Stewardship and the Tithe
“The writer was speaking to a national gathering of a great missionary society. The subject was ‘Stewardship’. The speaker was trying to bring his hearers to see the imperativeness of stewardship as the Christian philosophy of life. He emphasized the Christianizing of money and property as the key to the solution of the problems of labor and capital, as well as other social and personal problems. He ended with the plea that Christians renounce ownership and subscribe to the platform of Jesus: ‘Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.’
A question and a response: “’I share your solicitude that Christian people shall be possessed by the stewardship consciousness. I believe it must come before Christ’s Church can possess the world; but how can we bring this message home? I want to ask you one question. You are acquainted with many Christians who truly are possessed of the stewardship passion. How did it come about? Is it not true that most of them began with the acceptance of the principle of the tithe?’”
There was only one possible answer to make to that question, and the speaker made it. ‘Yes, it is a fact that most of the people whom I know as good stewards of their possessions began by setting apart the first tenth of their income. Many of them have graduated into a real sense of God’s ownership of all, but there is no question as to how they began. Whatever may be said about the perils of subscribing to the ancient law of the tithe, it certainly has proved an excellent schoolmaster to lead men into the experience of stewardship.’”
“Robert E. Speer has said: ‘I think every man will find, as every man who has passed through the experience can testify, that the acceptance of a principle like this marks a distinct era of a spiritual enlargement in his life.’ Moreover, the tenth as a beginning serves to test the philosophy. It seems evident that there is little hope of combating the natural covetousness of the human heart, or of really furnishing an adequate support for the Kingdom program, until men are ready to set apart at least the tenth of their incomes as the earnest of their consecration.”
“Therefore it seems just to think of the historical and scriptural tithe as: The Acknowledgement of God’s Ownership, The Token of Our Surrender, The Fellowship with His Purpose, The Pledge of Our Allegiance and The Witness of Our Faith.”
Dr. Speer was a major figure in Presbyterian and ecumenical church history with a 46-year career in the Presbyterian church as Secretary of the Board of Foreign missions. He emphasized the primary evangelistic aim of foreign missions, the necessity of developing indigenous local churches with native pastors, and the basic distinction between the proclamation of the gospel and the spread of civilization. Sounds about right.
“In confirmation of our proposition that the tithe is generally the beginning of the stewardship alphabet, James L. Sayler, a member of the Chicago bar, some years ago made an interesting survey. Concerning his findings, he wrote as follows: ‘It is sometimes said that the princely givers to the churches and to charitable and educational purposes have been men who in the beginning of their careers have set aside a tenth of their earnings to religious and charitable purposes. The statement has interested me, and I have made some effort to study such biographical matter as can be obtained, and through correspondence find the truth in these assertions.’ Mr. Sayler gives the result of his survey in a booklet entitled American Tithers.”
“Probably the greatest event of my life occurred on January 1st, 1877. On that day my wife and I made a written vow that we would devote a definite share of our income for religious and humanitarian work, and that this should be a first charge. Since that date we have often increased the proportion so that the original percentage is left far behind. The distribution of the Lord’s portion has been the greatest joy of my life and a real means of grace. It has kept me in constant touch with the promotion of Christ like work of all kinds, and anything I have been able to do for Christ and humanity (including profit-sharing with my work people for over twenty years) has grown out of the vow made thirty-three years ago.” William B. Hartley
“Henry Lansdell in The Sacred Tenth concluded that the practice and preaching of tithing in the Christian Church ‘begins with the very commencement of church history, after that recorded in the New Testament, and continues steadily and increasingly, nearly every century yielding one or more writers who persistently uphold the doctrine that the tenth of a Christian’s income is the property of and the least he should offer to God…So again, conversely, while we have found all these testimonies in favor of the practice of tithing, we have not met with a single bishop of these centuries who ever condemned or opposed the doctrine, or even suggested that less than a tenth is the proper proportion to be set apart for God’s service.’”
Henry Lansdell (10 January 1841 – 4 October 1919) was a nineteenth-century British priest in the Church of England. He was also a noted explorer and author. Lansdell began long and often arduous journeys to little-known parts of Asia. He distributed multi-lingual religious tracts and bibles provided by London missionary societies wherever he went, most notably in prisons and hospitals in Siberia and central Asia. Such activities sometimes aroused the suspicions of the Russian authorities and on one occasion he was arrested while travelling on the Perm Railway after it was thought he was distributing revolutionary pamphlets.Lansdell’s journey from Hotan to Yarkand in present-day Xinjiang “across deserts abominable” was probably the first by any Englishman
“It is significant that the earliest instance of worship recorded in the Bible is accompanied by the offering of material possessions to God”: Gen 4:3-5 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering.
“The first specific mention of tithing in the OT”: Gen 14:18-20 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. “Evidently Abram presented the ‘tenth’ as an act of worship, as an acknowledgment that the Most High God was ‘possessor of heaven and earth.”
“Where did Abraham learn the obligation to pay the tenth? Dr. Lansdell says concerning this: ’We may venture the hypotheses that God from the beginning taught that it was the duty of man to render a portion of his increase to his Maker, and that that portion was not to be less than a tenth; then we shall see that the facts recorded in Genesis not only do not contradict such a supposition, but corroborate and strengthen it.”
“Almighty God, from whom all good things come; give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to those whom thou hast entrusted with riches; that they, as faithful stewards, may dispense them in the service of thy kingdom for the increase thereof; to the honor and praise of Him, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” Bishop Wilbur P. Thirkield
Bishop Thirkield: From Wikipedia: Thirkield served as president of Howard University from 1906 until his election to bishop on June 1, 1912. During his tenure at Howard, he was friends with Booker T. Washington, the latter being a member of the board of trustees of the school. Washington was one of Thirkield’s strongest supporters on the board at the time. Thirkield finally left Howard to take up duties with the Methodist Church. Thirkield advocated racial cooperation at a time when segregation was not questioned by most.
Lev 27:30-32 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. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.
“It was the acknowledgment in holy worship of God’s ownership, that: ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein.’”
“Then God’s purpose in asking the tenth rises above systematic or other giving; indeed, the true steward cannot give anything to God.”
“We give thee but thine own, What’er the gift may be: All that we have is thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from thee.” William W. How
From Wikipedia: his energy and success made him well known, and in 1879 he became a suffragan bishop in London, under the title of bishop of Bedford, his province being the East End. There he became the inspiring influence of a revival of church work. He founded the East London Church Fund, and enlisted a large band of enthusiastic helpers, his popularity among all classes being immense.
“O God, my Saviour, teach me thy will. What hast thou for me to do this day? What hast thou for e to say? Open thou my lips, that I may speak, but open first mine ears that I may hear. Help me to wait upon thy word. Save me from lost opportunities and from mistakes. Reveal to me thine every detail for my life. In nothing let me live apart from thee. Sanctify my home, my place of business, and my resting hours. So let thy leaven for me begin on earth; for Jesus’ sake. Amen. “
“It must not be supposed that the Jew stopped with the first tithe. That, indeed, acknowledged God’s sovereignty, but it did not fulfill the obligation of the worshiper. In addition to the first tithe, there was the second, or festival, tithe; and then, in addition to this, every third year a third tithe for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned.”
Deut 14:22-23 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
Deut 14:28-29 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
“Let us not fail to note that in each instance the basic motive for paying the tithe was stated: ‘That thou mayest learn to fear Jehovah thy God always,” and “that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in all the work of thy hand which thou doest.’”
Prov 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Prov 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
These verses go together.
“When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far to small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.” Isaac Watts
“While the scripture makes it clear that the tithe was necessary to sustain the priesthood and the house of worship, yet the bearuti=ful ritual which was given to the Hebrew and which he was to repeat whenever he came with his first fruits and tithes makes it appear that God’s primary concern ws that his children should remember and acknowledge their dependence upon the Lord, the Giver. Accordingly, the worshiper would come before the priest, and presenting his tithes and offerings, would say: Deut 26:3 ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’
Deut 26:4 “Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.
Deut 26:5-10 ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’
“If one reads carefully the above, it will become evident how effective a piece of religious education was this ritual, and how deeply significant in the life of Israel must have been the presentation of the tithes and the offerings. No wonder then that at a later date—at a time of great apostasy, when the selfishness of many led them to neglect their tithing obligations—Jehovah sent his prophet with a flaming warning: Mal 3:8-9 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me,
“Dear Christ, help me this day to keep loyal to the holy habits thou didst teach. I know how much I need them in the barren hours when God seems so far away and life so empty. But help me never to mistake, to think of holy habits as the end, for it is thee I need, not habits, but thyself, dear Lord. Amen.”
Deut 16:16-17 they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.
1 Cor 16:1-2 have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper,
“Coming now to the New Testament, it seems impossible to discover that there is anything new taught concerning the necessity and methods of the stewardship of possessions. There is the same insistence that worship is insincere which comes emptyhanded. There also stressed the importance of systematic and proportionate beneficence. The tithe seems to be endorsed as a bottom standard, and freewill gifts are urged just as they were in the Old Testament. The only difference seems to be that the New Testament exhorts Christians to do as a matter of loving loyalty what, in the old dispensation, was made a matter of law.”
“Proportionate giving is taught and exemplified in both the Old and the New Testaments.”
“The Old and New Testaments can neither be divorced nor put in antagonism; they supplement and complement each other. God’s ‘Law” and God’s “Grace” are not opposed.” Elijah W. Halford
He was a soldier and newspaper editor. He also was the private secretary for President Benjamin Harrison from 1889 to 1893.
“It is astonishing how soon the whole conscience begins to unravel if a single stich drops; one little sin indulged in makes a hole you could put your head through.” Charles Buxton
Charles Buxton (18 November 1823 – 10 August 1871) was an English brewer, philanthropist, writer and member of Parliament.
“In all the little things of life, Thyself, Lord, may I see; In little and in great alike Reveal thy love to me. So shall my undivided life To thee, my God, be given; And all this earthly course below Be one dear path to heaven.” Horatio Bonar
He came from a long line of ministers who have served a total of 364 years in the Church of Scotland. He had married Jane Catherine Lundie in 1843 and five of their young children died in succession. Towards the end of their lives, one of their surviving daughters was left a widow with five small children and she returned to live with her parents. He was a popular writer who wrote tracts and over 140 hymns.
“Did Jesus advocate by example and precept the paying of the tithe as the acknowledgment of stewardship? Looking at our Lord’s perfect example in scrupulously keeping the law, we are led to infer that he not only paid tithes and all other religious dues, but that he probably exceeded what the law required.”
Matt 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
“In this scripture Jesus tells the Pharisees that they did well to pay tithes, but that they did wrong in thinking that the tithe, or any other holy habit, is an end in itself. The failure of the Pharisees was a failure to perceive the meaning of the tithe as the acknowledgment of the total surrender of all possessions and the pledge of a godly life of mercy and justice.”
“The need of our day is for a church that lovingly pays to God at least the first fruits of all time, energy, and money.” Frederick A. Agar
Churchman who wrote about church finances and a book entitled “Help Those Women” and “Deacon at Work”.
“Whoso neglects a thing which he suspects he ought to do, because it seems to him too small a thing, is deceiving himself; it is not too little, but too great for him, that he doeth it not.” E. B. Pusey
From Wikipedia: Pusey’s sermon before the university in May 1843, The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent, so startled the authorities by the re-statement of doctrines which, though well known to ecclesiastical antiquaries, had faded from the common view, that he was suspended for two years from preaching (authorities citing near-obsolete traditions as their justification). The condemned sermon nearly immediately sold 18,000 copies; for the next quarter century, Pusey became possibly the most influential person in the Anglican Church.
“We do not give God a fraction of that which we possess, but we loyally acknowledge God’s sovereignty over the whole.” Harris Franklin Rall
A churchman and educator in America and champion of the social gospel.
“When the tithe is used as God commanded it to be used—as the door into the larger life of Christian stewardship—it becomes not only the much-needed sinews of Christian warfare but also the witness of our faith and the pledge of our allegiance, and the token of our surrender to the blessed God.”
“J. Campbell White is quite right when he says: ‘The strongest passage in the Bible on the enforcement of the tithe does not say anything directly about tithing, but it states a principle which applies to all the law of God.’”
Rom 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
“Few things could happen so far-reaching and high-reaching in the life of the Church as the recruiting of an army of tithers, who, declining to be Pharisees, and refusing to b bound by any mere law, still use the tithe in giving to the work of God as a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ. After such an army the windows of heaven would not remain shut; and the assured blessing would come from God.” Bishop Edwin H. Hughes
An American churchman. One title caught my eye: “A Boy’s Religion”.
“And, as the path of duty is made plain, May grace be given that I may walk therein, Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain, With backward glances and reluctant tread, Making a merit of his coward dread, But cheerfully, in the light around me thrown, Walking as one to pleasant service led; Doing God’s will as if it were my own, Tet trusting not in mine, but in his strength alone!” John Greenleaf Whittier
Our abolitionist poet/writer.