By Gina Calvert

What Does Tithing Mean?

Tithe isn’t a common word in English vernacular, so it’s understandable to wonder just exactly what tithing means.

Tithing Means Regularly Giving 10%

The word tithe, first found in Numbers 18:21–26, is the Hebrew word for “tenth.” God’s people were told that part of their worship included giving 10% of everything they had “earned.” That’s their flocks, their harvest, and any money or items they had acquired. (Lev. 27:30–32; Deut. 14:22-24; 2 Chron. 31:5-6; Neh. 13:5, 12).

The practice promised rich rewards, but God also went so far as to call their failure to tithe “robbing” Him. (Mal. 3:18)

Today, at its most specific application, tithing means regularly giving 10% of your gross (not net) income to God via the church.

Applying the 10% to total income before taxes comes from the concept of firstfruits (Numbers 18:13). Simply put, God was to come first, followed by taxes and other expenses.

Is Tithing Still Required?

Churches view tithing in a lot of different ways. Some church leaders believe the principle of tithing is biblical and required.

Others think the concept is not intended to be a practice of the New Testament church. For one, it’s not mentioned in the New Testament. Instead, freewill giving is the focus (Matthew 6:1-4). 10% is still a good guideline to aim for in charitable giving. However, when we give, it must be from a cheerful heart (2 Cor. 9:6-7), as we’ve “prospered in our hearts” (1 Cor. 16:2)

Some favor a combination of both tithing and extravagant giving. To them, tithing means regularly giving a 10% baseline to the church for general use. Then, discretionary offerings above and beyond can be given for all other charitable projects and recipients. Explore pro and con talking points on tithing.

Do Most Believers Tithe?

Unfortunately, only about 5% of believers give 10% regularly. The good news is that gifts to the church still top all other charitable giving, indicating that many givers far exceed 10% in their giving. And of those who do tithe, 70% apply the tithe to their gross income (Source).

Ultimately, the consistency of tithing helps churches better manage their budgets and impact their communities. The discipline of tithing helps givers grow in their faith that all things belong to God and he is Lord of their finances. But regularly giving in other amounts can also produce these benefits.

Above all, by not specifically mandating 10% for New Testament believers, God circumvented a “minimum requirement mentality,” opening the door to truly extravagant giving from the heart, where His best work happens!

For more encouragement on giving, visit:
9 Bible verses about giving during challenging times
8 compelling Bible verses about giving from the heart

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