How often should the tithe be given?

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By BibleAsk Team


The practice of tithing, or giving a portion of one’s income to support God’s Work, has deep roots in Judeo-Christian tradition and is often considered a fundamental aspect of spiritual stewardship. In this exploration, we will delve into the biblical teachings regarding tithing and examine the question of how often tithes should be given, supported by references from the Bible.

Understanding the Tithe

Definition and Purpose

The word “tithe” comes from the Old English word “teogotha,” meaning “tenth.” In biblical terms, a tithe refers to returning a tenth, or 10%, of one’s income or resources to God. The practice of tithing is rooted in the Old Testament, where it was established as a means of supporting the priesthood, maintaining the temple, and providing for the needs of the Levites, who had no inheritance among the tribes of Israel (Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

Principles of Stewardship

Tithing is often viewed as an expression of gratitude, obedience, and trust in God’s provision. By returning a portion of their resources back to God, believers acknowledge His ownership of all things and affirm their role as stewards entrusted with managing His blessings (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10).

Frequency of Tithing

Old Testament Practice

In the Old Testament, tithing was typically practiced on an annual basis, with individuals and households giving a tenth of their agricultural produce, livestock, and other income to support the religious institutions and community welfare programs established by God’s law (Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

New Testament Perspective

The New Testament affirms the principles of tithing, generosity, sacrificial giving, and cheerful stewardship (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Jesus Himself commended the practice of tithing while emphasizing the weightier matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).

Contemporary Practice

Regular Giving

In contemporary Christian practice, believers interpret the principle of tithing as an ongoing commitment to give a tenth of their income to support the work of the church and charitable organizations.

Some ask: how often should we tithe? Although the Bible doesn’t give a direct answer to this question, it talks about the principle of the first fruits. God’s children in the Old Testament gave their tithe, after harvesting their first fruits. We read that they collected their first harvest from the ground and tithed it as seen in the following passages:

-“that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide” (Deuteronomy 26:2).

-“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God” (Exodus 23:19; 34:26).

-“When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten.  But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD.  And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:23-25).

Thus, the Lord clearly promised the Levites the first fruits of the land. “All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to the LORD, I have given them to you.  Whatever first ripe fruit is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours…” (Numbers 18:12,13)

In today’s economy, the first fruits mean that we should tithe as soon as we get paid – weekly/bi-weekly/monthly. This enables us to give to the Lord first, before we pay our other expenses. Paying God first makes Him the priority in our lives (Matthew 22:37).

Freewill Offerings

In addition to regular tithing, believers are encouraged to give freewill offerings as an expression of gratitude and worship. Freewill offerings are voluntary contributions given above and beyond the tithe, motivated by a desire to honor God and support His work in the world (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Conclusion

While the Old Testament practice of tithing was typically observed on an annual basis, the New Testament practice is typically observed when a person gets paid. The giving of tithing and offerings illustrate the principles of generosity, sacrificial giving, and cheerful stewardship. Ultimately, the decision of how often to tithe is a matter of prayerful discernment and faithful obedience to God’s leading, guided by biblical principles and a desire to honor Him with all aspects of our lives.

For Bible teaching on tithes see Support of the Ministry.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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