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« Americans Are Great at Financial Logic | Main | How Much Can I Save on Remodeling My Home? (And Giveaway!) »

August 19, 2007


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I don't disagree with you, but if someone owes me money, I wouldn't give them a break just because they thought they should tithe. Its all in the discipline.

I recently wrote about this issue as well. For a different take on the matter, check out my post (promo link deleted).

NineCircles, it looks like you don't believe people should tithe at all -- or more accurately, you believe that the value of tithing is extremely low. I disagree; I think it's very high. I will say that if you're going to a church that's wasting your tithe, you should switch churches or seek discipline for the fraudulent "leader".

But unlike FMF, I don't think the value is infinite. In particular, I don't think that missing a tithe because you owed a debt is itself wrong; I think that owing a debt beyond your means to pay is wrong. Jesus doesn't speak on tithing beyond implying that there are weightier matters in the Law than tithing mint (hardly an argument either way), but he does speak on how offending your brother is worse than failing to offer a sacrifice.

I also disagree with him that Malachi promises freedom from disaster to people who tithe. It promises freedom from disaster to the nation of Israel if they tithe. Updating that to apply to us (as a church or even a nation) may be a good idea, but it's not in the text as such; individualizing it to apply to *me* is obviously false, since many faithful tithers have failed financially.

In order to consider the Malachi promise to see whether it applies today, you have to consider what was demanded -- to fill the temple storehouses. What were those used for?

I think it's important not to equate tithing (or "giving") with religious mandates. The benefits of giving are compelling, whether you are Christian or not--even and especially when you are talking about ones finances.

I agree that one should give consistently, regardless of what's going on in your financial life. In fact, I think giving when it hurts to give is when the act of giving is most beneficial. I know it sounds new-agey, but the act of giving is a metaphysical reality that literally opens a person up to recieve more wealth. The more you try to chase and/or cling to wealth or money, the more it will elude you and the less satisfied you will be--just like with love, fame, joy, peace, etc.

Plus, we shouldn't forget the basic and more understandable benefits of giving--it makes you grateful for what you have, it makes you feel good for helping others, etc.

I would argue that if people gave 10% of their income to people who are truly in need if the assistance, rather than the church, the world would be a far better place.

I'm no religious scholar, in fact I'm fairly ignorant of almost all religions. I did however find an interesting site that explains that tithing is in fact exactly NOT what you should do. Instead you should actually follow the bible and "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

The point is that you should give to the needy, find what you like giving (doesn't have to be money) and give that cheerfully. If giving 10% of your income to your church doesn't make you feel happy and good inside, you need to find some other way of giving.

I'd rather someone give of their time than tithe while in debt. What is wrong with that? Somehow everytime I suggest this it gets ignored. I never understand why if you calculated $500/month tithing, why you couldn't take your hourly rate and divide it as hours you should spend helping the church out instead. Maybe painting, mowing grass, gardening, etc. But I'm not religious so maybe I'm really way off base about the church needing money more than help.

I guess what it comes down to is what God commanded and if you trust Him enough to step out in faith and obey. You first thing I do with my paycheck is tithe, God has given me the money, and I chose to honor Him with it. Does it require faith? Yeah just about every month, but He has never let me down.He always provides - it may take self discipline on my part, but that is what will also keep me out of trouble.

"I'd rather someone give of their time than tithe while in debt. What is wrong with that? Somehow everytime I suggest this it gets ignored."

Yours is a fairly common sugestion, here isthe most common responses: If you only tithe when its easy to tithe, you're missing the point. The tithe is both the result of faith and a builder of faith, as long as it is given sacrificially and not out of convenience. One of the points of tithing is to make God the #1 priority of your life, including your financial life... giving the "first fruits" of a financial harvest.

More practially speaking, what is the value that my church would put on free lawnmowing labor? Maybe $8/hour? Certainly not the hourly rate I would earn at work. Does your church really want/need more gardening or painting? The value of whatever manual labor you would be doing is probably significantly lower than your hourly rate at your regular job if you're tithing $500/mo (making $5000/mo)

What if your church really does want/need more gardening or painting, or website management, or whatever? Would it be ok to give time in lieu of tithing then?

I feel that if you believe in tithing, then you should feel obligated to tithe all the time. Stopping tithing is not giving the "first portion" of your money to God.

For those who consider themselves Christians, I have to ask: Did Jesus tithe? I don't remember reading anything about it. Since he had no discernable income, I don't see how he could have. Yet, he certainly was giving. How could there be a better example to follow than that?

Was Jesus married?

Maybe we should follow his example in that case as well...

To Nice Circles, if you choose to no longer have any earthly possessions or job except to go from town to town healing the sick, preaching the Gospel and proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, you are permitted not to tithe. For everyone else who has chosen to maintain earthly possessions and an income, God expects us to give back both for our benefit and for the work of the Holy Church.

"If you only tithe when its easy to tithe, you're missing the point."

Okay, so if I'm wealthy and I give 10% it's easier than if I'm poor and give 10%. Should tithing have a "progressive" structure? Or is this another case where the rich get a break?

RWH --

Personally, I've noticed that if someone doesn't give when they are poor, they won't give when they become well off. Many people (falsely) say they'll give "when they're better off" but I've never seen an example of this. Yet I have seen many people who were poor give and keep giving as they made more and more money.

As far as a progressive structure of tithing, the Bible doesn't mention that. It does mention giving 10% of your increase -- those who increase more will give more.

Amen to giving more on your increase!
I have a well to do uncle, and his wife is as frugal as can be (she takes care of the finances) and they give the excess to missions, church planting, etc. They have more blessings(tangible and intangible) than anybody else I know. As far as the "progressive" structure, the widow's mite was worth more to God than the large contributions from the rich.

If you're earning a subsistence income, is that an "increase"? More than that is certainly an increase, but is the subsistence level an increase? What if your income is decreasing in real terms?

If you look at Deuteronomy 16:10 you will see that on the day of pentecost in the old testament, that the israelites gave a freewill offering. Notice that the day of pentecost portrayed the birth of the church in the new testament. Shouldn't the church continue to uphold the freewill giving practice that the Israelites portrayed in the Old testament. Or should the church ignore this old testament ceremony and pass it over as something that is not relevent for the church today? Maybe the SPirit of God was given so that we can have a tutor to help us give? Do we really need the old tutor? or is the Holy SPirit not capable of instructing us with how much we should be giving?

Traciatim has hit the nail on the head. Undisputable.

I have a pastor friend who does not tithe because he says the church promised him more of a housing allowance and they did not come through, so what that would have been is his tithe. I have always learned that a tithe isn't on a package deal, but out of your increase? Can you answer this for me?

Kate --

Yes, a tithe is based on your increase (gross income.)

Re: As far as a progressive structure of tithing, the Bible doesn't mention that. It does mention giving 10% of your increase -- those who increase more will give more.

Okay, on an income of $1,000 it's easy to calculate a $100 tithe.

Fast forward one year,with 10 percent price inflation. Your income is now $1050 (sorry, but wage inflation lagged behind price inflation).

10 percent of $1050 is $105.

Your purchasing power has declined from $1000 to (0.9 * $1050 = $945. After your tithe, your purchasing power has declined from $900 to $840.

Isn't tithing unsustainable under consitions of inflation?

And how is your "increase" defined? In the above example, there was not any real increase, only one on paper.

Biblical Giving

Three Important Principles: Method, Motive, Result

Method – How Do We Give?

Two basic kinds of giving found in the Bible:
1. Tithes (notice it is plural) – required (Malachi 3:8)
2. Free Will Gifts or Offerings – not required (II Corinthians 9:7)
•Free Will Gifts or Offerings: From Adam and Eve to the Giving of the Law (Moses); then again after Christ fulfills the Law.
•Tithing System: Law or Sacrificial System – Three tithes paid by all families of Israel. (Lev. 27:30-32. Num. 18:21-24, 26-28; Deut. 12:5, 6, 11, 17; 14:22, 23).
o First Tithe – to the Levites (Priesthood).
o Second Tithe – In care of the temple, feasts, and sacrificial system.
o Poor Tithe – every third year to the priests, widows, and orphans.

In summary: every year 20 percent; every third year 30 percent. Tithes were NOT acts of worship; they were required. The Jewish people would still offer up offerings beyond their tithes. We are not under a tithe system or sacrificial system. We do not support a priesthood or sacrificial system. Some like to pick and choose which parts of the law they put themselves under, and somehow a mangled form (doesn’t even follow exactly what the Law said) of tithing is espoused today as the Biblical guideline for giving, but they only apply one of the tenths or tithes! The OT also taught to take your tithes and offerings (plural) to the storehouse of the Temple (Malachi 3:8-10), but we don’t have a temple! The church (building) is not a temple; our body is the temple of God.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have God, and that you are not your own? – I Corinthians 6:19 (NASB)

The fact is the average Israeli family was giving 20 percent every year (30 percent every third year), and then brought free will gifts and offerings to the Lord on top of that.

I believe we are only under Free Will Gifts and Offerings.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7(NKJV)

First: You make a conscience decision on what to give.
Second: There is a negative and a positive in this verse.
•Negative: not grudgingly or of necessity. Not of necessity literally means that it is not required. There is no percentage that you HAVE to give. Giving is an act of worship not in accordance of a law. It is not from necessity. We give as we choose to give!
•Positive: cheerful. Greek word is hilaros (iJlarovß), in which we get hilarious.

Motive – Why We Do We Give?
•Act of Love – II Corinthians 8:8 (also, or as a part of, v.9 to imitate Christ, v. 14 to help meet the needs of others)
•Act of Worship – Philippians 4
•Act of Trust – As we give we learn to trust God as the ultimate provider and source to meet all of our needs.

God will bless you; not implying or necessarily financial. Be careful here: this should not be your motive for giving; it is only the result.

Heath, what an amazing post! I've always felt that giving should be more spirit led, but I've never heard anyone put it like you did. Thanks for the insight. I've already read your post 5 times. I'm praying and asking God how much and where to give rather than just doing the 10% because I feel I have to.

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