Tuesday: Purpose of the Tithe

Paul writes to Timothy: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18, NKJV). He is quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 25:4 regarding the ox and Jesus from Luke 10:7 regarding the laborer.


The phrase about the ox appears to have been a proverb, and it means it is fair for the ox to eat grain while working. In the same way, the second proverb means that devoted laborers who preach the gospel should be rewarded with wages.

God creates and operates in systems. He has designed solar systems, ecosystems, digestive systems, nervous systems, and many more. The tithing system was used by the Levites (Num. 18:26) in caring for the tabernacle and for their support. The modern-day equivalent would be those who devote their lives to preaching the gospel. God’s tithing system is His chosen means for supporting the ministry, and it has been in use throughout salvation history. Supporting such laborers with tithe, then, is foundational and fundamental to God’s work.

What does Paul mean and what is the moral implication of the phrase “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14, NKJV)? What does 2 Corinthians 11:7-10 teach about the need to support those who spread the gospel?

When Paul said, “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you” (2 Cor. 11:8, NKJV), he was speaking ironically of receiving wages from a poor Macedonian church while ministering to a rich Corinthian church. His point to the Corinthian church was that those preaching the gospel deserve to be paid.

Tithe is to be used for a particular purpose and must remain so. “The tithe is set apart for a special use. It is not to be regarded as a poor fund. It is to be especially devoted to the support of those who are bearing God’s message to the world; and it should not be diverted from this purpose.” – Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 103.

Read Leviticus 27:30. In what ways is the principle seen here applicable to us today?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons