Tithing is a foundational principle of Christian Living and an act of faith. The word “tithe” literally means a tenth or 10%. Tithing, or giving ten percent, isn’t merely giving something to God. It’s giving back (returning) what was His, to begin with. All that we have, or hope to have, comes from Him. Tithing is a reminder that God is the supplier of everything. Tithing teaches us to always put God first in our lives. Surrendering our finances to Him is part of our faith journey in drawing closer to God and knowing him more deeply.
For these reasons, Harbourview Church has a policy and practice of annually tithing a minimum 10% of its income (“offerings”) to be distributed to “outside ministries,” with the expectation of no direct benefit to Harbourview church activities and programs.
Why we are a Tithing Church
Genesis 14:17-20 NIV (the story of how Abraham tithes to Melchizedek)
This is a pivotal moment for mankind as it tells of God restoring a covenant of blessing upon mankind which had been lost since the Fall.
“After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (NIV)
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden in communion with God. As a result of the first sin (Genesis 3:1), God could not allow mankind to remain in the Garden. God cursed the ground. So, instead of living in the Garden where things were plentiful, where they just had to tend the Garden, living in a perfect environment in fellowship with God, they were put outside of the Garden where they had to literally fight for themselves because the ground was cursed. When they were in the Garden it was an unconditional covenant of blessing. Once outside of the Garden, those blessings were not available to Adam and Eve and to future generations.
God, in his grace, re-establishes the covenant of blessing with Abraham in Genesis 14. Melchizedek, the priest-king, brings both bread and wine, a foreshadowing of the communion we now serve as symbolic of our communion with God. The covenant, the first made by God, was put into place so mankind could voluntarily come back into a place of favour and blessing through being obedient. Abraham gave 10% of everything he had after it was retrieved in the battle of the Kings. This covenant, the covenant of tithing, released a tithe to Melchizedek 430 years before the Law was written. It is this same covenant about which the author of Hebrews speaks 2000 years later.
Malachi 3:8-12 NIV (Breaking Covenant by withholding tithes)
Malachi the prophet focuses on tithing as an aspect of life that proves one’s faith.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
In this passage of scripture, God says “try me”. There is no other scripture in the Word where God says this. God is saying regardless of what you think the tithe is, regardless of whether you think its Old Testament or New Testament, regardless of the theology of each of us, Give me a chance to prove to you that I am going to bless you.
Hebrews 7:1-22 NIV
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without a doubt, the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe, Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
The covenant was written into the Law to keep it in place until Christ was revealed. It is therefore fair to say that tithing was a covenant under the Old Testament law until the coming of Jesus. Because of Adam and Eve, God instituted a powerful curse on His own creation. The only thing strong enough to break the power of God’s own words was the blood of his son, Jesus. As soon as His blood from the Crucifixion touched the ground, that curse was broken. In giving His Son to us, God constructed a covenant that allows man voluntarily to come back into that place of blessing, through Christ.
We, each of us, must appropriate the work of the Cross. Though everyone in the world is potentially saved, each person has to ask Jesus to come into their lives to accept that covenant exchange.
Become a Blessing
As soon as we choose to bless, we become a blessing. The giving of the tithe, which is a covenant token, overrides the work that Satan is still doing. Satan wants to take as many people to hell as he can before the return of the Lord. He uses the financial principles of this world to do so. Salvation prevents the enemy from doing that. Tithing prevents the enemy from allowing us to swim hopelessly in the world’s financial system which is still under the curse. We, instead, can operate using the Kingdom’s financial system, of which tithing is a centerpiece.
Christ broke the curse of the Law, but he didn’t dismantle the covenant of blessings that was previously established before the law was written. Tithing separates us from the world’s financial system and puts us into God’s financial system so we can be a blessing.
A Type of Christ
In Hebrews 7, we can see that Melchizedek, whom Abraham tithed to, was a Type of Christ. He was the priest of God most high, and he blessed Abraham. That was Melchizedek’s function. He is a type of Christ, a form of Jesus, that came, went, collected the tithe, and that’s all he did. There is no record of his death or his birth or his genealogy. He was out in place as the priest, to have authority to strike this covenant to the generations that would follow Abraham. A new testament confirmation that this is still in existence: ”In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. (Hebrews 7:8)” The first part speaks of Melchizedek, the latter part speaks of Jesus, who is of the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek collected the tithe on behalf of the Father in the Old Covenant; Jesus collects the tithe on behalf of the Father in the New Covenant, Because of this oath, Jesus has become “the guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7: 22). He’s our guarantee.
It is therefore fair to say that tithing is a covenant under the New Testament.
Reasons why it is appropriate for a church to tithe 10% of the offerings it receives:
- God is the true owner and the giver of all that we have.
- Tithing helps to keep our priorities straight.
- Tithing helps a church to keep outwardly focused by setting a certain amount in their budget toward “outside ministries” and reaching out to meet the needs of others.
- The practice of tithing provides a regular reminder of our dependence on God.
- Regular giving is a sign of obedience to Christ.
- God promises to revive every person who obeys Him.
- We become eligible for a blessing. The principle of tithing does not promise us money; it promises us to be in a position to be blessed.
- Tithing is foundational to living inside God’s financial system rather than the world’s financial system.
- Tithing supports the Great Commission — by the releasing of our tithe, we are saying we submit to a better covenant in order to defeat the enemy and the financial system of this world.
- Tithing is worship to God with substance. When we tithe we are saying “Father, we choose to invest in the Kingdom of God”.