As long as I have been a Christian, I can remember people arguing and debating about tithing.
Some say it was only an Old Testament Law that doesn’t need to be followed as believers under the New Covenant.
And some say that tithing is just as relevant to New Testament Christians as it was in the Old Covenant.
My goal with this page is to shine a light on the truth about tithing and answer many questions you may have about it.
I tapped into the wisdom of others who have studied this subject out to great depths and hopefully we can better see what we as New Testament Christians need to know about tithing.
Additionally, since this page is nearly the length of a Kindle book, I decided to create an index to help you navigate through.
What is tithing?
Let’s start by looking at a few tithing definitions:
Wikipedia defines the tithe:
“A tithe (/taɪð/; from Old English: teogoþa “tenth”) is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products.”
Google defines tithing like this:
And Webster’s Dictionary defines tithe like this:
“a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment”
What the Bible says about tithing
For the sake of brevity, I won’t list them all here, but these are a few of the most popular Bible verses about tithing:
The first mention of tithing in the Bible
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
– Gen 14:18-20 NIV
The most popular Tithing scripture
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
– Mal 3:10 NASB
The New Testament scripture on tithing
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”
– Luke 11:42 NASB
It is pretty clear from all the Bible verses on tithing (let alone the three above) that it is a Biblical idea. Now, what it means for us today is a hotly debated topic that we will explore in a bit.
Tithing Isn’t A Means Of Salvation
This is incredibly important to understand. Our salvation is based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, not on works.
You can’t earn your way to Heaven by giving, and you won’t be excluded from Heaven by your lack of tithing.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
–Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Out of our Faith, our good works manifest. So, in my opinion, if someone truly understands how great of a gift they have been given, they will expend a lot of energy giving back.
Tithing Verses In The New Testament
There are plenty of verses about tithing in the Old Testament and a lot fewer in the New Testament. So it is true that tithing isn’t talked about nearly as much in the New Testament as the Old Testament.
Personally, I don’t believe that in any way nullifies the value of it as a practice.
Under the New Covenant, our salvation is not based upon our obedience to the 10 Commandments, but does that mean that we shouldn’t still follow them? Are they suddenly of no value? I think the same can be said of tithing.
While you can debate all day long about whether or not it is a command for New Testament believers, I don’t see any reason why it would not still provide a blessing just like it did in the Old Covenant.
Do The New Testament Tithing Scriptures Command It?
Is tithing a new testament principle? In the next section, you can see what Jesus says about tithing, and He clearly does NOT command us to tithe. But, that in no way means that we shouldn’t do it!
As Rev. Bill Miller puts it in his Biblical Financial Newsletter:
“Many believers who don’t want to tithe say that there are no scriptures in the New Testament that tell us we (must) tithe. And I say there weren’t any scriptures for Abram and Jacob either. Why would there be scriptures to repeat for us to do something that God has ALREADY said can be done of one’s FREE WILL in exchange for a blessing?
For those who don’t tithe, what are you doing that is scripturally superior to honor God sufficiently enough to warrant His favor and blessing in return?”
What Did Jesus Say About Tithing?
Blogger FMF brings up a great point about New Testament tithing (Jesus words himself)…
Jesus Endorsed The Tithe
In Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 Jesus referred to tithing as something that should not be neglected…
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
So if you have been wondering what Jesus said about tithing or if “tithe” is in the New Testament, you have it right there in Luke 11:42.
Tithing BEFORE the Old Covenant
The concept of tithing was actually around before the old covenant was established.
“The first person to make a TITHE, which means a tenth (ten percent) of one’s INCREASE, was Abram (Genesis 14:20) … Notice please: Abram’s TITHE was not under the LAW which came more than six hundred years later. It wasn’t requested by anybody. It wasn’t suggested by anybody. It wasn’t coerced by anybody. It was purely a VOLUNTARY act of gratitude to HONOR “the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.” Abram simply appreciated God’s FAVOR and gave up something of value in order to HONOR the One who had helped him get the victory.”
– Rev. Bill Miller (source)
Is tithing required for Christians today?
Like mentioned above, tithing is NOT a requirement for salvation, God’s love for you, or even God being pleased with you.
There are many leaders who I greatly respect who would answer this question differently, but I really like how Rev. Bill Miller (source) answers it:
“There is only one time in your Bible where tithing was a REQUIREMENT and that was during the fifteen hundred years before Jesus came while Israel was under the LAW.
Before that, there was a bigger picture of HONORING God with one’s substance. An honoring occurs when something that is of value to the one doing the giving is freely or voluntarily giving to someone as a sacrificial gesture of thanksgiving or appreciation. Is God worthy to be highly esteemed for what He has done and what He still does in our lives that we would specially HONOR Him for it? If it was that way before the LAW, how much more should He be esteemed under the New Covenant where we have been given a BETTER Covenant with all things in Christ (Hebrews 8:6)?
Even during the LAW where a specific form of tithing was REQUIRED, it was only for some of the people. There was never a universal tenth that was REQUIRED from everybody. In addition, even during that time after the tithe was instituted at the beginning of the Israelites’ second year in the wilderness, God PREFERRED freewill offerings. Study all this out for yourself starting in Exodus 35:5.
Friend, giving to God is about HONORING Him for the great things He has done in our lives. It ALWAYS has been that way even under the LAW. We are not REQUIRED to tithe under the New Covenant. But where is the scripture that says we can stop honoring God under the New Covenant?”
Billy Graham on Tithing
It comes as no surprise to me that Billy Graham has a succinct, yet powerful quote about tithing in his life that I believe to be 100% true as well:
“We have found in our own home…that God’s blessing upon the nine-tenths, when we tithe, helps it to go farther than ten-tenths without His blessing.” –Rev. Billy Graham
He Said We Could Test Him
Do we have any better invitation than to actually test it out and see if it really works? Most of us who do tithe were non-tithers at one point and had to step out in faith and overcome our fears to try it.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
-Malachi 3:10 (NIV)
It really is like all the other areas of our walk with God – it requires FAITH.
Every tither that I can recall talking to has had times where it required lots of FAITH to tithe. And when we are stepping out in faith, that is when we get to see God do the miraculous.
And that my friend is what makes the Christian life so fun. Being a part of the amazing adventure that God leads us on if we obey His voice is one of my favorite things about being a Christian.
No, it doesn’t make sense that when we give all this money away, things will actually be better – but I have found it to be true in my own life and from the countless other tithing testimonies I have heard, clearly, others have as well.
“I Never Would Have Been Able To Tithe The First Million Dollars I Ever Made If I Had Not Tithed My First Salary, Which Was $1.50 Per Week.”
—John D. Rockefeller
I don’t tithe because the preacher is just trying to get my money
Years ago I worked at a bank as a teller, and I witnessed a local pastor do some things with tithe checks that didn’t quite sit right with me. There was nothing illegal going on (that I knew of any way) and there was no proof that he wasn’t using the money as he should.
But it definitely didn’t look good.
As a young Christian trying to wrap my brain around all this, it was definitely a struggle.
But as I wrestled with that, God showed me that when I give to the church, I am giving to God. Not to man.
So it doesn’t matter if he is stealing from the Church. It doesn’t matter if he is using the funds wisely.
That is between him and God, but my job is to give and give in faith to God.
It is similar to how we are called to work heartily unto the Lord (Col 3:23) regardless of how terrible a boss we have because God is our promoter (Ps 75:6-7) who gets us where we need to be.
God sees our hard work, and he honors that and promotes us at the right time. I believe it is no different with giving to the church. Our job is to give in faith and trust God to take care of the rest.
Are you cursed for NOT tithing?
Here is the verse from which this question arises:
Malachi 3:8-9: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you.”
As Christians, we have to understand that the Old Testament verses like these have to be viewed in light of Jesus’ work on the cross.
In this case, Galatians 3:13 clearly states that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”
“Christian believers have been specifically REDEEMED from the Curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13)…If we have been redeemed from the curse of the law, then there is no way we can be cursed for not tithing…So under an entirely New Covenant, it seems to me unscriptural to be telling people that if they don’t tithe, they’re going to fall under a curse because the Curse of the Law no longer applies to believers…”
–Rev. Bill Miller (source)
Can You Be Blessed Without Tithing?
The short answer is yes.
Just do a quick search for the word “blessed” over at Blue Letter Bible and see for yourself all the opportunities we have to be blessed by God.
But, just like any other opportunity that we have to be blessed, tithing is no different.
It is just a promise that we have available to us in Malachi 3:10 that God will bless those who tithe.
The bottom line is that there is undoubtedly a blessing that comes to givers.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
–Luke 6:38 (NIV)
God Loves A Cheerful Giver
The fact is that HOW we give is of utmost importance. As with everything, man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
If we are giving to impress people, we are wasting our time.
If we are giving because we are being pressured or coerced to give, we are missing it.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) makes this as clear as day:
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
What if you aren’t cheerful about your giving?
Over the years of my giving journey, I have had plenty of moments where I was giving in faith. Moments where I could tell God was asking me to give beyond my comfort level.
Many of these times I wasn’t smiling and jumping up and down in excitement, because it was a huge step of faith and I was battling fear.
If we look at 2 Cor 9:7 again it specifically says that we should NOT give out of compulsion, but it doesn’t say that if we aren’t cheerful about it, we shouldn’t give. It just says that God loves it when we are.
And as I have given in faith over and over through the years, I have found myself becoming more cheerful in those tough moments of obedience.
Each time you step out in faith and see God come through, it just makes it that much easier to get excited (and cheerful) about what God is going to do.
Last year God called me to take a 1-year Sabbatical. And initially, I fought a lot of feelings of fear of how I was going to provide for my family if I didn’t work at all. But as I recounted all the times that God had called me to takes bold steps of faith – and how every single time He had come through – I began to get excited about it.
For me, every major blessing in my life was preceded by a step of faith. And it seems that the bigger the step of faith, the bigger the blessing on the other side.
And as I began to let that dominate my thoughts, instead of the fear I began to get really excited about what God was going to do. I would even say that I was “cheerful” about taking that step of faith.
Bottom line, if you give in faith, and meditate on what the Bible says about giving you will begin to see it more from God’s perspective, and I am convinced that as we do, we become cheerful givers.
Tithing the first fruits
I first got ahold of the power of tithing from our first fruits from Chapter 2 of Robert Morris’ “The Blessed Life.”
A discussion about the first fruits could be a whole book by itself, but suffice it to say: to me, it is clear scripturally that God wants us to give from the first of our income.
Not giving from what is leftover, but rather a deliberate and intentional giving of the first of our income that comes in.
Robert Morris puts it like this:
“It always requires faith to give the first. That’s why so few Christians experience the blessings of tithing. It means giving to God before you see if you are going to have enough. By tithing, it is as if we are saying to God, ‘I recognize You first. I am putting You first in my life, and I trust You to take care of the rest of the things in my life.’ That is why tithing is so important. It is the primary way we acknowledge that God is first.”
Here are a few scriptures for you to dive into for more on this:
- Exodus 13
- Deut 18:4
- Romans 11:16
- Exodus 23:19
Tithing is a heart test
Earlier on this page, we see how tithing is the one area where God says that we can test Him.
But, tithing is really a test for us. If you do a Bible study on the number 10, you will see a pattern with it: it often represents a form of testing.
Robert Morris says it like this:
“How many times did God test Pharaoh’s heart? The answer is 10. How many commandments are there? … How many times did God test Israel while they were wandering in the wilderness? And how many times did God test Jacob’s heart (by allowing his wages to be changed) when he was working for Laban? Or how many days was Daniel tested in (Daniel 1)? In each case, the answer is, of course, 10…
In Matthew 25, 10 virgins had their preparedness tested. Ten days of testing are mentioned in Rev 2:10… the number 10 is associated with testing throughout the Bible. And the tithe represents the ultimate ‘heart test’ for the believer.”
Tithing vs. Giving
I once heard someone say, “Tithing isn’t giving, it is simply returning to God what is His”. While I think you could find a Biblical argument to support this, I think for most of us giving (or returning) 10% of our income is a big step of faith and it certainly (at least) FEELS like giving.
So many of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck and squeezing out just 1% of our income feels like a stretch, that I don’t personally don’t want insult someone who steps out in faith to tithe by essentially saying, “that’s nice, but you really haven’t done anything yet.”
Additionally, you could argue that not only is the 10% rightfully God’s but actually, 100% if you use the Parable of the Talents as a guide.
So, for me, the bottom line is that I think the best thing we can do as Christians is to view ourselves as stewards and always be GROWING in our giving and never being complacent regardless of what percentage we are giving.
What to do when Tithing doesn’t seem to be “working”
For as many tithing testimonies as I have gotten from readers over the years, I get a fair share of readers who say that “tithing didn’t work” for them.
I decided to write a whole article on this topic, which you can read here.
It Is So Much Bigger Than Us
The Much Bigger Issue Here Is That God’s Kingdom Needs To Be Advanced!
Who does He use to do that? Us, the believers! If we aren’t funding and financing Kingdom activities, then who will? How are the lost going to be reached if we don’t send those to preach? (Romans 10:15)
We shouldn’t be getting all caught up in percentages and what we “have to do” according to the Bible – what we (as God’s people) need to do is to forget about our ambitions, goals, and motives and pick up God’s plan. We have been saved from eternal separation from God by grace! With all that we have been given, how can we do anything else but give all we have?
What if we could get our minds off of our earthly bank accounts and focus instead on sowing things that will have eternal value.
“I judge all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.”
– John Wesley
Not sure if you know, but eternity is a LONG TIME! 😉
We can either be doing things with our time and money that may benefit us for a few years down here, or we can see ourselves as the eternal beings that we are, get our priorities lined up with God’s, and start giving in a way that will actually last for eternity!
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
–Matthew 6:20 (NIV)
When we give tithes and offerings into our churches and into ministries that are reaching the world, we get to be included in their eternal reward. We are the BODY of Christ, we all have a part to play.
“…from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
The amazing thing is that as we start getting our focus off of ourselves and on meeting the needs of others, we will have our needs taken care of.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
It is just the way God set it up. He is so good, isn’t He?
Some practical FAQs about Tithing
Is tithing tax deductible?
In theory, tithing is tax-deductible. But whether or not you can do it depends on your tax situation. Tithing comes under the tax deduction category of charitable contributions. That makes it tax-deductible.
But there’s a glitch. It’s only deductible if the amount of your tithe, plus other tax-deductible expenses, exceeds the standard deduction. For 2018, that deduction is $12,000 for single taxpayers, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 if you’re married filing jointly.
The 2018 standard deductions are a lot higher than what they were for previous years. But there’s also a bit of sleight-of-hand. The new standard deductions have been dramatically increased due to the elimination of the personal exemption. The 2018 standard deduction is higher than the combination of the previous standard deduction, plus one or two personal exemptions, that apply for 2017.
But at the same time, the new standard deduction limits are so high that far fewer people will be able to itemize.
For more on the specifics of this check out is tithing tax deductible?
Should you tithe on your tax refund?
Technically, if you are tithing on your gross income rather than net income, then you would have already tithed on that income, and it is simply money coming back to you.
But I truly believe that we can’t go wrong giving more. We cannot outgive God.
As LG Tourneau says “I shovel it out, and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel.”
But for more discussion on this, check out this post: do you tithe on your tax refund?
A Tithing Calculator?
God in his infinite wisdom made the math so simple that we don’t really need a calculator to calculate our tithe amount.
My wife says I am good at math, so this is pretty simple to me, but I can sympathize with those who HATE math as much as she does. 😉
Your own tithing calculator right there in your brain!
To calculate the tithe amount, all you need to do is just move the decimal place 1 to the left.
For example: if you earned $1,234.56 you would just move that decimal one place over, and you would get a tithing amount of $123.45.
See how simple that is? I’m sure, even the worst among us at math can do that – right?
Can you give tithes online?
Many churches are making online, mobile, and text giving available, and according to the statistics, all these options are actually increasing giving amounts.
According to one study, “Churches that accept tithing online increase overall donations by 32%.”
If your church doesn’t offer this option, you might want to point them to a few tools that will help them make it possible. Here are a few:
Should you automate tithing?
Using some of the tools listed in the section above, you can make tithing automatic by automating it. While I am thrilled that technology is making it easier for us all to give, I personally like making a bit more of an “event” and use it as an opportunity to give in faith.
So even though we don’t use checks anymore to tithe, we use the app on our phone and Linda and I do it together and pray over our giving each time we do.
It is just a simple way that we can still stay (somewhat) connected to our giving.
That said, for some people creating a set-it-and-forget-it approach to giving is the easiest way for them to stay consistent with it.
So if that is what you need to do, by all means, go for it. I would just encourage you to regularly remind yourself of what is happening automatically and pray over your giving.
If you have read this far, it should be clear as day to you that I am an advocate of tithing.
For years I always thought the preacher was trying to get my money when he talked about tithing, but if you are a skeptic (like I was) then let me remind you that I have nothing to gain by encouraging you to tithe.
The ONLY reason I would be banging the drum about this so much is that I legitimately care for you and absolutely want God’s best for you!
You see, as a fellow believer, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are on the same team. And God has put a fire in my heart to see His children get ahold of what the Bible says about money.
The fact of the matter is that my life has been changed so dramatically by tithing and giving that I can’t help but encourage others to do the same.
We have some radical financial testimonies as a result, but It goes so far beyond money.
God has done a work in my heart. Submitting to Him and yielding and trusting Him in this area has brought me so much closer to Him and I have gotten to be part of some miraculous adventures.
Like a child jumping into his father’s arms who knows without a shadow of a doubt that he will catch him, I pray that we would learn to trust God in the area of tithing as well as all areas of life!
I would love to hear your comments – so please share them below. Differing viewpoints are absolutely okay, just please be civil. Deal?