Tithing: The Training Wheels of Giving

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-tithingIs tithing necessary for salvation? If I fail to tithe will bad things happen to me?

I think tithing, as Randy Alcorn has well said, is the training wheels of giving. If you look at the progression from the Old Testament to the New, what you see is that Moses communicated to the children of Israel that they were to tithe so that they would learn to revere the Lord their God always. The prophet writes,

Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.  Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always (Deut. 14:22-23). *

That is a universal principle. Reverencing the name of God is timeless, it’s as crucial today as it was when Moses first talked about it.

Now, Jesus reaffirmed the practice of tithing in Matthew 23:23, which is an easy passage to remember. He says,

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. 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.

What Jesus made clear there is that tithing was not for outward appearances but was an outward expression of an inward reality. The inward reality is this: That we recognize as believers that we are not owners, we are stewards, and, therefore, we hold what we have with an open hand so that God can take out and put in as He sees fit, but we never give out of legalistic prescriptions. Like saying, “If you do not give you are going to hell.”

We give because we love the Lord. Why do we get baptized? We are not saved by getting baptized, but we get baptized in obedience to the command of God (Matt. 28:19-20), and what we are doing is visibly identifying with the body of Christ and with the mission of the Christian church to make disciples of all nations.

Ultimately, tithing is something we do so that we can learn to trust the Lord rather than the arm of flesh. I think it is important that we learn to tithe, but not from the perspective of being forced into it. We do it because we are trying to learn how to revere the Lord and trust Him more than we trust ourselves.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further study, please access the following:

Is the tithe for today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is the Biblical View of Wealth? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does the Bible Teach about Debt? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Tithing: Is it in the New Testament? (Revisited) (Elliot Miller)

Short-Term Recession of the Long Winter? Rethinking the Theology of Money (William F. High)

Adapted from “Is tithing necessary today?

All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.