My parents never taught me to tithe. That was something adults did. I was a kid, so I could keep my allowance and spend it on myself without feeling guilty. Since they’re good parents, I wasn’t allowed to be self-centered and they taught me the importance of caring for others. But I wasn’t taught about tithing and giving back a portion of my money to God as an expression of thanks and joyful dependance.
When I started working part-time, it was really hard to start giving 10%. Because I only had a little money, so I needed all of it. Instead, I gave a few dollars here and a few dollars there. Then I started working more and earning more, and if I actually tithed I’d be giving a lot more money than I was comfortable with. So what would I do?
Now that I’m a dad, I look for opportunities to teach my kids to give as an expression of our family’s joyful dependance on God’s provision. Whether your a teenager or a parent, it’s important for us to put our money where our faith is. Parents, teach your kids about tithing when they’re younger.
God doesn’t call us to give out of our wealth. Instead, we give out of our sense of need. Christians serve a generous God. How could we honor him by being so stingy that we wonder how little we can get away with giving?
Eventually, I’ve learned to tithe (and to enjoy it). God truly does love a cheerful giver, because a cheerful giver reflects God’s generosity to the world. Here are five reasons you should grow towards tithing to your local church, regardless of your age:
1. It promotes the spread of the gospel or in the world
If the Church is the light of the world then giving to support the work of the Church in the world should be something every Christian is committed to. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission, but none of us are called to do that alone. When you tithe, you are strengthening and resourcing the local church to engage locally, regionally, and globally for the sake of the gospel.
2. It reminds you to be more dependent on God then on your job
We can say that we’re dependent on God’s provision, but if we keep every penny because “I need this!” then do we really trust God’s hand to give what is needed? God provides in order that we might give. Let’s not take this so far that we feel guilty for buying something nice for ourselves, but honestly – if you don’t give, why should you receive more? When you’re not tithing because you need it for yourself, why should God give you more than what you need? Read the Parable of the Talents to see who God entrusts with much, and who God entrusts with little.
3. It forces you to be more intentional about how and where you spend your money
Are you trying to keep up with all your neighbors, giving your kids all the things their friends have because you feel too guilty to say “No, Johnny, you can’t have that.” Or are you storing up treasures in heaven? Simply put, you’ll be far more likely to need a budget if you’re giving away 10% of your income. That’s a good thing, because it’ll force you to be more thoughtful and intentional about your money.
4. It challenges selfishness and worldliness
As Matthew 6:24 reminds us, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” If you love the world, you’ll spend your money on worldly things. But if you love God and are committed to seeing the gospel spread among your neighbors and around the world, then you’ll give accordingly. Tithing is a weekly reminder to you and to your children that your family have heavenly priorities.
5. It’s commanded by Scripture
Simply put, we’re supposed to tithe. It’s a biblical command, clearly given in the Old Testament and affirmed everywhere in the New Testament. The New Testament never explicitly says “Give 10% to the church,” but that’s only because it was so widely accepted as a biblical command that saying so was unnecessary. Remember, the Christians in the Early Church didn’t give 10%… they sold their homes and gave all of the proceeds to the poor!
Here are two articles on the issue: Got Questions simply asks What Does the Bible Say About Christian Tithing?, and John Piper’s article Toward the Tithe and Beyond offers a more extensive presentation on the Bible and tithing.