NIV - 8 Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?' "In tithes and offerings.
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From a spiritual standpoint, tithing is a recognition that all that we have in our earthly lives (and even life itself) is a gift from God. We return a portion of our assets to Him (as represented by those who serve Him in spiritual capacities) for the support of His work on earth. The giving of our tithes is not an indication of need on God's part, but is an acknowledgement on our part of our utter dependence on Him, and (for Christians) a free-will expression of gratitude (rather than a requirement, as it was under the Law) for the undeserved salvation that He has made possible through Christ, and of support for the furtherance of God's kingdom on earth As far as I am aware, tithing traces its origin in Scripture to Abraham's action in Genesis 14:20, after he had pursued and overtaken the kings who had kidnapped Abraham's nephew Lot (and had also taken all of Lot's possessions) from Sodom, where Lot had been living. Abraham defeated the kings in battle, and brought back all the goods that they had stolen. He then gave a tenth of those goods to Melchizedek, who was the king of Salem (the forerunner of Jerusalem), and God's designated priest. Later in Genesis (Genesis 28:10-22), Abraham's grandson Jacob vowed to give to God a tenth of his possessions if God would protect him until he would be able to return to his home after fleeing from his brother Esau, who hated Jacob for taking Esau's birthright and paternal blessing. The practice of tithing was later officially codified as a requirement of the Law that God gave to Israel through Moses (Leviticus 27:30-33). In addition to representing Israel's thankfulness to God, the tithe was also intended to support the activities of the priestly tribe of Levi, which was not given a land allocation as the other Israelite tribes were, but was placed in dedicated cities scattered among the other tribes' land allocations.
Tithing was an old testament law. Giving is what we do under grace. Giving is done from the heart, tithing was done as a necessity. Giving is done out of compassion, tithing is a burden. Tithing is under the law. Giving is under grace. Tithing is looking forward to a blessing from God, giving is because we have already received a blessing from God. He died for all our sins.
Although God owns 100% of everything, He asks us for only 10% (Lev 27:30). Giving back 10% of our earnings is an act of faith and acknowledgement of God's ownership. God designed the tithing system for several reasons: to support His work, to test our faith and cure us of selfish tendencies. Some have argued that tithing is an OT practice associated with the temple worship, that is not mentioned in the NT and thus not applicable to the modern Church. That is not entirely true - the importance of tithing is mentioned in several places (Luke 11:42; Heb 7:2-10). Apostle Paul has a lot to say about tithing. In 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14 he explains that Gospel workers should be supported by the church member. Just as the OT Levites (2 Chronicles 31:4-10; Numbers 18:26), the NT preachers should exclusively dedicate their time and energy for God’s work. In (1 Timothy 5:18), Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 25:4 regarding the ox and Jesus from Luke 10:7 regarding the laborer. The phrase about the ox appears to have been a proverb, and it means it is fair for the ox to eat grain while working. In the same way, the second proverb means that God’s laborers who preach the gospel should be rewarded with wages. Furthermore, Paul is saying that God has commanded that those who preach the gospel should be financially supported by the Church. (1 Cor. 9:14; 2 Cor 11:7-10). When Paul said, “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you” (2 Cor. 11:8), he was probably speaking ironically of receiving wages from the less affluent Macedonian church to minister to the much richer, but apparently less generous, Corinthian church. His point to the Corinthian church was that those preaching the gospel deserve to be paid. And tithing is the perfect system to do that - rather than having a handful of wealthy individuals supporting God's ministry, everyone is called to make a contribution according with their income.
In my opinion, I feel that tithing replaces the Old Testament sacrifices of animals and the first crop, etc. After Jesus sacrificed himself for us we no longer sacrificed animals, etc., instead we started giving to apostles and the religious. It was generally 10% of income. This turned to tithing to the church which covered expenses and supported the Pastor/Priest. I believe that tithing has decreased over the years for a few reasons: people have too much debt and 10% is more than they can afford, frugality, giving to other causes (such as Red Cross), feeling the church is too rich, and believing that their money is being unwisely spent on extravagant churches and furnishings. I am Catholic and we have 2 offerings taken at Mass. The first covers expenses and the other is for special needs such as supporting seminaries or going toward building a new bigger church.
What is the purpose of tithing? To start; Mal 3:8 does not discuss the purpose of tithing, but the consequences of misusing and abusing the tithe, which was for food only. Money was never a part of tithing. Tithing is nowhere commanded in the New Covenant. The only covenants mentioned in Malachi are God’s special covenant with the Levitical priesthood, 2:4-5 and the Old Covenant Law 4:4. True biblical tithes were only food from the land and herbs of Israel who lived inside the boundary of Israel. They were the 10th of crops after the full harvest and the tenth in increase of clean animals. Lev. 27:30-34. Malachi does not mention the church, or the Gentiles, or the general population but the dishonest priest of Judah. 1:6 God addresses the dishonest ministers at the altar of Judah as “you:” Follow the pronoun “you” mentioned 16 times it does not change in the remainder of Malachi. In ch 2 the pronoun “Ye” is mentioned 22 times and ch 3 “Your,” 20 times before v 15. All referring to the Priest. 1:7 Priests offer polluted bread on the altar. 1:8 Priests offer inferior animals for sacrifice. 1:10 Priests are in charge of the doors and starting sacrificial fires. 1:14; Num. 18:25-29 Priests had better animals in their flocks received as tithes. 1:14 Priests were cursed. 2:1 Priests are addressed again: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you,” 2:2 the blessings of the priests are cursed. 2:4-5 Priests had broken their special covenant with Levi. 2:6-10 Priests had not taught God’s Law. 2:13 Priests covered the altar with their tears. 2:14-16 Priests had married Gentile wives. 2:17 Priests mock God and ask why He had not judged them. 3:1-7 God promises to punish the priests. Neh. 13:5-10 every priest in the nation has helped steal the tithes from the Levites. 1:14; 2:2; 3:9 God curses the priests once again, Neh. 13:5 Priests are told to return the stolen tithes from, back to the temple storerooms, 3:10. The ordinary people were to take their tithes to the Levitical cities where the vast majority of the Levites and priests needed them for food, Neh. 10:37b. 2 Chron. 31:1-19; 1 Kings 6:6. Although money existed before tithing, the source of God's holy tithe for over 1500 years Moses to Jesus; Leviticus to Luke was never money, Mal. 3:10; Mt 23:23. The increase was not from man’s hand or ability; the increase was from what God Himself miraculously produced from His own holy land. No holy tithes could come from non-food items, from Gentiles or from unclean pagan lands. There are 16 verses from 11 chapters and 8 books from Leviticus 27 to Luke 11 which describe the contents of the holy tithe. And those contents never included money, or anything other than food from inside Israel! Num. 18:27-28; Deut.12:17; Deut. 14:22-23; 2 Chro. 31:5-6; Neh. 10:37, 13:5; Mal. 3:10-11; Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42. The first of 4 tithe was to replace the loss of any inheritance or portion of Israel’s wealth in the land and to pay Levites and priests for their labor in the sanctuary and temple. Num. 18:1-4; Num. 18:21- 28; Lev. 27:30-34; Num. 18:20-29; Neh. 10:37; Num. 18:25-2; Neh. 10:38. Priests were not commanded to tithe, they were expected to give freewill vow offerings, Malachi 1:7-14; Num. 8:21-28; Lev. 27:30-38; Num. 18:20-28; Neh. 10:38. Today all believers are priests, 1 Peter 2:9-10; Rev. 5:10. A second tithe applied to the National feast sacrifices Deut. 12:6-7; 14:23; 14:12-24. A third tithe every third year was to be eaten in company with the poor and the Levites, Deut. 14:28-29. A fourth tithe was taken each year to provide for the military, I Sam. 8:15-18f. All these tithe were of food only and apply only to the Jews living in Jerusalem. The storehouse was a small room added on the side of a larger building, or a lean-to to hold perishable foods, 1 Kings 6:6. It never held money of any type. Mal. 3 cannot represent the Church because the Church was never mentioned in the 0 T; or the Temple, or a place of worship. There were no legal church buildings for almost 300 years after Calvary. The church called an (assembly of believers) is never called a storehouse, or building. 1st Corinthians 16:2, does not teach storehouse-tithing. It concerns freewill offerings for famine relief and not support of gospel workers (16:1). Jerry Brownlee
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