Jesus’ teachings have profoundly impacted the lives of many, covering a range of ethical and theological topics. While he didn’t explicitly command tithing, our exploration will uncover his indirect insights into this practice. By examining biblical passages and considering his broader ministry context, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of how tithing aligns with Jesus’ teachings.
What Did Jesus Say About Tithing?
Directly, Jesus never mentioned anything regarding how or if we should tithe. However, he indirectly suggests it to us. Jesus’s ministry was about matters concerning the heart. He knew that the real reason people fast is to expect more money or financial returns from God. God is not a businessman! He needs one thing, and that one thing is your heart, not your money. He needs you, the bearer of the life he gave, more than the tithes.
Jesus, knowing this, centered his teachings on seeking first the kingdom (Matt 6:33), with everything you’ve got. That includes your money. We can see this imprint in virtually all that he says (Matt 11:12). So what then did Jesus say about tithing?
1. Jesus Prioritized Matters of the Heart to Tithing
In Luke 11:42 and Matthew 23:23, Jesus criticized the Pharisees and religious leaders of His time for their meticulous tithing practices. He pointed out that they were diligent in tithing even the smallest herbs but had neglected more profound matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Instead of focusing solely on the act of giving, these verses remind us that true tithing comes from a wellspring of justice, love, mercy, and faithfulness. In line with Jesus’ teachings, outward displays of devotion aren’t enough.
Our offerings matter most when they come from a place of genuine change and a desire to live right. It’s about who we are, not just what we do.
Luke 11:42 (NIV): “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”
Matthew 23:23 (NIV): “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
In these passages, Jesus calls us to a holistic approach to faith that integrates both external practices, such as tithing, and matters of the heart. Failing to fulfill one is failing to do all.
2. Jesus Emphasized on Cheerful Giving
The Bible consistently emphasizes the voluntary and cheerful nature of giving, including tithing. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, the Apostle Paul articulates this principle: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Forget grudging donations or feeling pressured to give. True generosity, the kind that shines, comes from a place of pure joy and openheartedness. That’s what the saying “God loves a cheerful giver” means – it’s about the spirit behind the act, not just the amount.
This idea echoes Jesus’ teachings on tithing. Sure, it was a thing back in the Old Testament, but Jesus stressed it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Instead, it’s about expressing your faith with a happy heart.
2 Corinthians 8:12 (NIV): “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”
For God, it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag. This verse tells us that every act of giving, big or small, matters when it comes from a willing heart.
3. Tithing Is Seen as a Responsibility to God
Tithing is a responsibility to God, not to man. It’s you and God!
In Matthew 22:21, Jesus provided a profound teaching that extends beyond tithing but offers valuable insights into balancing various responsibilities. He said, “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Although this statement doesn’t specifically address tithing, it underscores the importance of recognizing different spheres of responsibility. In the context of tithing, it reminds us that we have obligations to both earthly authorities and God.
When it comes to tithing, it implies that believers should fulfill their financial responsibilities to secular authorities, such as paying taxes, while also honoring their commitment to God through tithing. This recognition of different responsibilities reinforces the idea that giving should be intentional and well-balanced. Play your part; do not concern yourself with what the church is doing with your money. There are various forms of avenues of blessings; choose one and be true to God.
Romans 13:7 (NIV): “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
It’s important to follow the rules and be good citizens, but our faith always comes first.
Tithing as A Covenant Practice
One aspect of tithing that Jesus indirectly addresses is its role as a covenant practice. Malachi 3:10 (NIV) provides a significant verse often cited in discussions about tithing: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
In this verse, God invites His people to bring their tithes into His house, signifying tithing as a covenantal act. It goes beyond a financial transaction; it symbolizes a commitment to God’s provision and blessings.
Testing and Trusting God
The phrase “Test me in this” highlights God’s willingness to demonstrate His faithfulness when believers obediently tithe. It suggests that tithing is not just about giving but about testing and trusting God’s promises.
When seen through Jesus’ teachings, this perspective reinforces the idea that tithing is not a mere duty but a covenant practice rooted in faith and trust. It involves recognizing God’s provision and trusting that He will bless those who faithfully honor this covenant.
Understanding tithing in this light aligns with Jesus’ emphasis on the heart and voluntary giving, encouraging believers to approach it with sincerity, joy, and trust in God’s abundant blessings.
Ever curious what God thinks about our generosity? This video dives into that topic, if you have a few minutes to spare.
The Covenantal Nature of Tithing
Tithing, as highlighted in Malachi 3:10, is deeply rooted in the concept of a covenant between God and His people. When God invites His people to bring the whole tithe into His storehouse, He is establishing a sacred agreement. This agreement involves the faithful contribution of resources by the people and the promise of abundant blessings by God.
The phrase “Test me in this” is particularly significant. God challenges His people to test His faithfulness by obediently tithing. This testing is not a matter of skepticism but an invitation to experience God’s generosity and provision in a tangible way. It reflects God’s desire to build trust and deepen the relationship between Himself and His people.
From Jesus’ perspective, tithing is not a cold, legalistic obligation. Instead, it is a covenantal practice that symbolizes the reciprocity between God’s faithfulness and the believer’s trust and obedience. This perspective shifts tithing from a mere financial transaction to a profound expression of faith and partnership with the Divine.
Tithing as an Act of Trust
The act of tithing is, in essence, an act of trust. Believers trust that God will honor His promise to “throw open the floodgates of heaven” and pour out blessings beyond measure. This trust is not passive; it involves actively engaging with God’s covenant and demonstrating faith in His providence.
When seen through the lens of Jesus’ teachings, tithing becomes a spiritual discipline that nurtures faith and dependence on God. It encourages believers to move beyond mere religious duty and embrace a vibrant, faith-filled relationship with their Creator.
In a world where materialism and self-reliance often dominate, tithing serves as a counter-cultural act of trust. It declares that our ultimate reliance is on God, the ultimate Provider, and that we are willing to entrust our financial resources into His hands.
Implications for Modern Believers
Understanding tithing as a covenant practice with elements of testing and trust has several implications for modern believers. It invites us to:
- Strengthen Our Faith: Tithing encourages us to deepen our faith in God’s faithfulness and provision. By faithfully giving, we participate in a living demonstration of God’s blessings.
- Cultivate Trust: Tithing fosters trust in God as our Provider. It reminds us that our financial security ultimately rests in His hands, not in our wealth or possessions.
- Prioritize Kingdom Values: Through tithing, we prioritize God’s kingdom values of generosity, justice, and compassion over worldly pursuits of wealth and accumulation.
- Experience Blessings: By engaging in the covenantal act of tithing, we position ourselves to experience the blessings that God promises to pour out upon those who honor this covenant.
- Deepen Relationship: Tithing is an expression of our relationship with God. It invites us to commune with Him, recognizing His faithfulness, and responding with gratitude.
Did Jesus Approve of Tithing?
Indeed, Jesus did not discourage the practice of giving, including tithing. He emphasized that giving to God went beyond mere financial contributions; it was a reflection of a person’s heart and dedication to God. While Jesus may not have explicitly approved or disapproved of tithing, his teachings underscored the importance of genuine and heartfelt giving as an integral part of one’s relationship with God.
Instead of focusing on what Jesus didn’t say, let’s explore what his teachings reveal about giving. He didn’t demand a rigid formula, but he painted a beautiful picture of generosity rooted in a heart overflowing with love for God and compassion for others. He emphasized justice, mercy, and faithfulness as the guiding stars for managing our finances. Cheerful and voluntary giving, motivated by a genuine desire to honor God and build His kingdom, was the tune he played.
Tithing, in this light, becomes more than just a number. It’s a symbol of a deep, trusting relationship with God. It’s an act of saying, “I believe in your faithfulness, and I’m committed to obeying you.” Ultimately, Jesus’ teachings invite us to prioritize generosity, trust God as our ultimate source, and live out the values of His kingdom. Tithing, when done with sincerity and understanding, becomes a powerful expression of faith and a way to partner with the Divine in spreading His love and grace.
FAQs About What Jesus Said About Tithing
Did Jesus explicitly mention tithing in his teachings?
Interestingly, Jesus didn’t directly prescribe tithing as a practice. However, his teachings on generosity and the moral implications of wealth hint at broader principles that guide our giving.
Did Jesus endorse tithing in the New Testament?
Turns out, Jesus wasn’t a big fan of the whole “pay ten percent and call it good” approach. He expected his followers to be way more generous than those Scribes and Pharisees who just tossed a few coins in the basket. Talk about setting the bar high! (Matthew 23:23)
Is tithing abolished in the New Testament?
Tithing is not clearly stated as an expectation for Christians in the New Testament. Believers are under the Law of Christ and are encouraged to give willingly and in step with the Spirit.
What did Jesus say about giving money to the church?
Jesus emphasized giving to those in need and freely giving what one has received. He encouraged a generous and compassionate attitude towards giving.
Does Jesus require us to tithe?
While the idea of tithing is present in the New Testament, it is not explicitly applied to believers. Christians are called to more extravagant freewill giving in response to the gospel and based on faith in God as Provider.
Does tithing apply today?
Tithing is not required for Christians today. Believers are encouraged to support those who preach the gospel and to give willingly, but tithing as a strict requirement is not upheld.
Is 10 percent tithing in the New Testament?
The New Testament does not prescribe a specific 10 percent tithe. Instead, it emphasizes cheerful and voluntary giving from the heart.
Where does tithe money go?
Traditionally, tithe money is given to support the church and its ministries. However, specific practices may vary among different denominations.
How do you properly tithe?
Many believers choose to tithe, which means dedicating a portion of their income, often 10%, to supporting their church and its vital work.
It’s not about a set amount, but about giving what feels right from your heart.