What are the benefits of tithing? Is it just a responsibility we have as Christians? Or is there something more?
Tithing is an important ritual that Christians do in church. 10% of my income should go to the church, I was taught. I confess I struggled with it. It was hard for me to offer my money to God.
I question why Christians MUST tithe. Why can’t I decide where my tithe go to? Why a tenth? What is the significance of the tithe?
As the years go by, I learnt more about the benefits of tithing. Now, I do it with deeper understanding and not as a responsibility or a duty to fulfil.
Benefit 1 – Giving Thanks with the Tithe
The first mention of tithing in the Bible is in Genesis 14:17-20,
17 The king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. 20 Blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Abram gave him a tenth of all.Genesis 14:17-20 WEB
The Hebrew word for tithes here is mah-as-ayr (Strong’s number H4643). It is defined as a tenth.
Verse 20 said that Abraham gave Melchizedek tithes of all the spoils of war he won against the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and Goiim. That means he gave one-tenth of the spoils.
When Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, he agreed that it is the most High God that gave him the victory (verse 20). Abraham gave out of his own heart because of thanksgiving. There is no law or instruction to do so before this.
In the same way, I tithe out of a heart of thanksgiving. It is not MY money. God supplied the money to me. By tithing, I acknowledge that my supplies come from God. I acknowledge not just with words but in action too.
When I prepare my tithe, I thank Abba God for supplying all my needs according to his riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19). Monthly tithing gives me an opportunity to thank God each month.
Benefit 2 – Giving to God what belongs to Him
The Commandments the Lord gave to Moses at Mount Sinai in Leviticus 27:30-34 mentioned the tithe,
30 “‘All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is Yahweh’s. It is holy to Yahweh. 31 If a man redeems anything of his tithe, he shall add a fifth part to it. 32 All the tithe of the herds or the flocks, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to Yahweh. 33 He shall not examine whether it is good or bad, neither shall he exchange it. If he exchanges it at all, then both it and that for which it is exchanged shall be holy. It shall not be redeemed.’”Leviticus 27:30-33 WEB
Verse 30 states that the tithe BELONGS to the Lord. The title is from both the seed and the fruit of the tree, as well as from the herd and flock. The seed needed for sowing. The fruit from the harvest. The beginning and end of the production cycle.
Verses 31 to 33 described the holiness of the tithe. God discouraged exchange and redemption regarding it. This reminds me of people who want to donate their tithes to worthy causes. They believe it will be a better use of their money. It sounded like a reasonable thing to do, especially when the church is already doing quite well, or when there is distrust in the church’s leadership.
But the tithe belongs to the Lord. God is the one who made it holy. We don’t redeem it or exchange it according to our human understanding.
Abba God can deal with what belongs to Him. I don’t have to help Him. My part is to tithe my portion.
Benefit 3 – Flowing with the Lord’s use for the tithe
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 describes the use of the tithe of the increase.
Verse 23 to 26 instructs the giver to bring 10% of his increase before the Lord, not to give it away, but to celebrate together with the Lord. It shows the loving heart of God. The tithe is His, yet He gave it back to the giver. To enjoy them in the place where His name abide.
Where does God abide now? I believe the place now is the local church and His people. Jesus in John 15:4 said,
4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me.John 15:4 WEB
On top of that, the tithe of the third year is to be shared. Abba God named the Levites, strangers, fatherless and widows as the beneficiaries of the third-year tithe.
Is not our modern-day church doing that? The tithe supports the activities of the local church and our church workers. The local church also supports the less fortunate in our communities.
The tithe goes to the local church.
Benefit 4 – Declaring Jesus broke the curse of the Law with the tithe
Have you heard of this teaching? “If you don’t tithe, God will curse you.” It is based on Malachi 3:9,
8 Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says Yahweh of Armies, “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room enough for. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,” says Yahweh of Armies. 12 “All nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says Yahweh of Armies.Malachi 3:8-12 WEB
How can a man rob God? By withholding tithes and offerings according to Malachi 3:8-12. This sounds serious.
But, the curse didn’t come from God. The world is under the curse because of Adam’s sin. The world I live in now is a fallen world. Everything I touch or produce is cursed. As a result, work is back-breaking and harvests are not guaranteed.
Malachi 3 looks more like God setting up the tithe offering to remind us that Jesus has broken the curse. Romans 11:6 states,
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.Romans 11:6 WEB
The tithe is basically a tenth or the first fruits. When I give a portion to God, He made the rest holy. The devil cannot touch what is holy, let alone steal it. This is God’s kindness towards me.
This is comforting because I was one of those who had a scarcity mentality. I thought that I will have less when I tithe. I guess I did not fully understand how good God is. My focus is the little I had in my hand and not on the fullness in God’s hand.
God promised to rebuke the devourer so that “it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes“. I see the tithe as a protection of the work of my hands. What I do will come to fruition and have a great impact.
Benefit 5 – Tithing to remind ourselves Jesus is our overflowing blessing
In verse 10 of Malachi 3, God made a promise. Tithe and break the curse. He promised to “open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
I used to interpret this passage as God promising overflowing blessings but Shane, a visitor left a comment correcting that. The blessing is singular.
What is this singular blessing then? Shane argued that the tithe is an OT type for Jesus. What a powerful revelation. Jesus is God’s overflowing blessing to me.
Jesus Christ came and broke the curse. I find this passage very touching. God is speaking to a recalcitrant group of people who did not obey Him. Yet, he promised to pour out Jesus. God know these people didn’t tithe because they did not have the revelation that Jesus is His overflowing blessing. We cannot outgive God.
This is bigger than my salary. I have received much more. Much much more. What is a tenth when I have Jesus.
Benefit 6 – Declaring Jesus is great and alive with the tithe
In Hebrews 7, Apostle Paul recounted and interpreted the first tithe by Abraham to Melchizedek.
7 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, “king of righteousness”, and then also “king of Salem”, which means “king of peace”, 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the best plunder. 5 They indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though these have come out of the body of Abraham, 6 but he whose genealogy is not counted from them has accepted tithes from Abraham, and has blessed him who has the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 We can say that through Abraham even Levi, who receives tithes, has paid tithes, 10 for he was yet in the body of his father when Melchizedek met him.Hebrews 7:1-10 WEB
In verse 4, Abraham, the Jewish patriarch demonstrated Melchizedek’s greatness by giving him a tenth of the choicest spoils.
In the same way, when I tithe, I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is great. The person I give money to have great stature. I honour Him.
In verse 8, Paul explained that even though the tithe is received by mortal men, it is also received by Jesus in Heaven. When we tithe, we are also witnessing that Jesus is alive. Who would give real money to a dead person?
I find the idea that Jesus is alive and has the power to do mighty things with my little tithe exciting. It gives greater meaning to the little act of placing the tithe envelope into the offering bag.
Benefit 7 – Knowing that Jesus is God’s Tithe
1 Corinthians 15:20 refers to Jesus Christ as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. He is a tithe Himself.
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruit of those who are asleep. 21 For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:20-22 WEB
God tithed Him to make the rest of us holy. He rose, so all of us will rise with Him.
The truth that Jesus Christ is God’s tithe could be the most important benefit. My salvation is anchored on Christ’s finished work on the Cross.
When I tithe, I am called to remembrance that Christ is God’s tithe to make me holy.
18 Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.James 1:18 WEB
Believers are called firstfruits in both James 1:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:23. We are a tithe too. Through us, we shall reach the world.
When I tithe, I am reminded that I am a tithe too. I am the salt and light of the world. My life should bring glory to the name of God to those who do not know Him yet.
Final Words on the Benefits of Tithing
The bible verses I studied support the idea that God is the one who constituted the tithe. The principle of tithing runs through the whole Bible. From the Old Testament to the New.
The church did not make it up because they needed money. The tithe is more than giving money to the church.
The benefits of tithing IS Jesus. He is the blessing of Malachi 3; breaking the curse on the world. He is God’s tithe. He is the one who receive my tithe and multiply it for His purpose. When I tithe, I thank Him for my blessings and declare He is alive and He is great.
This short personal bible study on the tithe is inspired by a sermon entitled Benefits of Tithing by Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church, Singapore. I cannot find the exact sermon on Youtube but there are similar ones. Below are video excerpts:
I came across a testimony by Pastor Shawn Johnson of Red Rock Church that demonstrated the benefits of tithing on his life. He received peace he has never known and joy when God showed He cared.
Prayer: Thank you Abba God for tithing Jesus. You do not need the tithe, I need to tithe. Thank you for helping me to understand the benefits of tithing.
I hope you have found what you are seeking. If not, keep looking. For Jesus said,
9 “I tell you, keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.Luke 11:9-10 WEB
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Be greatly blessed!