Faith Facts – Thithing

A number of people have asked what “TITHING” is? According to the Bible the Hebrew word for tithe is “asar”, which means ‘to take a tenth part’. The tithe first occurs in Scripture in Genesis 14:20 in the story of Abraham where Abraham gives 1/10th of everything he had to God (This happened about 1850 B.C.E., before the common era.) The tithe occurs again a second time in Genesis 28:10-22 where God and Jacob make a covenant together. Jacob’s part of the covenant is that he will give a tenth of everything to God (1750 B.C.E.)

During the time of Moses (about 1290 B.C.E.), Deuteronomy 12: 6-7 is clear that the people of the covenant are to bring many offerings to the Lord, including a tithe. As part of this tithe we are to celebrate the ways God has blessed us. The tithe by this point in Scripture is to be used to make sacrifice to God, to pay for the priests and their service to the people, and to be used for the ministry of the people. In Leviticus 19:9 it was also commanded that fruits and grains be ‘left at the edges of the field’ to be gathered by widows, orphans, aliens and the poor and this was in addition to the tithe for the Lord.

During the time of the prophets (between 600 and 445 B.C.E.), the prophet Malachi (Mal 3:8) declared the tithe so important that withholding the tithe was considered to be robbing from the Lord. In the New Testament Jesus (about 30-33 A.D or C.E. the common era.) chastises the Pharisees for the giving of their tithes while at the same time neglecting justice to the poor, the sick and the outcast (see Mattew 23:23). Tithes were to bring joy and praise to GOD and also bring joy to the people.

The messages are clear in Scripture; we are to give back to God a tithe of one tenth of all that we are blessed with from God. This includes all that we have. In other words, we are to tithe not only from the wealth with which we have been blessed but also from our gifts and abilities. Today, giving of our musical talents, management skills, or other gifts is considered to be part of giving back to the Lord in thanks for what we have been blessed with. So as you consider how you might ‘tithe’ to the Lord, remember the tithe grows out of our thanks to God for first blessing us!

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