Chapter 14 – The Tithe
We have been studying the subject of obedience as it relates to God. God tests our obedience in three different ways: (1) by the Ten Commandments, (2) by the food we eat or by the law of clean and unclean meats, and (3) by the law of tithing — returning to God that which is His.
The word tithing means that a “tenth of our income is to be returned to Him to be used for His work.” If we love God “with all your mind, soul and heart” (Matthew 22:37), then we will find it a pleasure to obey His commands. If this love does not exist, then we will not find freedom in our service to Him.
Even in this lesson, I feel if we truly love God, we will feel it a blessing to give to Him and to His work. The questions we want to answer in this lesson are: (1) Is tithing biblical? and (2) Is it commanded by God? Let us see if we can find the answers to these questions. 1. The wealth is the LORD’s. Haggai 2:8 In this verse, God tells us the silver and the gold is all His. In other words, none of it belongs to us. What we receive, God gives to us out of the goodness of His heart. To show us how good a God He is, He only asks that we return one-tenth to Him. In this way, He wants to see how selfish we are.
1. The wealth is the LORD’s. Haggai 2:8
In this verse, God tells us the silver and the gold is all His. In other words, none of it belongs to us. What we receive, God gives to us out of the goodness of His heart. To show us how good a God He is, He only asks that we return one-tenth to Him. In this way, He wants to see how selfish we are.
2. Every beast is mine. Psalms 50:10–12
From this, we are reminded, there is nothing that belongs to us. Everything belongs to God. He has entrusted it all to us to take care of. But He has been very generous because He allows us to keep nine-tenths. Isn’t He generous?
3. The tithe was given from the very beginning. Genesis 14:17–20
Here Abraham gives a tenth to the high priest Melchizedek. Why does Abraham give a tenth? Because he knows it is God’s command. The law was written in his heart, just as it is written in our hearts today. (1 Corinthians 3:3)
4. Jacob gives a tenth. Genesis 28:20–22
The paying of tithes in the Book of Genesis occurred long before Moses’ law or the children of Israel. So the law of tithing could not be a part of Moses’ law and only for Israel. It was for everyone who worshiped God.
5. The tenth is holy. Leviticus 27:32
The tenth does not belong to us. The tenth belongs to the LORD; therefore, it is holy and we should not keep it for ourselves.
6. Honor the LORD with the first fruits. Proverbs 3:9–10
The first fruits indicate the LORD should get His portion first; what is left we can keep and use for our existence. Verse 10 reveals to us there is a blessing awaiting us if we do this. God will see we have enough.
7. Is it a sin to withhold the tenth? Malachi 3:8–9
Here it tells us very plainly that if we withhold the tithe (and offerings), we rob God. Now, a robber is a thief and we know no thief will get into the kingdom, so not tithing is a sin. The tenth is the LORD’s and we rob Him if we keep it for ourselves. We must be as honest with God, as we are with people when we handle their money.
8. What is sin? 1 John 3:4 KJV
The Bible very clearly explains that sin is the “transgression of the law.” Whatever law we transgress, it is sin. That is why it is so important to understand what God requires of us, lest we transgress His law. Still, we want to explain that we tithe out of love, for we want to show Him how much we appreciate all He does for us. Just word service is not enough.
9. Again, a promise or blessing, if we give. Malachi 3:10
Again, this shows how good God is. The tithe belongs to Him in the first place but yet He says, if we return it to Him, He will bless us. This shows how wonderful God is. He gives more to us than we give to Him.
WHAT WAS THE TITHE TO BE USED FOR?
10. Levi had no inheritance. Deuteronomy 10:9
When the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, the tribe of Levi (who were to be the priests) was not to receive any inheritance with which to support their families. God had other plans for them.
11. Tenth to the Levi. Numbers 18:21, 24
We can see from this that the Levites (the priests) were to live from the tithe or tenth of the other tribes. This was to be their inheritance.
12. It is the same for the ministers today. 1 Corinthians 9:9, 11, 13–14
Verse 14 tells us the “Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” This was the way it was in the beginning, during the time of Israel and also today. Those who preach the gospel should live of or from the gospel. The gospel is the Lord’s work, so He has provided a way in which the work can progress and the ministers can be taken care of.
13. Paul robbed other churches. 2 Corinthians 11:7–8, Romans 10:14–15
Does this mean that Paul was a thief? What is he talking about? The Corinth church was not supporting the work as they should, so Paul had to take money from other churches to bring the gospel to them. In this sense, he robbed other churches. We should not be found guilty of this.
14. The LORD’s house forsaken. Nehemiah 13:10–12
The Levite's portion was not given to them, so they had to go to the field to provide for their families. So the LORD’s house was forsaken. God was not pleased with this and they were rebuked. Verse 12 tells us what took place then.
15. Plenty for the LORD’s work. 2 Chronicles 31:5, 9–10
The LORD’s way is the best way. If we practice tithing, there will always be plenty for His work. But if we fail to tithe, then the work will be hindered. By giving the tenth, we all give the same, whether it is small or large. The LORD looks not at the amount but at whether we have been faithful or obedient in that which He gave us.
16. What happens when we are not faithful? Haggai 1:6, 9–10
We can be selfish and keep all but God says, it will not go any farther. Because our eternal life depends on our obedience, giving the LORD His tithes does pay dividends. This is as much a part of obedience as “thou shalt not bear false witness.”
Let us not overlook the fact that God proves our love by the three laws that He has given us: (1) by the Ten Commandments, (2) by the food we eat or by the law of clean and unclean meats, and (3) by the law of tithing. Failure to abide by the instructions found in these three laws shows that we do not love and appreciate God as we say we do. Anything short of complete surrender to His will does not show genuine love.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9)