In the Old Testament, "tithe" means a tenth or 10 percent. The Old Testament law required that a tenth of all produce, flocks, and cattle be given to support the Levites (the priestly class in ancient Israel). In turn, the Levites were to give a tenth of that for support of the high priest (Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 18:21-28).
Today, thousands of years after the time of the Old Testament, tithing remains a critical topic in today’s churches. According to E. Dean Windhorn, Pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, tithing is a blessing. He encourages parishioners to try tithing for 30 days. "Set aside 10% of your earnings and give to the church and to other charities." He says, "It won’t impoverish you. You’ll see it as a blessing!"
This message is supported in the bible in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. "Giving is to be done cheerfully, rather than as an obligation (and not for the purpose of public recognition)." He continues by saying, "We’re called by God to give." He explains that tithing helps people move from a member of the church to a participant. In his mind, it moves people to action and participation and is a way of engaging people in the church’s work.
Setting aside a little each week or month doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, many churches offer a direct debit from checking accounts on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s beneficial for churches because even when families don’t attend church in a given week, they continue to tithe. And for many, when it’s automatically deducted from their back account, it becomes an automatic part of the budget and is less likely to be cut.
There are many references to tithing in the Bible. While the Old Testament instructs people to tithe 10%, the New Testament does not give any specific rules about tithing. However, Jesus made it clear that we are obligated to be generous to those in need (Matthew 25:31-46).
Tithing is important to churches. In fact, there are over 250 references to tithing and money in the bible. If you are not currently tithing, I encourage you to give it a try. Pastor Windhorn is right – it feels good to give. As one who tithes, I can attest to the fact that giving back does indeed make you an active participant in your church.
Knowing you are assisting others and helping your church carry out its mission feels great!