Can tithes be used to support charitable institutions?

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The Bible teaches the principle of giving tithes “And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:32). Tithes were used to support the Levitical ministry “I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance” (Numbers 18:21).

The tribe of Levi (the priests) received no portion of the land of Israel, while the other 11 tribes had the land divided between them to benefit from its resources. So, the Lord planned that tithes should support the priests as they dedicate their full time for God’s service.

The Lord specified that tithes should be given to the temple, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house” (Malachi 3:10). Here, God refers to the storehouse as “My house,” which means His temple or church. The prophet Nehemiah also taught that tithes should be given to the temple treasury, “Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries” (Nehemiah 13:12).

This principle was practiced in the NT: “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13,14; Hebrews 7:8).

As for the poor, charities, or church expenses, these were supported from the offerings according to each person’s ability: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Thus, the Bible teaches that tithes should be given exclusively to God’s ministers of the gospel (pastors, Bible workers, missionaries,…etc.) while the offerings can be given to charitable, health, or educational institutions.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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