If you wanted to start a heated argument among Christians, just bring up the subject of tithing. Some say that tithing was a principle reserved only for Old Testament law. Others say that tithing is antithetical to grace. I hear all those arguments, but still, I think it’s good practice to be a regular giver. I can’t tell you, with integrity, that tithing is a specific command of God as prescribed in the Bible. But I can tell you that it’s a habit of wise, mature, Bible-believing, Christ-following Christians.
This is a discussion that could fill several books (and it has), but I’ve found three reasons why tithing is vital to the growth and discipleship of every believer.
1) Tithing demonstrates commitment to the body of Christ. We live in an age when Christians are spiritual free-agents, hopping from church to church and shopping for a Sunday experience as they would a new car. Many have even written off the local church as out-dated, stuffy, and too restrictive. And some churches are all that and more. But the Church is still the bride of Christ and so out of love for His sacrificial death for us on the cross, it is only reasonable that we return that love toward His Church. Plus, it is only in a community of like-minded believers that we can fulfill our spiritual gifts, find accountability, and work together to bring the gospel to the nations. Giving is an expression of this. Like church membership, a regular pattern of giving demonstrates our full commitment to that local church.
2) Tithing demonstrates committment to the work of Christ. You can have all the bumper stickers you want. You can read big, thick books by dead guys like Calvin and Edwards. You can talk about adopting orphans in Africa. (all of these good and important things to do). But when you commit to giving a percentage of your money, every single month, to the local church where you have joined, you are telling the world how important Christ is to you. I want to clarify. Tithing won’t make Jesus love any more than He already does. Tithing won’t fix your bad attitude or make your prodigal return home. But tithing does reflect the attitude of your heart. It helps answer the question, Is Jesus something we do on Sunday only or is He the center of my universe? Hard to sing, “He is my all in all,” if all we are doing is scraping loose change together for the offering or grudgingly giving to the benevolence fund once a year. When you tithe, you have “skin in the game” to quite a good friend of mine. It demonstrates how much you love Jesus.
3) Tithing introduces you to the joy of faith over your finances. God never promises to make you rich if you give to the church. That is a false, unbiblical message. But committing a percentage of our money toward the Lord’s work opens the door to faith. It allows us to fall back on God’s providence, trusting that He will help us meet our needs with what is left. There is a joyful release in a regular, habitual, lifestyle of giving. There is a wonderful opportunity for you to experience the promises of God. I won’t lie to you, there are some seasons of life where tithing is difficult, where it really tests your commitment to Christ. But those are also the seasons where you see God work most vividly.
So I encourage you, if you haven’t made the commitment to a regular pattern of giving to your local church, do it today. Not because the church needs money (which it certainly does), but because you need more joy.