Answered by: BibleAsk Team

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If I can’t afford to tithe, would I be violating God’s plan?

The Tithe

The word “tithe” means “tenth”; it is one-tenth of one’s income. The tithe belongs to God. Man has no right to keep it for himself. When a Christian tithes, he is not making a gift; he is returning to God what is already His. “All the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s” (Leviticus 27:30).

Tithing was not for the Israelites only, both Abraham (Genesis 14:20) and Jacob (Genesis 28:22), who lived long before Moses’ day, tithed their income. We can, therefore, know that God’s plan of tithing is not limited to Moses’ law and is applicable to all people to all times.

In Old Testament times, God’s people brought ten percent of all their increase—crops and animals—to God’s storehouse (Nehemiah 13:12, 13). The one tenth was used for the income of the priests (Numbers 18:21). The tribe of Levi (the priests) received no portion of land for crop growing and business while the other 11 tribes did.

In the New Testament, Jesus endorsed the paying of one tenth (Matthew 23:23). He rebuked the Jews for omitting the greater matters of the law—justice, mercy, faith—even though they were careful tithers. He then told them they should continue tithing but should also be faithful, just and merciful.

“Prove Me Now”

The Lord asks His people to bring the tithe to His treasury. “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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-12).

The Lord says, “Prove me now” and see if I will not “pour you out a blessing” too big to receive. This is the only time in the Bible that God makes such a proposal. He is saying, “try me.” Many faithful tithers will happily witness to the truth of God’s tithing promise. God promises that the faithful tithe payers will receive blessings so great that they will not have room enough to receive them.  And God’s Words don’t fail (Matthew 24:35).

We Can’t Afford Not to Tithe

God gave Adam and Eve the fruit of all the trees in the garden of Eden except one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). The fruit of that tree was not theirs to eat. They were to not eat of it nor even touch it (Genesis 3:3). But they broke God’s Word and ate the fruit and fell. Today, God gives His riches and blessings to us – except one-tenth of our income, which is His (Leviticus 27:30).

But as with Adam and Eve, He does not take it by force. He leaves it within our reach but warns, “Don’t take it.” When we knowingly take God’s one tenth and appropriate it for our own use, we repeat the sin of Adam and Eve and show lack of trust in our Redeemer. God does not need our money, but He deserves our loyalty and love. He promises if we put Him first, He will see to it that our needs are all met and much more (Matthew 6:33). Actually, we cannot afford not to tithe!

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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