The tithe is a tricky topic. It’s tempting to tune out when your pastor brings up generosity in the sermon or even to treat the offering bucket at church like a hot potato. But before you get all nervous and sweaty about tithing, hang with us. The tithe gets a bad rap, but it can actually be a very freeing principle. So let’s get to the bottom of this hot-button question: Why should we tithe?
But first, let’s talk about what tithing is not. It wasn’t some mastermind scheme invented by a bunch of church leaders to con you into giving. It’s not something you do to make God love you more. And it’s also not supposed to be something that makes you feel all sweaty, awkward, and guilty. So go ahead and shake off those lies about tithing and take a breath. You don’t need to feel guilted into giving. In fact, God is actually looking for people to give with cheerful, willing hearts.
So what is the tithe?
The tithe is the first 10% of our resources that we give back to God through the local church. Tithe literally means “one-tenth.” It’s a declaration of trust in a God who provides. The tithe isn’t a rule to begrudgingly follow. Instead, it’s an invitation to develop a healthier relationship with God, money, and our neighbors.
Why should we tithe?
Is it a test of how Christian you are? Not in the slightest. Tithing is something God asks us to do not because He needs our money but because He wants our hearts. Remember that God is a good God. He’s a loving Father. So when He asks us to do something, it’s from a deep place of love—knowing what we need even more than we do. God is inviting us to tithe not because He wants something from us but because He has a better life for us when we choose to put Him first.
Tithing is an opportunity to trust God and remember that He is our ultimate provider. But here’s the thing: When we tithe, we’re actually not even “giving” at all. Everything we have is a gift from God, so we’re just returning to God what’s already His in the first place.
If that weren’t enough, God actually promises to bless our tithe and gives us permission to test Him on that. (Sidenote: that’s actually the only area in which God says we can test Him.)
Now, disclaimer here. Just because you tithe doesn’t mean your life is going to be all sunshine and roses. Your car (if you have one) will still probably break down sometimes. Your kids (if you have them) will probably still need money for that school fundraiser. The blessings may not always be financial. Now, they certainly could be. There are lots of stories of people who gave with faith and ended up receiving something in return. But regardless of the outcome, our job is obedience, and God honors that with something more important than material things.
When God asks for our heart, and He gets it, He fills it with Himself. And giving some of what we have to get more of God sure seems like a worthwhile investment.
We get it. But when you tithe, God shows up. Living off 90 percent of our income with God’s blessing is always better than 100 percent without it. You feel margin, even when you logically shouldn’t. Things just seem to have more peace. Maybe you find more relational blessings, like new friendships and relationships. Or maybe those weekly (or daily) arguments with your spouse about money just stop happening so often because your priorities make more sense.
The fact is, stuff will never fulfill you the way Jesus does. In fact, Jesus once met a rich young ruler who wasn’t willing to give up his money for God’s mission. And the rich guy walked away feeling sad (Luke 18:18-25). The point of that story isn’t to make you think having stuff is bad. It’s to show you that we were created to love God more than stuff, and it’s important to have those priorities in the right order.
You can start small.
Like we said before, God wants us to give cheerfully, not because we’re “supposed to.” God would rather have a cheerful 1% than 10% given out of obligation. So if giving 10% makes you all nervous and sweaty, start with 1%.
We’re confident that if you give from a heart of gratitude, you’ll grow closer to God and find purpose in meeting the needs of others. After a few months, you may choose to increase your giving to 2%, then 3%, and so on. Eventually, you may even decide to give more than the tithe.
If you need to start small, then go for it! While the tithe is a biblical principle and will grow your faith, your attitude matters more than the amount you give.
The tithe is simply one expression of how we can reflect God’s generosity. So if you feel God leading you to trust Him with the tithe, step into your calling today. If not, then we’d love to encourage you to find some way of creating a habit of generosity to meet the needs of your community.