The Tithe

We have been studying the subject of obedience as it relates to God. God tests our obedience in three different ways: (1) by the Ten Commandments, (2) by the food we eat or by the law of clean and unclean meats, and (3) by the law of tithing.

The word tithing means that a “tenth of our income is to be returned to Him to be used for His work.” Disregard of these three laws is sin. If we love God “with all your mind, soul and heart” (Matthew 22:37), then we will find it a pleasure to obey His commands. If this love does not exist, then we will not find freedom in our service to Him.

Even in this lesson, I feel if we truly love God, we will feel it a blessing to give to Him and to His work. The questions we want to answer in this lesson are (1) is tithing biblical, (2) is it commanded by God, and (3) is it a sin if we do not return the tithe? Let us see if we can find the answers to these questions.

1. The wealth is the LORD’s. Haggai 2:8

The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
Haggai 2:8

In this verse, God tells us the silver and the gold is all His. In other words, none of it belongs to us. What we receive, God gives to us out of the goodness of His heart. To show us how good a God He is, He only asks that we return one-tenth to Him. In this way, He wants to see how selfish we are.

2. Every beast is mine. Psalms 50:10-12

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

Psalms 50:10-12

From this, we are reminded, there is nothing that belongs to us. Everything belongs to God. He has entrusted it all to us to take care of. But He has been very generous because He allows us to keep nine-tenths. Isn’t He generous?

3. The tithe was given from the very beginning. Genesis 14:17-20

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Genesis 14:17-20

Here Abraham gives a tenth to the high priest Melchizedek. Why does Abraham give a tenth? Because he knows it is God’s command. The law was written in his heart, just as it is written in our hearts today.
(1 Corinthians 3:3)

4. Jacob gives a tenth. Genesis 28:20-22

And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:

And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Genesis 28:20-22

The paying of tithes in the Book of Genesis occurred long before Moses’ law or the children of Israel. So the law of tithing could not be a part of Moses’ law and only for Israel. It was for everyone who worshiped God.

5. The tenth is holy. Leviticus 27:32

And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Leviticus 27:32

The tenth does not belong to us. The tenth belongs to the LORD; therefore, it is holy and we should not keep it for ourselves.

6. Honor the LORD with the first fruits. Proverbs 3:9-10

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:

So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Proverbs 3:9-10

The first fruits indicate the LORD should get His portion first; what is left we can keep and use for our existence. Verse 10 reveals to us there is a blessing awaiting us if we do this. God will see we have enough.

7. Is it a sin to withhold the tenth? Malachi 3:8-9

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

Malachi 3:8-9

Here it tells us very plainly that if we withhold the tithe (and offerings), we rob God. Now, a robber is a thief and we know no thief will get into the kingdom, so not tithing is a sin. The tenth is the Lord’s and we rob Him if we keep it for ourselves. We must be as honest with God, as we are with people when we handle their money.

8. What is sin? 1 John 3:4

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1 John 3:4

The Bible very clearly explains that sin is the “transgression of the law.” Whatever law we transgress, it is sin. That is why it is so important to understand what God requires of us, lest we transgress His law. Still, we want to explain that we tithe out of love, for we want to show Him how much we appreciate all He does for us. Just word service is not enough.

9. Again, a promise or blessing, if we give. Malachi 3:10

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.
Malachi 3:10

Again, this shows how good God is. The tithe belongs to Him in the first place but yet He says, if we return it to Him, He will bless us. This shows how wonderful God is. He gives more to us than we give to Him.


10. Levi had no inheritance. Deuteronomy 10:9

Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
Deuteronomy 10:9

When the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, the tribe of Levi (who were to be the priests) was not to receive any inheritance with which to support their families. God had other plans for them.

11. Tenth to the Levi.

We can see from this that the Levites (the priests) were to live from the tithe or tenth of the other tribes. This was to be their inheritance.

12. It is the same for the ministers today.

Verse 14 tells us the “Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” This was the way it was in the beginning, during the time of Israel and also today. Those who preach the gospel should live of or from the gospel. The gospel is the Lord’s work, so He has provided a way in which the work can progress and the ministers can be taken care of.

13. Paul robbed other churches.

Does this mean that Paul was a thief? What is he talking about? The Corinth church was not supporting the work as they should, so Paul had to take money from other churches to bring the gospel to them. In this sense, he robbed other churches. We should not be found guilty of this.

14. The LORD’s house forsaken. Nehemiah 13:10-12

And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.

Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.

Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.

Nehemiah 13:10-12

The Levite’s portion was not given to them, so they had to go to the field to provide for their families. So the LORD’s house was forsaken.

God was not pleased with this and they were rebuked. Verse 12 tells us what took place then.

15. Plenty for the LORD’s work.

The LORD’s way is the best way. If we practice tithing, there will always be plenty for His work. But if we fail to tithe, then the work will be hindered. By giving the tenth, we all give the same, whether it is small or large. The LORD looks not at the amount but at whether we have been faithful or obedient in that which He gave us.

16. What happens when we are not faithful?

We can be selfish and keep all but God says, it will not go any farther. Because our eternal life depends on our obedience, giving the LORD His tithes does pay dividends. This is as much a part of obedience as “thou shalt not bear false witness.”


Let us not overlook the fact that God proves our love by the three laws that He has given us: (1) by the Ten Commandments, (2) by the food we eat or by the law of clean and unclean meats, and (3) by the law of tithing. Failure to abide by the instructions found in these three laws shows that we do not love and appreciate God as we say we do. Anything short of complete surrender to His will does not show genuine love.

“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)

Material from the book Answers to Your Bible Questions by Wesley Walker.

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Answers to Your Bible Questions