Tithing…Is it Biblical?

Well, that’s a stupid question. Or is it?  We know that ‘the ‘tithe’ is in the Bible, but what of it?  Do people of God need to be doing it?

This might be a touchy subject right now with all the hand wringing over the economy, but since everyone (it seems) has money on their minds right now, or at least that is the main problem being addressed by the government, I thought I’d get your opinion on ‘the tithe’.

Is giving ten percent of your income to the church, the essence of the ‘tithe’?

In what ways can you justify not giving 10 percent of your income?

Thanks!

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34 Responses

  1. what if the church is a perpetually poor steward of the money it takes in?

  2. Graceshaker,

    Great question. I never thought about that way.

    Are we to give on the basis of the good stewardship of those empowered to use our gifts?

    I’m not sure.

  3. I would use this link for an indepth look into the tithing controversy written by Joel.

  4. 2 Cor 9:7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, 4 because God loves a cheerful giver.
    Christians are under a new and better covenant. Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to tithe;but we are exhorted to “communicate”,that is to give(Gal6:6) to support the Church.

  5. Bino,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out later tody.

    – Steve

  6. James,

    So in short, the tithe is the law and we are freed from the law for righteousness sake, but we ought give to keep the operation going.

    Close?

  7. If a tithe means ‘tenth’, doesn’t that require a calculation. Can something calculated be from the heart?

  8. Legalistic forms of Christianity are all hot on tithing…aren’t they?

  9. As far as I’m concerned, the central reference in this context is still 2 Corinthians 9:7 which moves the question from numbers and percentages to an issue of my heart – how do I become more cheerful in my giving? If I only give out of a sense of duty and obligation, I’m on the wrong track already, even if I’d give away 75% of my income.

    I believe the tithe in the old covenant was a reminder that ultimately all our possessions belong to God, and forming habits in our giving (and other spiritual disciplines as well) can be a helpful reminder to keep us from slipping back into a pure materialistic mindset. I personally like the idea of progressive giving – begin with 10% and increase that amount as my income grows.

    Just one more thought: every local congregation is dependent on the giving of the members but the kingdom of God is certainly bigger than the organized church. I see nothing wrong with using our funds to personally help out someone in need of assistance even if it’s not an outreach under the umbrella of a committee or the church as a whole. It may at times be more meaningful and effective than leaving it in an offering plate or sending it to a mission.

  10. Josh,

    Good thoughts, Josh.

    We ceratinly ought give. Our local churches need our giving, our communities need our giving.

    Our giving ought be cheerful, but since we are sinners and focused on ourselves much of the time, it is tough to be what we ought.

    Stewardship of the gifts God has given us is quite a problem for the sinner.

    God will certainly use the gifts we give for His purposes, whether or not the best of stewardship is applied.

    I think that this question is particularly sticky for pastors who occasionally need to remind the congregation of the need to give.

    You shouldn’t be legalistic about it but one ought realize what is at stake.

    I like your point about the giving that takes place aside from the offering plate.

    I think that they are both important.

    Thanks Josh!

    – Steve

  11. I think Josh is right on.

    I don’t believe a Christian is under any law to tithe (give 10% to the church).

    It is a matter of the heart. I do give to my home church as well as other ministries. I do this because I serve a mighty God who has saved me from the depths of hell.

    I give because I know my money is an extension of my gratefullness to Him. Our church is huge into real mission work (evangelising from the local area to the ends of the Earth) and God uses us (our money and talents) to reach others for Christ.

    I often think of the widows mite. She didn’t give 10%, she gave 100% because she trusted God to meet her needs.

    Give according to you heart and give cheerfully!

  12. I always recommend that people be determined in their giving. It doesn’t have to be ten percent. It could be twenty. It could be 1 or five. I don’t know what others are able to give with a cheerful heard. Actually if you add up all the tithes in the old Testament it ends up being around %30 for some. To whom much is given much is required.
    But my thought is this. It probably should not be what you have left over from the bar the night before and happens to be in your pocket when the offering plate is passed. Sit down and budget, and budget what you are going to give. Then go to the bar. Budget 2 or 3 % if that is what you can give with a cheerful heart. Budget 10 if you want. But budget it.
    I also think you can learn to give with a cheerful heart. You can push yourself.
    As for the church not spending the money properly, What are they spending it on hookers? You don’t like the carpet? I doubt they are paying the pastor too much. (unless you are Mark, he goes on cruises to the med. (joking!) I’m suspicious when people call a congregations stewardship into question. not that there might be cases of bad stewardship. But often it is just a selfish, I don’t like that they didn’t spend it on my project. How dare they decorate the sanctuary with that stain glass when the money could have gone to the poor. I find it revealing that the only complaint the church received about bad stewardship in the N.T. came from Judas.

  13. @Bino: Thanks for the link. I think Joel is spot on with his series on tithing! I learned a few new things from reading it as well!

  14. I don’t see anything to add here. James and Josh made the point I was going to attempt to make–and they probably did a better job that I would have. Nicely done.

    I’m about to say another really cool thing about my own church, but I don’t want you to think that it’s the most perfect church on the planet. I certainly don’t hold to that opinion. It’s made up of a bunch of us Old Adams and we all manage to screw things up now and then. So, please don’t get the sense that I’m bragging here. But I love the fact that we don’t pass around a plate or a box or anything. We have two boxes in the back of the sanctuary for giving. Giving is rarely mentioned during our services. Exceptions are when it comes up in the passage that the pastor is teaching from (we tend to lean on expository preaching). God simply provides. To quote an old youth pastor friend of mine, “It’s like there actually is a God and He’s really in control.”

    Roger

  15. Tithing is a biblical concept to strive for but scripture also says to give cheerfully from the heart. Joful giving first but use tithing as a goal.

    In the meantime as Christians we should not be concerned about the 10% we give when we get to keep 90%… :-). Its a half full vs half empty thing 🙂

  16. Give and give heartily, gladfully, cheerfully!

    And if you can’t do that…then still give! For while God may love a cheerful giver…your church, your neighbor, whomever you give to can sure use it.

    Don’t give because the law goads you to do it. You are not getting any extra points from God. But you are pitching in for the mission for which we were called…to bring the light of Christ to bear in the lives of all who will hear. And to make this world a better place in which to live for all of God’s creatures.

    I think I’m starting to get it.

    Hey, Bror, lend me twenty bucks to drop in the plate!

  17. Roger,

    I like the way you do it at your church. (boxes in the back)

    The Lord does make it happen, doesn’t He?

    If it were to us, the whole operation would have bust the first week!

    Thanks Roger!

  18. This might be my shortest answer ever. Tithing, biblical in the NT church? No.

    For one 10% in terms of cash equivalency is not the correct percentage, its about 30% when converted over from goods to money exchange equivalence.

    Second, we are not a theocratic earthly government and more, Christ tore that wall down.

    Third, the tithe points to Christ. Christ has come & fulfilled. To “tithe” is really the equivalent of NOW observing the Sabbath and sacrificing bulls again.

    To bring back the tithe is to deny Christ directly.

    Drop the calculas. Spend your money on your neighbor as the Gospel releases you to do so in your various vocations, mother, father, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild, friend in need, etc…. AND give to the church, a Gospel church, cheerfully so that the Gospel goes out truly and purely.

    Blessings,

    Larry

    PS: I truly loath the days I use to tithe in the SB church and dump money down that gospel-less rat hole. Not because I like my money, but because its like funding the Roman church.

  19. Steve,
    I’ll give you twenty….

  20. Is that 10% before or after taxes?

  21. Jeff G.,

    If you are up for a Cabinet post…it might ne neither!

    Thanks Jeff!

    – Steve

  22. Thanks for your comment on my site ( http://capturedbyGod.wordpress.com ).

    I think we can’t afford NOT to tithe now. During these difficult economic times, this is the time we need to show that we do truly trust God and believe He is going to provide for us, even when it SEEMS more difficult. This is where our faith is tested. Do we TRULY trust God or do we just say we do?

    He has promised to provide for His children, and He has also promised to bless us when the tithe. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…test me in this…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Mal. 3:10

    He owns everything. He is the richest Being in the Universe, and He has promised to take care of us. Our economy, our jobs, our income are not limitations to Him. He can do WHATEVER He wants, and especially loves to bless those who are faithful.

    Now is the time to show that YES we do trust God, even when it appears to be an illogical thing to do by worldly standards. In doing this we are glorifying Him. We are showing satan that we do not believe him, but we do believe God. We are bringing glory to God in front of the watching physical and spiritual world, and at the same time, developing spiritual wealth that is of infintely greater value.

    Bless you! Jenny

  23. God’s Girl,

    Jenny, thanks for dropping by and leaving us your thoughts on tithing.

    Yes, our God does indeed own everything! He would love for us to give as He gives to us…in abundance!

    I agree we ought give, but out of love for the other and out of thankfulness, and out of our sense of mission for the church.

    St. Paul counted his jailings, his beatings, and all things in his life as blessings from God, also.

    He does continue to bless us even if we don’t live up to His expectations.

    The ultimate blessing is that He gave(and still) gives Himself to us.

    He is a great God!

    Thanks so much for coming by, Jenny!

    – Steve (the old Adam)

  24. Tithing is biblical because it is in the bible, but that doesn’t mean it is commanded for the NT church.

    – jared

  25. Jared,

    Exactly right!

    We live by faith in what the risen Lord had done for us!

    We ought to give , but are no longer bound by any law towards our justification.

    “It is finished.”

    Thanks Jared!

    PS – I’m looking forward to perusing your site!

  26. There are some very good things at Jared’s site regarding the issue of Tithes and Offerings

    You can visit his site here:
    http://churchtithesandofferings.com/

  27. Jared,

    Nice clarification, you are correct. “Is it biblical is often a loaded question”. Sin is biblical because its in the bible.

    Thanks,

    Larry

  28. Steve,

    You do pick some hot topics. That’s meant as a compliment!

    Here again, I think, a distinction again is needed between Calvin/Melancthon versus Luther regarding the Law’s eternality.

    For the former the Law itself is the eternal end in and of its self whereby the Gospel is this kind of parenthetical item in between the two poles of the eternally demanding Law. Thus the ultimately the Gospel serves the Law. Which if understood correctly means the Law is NEVER satisfied but rather always demanding, not even by Christ and thus this view ultimately, albeit unknowingly, denies Christ in His fulness.

    The later, Luther, also understood the Law as eternal but its entirely different that Calvin and at the end of the day a differing religion. The Law was not and end unto itself. The Law, Luther understood, is eternal in that it either damns eternally being unfulfilled by the damned or is eternally fulfilled through Christ in the blessed. Here the Law serves the Gospel.

    If one grasps that, one grasps why the tithe is no longer and ultimately points to Christ.

    Blessings,

    Larry

  29. Larry,

    Thanks for the compliment!

    I like the way you’ve explained how the two camps differ and what relationship therein between the Law and the Gospel.

    That Melancthon was allied more with Calvin (on some points) is quite interesting and I’m sure would suprise a lot of Lutherans.

    That would be a hot post and one that I’m sure would enrage quite a few.

    When I learn more about it…we’ll do it.

    Or if you’d like to put together such a post (fairly short – you pretty much how it goes here) I’d be happy to post it on ‘the old Adam’ for you.

    And then we;ll step back and watch the fur fly!

    Thanks Larry!!

    – Steve

  30. TheOldAdam,

    Thanks for the kudos. Great work on your site here as well.

    – jared

  31. Hey Steve,

    Little late to the conversation here, but there is a related question of where do we tithe? Currently 40% of what we give is split between 5 different missionary/ministry workers who do not receive a regular salary. The other 60% goes to the church. Do any of your readers have any thoughts on this?

    Mike Bell

  32. Eclectic Christian,

    Hi Mike. I’m not sure if other guys and gals will come back to this issue or not (they might not be aware of current comments).

    I’ll stick my nose back in.

    In my congregation (that I belong to), we generally give to ‘the church’ in general and then the church council meets and decides hoe much goes where, sort of fillowing a budget that we set out at the first of the year.

    People can earmark money for certain mininstries or special projects. We don’t force anyone to support anything. However any money that goes into the general fund will be used as the church council sees fit.

    The church council members are voted in by the members, and have this as one of their duties.

    That’s pretty much how we work it.

    Thanks Mike!

    – Steve

  33. That’s largely how things work in our church as well, but I have an uncle and aunt who are missionaries in Zambia, three friends involved in ministries with University Students, and another couple who are involved as home base support for a mission agency. None of them are supported through my church, but all of them are in Christian ministry and I feel are deserving of my support.

    Part of my feeling comes from being involved with a mission agency myself in the past, and having to raise my own support. I didn’t even get to 50% of what I needed, so as a family we struggled financially for three years. So when I hear of people in similar situations, my heart goes out to them.

  34. MIke,

    Maybe there ought be an organization that would represent small missionary groups and make appeals to chrches on a regular basis for funding.

    There may be such an outfit now.

    I don’t know.

    Sometimes someone in our church or on the church council will be aware of a family or small church somewhere in the world at we will send them money, not much mind you, but something. I say not much because we barely have enough most of the time to keep our doors open. But we try and give something no matter how tough it might be.

    Usaully, but not always, we look for Lutheran missionaries (of course preferring to have the message that we know and affirm go out).

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