Admittedly, I’ve had a long, hard struggle with tithing. I’ve always wanted to do it, but most of the time have never felt like I really had the money to actually do so.
Deep down, I believe it’s the right thing to do. But not because it’s one of the 10 commandments (because it’s not), but because in example after example in the Bible, we see where God’s faithful servants always give Him the first part of their income or harvest.
In Genesis 14:20, Abraham did it long before the law was given: “‘And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Jesus later reaffirmed the practice in the New Testament: “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.’”
God even tells us to test Him and see if He won’t come through by honoring our tithe.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test [emphasis mine], 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. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:10-11).
The underlying issue is not that God wants our money. As everybody who has ever written about the issue of tithing has said, God doesn’t need our money. He owns it all anyway. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).
Everything comes from Him because it was all His to begin with anyway. When we tithe or give our offerings, we’re just giving Him back what was already his.
He even tells us that He is the one who makes it possible for us to have any money to give away. “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all” (1 Chron. 29:12a).
Then why do we need to tithe? The answer is that God wants our heart. Money is hard to part with. If we show God that we trust Him enough to give Him our money, then He knows that He has our hearts.
Jesus tells us to love God with everything we have. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’” (Matt. 22:37-38).
Jesus also tells us to store our treasures in Heaven because “‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt 6:21).
The backstory to Malachi 3 where God tells us to test Him is that the Israelites weren’t giving God their tithes, so they weren’t giving Him their whole hearts. They didn’t trust God or revere God enough to give him the first of all their harvest and their livestock.
When God told the Israelites to tithe, he knew that if they did they would be giving their whole selves to Him. That’s what He was trying to accomplish. He didn’t want their money and he doesn’t want our money today. He wants our hearts.
When we give all of ourselves to God, we open ourselves us to receive His blessings. And that includes His peace and freedom from worry. If there’s always that one small part of us that we’re holding out and not giving over to God, He can’t fully bless us; we’ll never fully know His peace.
Tithing may not be the answer to all your problems with stress and worry, but the simple act of giving God back the money that was His to begin with may play a crucial role in your mental health. Doing so shows Him that you trust Him and are putting your life and well-being in His hands.
Try it. Tithe and see what happens. Test God just as He tells us to do in Malachi. You may be surprised with the results.