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March 05, 2006


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This is an issue my wife and I are working through. Actually, to be honest, it's probably an issue we're avoiding.

My wife believes that tithing is a requirement. She takes the definition of tithing very literally - first 10% to the church you attend.

I, on the other hand, do not believe that tithing is a requirement. I feel that we are called upon to be good stewards and to be generous, but that there is no set standard as we are under grace rather than the law.

Now, the problem is that I am well known to be tight. My wife isn't sure whether my "convictions" on the matter come from faith and conscience or are just a rationalization for my tightness. If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm not 100% sure about that either. It isn't something we fight about certainly, but it is a source of disagreement for us.

I also don't define giving as narrowly as she does. When we give to a charity, religious or otherwise, I feel as though that "counts". I also feel it "counts" when we give money to help a family member in need.

Personally, and I really do think my motives are honorable when I say this, I think there is a real problem when we start believing that God expects a certain, identical percentage from each of us:

8% - disappointed God
9% - disappointed God
9.5% - disappointed God
9.9% - disappointed God
10% - satisfied God

It just strikes me as a very legalistic attitude for a church founded on grace. I also think that it is a hypocritical area for most churches. Churches that would be the first to argue against legalism in every other area will pound away at the idea that the tithe is the minimum standard.

I suppose I shouldn't conclude this without saying that I have absolutely no issue with people who do feel that they are called upon to tithe. I just don't like being pounded over the head with the idea that ten percenters trust God more than eight percenters.

I think you need to consider the following:

1. Tithing (giving 10%) was the minimum under the law.

2. Under the New Covenant, there is no law. We are saved by grace through faith. There is freedom (though that doesn't mean that there aren't guidelines).

3. In the New Testament, each reference to giving is to giving generously (in one way or another).

4. If the New Covenant is greater than the law (which it is) and it advises to give generously, doesn't it make sense that 10% would be the MINIMUM someone would want to give under the New Covenant?

My two cents -- You shouldn't be deciding between 8% and 10% but between 15% and 20% (or some set of numbers above 10%).

Will this earn you God's favor? No, of course not. Just like praying more won't, serving more won't, fasting more won't etc. You already have His favor (in fact, it surrounds you like a shield -- Psm. 5:12).

However, there are consequenses of what you give. Consider the verses in this post:

Also look at 2 Cor 9:6-7.

If you want to know more about finances and the Bible, I suggest you check out the resources offered by Crown Ministries.

This is a little dated but I believe it still is indicative of most evangelicals:

- The average church donor in America contributed a mean of $649 to churches in 2000.
- Nearly one-quarter of all born-again Christians (23%) gave no money to a church in 2000.
- 12% of born again Christians tithed their income to churches in 2000.

FMF, I like reading your posts. John Piper, from Bethlehem Baptist Church, expounded on these ideas back in 2003:

Here's the mp3's for it:

Here is what John MacArthur says:

"Two kinds of giving are taught consistently throughout Scripture: giving to the government (always compulsory), and giving to God (always voluntary).

The issue has been greatly confused, however, by some who misunderstand the nature of the Old Testament tithes. Tithes were not primarily gifts to God, but taxes for funding the national budget in Israel.

Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as the civil government. So the Levite's tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33) was a precursor to today's income tax, as was a second annual tithe required by God to fund a national festival (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Smaller taxes were also imposed on the people by the law (Leviticus 19:9-10; Exodus 23:10-11). So the total giving required of the Israelites was not 10 percent, but well over 20 percent. All that money was used to operate the nation.

All giving apart from that required to run the government was purely voluntary (cf. Exodus 25:2; 1 Chronicles 29:9). Each person gave whatever was in his heart to give; no percentage or amount was specified.

New Testament believers are never commanded to tithe. Matthew 22:15-22 and Romans 13:1-7 tell us about the only required giving in the church age, which is the paying of taxes to the government. Interestingly enough, we in America presently pay between 20 and 30 percent of our income to the government--a figure very similar to the requirement under the theocracy of Israel.

The guideline for our giving to God and His work is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."

Why are churches so scared to live by the spirit? It’s because we have become reliant on a standard and we can’t let go. We say that God would make us fall if we let go of our standard. But I say that God would reward more a church that gives what the spirit wants it to give, than a church that gives its standard. I’m not saying that that particular church would be bountifully rich, but that church would be like the church mentioned in II Cor. 9:6-15 - through liberty and a CHEERFUL heart all needs were met and thanksgiving was given to God. It is the cheerful heart that desires to give more than 10%. That is why our heart in tune with the Spirit makes the standard of man void.

The fact is that Spirit-filled giving is only a reality for a very few Christians. The average Christian gives 2-3% of his income a year.

Generally, I'm in favor of a Spirit-filled approach that leads to people giving more than 10%. I think that's what the Bible calls us to do. But I do believe that the tithe is a minimum amount that we all need to meet.

Tithes and Offerings

For many of us the issue of who should benefit from the tithes and offerings is still very unclear. The bible in the book of Leviticus 23:10 and Malachi 3:8-11 addresses the need for us to pay tithes and offerings. The tithe belongs to God, it is not negotiable and therefore from the tithe we do not receive a harvest, but instead God will open the flood gates of Heaven and pour out a blessing we will not be able to contain, He will prevent the pests from devouring our crops and our vines will not loose there fruit. Now it is important to note that God talks about a tithe and an offering, so these are two different things. When we pay tithe the heavens are opened and our seed which is the offering is watered, but if we pay tithe without a seed, there is nothing to water so there will be no harvest. Like wise if we give an offering without tithing, there will be a seed that is not watered therefore no harvest.

Now when the tithe and the offering are given in Church, we need to ensure that the 2 are not put together because they serve different purposes. In my opinion since the tithe is for the Priest and for the Storehouse (Church), it should be used to finance the Pastor’s upkeep and the Church administration generally. The offering on the other hand is for works, by that I mean feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, supporting orphans, hospital and prison visitation etc. If the offering is used to support the poor, then God will continue to bless the congregation so that their offerings are increased and the support to the vulnerable is increased accordingly. You see God has the poor at His heart, if your offering goes towards blessing the poor He will have no choice but to multiply your blessings so you can increase your offering.

So basically if a Church is not spending the offerings on helping the poor and vulnerable, the congregation that is giving the offerings will not yield a harvest for that particular seed. When we give our offerings in Church we give in the hopes that the money is used to bless the less privileged inside or outside the congregation. When we put our offerings together we are able to help more people than if we did it individually. Though we have on many occasions thought that it is not our business what happens to the offerings that we give, I think it is important for us to ensure that the money is used correctly to allow for a continuous flow of blessings. What the Pastor decides to do with the Tithes is between himself or herself and God, what they only need to remember is that the Tithes are to be used to support the Pastor and the administration of the Church. This will include the Pastors accommodation, food, transport, communication, paying for the use of a building if a Church has no Church building etc.

I have been paying my tithes regularly for a long while now but there are some questions I would like to ask as it has been bugging me for a while.

As an IT Contractor & business owner in the UK, am I supposed to pay my tithe from what comes into the business or from what I decide to pay myself as a salary?

In the last few years, I usually paid 10% of what came into the business and I was being taxed heavily on the Corporation Tax side of things as the government considered that as Profit. I spoke to my accountant who is also a Christian last year and he mentioned to me that I could register a Charity and then give from there or pay 10% of what comes into the business into a charity account and from there pay my tithes to the Church which could be over 10% of my salary and then make contributions to other charities as illustrated below:

Assume Business Income is £50,000.00 Per Annum.
Pay £5,000 Into a Charity account or a personal account under a heading Charity giving. Pay your Salary as lets say £35,000 Per Annum. Pay £3500 as your TITHE to the church. The remainder £1500 should be paid to other charities so that government will see that you give to different charities not just one as they may think that you have a personal interest in the charity you are giving to.

At the moment, I pay more than 10% of my gross annual income which comes to my personal account as my tithe to the church and then I make sure that what remains from the 10% that comes into the Business account is paid to different Christian Charities worldwide.

I wanted to find out from you if this is OK from the Spiritual side of things.

Awaiting your response

Bola Taylor

Bola --

It seems to me that your heart is in the right place. My only counsel is that you should pay 10% to your church. If you wanted to do it from your salary only, I think that's "fine", but if it was me, I'd pay it on the total.

That said, I don't really think God is concerned with our money as much as our hearts, and yours seems to be wanting to do the right thing. pray about it, get peace on the issue, and move ahead accordingly.

God’s first command upon a Christian’s money is family provision. “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim 5:8). For the Holy Spirit to author such a warning is incredible. To deny the faith? To be worse - worse - than an unbeliever? When I have pastored - and wherever I teach - it is my responsibility to have the brethren do this first. My needs, or the churches budget, or missions, or benevolence, or any other money call is way down the list. God is exceedingly serious about this first phase of any Christian’s financial ministry.

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