Summary: What does the Bible say about the "tithe" and is it required of Christians today?
OPEN: Gordon Wood of Ellison Bay, Wisconsin told of the time he tried something different in his church’s worship service.
“Instead of preaching at the end, I did it first, with music, the offering, and Scripture reading afterward. As I stood behind the pulpit, I could see people getting ready for the offering, until they realized I was starting my message.
Caitlyn, a first grader in the congregation, was perplexed by this change of routine, and whispered frantically to her mom, ‘Doesn’t he know we haven’t paid him to talk yet?’”
APPLY: This morning, we’re going to talk about WHY we give. To that little girl, the morning offering was taken up to pay the preacher to talk.
I. Many people give their money on Sundays - with much the same reasoning.
They give their money to take care of the church building. To keep the electricity on, heat the church building in winter, cool it in summer. They give their offerings because they want to make sure the congregation has enough to pay their preacher and their youth minister’s salary. They give because they want to make money available for the missionaries their church supports…
And, there’s not a thing wrong with that.
ILLUS: An old country preacher was earnestly exhorting his congregation to give more liberally. He was interrupted by a deacon who said, “Parson, you told us salvation is free -- as free as the air we breathe and the water in the river. If that’s true, why are you always asking us for money?”
The elderly preacher solemnly replied, “Brother Jones, you’re right. Salvation is free -- as free as the water you drink. But if you want that water in the kitchen, somebody has to pay for the pump!”
That was the concept behind the requirement in the Law that commanded a Tithe from the people. Numbers 18:20-21 tells us:
“The LORD said to Aaron, ‘You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.’”
In other words - God designed the tithe to pay the bills, to keep the doors open and pay the workers who committed themselves to full time service to God.
God repeatedly told His people that the tithe was important to Him.
In Malachi 3:10-12 God said: “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. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land” says the LORD Almighty.
Notice God’s purpose for the tithe: that there may be food in my house.
Then God went on to say – “if you’ll do this for me… then I’ll do this for you:
I’ll pour out blessings and
I’ll protect your crops
And you’ll end up being so blessed that everyone about you is going to notice it
And they’ll say ‘“whatever did these guys do that was soooo right?’”
II. Even here (in Matthew 23) where Jesus is rebuking the sinful attitudes of the Pharisees,
He teaches about tithing
Now, the Pharisees were very strict about playing by the rules. In fact, if God’s Law didn’t have a rule about something… the Pharisees would make one up. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He condemned them here:
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” Matthew 23:16-19
The Pharisees used their “rules” to take advantage of the people around them… and Jesus hated that. But, in the midst of His rebuke He tells the Pharisees that their problem wasn’t in their tithing… that was a “good rule” to follow. It was God’s rule.
Notice what it says in verse 23: “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.”