What Is The Tithe?

On the campus of Ohio State University, there is a building called the Wexner Center.  It was one of America’s first postmodern buildings, which means that it was built with no specific design in mind.  In this building, there are stairways that lead nowhere and pillars that serve no purpose.  When asked, the architect reasoned that life has no purpose and design, so why should our buildings have any design or any meaning?  One observer wondered, however, if the architect designed the foundation of the building with those same principles.  You see, you can fool with the infrastructure as much as you’d like, but you cannot fool with the foundation because it will call your bluff in a hurry.  

I share this story to illustrate the main point of the Tithing Project.  We want to teach about the tithe because we view it as Gods design for giving.  If we understand what the tithe is and why we should practice it, then we will have a great foundation of understanding for how we can live a life marked by gospelsaturated generosity.  

Why use the term “tithe”?   

Giving is described in many ways throughout the Bible, but the tithe is God’s foundational method for focusing our minds on the starting point of giving.  Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s people tithing in response to His grace on their nation.  We see Abraham and Jacob tithing before the law was given.  In the New Testament, Jesus affirms the tithe and then goes on to explain that the standard of generosity goes way beyond the tithe.  We certainly could have picked other terms like “firstfruits giving” or “cheerful giving” or “sacrificial giving.”  All of these descriptions are right and true, but they all lack the depth and clarity provided by a biblical understanding of the tithe.   

Why is it called the tithing “project”? 

Philippians 1:6 tells us that “He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion.”  All of the Christian life is working towards becoming more and more like Jesus.  Shaping how we handle our money is one of many good works (projects) that the Lord will see through to completion.  It is our prayer that God will use the tithing project in your life to shape how you think about money and help you see God’s beautiful design for generosity.  

If you would like to spend more time studying the tithe, we’ve put together a position paper you can see here