Tithing has a long history rooted in the Bible. Traditionally giving a tithe entails donating ten percent of income to the church. Baptists believe that everything a person owns is a gift from God, and individuals are merely caretakers of their material possessions. Within this context tithing is not viewed as generosity from a Christian to the church, but a way to worship God by returning to him a small portion of that with which he has blessed the believer.
Baptists base their practice of tithing on biblical precedent set forth in the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 14:22 instructs "You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.” In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus explains giving monetarily is less about quantity and more about generosity of spirit. After witnessing a poor widow tithe only two coins Jesus says "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
Baptist churches teach tithing income as outlined in the Bible, but they also instruct parishioners in a more holistic view of Christian giving. Baptists believe that everything a person has, including their time and talents, are gifts from God. Behaving as a good steward of these resources entails using them for God’s glory and the service of the church. Baptist teaching emphasizes God receives glory when Christians joyfully, rather than begrudgingly, give of the blessings he has bestowed.
Tithing is an act of worship, and Baptists believe blessings, though not necessarily of a material nature, will follow this act of trust and obedience. In Malachi 3:10 God instructs the Israelites to “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.” Baptists point to this scripture and others like it as evidence of God’s promise to show favor to those who tithe.
Pastors within the Baptist church caution congregants and clergy alike that tithing is a worshipful act, and should not be motivated by legalism. Through donating money, a person giving a tithe is able to help the needy in ways otherwise unavailable to them. Tithing also allows parishioners to grow spiritually when they are motivated by love as opposed to a sense of obligation. In this model, tithing not only sustains churches, it enriches the spiritual lives of Christian believers.
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