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December 17, 2006


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Amen brother. Excellent post.

We've been married 30 years. We haven't always succeeded in paying ourselves second (or at all). We haven't always succeeded in staying out of debt, either. But tithing on our gross income (even during the years we had two children and lived below the poverty level) has been the one inviolable financial discipline in our lives.

We're still learning about other aspects of wise handling of money, but I can't imagine ever regretting putting God first with our finances. We've received so much joy from giving.

I admire anyone who can tithe. I cannot get past the concept, since my financial planning skills are so poor, but I suspect that if I just did it, I'd figure out how to deal with it, the way I normally do. Keep writing these kinds of posts, I hope it will eventually inspire me to be more like you.


Good insight. A tip that we use is to just pay our tithing via our online banking. Thus, on Sunday when heading out the door to church, we don't have to try to remember to bring the envelope and check. Rather, we can thoughtfully decide on the tithing amount and make the payment easy. Check with your church office for the receipt of online bill payments. Even it they don't take them, your bank will just send them a regular check.

I've always wondered if your tithing should include 10% of investment earnings? That would be your true gross.

I'm in sales, and I earn 50% profit on all the products I sell (we buy for $1 and sell for $2), plus I earn commissions. I tithe 10% on all my commissions of course, but I've always wondered, do I tithe on my profit (50%) or on the retail value (100%)? For example, if I pre-purchase a product for $20 and sell it for $40, do I tithe on the $20 or the $40?

Henry and Ciji --

Good questions! Look for my answers on a Sunday post in the New Year. ;-)


I feel quite conflicted about this subject. If I contributed 10% of my salary (without including my husband's salary, or any gains in my investments), I would be tithing $10K per year. Let's say I tithed for the next 30 years at an average of $20K per year (assuming increased salary and inflation). That would mean I gave away a total of $600K in my lifetime. Instead, I tithe very little NOW - maybe 1% of my salary, and invest wisely for my future. I save 40% of my salary between investment and retirement accounts and have no expensive habits. However, my entire estate will be left to charity when I die. That estate will be conservatively worth $5MM at that point. If I died tomorrow, my estate would be worth $2MM.

So instead of giving away $600K in dribs and drabs, I will be leaving almost 9 times that amount in a significant chunk all at once, tax free to the charity. I think my way makes more sense, financially and otherwise. Paying God first is always on my mind, in the way I live my live every single moment. I am working for Him/Her, but am steward of all the money now.

Wow, I didn't realize being an atheist gave me an extra 10% return on my income. Awesome!

Well, tithing in principle sounds just fine and dandy. Christians should aspire to giving away 10% of their income as a sign of their faith... BUT here's the rub, who do you give it to? There have been some very good stewards of God's Money in all churches, but I doubt that giving money to just any 'steward' would necessarily reap the benefits for either recipients or tithers.

Would giving your money to some of the tele-evangelists count? Would giving your money to the Catholic Church count? Would giving your money to 'cause' like Greenpeace count? What about standing on the sidewalk and giving your money away?

Naturally, the churches will tell you that they should be the recipients of such tithes, and many churches 'enforce' this on their members.

I wonder, though: how many churches have gone on spending sprees with tithed money, even to the extent of racking up debts, way beyond what a normal church could handle? Construction costs overrun, salaries and expenses, their own 'do-good' works... etc.

It seems to me that as recipients of wealth ourselves, the onus is on us to make sure that the tithes we pledge go to fund worthwhile projects in our churches, communities, or wherever. Make sure it doesn't ending up supporting some 'preacher/priest/televangelist's extravagant life.

Just my 2c.

Anon --

I've had to deal with the same issue. I'll probably cover this in a later post, but I always go back to the purpose of tithing (Deuteronomy 14:22-23) which is to put God FIRST in our lives (see and Prov. 3:9-10 which says to honor the Lord with the FIRSTFRUITS (not the lastfurits.) As such, I give first, off the top, and do my saving/investing afterwards.

If it makes you feel any better, God can do more with your 90% than you can do with your 100%. Besides, the issue is really more of a spiritual one than a financial one, so don't worry about leaving God a big tip when you die. ;-)

Jay -- Matt. 16:26

Anon For This,

You may wish to consider giving charitably to endowments. In this way, your contribution will compound and continue to "give" well after you have passed on. Granted, the immediate benefit of your gift doesn't have a large impact, but in the long run endowments yield much more charitable power.

For those who find it impossible to do so, they may find it better to give of their time and energy. Much less tax to pay on it.

(While you are trying to put him first, you can't really succeed since taxes come first whatever you do and you pay taxes on your giving even if you are able to deduct them.)

(Continuing on that theme, an individual has very limited control over taxes so the fact that taxes come first is not within their control. The state, not you, puts itself first. (Give unto Caesar..) Also, as it seems likely that at least 10% of taxes go for charitable ends, unless you intend your contributions for a specific institution, the net is at least as reasonable a basis, if not more so. Greed is not limited to individuals, though.)

Actually, you CAN pay Him first if you follow the method I use (described above.)

Its interesting that 10% is seen as a goal, but from what I have read, 10% is the bare minimum. Above that, we are to give alms which includes even more of our income. Not only that, but the Bible says we should not pay nor accept interest, and we should live our lives "in poverty". In fact, we aren't even supposed to rely on banks.

My source for this information is:

I am really interested in the concept of a biblically based financial lifestyle right now. Does anyone live this way? I would like to hear about how it has changed their lives.

Andre -- What's the scriptural reference for living life "in poverty"?

I agree that your tithe should come off the top and be the first thing that goes from your income. I've been doing this ever since I started my career. I also agree that 10% is the starting point and that we should be challenged to give more as our income increases over the years. A book I recently read by Wes Willmer summarizes it well, "And if Christians think that all God wants is 10 percent, and that the rest is their own to do with as they please, they are sorely mistaken."

Being a steward automatically assumes that everything comes from God. The way we use our money and possessions will truly show where our priorities are.

Such a good point! That is one reason why I really like Suze Orman, she talks about tithing and how important it is.

I am so glad I found this article. I agree wholeheartedly that tithing at least 10 percet is biblical. My husband and myself are dedicated tithers and have been for that last 4 years. Our financial situation has improved greatly in this small amount of time not to mention our personal life. God has done wonders with the reamining 85 to 90 percent of our income. Praise the Lord!


Since you asked, I'd really encourage you to listen to Andy Stanley's 6-part LO$T sermon series. You can listen to this free by going out to and scrolling down to 10/30/05 for the first message "A Sudden Realization".

Alternatively you may want to investigate Crown Financial Ministries, which claims to teach God's financial principles. I completed Crown training through North Point, my church (it's no coincidence that Andy Stanley is on their board), and found the content to be Bible-based with a LOT of Howard Dayton's personal financial beliefs thrown into the mix, not all of which I agreed with.

There is no conflict to the "Pay Yourself First" principle here. You are still paying yourself first by proportioning an amount of your monthly income for yourself and not to pay bills and others.
"Pay Yourself First" does not dictate what you should do with the amount which you set aside for yourself, although in financial term, you should put it into building your wealth.


Thank you for what largely sounds like sage advice on biblical investing. I've always tithed on my net income, but your thesis that putting God ahead of the state (tithes ahead of taxes) is compelling.

I must say, though, that I bristled when you intimated it was incumbent upon you to brandish your faithful, consistent giving as an example to others. I don't see how your logic -- unless I'm ignorant of the pertinent Bible verse's gist -- meshes with the command to "not let the left hand see what the right hand is doing."

If worship of God is supposed to be done in secret, notwithstanding our obligation to also worship corporately, why should tithing be so demonstrative? I'm confident your motives are sincere, but unseemly perceptions are not always solely the fault of the perceiver. I think tithing in secret is desirable, lest we be perceived as flaunting our piety.

I know you'll agree -- tithing should arise out of obedience (love for) and gratitude to God ... not a desire to match another parishioner's Sunday-morning strokes.


Brian --

I think we're in one spirit here. I've talked before why I give every week and not once a month (and it's not to look good to others), but I'll detail this a bit more on an upcoming Sunday post. Please come back as I think you'll find it interesting.

Anon - (if I'm reading the posts correctly) I have to say that tithing is not "giving to charity". As others have so aptly stated, 10% to God is the minimum - it's my understanding that the word "tithe" means 'a tenth of'.

Lord, Jesus taught us a lesson about the impossibility of tithing - Mark 12:41-44

I am not trying to be "holier than thou". Financial stewardship is something my family and I are struggling HARD with. Thanks to all posters for your encouraging words.


think you're missing the point of how the money from tithing is used. If you want to leave a will to your church, please feel free to do so. Why you should be giving tithes now, in the present, aside from the most often brought up reason of "put God first" is that in reality, church needs money to operate. Remember, God himself does not need your money. He's God afterall. But his body (church) does. It is the tithes from you and other members that puts food on the table for the pastor's family and other church employees. The church needs money for local or foreign ministry. With your investment, let's say it takes 40 years for the church to get the lump sum of your investment. What good is that in waiting for the future glory of bigger sum of money when you can't use that money to help the cause now? God will continue to provide for the church in years to come without having to depend on a huge investment that may come decades later. So don't worry about all the investments and such. Just give in the present.


For me my primary motive in tithing is to honour God & be kingdom financier to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a highly sophisticated world, where without finances the church will have a zero effect in the world, it is an undeniable fact that finances are needed to carry the Gospel of Christ Jesus to all nations of the world. And anyone who understands the basic message of the cross, the saving power of Christ, will obey God at any cost to ensure that the bigger goal is achieved.

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