Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews carried the analogy one step


            And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in


            For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him

            (Heb 7:9-10).

The superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood over that of Aaron

is demonstrated by the fact that Levi was in the loins of his great-

grandfather Abraham when Abraham brought tithes to Melchizedek.

That the sons of Levi, who later constituted the Levitical priesthood,

paid tithes unto Melchizedek 600 years before the Law strongly sug-

gests that the tithe is to be viewed as an eternal principle and not a

dispensational one.

            A similar principle is observed regarding the Sabbath day. Long

before the Law stated, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"

(Exod 20:8), God Himself had hallowed and consecrated it (Gen 2:3).

Thus, the principle that one day in seven is to be set apart as a day of

rest and worship is an eternal principle. What predated the Law was

incorporated into the Law and also practiced after the Law. The same

should be true of the tithe.


Debts Come First

            Quite often a Christian will say, "I can't afford to tithe; I am too

far in debt." Some have gone so far as to say that they considered it a

sin to tithe until they were out of debt. Realistically, many Christians

are in debt--either short-term or long-term, probably both. To say

that it is dishonest to tithe until all debts are paid is simply a futile

exercise in procrastination.

            A person often gets into financial bondage by violating scriptural

principles; it is not likely that he will extricate himself by continuing

to do so. The fact still remains that, regardless of how many bills a be-

liever may have, the firstfruits of his income still belong to the Lord.


            Davis: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?               91


Cannot Afford to Tithe

            Satan has convinced no small number of the Body of Christ that

they cannot afford to tithe. For example, a struggling student or a

young couple just married might easily rationalize that God does not

expect someone to tithe if he has a meager income. Some believers

excuse their negligence on the grounds that when all the bills for the

month are paid, nothing is left. Others have gone so far as to say that

tithing even puts a hardship on the poor, and thus they should be


            Tithing is one of the most equitable arrangements in the world.

R. T. Kendall, in addressing this very objection, stated:

            The poor man has to pay as much for food as the rich man. The poor

            man has to pay the same for a gallon of gas as does the rich. But if the

            poor man has a smaller income, he has a smaller tithe. . . .

            Tithing therefore gives dignity to every man. It breaks the socio-

            economic barrier. It cuts across any class system. . . . My 10% might be

            considerably less than someone else's, but that other person will not be

            more favored than I in the sight of God. Tithing is a demonstration that

            God is no respecter of persons.14


            Perhaps the ultimate question to ask is not "Can I afford to tithe?"

but rather, "Can I afford to rob God?" The widow's offering of two

mites (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4) serves as a stinging reminder that

no one is too poor to tithe. The coin alluded to in this case was the

Jewish lepton, a small coin worth less than a penny. Jesus' commen-

tary on the widow's giving is most instructive:

            . . . Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than

            all they which have cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their

            abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her

            living (Mark 12:43:44).


            It is highly unlikely that God will trust His child with more

money if He cannot trust him with what he has now. Jesus concluded

the parable of the dishonest steward with a solemn exhortation:

            He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.

            If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who

            will commit to your trust the true riches (Luke 16:10-11).


            14 R. T. Kendall, Tithing: A Can to Serious, Biblical Giving (Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1982) 94.




Dissatisfaction With Expenditures

            Perchance someone has been overheard to say, "I don't like what

the church does with my money," or "I quit tithing because the

church wastes so much money," or "I don't see why we spend so

much money on the young people." What should a member do when

he feels that his church is irresponsible regarding the expenditure of

its monies. Two matters must necessarily be kept in juxtaposition.

First, every believer must recognize "that the tithe is the Lord's money

and not his own, and that each individual is personally responsible

and accountable unto God for his giving. Likewise, every church is

accountable unto God for the expenditure of the tithes and offerings

which are given in good faith by God's people. Regarding the former,

one should not refuse to tithe because of personal disagreement in the

allocation of funds, as long as the expenditure in question is not a vio-

lation of scriptural teaching and the funds have been duly authorized

by the church. Doubtless the poor widow of Mark 12 could have

refused to give and rationalized her negligence by saying, "I don't

want those scribes and Pharisees getting any of my money"! Scripture

views the tithe as being the Lord's money, and failure in monetary

stewardship is tantamount to defrauding God. On the other hand,

scriptural principles also mandate that every church be accountable

unto God for the disbursement of its monies. How a church handles

its finances is important; money is always sacred trust. When Paul was

collecting the love offering for the "poor saints in Jerusalem," he

reminded the Corinthian church of this truth:

            Avoiding this, that no man would blame us in this abundance which is

            administered by us;

            Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in

            the sight of men (2 Cor 8:20-21).


            Thus, if a member finds himself in disagreement with a certain

item in the church budget, his immediate response should not be to

stop giving; rather, he should go to the budget committee (or who-

ever is responsible) and seek a clarification and resolution of the

matter. Doubtless in some cases priorities do need to be reconsidered

and monies redirected. Nevertheless, faithful biblical stewardship

must always rise above the personal and the petty.


                        II. Why All Christians Should Tithe


            Sooner or later every serious follower of Christ must reckon with

the matter of his monetary stewardship. As money is the coinage of

life, any misuse of money becomes tantamount to a misuse of life.


            Davis: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?                93


Why should a believer resolve in his heart, not only to tithe, but to go

as far beyond the tithe as his resources will allow? The Scriptures give

at least six reasons.


To Glorify God

            One of the ways in which Christians honor and glorify God is

through faithful stewardship. The wisdom of Solomon still stands-

"Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the first fruits of all

thine increase" (Prov 3:9). Faithful stewardship honors the Lord,

whereas negligence dishonors Him.

            What is more disgraceful than a church which has to resort to

bingo games, raffles, lotteries and the like to carryon the Lord's

work? Such schemes bring shame to the cause of Christ and certainly

can never be pleasing to the Lord. Jesus basically narrowed life's

choices to two-God and mammon:

            No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love

            the other; or else, he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye

            cannot serve God and mammon (Matt 6:24).


In the final analysis, a person either loves God and uses money, or else

he loves money and uses God.


To Express Love for Jesus

            One's checkbook is somewhat like a "spiritual cardiogram." It

records the movements of the heart; it gives a printout on what the

heart is doing. A person can certainly give without loving, but he

cannot love without giving. One's giving is simply a tangible way of

expressing one's love for Jesus. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corin-

thian church that their generous participation in the offering for the

Jerusalem Christians would be "proof" of their love (2 Cor 8:8,24).


To Receive the Blessings Which God Desires to Give

            Strange as it may seem, some people tithe in order to get more

out of God. One might call this the "slot machine" syndrome. You put

something in to get more out. The person who tithes in order to

obligate God should realize that motives are just as important to God

as actions. But when motives are noble, faithful stewardship puts the

child of God in a position to receive the blessings which God has


            Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine

            house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, 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 (Mal 3:10).




Tithing is not God's way of raising money; it is God's way of raising


            Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders to remember the words of the

Lord Jesus, how He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"

(Acts 20:35). "Blessed" denotes "happiness," and happiness is predi-

cated upon giving. It is through giving that the child of God becomes

the recipient of the blessings which the Father desires to give.


To Grow In Faith

            Tithing evidences one's faith. Quite often a Christian will say, "I

can't afford to tithe; I'm too far in debt; but as soon as I get out of

debt, the Lord can count on me." Paul had to remind the Corinthian

Christians that faithful stewardship is predicated on faith:

            He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which

            soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully (2 Cor 9:6).

            Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your

            food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your

            righteousness (2 Cor 9:10).


Just as the farmer plants his seed in the soil, trusting God for the

sunshine and the rain and the eventual harvest, the child of God is to

demonstrate a like faith regarding his material possessions. The law of

the harvest is threefold--you reap what you sow, more than you sow,

but not until you sow.

            Many Christians have difficulty in finding God's will for their lives

in the area of finances. What pastor has not heard a new convert say,

"I know I ought to tithe, but I just can't seem to get started." A young

Christian can be encouraged to grow in the grace of giving by making

a faith promise to God:

            In recognition of God's ownership of my time, abilities, money, material

            possessions, and family, and in response to my love for Christ, and with

            the Lord's help, I will do my best to give a minimum of one-tenth of my

            total income to the Lord through my local church.


To Support the Ministries of the Local Church

            In the OT the tithes were brought to the tabernacle (Num 18:21-

24) or appointed sanctuary (Deut 12:5-18), and later to the temple (2

Chron 31:11-12). Following the Babylonian exile, the second temple

had special storehouses for the tithes:

            For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering

            of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where


            Davis: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?               95


            are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the

            porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God

            (Neh 10:39).


            That the “storehouse principle” was carried over into the NT

church is evidenced from several passages:

            Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were

            possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the

            things that were sold.

            And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made

            unto every man according as he has need (Acts 4:34-35).

            Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the

            churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

            Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store,

            as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come

            (1 Cor 16:1-2).


The obvious deduction from such passages is twofold: (1) the offer-

ings were brought to the local church, and (2) the monies were

administered and controlled by the local church. If God has ordained

that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor.

9:14), the most logical conclusion is that the ministry of a local church

should be financed by the tithes and offerings of its members.

            Does this mean that Christians should not support biblically-

based ministries other than the local church? No. Although the ques-

tion is not addressed per se in the NT, the most reasonable and

acceptable answer would be that such ministries should be supported

with monies above and beyond the tithe. In regard to this matter, two

factors should be kept in mind: (1) no ministry is ever mentioned in

the NT that was not directly related to a local church, and (2) if local

churches flounder, even worthy para-church organizations will even-

tually fail.


To Emulate the NT Pattern of Giving

            Though specific and explicit requirements regarding the tithe are

lacking in the NT, the principles of stewardship advocated therein are

both revealing and instructive. In the NT no less than five distinct

characteristics are set forth regarding Christian giving. Acceptable

stewardship should be: (1) generous, (2) sacrificial, (3) voluntary,

(4) cheerful, and (5) systematic.

            Generous. Many well-meaning Christians are of the opinion that

they cannot afford to be generous. In contrast, however, believers

must be willing to claim the promises of God's Word:




            Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and

            shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For

            with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you

            again (Luke 6:38).


            Generosity is not determined by one's ability to give. Often Christians

mistakenly assume that they would give more if they had more, but

wealth does not necessarily make one generous.

            Sacrificial. Needless to say, some giving which might be con-

sidered generous in the eyes of man would not be deemed sacrificial

in the sight of God. The widow's offering of the two mites (Mark

12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4) serves as a constant reminder that Christian

giving should be sacrificial. Sacrificial giving is measured, not by what

is given, but by what remains. Further, the apostle Paul commended

the Macedonians for their magnanimous giving, even when they didn't

have it to spare:

            How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their

            deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

            For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they

            were willing of themselves (2 Cor 8:2-3).


            Voluntary. Voluntary and spontaneous giving is illustrated count-

less times in the NT. When Jesus sat in the house of Simon the leper at

Bethany, a woman suddenly poured an alabaster box of precious

ointment upon his head (Matt 26:7). Likewise, the early church was

noted for its voluntary and spontaneous giving as needs arose (cf.

Acts 2:45; 4:34-37). Paul reminded the church at Corinth that Chris-

tian giving was not to be done of necessity (2 Cor 9:7). Giving

motivated only by necessity obviously is not pleasing to God.

            Cheerful. All voluntary giving is not necessarily cheerful giving.

Though fear is not wrong in and of itself, some people are afraid that

if they don't give God precisely ten percent, God will get "His due"

through some other means-doctor bills, automobile repairs, posses-

sions stolen, and the like. Such reasoning hardly comes from the Holy

Spirit and is certainly less than desirable. Scriptural giving is  . . . . not

grudgingly, nor of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver" .(2 Cor

9:7). The word translated "cheerful" (hilaron) is the word from which

the English word "hilarious" is derived. It carries the idea of "joy,"

"excitement," "thrill." God Himself is this kind of giver, and He takes

delight in seeing His children mimic their Father. A cheerful giver is

one who can truthfully sing, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite

would I withhold"!


            Davis; ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO TITHE?              97


            Systematic. The Christian should also be systematic in his giving.

Paul exhorted the Corinthian church—“Upon the first day of the week

let every one of you lay by him in store. . ." (1 Cor 16:2). There are

two very practical reasons for such an injunction; (1) it is easier for

the average person to give small sums weekly than to give large sums

monthly, quarterly, or annually, and (2) the financial obligations of

the church, to a large degree, occur on a weekly if not monthly basis.

In the light of these NT principles, what believer would want to

give less than ten percent of his income to the Lord. What Christian

redeemed by the blood of the Lamb would want to lower the stan-

dard to five percent or two percent or to whatever he feels ..led" to



                                                III. Conclusion


            Are Christians supposed to tithe? In my view--the answer is yes.

Though some might conclude that tithing is not an explicit teaching of

the NT, the preponderance of accumulative evidence suggests that

tithing is a deduced teaching of the NT. But even when one deter-

mines that tithing is a valid scriptural practice for believers today,

several admonitions are in order:

1. Tithing must never be seen as a means of obtaining righteousness

     or gaining right standing before God. Paul warned that “by the

     works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Gal 2;16)

2. Tithing must never become a “legalistic standard.” Tithing should

     always serve as the starting point, not the finish line. Many be-

     lievers, while beginning with the tithe as a bench mark, have

     experienced the joy and blessing of going well beyond the tithe in

     their monetary stewardship.

3. Biblical stewardship must always be viewed with wide-angle

     lenses. Stewardship involves money, but it goes far beyond dimes

     and dollars. Christian stewardship involves the totality of the be-

     liever's life-his time, his money, his talents, his energy, his family,

     his business, his home, etc. When a believer begins to take total

     stewardship seriously, tithing is seen as only one facet of the

     Christian's accountability unto God. Negligence in tithing is not

     simply a money problem; it is a people problem--people profess-

     ing Jesus Christ as Lord, but not recognizing the Lordship of Christ

     in their lives.


This material is cited with gracious permission from:

The Criswell College

4010 Gaston Ave. 

Dallas, TX   75246


Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: