Are Christians required to tithe? If you google the question, you’ll find ample articles, sermons, and teachings on both sides of the fence.
Some argue tithing is an Old Testament law (like animal sacrifices) that is no longer necessary or in effect today. Others hold a strong view that tithing is still an obligation for every Christian, and not doing so is a sin.
What does the Bible say?
It’s true. There’s not a specific New Testament requirement for tithing, but there are ample passages that talk about giving. As Christians, we’re called to be a generous people because we’re recipients of God’s extravagant generosity. In fact, at Antioch Georgetown, generosity is one of our core values.
For a proper perspective of giving tithes and offerings, there are a few foundational truths about God we need to understand.
- God Owns Everything.
The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord… (Psalm 24:1)
The reality is we don’t give to God. We give back to God. It’s the difference between ownership and stewardship. You will always be a reluctant giver if you believe that you are the owner of your worldly possessions.
2. Jesus Commands Everything.
In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
If Jesus is Lord of your life, He must be Lord of all. Yes, that even means things like your finances and your politics. Pastor Stephen breaks it down in this classic video.
3. Jesus Paid Everything to Redeem Us.
Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I belong to Christ. He gave His life for mine. I should seek to glorify Him in every area.
In view of those foundational truths, we are called to give generously. But the Bible doesn’t stop there. Here are four New Testament passages that outline for us the practical reasons why we give.
1. Give to God for the Gospel Workers
Or do only Barnabas and I have no right to refrain from working? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock and does not drink the milk from the flock? Am I saying this from a human perspective? Doesn’t the law also say the same thing? For it is written in the law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain.” Is God really concerned about oxen? Isn’t he really saying it for our sake? Yes, this is written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing the crop. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? If others have this right to receive benefits from you, don’t we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right; instead, we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the offerings of the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:6-14)
2. Give to God for the Vulnerable
Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:17)
3. Give to God for Needs of Each Other.
Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
4. Give to God for the Needs of World.
The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written: “He distributed freely; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (2 Corinthians 9:6-12)