What is Tithe?
“Generosity is to materialism what kryptonite is to Superman.” — Lloyd Shadrach, pastor and author
“Giving is more than a responsibility—it is a privilege; more than an act of obedience—it is evidence of our faith.” —William Arthur Ward (1921-94), American Educator
What is the tithe? The English-speaking Bible is primarily translated from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, “maaser” or “maasrah,” is translated tenth, or tenth part; and in Greek, “apodekatoo.” It means a payment, or giving, or receiving of the tenth.
The tithe is that tenth of our income that God asks for, which—when we cheerfully give to God—comes with a powerful promise!
Malachi 3:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
God’s people would bring a tithe of all their increase. The Bible records numerous accounts of believers tithing to God—such as Abraham, Jacob, and Moses.
In some places in the Old Testament this offering was called the “first fruits.” The Israelites would bring from their flocks and fields and present it unto the Lord in the tabernacle or later the temple. Some was for the priests’ use and some was shared among the poor, yet it all was given to God.
God is recognized as the Creator of everything that exists. He owns everything, and believers understand that we are simply stewards of what we have been entrusted with.
In Malachi we learn that tithing enables God to miraculously move the heavens on our behalf in the area of blessings.
Pastor Eddie Cude wrote, “God gives unto us, we give back to Him one-tenth of all that He has blessed us with. This is the ‘gateway for the believer into the covenant of blessings.’”
Most of us have visited or seen the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri. Two hundred years ago, many people moved from the eastern region of the United States to make a new life out in the west. Missouri was where many would purchase their needed provisions for the journey. With the rising sun warming their backs, they then would embark off in covered wagons pulled by teams of horses. Everything they brought along was considered necessary for their future. Along the trails leaving Missouri you would often see discarded items that had been pitched out of the wagons to make the load lighter. Items that once seemed impossible to live without were now recognized to merely be taking up space and slowing down progress.
We often throw stuff away when it’s all used up or we’re bored with it and want new. In wealthy America we have many luxuries and trinkets to occupy our “wagons.” All the coolest toys, technology, and clothes are purchased easily and, uh-oh, often with tithe money. The heavy part in all this, however, is that the stuff we think we need (that later we’ll call trash) weighs down our progress. It’s hard to attach oneself to Heaven when all you can think about are the cares of earth. Like pastor and author Lloyd Shadrach suggests, “Generosity is to materialism what kryptonite is to Superman.”
It’s not wrong to have things; it’s a problem when things have you. God’s Word declares that it’s His desire to “open up the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that overfills your container.” God has a holy jealousy over us and wants us to seek His will and purpose for our lives. When He is first, everything else in our lives settles together nicely.
Matthew 6:33-34: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Money is one area that many Christians fail to put God first. We feel it’s all ours and forget that it all came from and belongs to God! We are faithless and feel that we must keep back the tithe because we may need it tomorrow, forgetting that God is there in our tomorrows already.
Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
Giving a tithe unto the Lord is a true sign of our faith. We take something that we recognize as valuable—money—and purposely offer it to the Lord through our churches. We don’t even consider it as ours. Our faith in God puts a blessing upon the tithe and allows it to become a source of good and a sense of pleasure to God!
Hebrews 13:16: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Tithing expresses our confidence that God will stretch the remaining money we have to meet our needs. Tithing reminds us that everything we have has been a free gift from God.
Matthew 10:8: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Statistical research on the giving of tithes among Christian believers reveals what may prove shocking to you. The facts show that less than 20 percent of those who profess Christ give their tithe regularly. The number among Christian teens is even closer to 6 percent. I wonder what the figures are for Apostolic Pentecostal teens? Hard data might not be easily found on our demographic, but why not take an informal count at your next youth service or class? You might be surprised!
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 Sr. (1839-1937), American industrialist and philanthropist