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What Does the Bible Say About...Tithing?

Is it not more important to ensure your family has food and necessities before you pay tithes? If I don't tithe 10% of my income will I still go to heaven?


“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

Paul says providing for your family is important; so much so that not doing it makes one as if he never believed. In essence he says that if you don’t support your family you will not get to heaven. Throughout time, God has preferred that people show love over doing religious acts for the acts’ sake. Jesus talked against those who tried to get out of supporting their families by designating a portion of their goods as sacrifices to God.

“For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death; but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered; and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:10-13)

Even if God required us to give one tenth (a tithe) of what we have, he still would want us to support our families first. However, he does not put such a limit on our giving.

Under the Law of Moses, the Israelites were required to give a tenth of their produce. With other gifts and sacrifices they actually ended up being required to give at least one-third of what they had. What they gave was intended for the maintenance of the tribe of Levi, the priests, who were given no land and so had no other means of support. In essence it was equivalent to our governmental taxes today. Under the New Testament, on the other hand, God never specified an amount to give. In fact, giving a tenth of one’s income in addition to government taxation could possibly lead to violation of the scripture which says we are to give “not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

God expects us to give back to him what we can. Certainly the more we give, the more we acknowledge that everything is God’s in the first place. (That is assuming that we give for God rather than to be seen by men.) God does not put a specific percentage on our giving, because then we could use that as an upper limit for our giving.

Some people, incidentally, give in ways that would never show up on a spreadsheet. They give time, transportation, goods, and even answers to Bible questions, out of their own pocket without the church ever seeing it in their treasury. This is also giving to God. So is providing for your family.