A recession is on the horizon. Interest rates are rising, and stocks could continue their downward spiral plunge. Inflation is sinking the value of your money as you read this article, and yet, as pastors, we’re called to preach the whole of God’s Word, and that includes talking about tithing.
I don’t know many pastors who love preaching on money. I know even fewer who want to do it when people are complaining about how the price of eggs has doubled. But God’s Word is clear on his people’s generosity toward the church. Tithing isn’t dependent on the current economic climate. Our tithes say more about our relationship with God than our relationship with our wallet.
Here are five reasons Christians must be tithing to their local church, even amid swirling economic times.
1. Tithing Is Scriptural
Tithing 10% was the consistent pattern in the Old Testament. Every Israelite considered the first 10% of their income the Lord’s. Their tithes went to the temple and funded the Levites, the OT form of what we call pastors today. Proverbs 3:9 says tithing 10% of our income is a way we honor the Lord. And God says in Malachi 3:8 that refusing to tithe is “robbing from him.” Do you trust him? Then invest your money in what eternally matters, and see Jesus take his rightful place as master over your life, including your wallet. Click To Tweet
Even Jesus affirmed tithing. He told the Pharisees, “You tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matt. 23:23). Translation: tithing is important; you ought to do it. But don’t forget the more significant stuff. Jesus affirmed tithing as the norm for his people. That should be enough, but it’s not our only reason.
2. Tithing Is Covenantal
The most common rebuttal against tithing today is: “We’re in the new covenant, so I’m not required to tithe, just to be generous.” This is like saying, “I’m not required to take a Sabbath, just to rest regularly.” The problem with that argument is that the new covenant always surpasses the requirements of the old covenant.Our tithes say more about our relationship with God than our relationship with our wallet. Click To Tweet
The old covenant said, “Do not commit adultery.” Under the new covenant, Jesus says that if you lust after a woman in your heart, you’ve already committed adultery (Matt. 5:28). So if the old covenant required tithing, do you think the new covenant demands less? Absolutely not! Tithing should be the bare minimum. We should be far surpassing it.
3. Tithing Is Practical
Church attendance is declining. So are church budgets. Every church planter I know is scrambling for fundraising help. But most churches don’t have a money problem; they have a generosity problem. Here’s what I mean: If just ten church members tithed, that would basically equal 100% of a salary. A good question for pastors to consider is: If every Christian in my church gave the percentage I’m giving, what would my church’s budget look like? If Christians don’t tithe, churches won’t thrive.
4. Tithing Is Christological
Isn’t it great news that Christ spared no expense for us? Jesus didn’t just give us 10% of his wealth. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus left the sprawling Beverly Hills of heaven to descend to the slums of earth to take on your spiritual debt, so he could give you his spiritual inheritance that will not spoil or lose value. That’s incredibly generous. Giving 10% of my income to what Christ loves most in the universe—his church—is the least I can do in response to his grace.
5. Tithing Is Spiritual
Everyone gives to what they love: restaurants, golf, fishing, fashion, etc. Are you tithing to your first love? Tithing affirms Jesus’s lordship in your life. It’s your way of saying, “God, you will always get my first and my best.”
Your money best reflects what you worship. That’s why Jesus talked about money more than he talked about anything else. If someone looked at your bank statement, would they be able to say, “Jesus is their first love?” For many, their bank account reveals how much they love themselves. That’s why John Wesley said, “The last part of a man to be converted is his pocketbook.”Tithing affirms Jesus’s lordship in your life. It’s your way of saying, “God, you will always get my first and my best.” Click To Tweet
Is there grace for the Christian not tithing? Of course. But grace compels us to do good works; it doesn’t enable us to ignore God’s commands. And I know only one command where he says, “Test me in this” (Mal. 3:10). Do you trust him? Then invest your money in what eternally matters, and see Jesus take his rightful place as master over your life, including your wallet.
Pastors, are you not only preaching this but modeling it? Are you filling people’s hearts with such love for Jesus that it loosens greed’s grip on their lives? When tithing becomes a no-brainer for Christians, church plants will thrive in ways that change our communities and our culture for God’s great glory.