To Give Our Ten Percent or to Withhold: That is the Question

What Does the Bible Say About Tithing? (giving 10%)

by Minister Paul J. Bern

In searching for a topic worthy of discussion this week, I find myself once again returning to the holy Scriptures which I love so much. Only within the pages of the Bible can some wisdom and truth be found, both of which are currently lacking in today’s world. Only in the Bible can I find shelter from the madness that surrounds me. I was inspired to go there this time because of some things that are being taught in the church I attend each Sunday, and where I play keyboards each week. I don’t have a brick-and-mortar church as I write this, but it is something that I aspire to, and probably will do so in the fairly near future if I can find the start-up funding. But for now, I’ll keep on playing those keys even if I don’t agree with everything that’s being taught there.

One of the things I disagree with is something being taught in many churches having to do with finance. What I mean is the topic of tithing, but only when it is taught incorrectly. You must, the attendees are commanded, tithe 10% of your income each and every week for as long as you are working. I’m a disabled retiree myself, and yet I was once told I needed to tithe 10% of my disability check, which would not be affordable since I’m already considered a low-income individual. So I searched the scriptures and thr following is what I found. I want everyone to go with me to the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, a place in the Bible that I venture to from time to time. This week’s Bible quote and lesson will be taken from chapter 14, verses 22–29:

22) Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23) Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24) But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25) then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26) Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. 27) And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own. 28) At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29) so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Verse 22 is such a stark contrast to the rule of ‘10% each week’ that there really is no comparison at all. Instead of weekly, the 10% was done annually at harvest time. The harvest, the herds, the flocks, the new wine and olive oil — all of everything was brought into the presence of the Lord “so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always”. Now I ask you — when was the last time you were invited to dinner by God? Moreover, the tithe was to be eaten in the Lord’s presence. It was never meant to be given to some con artist on TV posing as a preacher. Verses 24–25 are for those who live too far away from the designated place of offering, considering that all transportation was done on foot. Notice that those people who live too far away are to exchange that which would have been their tithe for silver, “….and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.

Notice here that the currency specified by the Lord is silver, not paper money. No dollars were allowed in there. The value of silver is currently depressed, and it would make a good investment for those who can afford to do so. If God prefers silver to fiat currency, that’s just fine with me. “27) And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.” What’s a ‘Levite’? He is a Temple priest, set aside for exclusively priestly duties, similar to a monk today. There are still Levites in churches today, people who serve who own no property or investments, and who have little, if anything, in financial assets. Some don’t even own their own transportation. I am one such individual, even though I was raised a Roman Catholic. I draw no salary like a brick-and-mortar pastor would, I rely 100% on donations. Anyone who would like to help with a small donation, even if only a $1.00, can do so by clicking on the ‘donate’ button at the bottom right of this page, or by giving me some “claps” if you’re seeing this on Medium.

28) At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29) so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied….” If churches followed this teaching like they are supposed to, and if they obeyed the commands they are charged with by God, there would be no poverty anywhere in the world. So here we find the solutions to social welfare, economic self-sufficiency, and poverty all in one amazing and eloquent sentence. Bring an extra tithe (notice here it doesn’t specify an additional ten percent over and above) for, in order of importance in God’s sight, the foreigners, the “fatherless” — meaning not only kids without dads but also and especially orphans — and widows. I find it more than a little interesting that God puts those we call “illegal immigrants” at the top of his list of vulnerable people. If we would only follow these commandments, my dear readers, we could eliminate hunger.

“….and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” If we follow these commands, we will all be blessed and our lives will reflect that. If we don’t, people will go hungry while a few will have more than they could ever consume, and yet they will hold onto it anyway because they are too greedy and too selfish to share anything with anybody. Isn’t this precisely what is happening in the world we live in today? The term, ‘economic inequality’ is on everyone’s lips, and so is the term, ‘civil war’, or at least here in the US. Something urgently needs to be done about the former, and I don’t believe the latter is the way to go about it. What needs to be done instead is to follow God’s instructions. If you buy something that requires assembly, you are going to have problems putting it together if you ignore the instructions. It becomes much easier when you follow the directions, am I not correct? Follow God’s instructions and there will be no more needy people. Give them a free education instead so they can launch a career. Do all these things, and then God will “bless the works of your hands.”