By Sarah Garrett, Crosswalk.com
“Oh great, another sermon on tithing. Ugh.”
Have you ever had this reaction before?
I know many people who have, and I know that teenagers are hearing it too. Teenagers will also hear how tithing is important and essential to the church. They may also hear that it’s okay to just “throw some money in the plate” every once in a while.
Tithing can be a controversial topic in churches. Depending on how adults view the topic, teenagers can pick up many different opinions, falsehoods, and facts when it comes to this subject. Tithing is important to understand and it is the aim of this article to discuss tithing statistics, what tithing actually is, and three truths concerning it.
What is tithing? And who’s giving?
A general definition of tithing is giving 10% of your income to the Lord by giving it to your local church. As far as statistics are concerned, according to Lifeway research, 83% of church-goers (which they define as those who attend church at least once a month) agree that tithing is a Biblical mandate that still applies today. That is a fairly large percentage.
The same study also found that approximately 54% of church-goers give at least 10% of their income to the church. Since this number is roughly half, it becomes easy to see how there are differing views on the topic. After all, 83% believe it is important and only 54% do it.
When it comes to teenagers, it is important to discuss the topic of tithing with them. They need to understand what it is and what the Bible says about it.
The following three truths can be helpful in this discussion:
Truth #1: Tithing is an expectation as a Christian.
The concept of tithing is mentioned early in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 27:30 and Leviticus 27:32 (NKJV), it states, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord... And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, or whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy unto the Lord."
This means that 10% of whatever the Israelites brought forth for the year was to be given to God.
Furthermore, in Numbers 18:26, God says to Moses, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.’” Since the Levites were assigned to be the priests, they took the 10% of the of the tithe from the people. Then, they had to give 10% of that to the Lord. No one was exempt from tithing.
Sometimes people argue that tithing is an Old Testament practice and is no longer a mandate after Christ came; however, Jesus himself mentions the practice.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus is teaching and states, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Here, Jesus is chastising those who tithe, but neglect other parts of the law. Jesus explicitly states that tithing should not be neglected.
Truth #2: We are to tithe with the right heart motivation.
Another important point to discuss in the previous verse is that the Pharisees were giving their tithe with the wrong heart, or motivation. They were not giving because they were completely devoted to God and wanted to follow his commands. They were essentially “checking it off the list.” Tithing is easy compared to justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
God wants us to give out of obedience to him. Not as a burden or something to check off a list
Matthew 6:19-21 echoes this sentiment, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This verse echoes a similar sentiment. Our hearts should be focused on God and our financial priorities should reflect that. God does not want our hearts to be focused on the things of Earth to the point that that is where we put all of our money and energy.
What we spend our money on reflects our heart.
I believe this same principle is applicable to money as a whole as well; people will spend time and money on what they believe is important. If someone refuses to tithe, then it is likely the operations of the church are not on the top of the priority list.
Whether you’re a teenager or an adult reading this, it’s a wise exercise to make a list of what you spend the majority of your money on, that is not essential living expenses. What would reveal about your priorities? It is something to consider.
Truth #3: You will be blessed.
Please be aware that when I use the word “blessed,” I do not mean specifically financially or health. The “prosperity gospel” preached by many Christian influencers today is false, and God is not required to bless us with health or finances because of tithing.
The Bible does state that blessings come along with tithing and this is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. Malachi 3:10 states, “‘Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.’”
In the New Testament, Proverbs 3:9-10 states, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” It is clear that blessings and favor are associated with those who tithe, and I have found this to be true in my own life.
One of the most amazing stories I ever heard was from a teaching mentor of mine. This older woman told me that her and her husband struggled financially during their first few years of marriage, but made tithing a priority. One month, they did not have enough money to pay their electric bill and pay tithes.
Her husband was adamant that they could not use their tithe money for bills, and they prayed that God would meet their need. A few days later, they found an envelope taped to their door with a note that read, “God told me to put this here. Be blessed.” The envelope contained enough to pay their electric bill plus and extra $50. She still teared up telling me the story.
Sometimes God’s blessings are not this obvious, and they also do not have to be financial. I believe God can bless people financially, but it can manifest in so many other ways as well.
Sometimes, even suffering can be considered a blessing if it brings us closer to God.
The truth of the matter is that if God’s word says that tithing, with the right heart, will bring blessings, it will.
Can tithing be taught in the teen years?
When it comes to the 54% of people that do tithe, the State of the Plate report on tithing discovered that 28% of people who tithe began doing it when they were in their childhood or teen years.
I would fall into this category. When I was old enough to do chores and earn an allowance, my parents bought my sister and I plastic banks with the words spend, save, give. They discussed with us about giving 10% to the church so it can operate and reach other people for the kingdom.
Teaching the concept of tithing from a young age allows plenty of time to have conversations on the topic and for your children to see you do it. If a child/teenager can learn the value of this practice, it should be a smooth transition into the adult years.
In reality, everything on Earth belongs to God, including our money.
As Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” Realizing that God owns it all and that we are called to be good stewards of what he gives us is crucial when it comes to the topic of tithing.
If you are reading this and are undecided about the topic of tithing, I challenge you to read all the Bible has to say about it with an open mind and heart.
Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and the founder of Transformed4More.com. She has a calling on her life to share God’s truth to teenagers to help them lived transformed lives for Jesus Christ. She is the author of So, You Think You’re Ready to Date? a 40-day devotional for teenage girls to learn how to set a Biblical foundation for romantic relationships.
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