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Tithing refers to the act of giving tithes to the church. A tithe can be defined as a ten percenta contribution made to the church from an individual’s earnings. The word tithe is derived from a Greek word meaning a tenth. According to Kendall, tithing is giving one-tenth of a person’s income to God through the Church (47). In Deuteronomy 14, tithe is defined as a tenth of one’s income.
Various people have tried to give definite explanations that would differentiate tithes from other forms of gifts and offerings to God. Historical scholars and theologians have had constant arguments concerning the exact definition of tithe. However, I would argue that the meaning of tithing is very simple and well explained in the Old Testament. Simply put, a tithe literally represents a tenth portion of total income given to God (Cunningham 30). A tithe is not the same as other spiritual gifts or offerings given by Christians in churches. It is worth noting that the term tenth implies approximate value and not an exact figure. For example, in the book of Genesis 41:30-34, we read about Joseph encouraging the Egyptians to double their tithes in order to compensate for the years they did not contribute their annual tithes.
History of Tithing
The history of tithing dates back to the Old Testament. Generally, the law of tithing originated from Pagan and was preceded by the Mosaic Law. In Genesis 14, Abraham was obligated to pay a tithe in order to show obedience to the Arab customs.
According to Knott and Knott, the Mosaic Law defines tithe as the tenth portion of a person’s produce or any other income that an individual pays voluntarily to God (129). Tithes are usually paid to religious institutions such as churches in order to support its religious operations and workers such as priests and pastors. Tithes are also used in helping the needy or poor people in the society.
The practice of tithing was started by the Israelites and is today widely practiced in many Christian churches. During the Old Testament era, Israelites were to gather their agricultural produce and take to the church a tithe of ten percent of what they had gathered. Similarly, ancient Egyptians gave tithes as sacred offerings or payments to the Temples.
Modern Christianity and Tithing
Today, many Christian believers take tithing as a major religious practice. Most churches teach that obedient and faithful Christians must give their tithes to God. In certain churches, it has become a compulsory requirement. In some churches, tithes may also refer to general offerings given to the church free of will.
Tithe may take various forms such as ecclesiastical tithes, personal tithes from personal incomes earned from formal employments, trade tithe from profits earned and agricultural tithes from farm produces.
Today, most churches do not give any compulsory percentage of income to be contributed as tithe. Tithing is not a legal requirement. However, all Christians are urged to begin tithing with a small percentage of their incomes and then gradually increase the percentage according to their ability to pay.
Benefits of Tithing
Tithing has numerous benefits to Christians such as strengthening our faith in God’s blessings, drawing us closer to God as well as giving us opportunities to support the church and the needy. Through tithing, Christians are able to support the missionary works of priests, spiritual teachers and pastors. Money and other material items contributed through tithing can be used to change the lives of poor people, and hence help in improving their living standards.
Misconceptions about Tithing
For centuries, tithing has been misconceived as merely giving out of money (Wells 51). In my view, it is more than coughing cash to church’s bank accounts. It entails heartily giving of one’s earnings and time. It is a way of helping others through giving. It is a way of giving thanks to God and appreciating His great deeds onto us. Tithing is a way of being grateful for God’s blessings. It also shows honor to the Lord.
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