What is tithing?
The word “tithe” means tenth or tenth part. Tithing is the practice of giving to the Lord at least 10 percent of your income. It is an act of worship, done to honor God and to remind us that He is the ultimate giver. On Mt. Sinai God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites that the tithe was sacred to the Lord.
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD. It is holy to the LORD.” Leviticus 27:30
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” Proverbs 3:9
Does the New Testament talk about tithing? Did Jesus endorse tithing?
Yes. Paul said that the tithe would be used for the ministry and advancement of the gospel.
“Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:13-14
Yes. In His warning to the Pharisees about legalism (they were tithing, but ignoring mercy and justice), He tells them that they should not neglect tithing, but also that their hearts should not neglect mercy and justice and other attributes of the law.
“You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23
How is the tithe used? Should our tithe go to our local church or to any good cause?
The Scripture shows us the importance of tithing to the church (or temple in the Old Testament) to provide for the ministry and its mission. The Israelites gave ten percent directly to the temple and gave above that to provide for the needs of the poor.
At Turning Point our tithe goes into the General Fund, which supports all our ministries. Our Faith Promise gifts, over and above our tithe, support local and global outreach efforts.
In the Old Testament, the New Testament and at Turning Point, there is an understanding that believers give both “tithes” and “offerings.” The tithes fuel the ministry of the church that ministers to you, your family, and your community. When we support other ministries we do that through offerings given in addition to our tithe.
Do I tithe on my gross income or my net? How about other sources of income, including insurance settlements, Social Security, alimony and child support?
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” Proverbs 3:9
The principle articulated here is that the tithe is given based on all the financial blessings of your life. The Old Testament teaches the principle of first fruits, giving the best and first, not the leftovers. The same principle should apply to our giving today. We should give with a full heart reverent toward God, thankful for all the ways He provides for us.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver … You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 and 11
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
I’m trying to get out of debt. Do I tithe while trying to aggressively pay off debt?
Proverbs 3:9 says we need to honor God by giving Him the first fruits of our produce (income or compensation). It belongs to Him, not anyone else, not even creditors.
God’s Word makes it clear, however, that a vow of any kind is not to be taken lightly. Once you give your word, it becomes a binding contract. As Christians, we commit to pay back whatever we’ve borrowed.
So what do you do if you feel you can either pay your tithe or your debts – but not both?
In terms of giving to God, it’s a matter of the heart. Christians look for reasons and ways to give. Even if you feel you cannot afford to pay the full tithe right now, you can commit to give something to the Lord. You could start at an amount less than ten percent and remain faithful to that commitment, increasing as God provides.
However, if you need God’s blessing, the way to gain that is by obeying His Word. No one needs to tithe and receive the blessing of God more than someone trying to dig their way out of debt.
I want to tithe but my spouse does not. What do I do?
Giving the tithe is an outward expression of inner commitment. It is a financial surrender prompted by spiritual surrender.
If both spouses are Christians, both should have a desire to please the Lord. If both spouses understand and embrace God’s principles of finance, they’ll understand that tithing is God-ordained, not just a personal desire that one spouse is trying to impose on the other.
It gets complicated when one spouse is an unbeliever. Since it’s the husband’s responsibility to be the leader in his home, if the wife is an unbeliever, the husband should obey the Lord’s direction. However, the Lord is more concerned about the wife’s soul than about money. If tithing becomes an obstacle, the husband may consider not tithing temporarily with the goal of eventually honoring that tithe.
If the unbelieving spouse is the husband, the wife should submit to his wishes. It is the attitude of the heart, not the money, the Lord is most concerned about. The wife might still ask her husband to let her give an amount smaller than the tithe for at least a year. If at the end of the year the family is worse off financially as a result of the giving, she can agree to stop giving.
Should I give more than my tithe?
In the Bible the tithe is considered the beginning point, the minimum commitment for someone who is financially faithful. As our faith in God grows and we become more spiritually mature, we expect our generosity will grow as well.
God requires far more from His people than the 10 percent we sometimes assume. His command to love others as He loved us is a far higher standard than the tithe.
Rather than settling for ten percent, we should give as radically and generously as Jesus gave to us. His sacrifice serves as our standard. The tithe is always considered just a part of the generosity God’s people express in offerings, sacrifices, gifts, and acts of mercy.
At Turning Point, we give over and above our tithe. We give to Global Outreach through our Faith Promise gifts. We commit to taking the love of Jesus to our community and to our world, promising in faith to give as God provides.
How should I give: weekly or monthly? Check or online?
It doesn’t matter how or when we give. However, many people find that making a tithing plan helps them. Since the Bible instructs us to give our “first fruits,” many people give on the same schedule as they are paid, making the tithe their first expenditure.
Many people also find that giving online allows them to establish and maintain a consistent giving pattern. By setting up a recurring contribution, the tithe is automatically given, even when you’re out-of-town or forget to take your checkbook to church.
Can I tithe time and service rather than money?
There’s no biblical precedent for tithing time instead of money. We are expected to give God a portion of our time and our financial resources, not one or the other.
Why do we talk about giving every year or even more?
Today, many churches shy away from teaching about tithing. Pastors will tell you it’s one of the hardest things to teach about. We know, however, that tithing is an important act of worship and obedience to our Lord. We teach about it regularly because many people who are new to our church have never heard these biblical principles nor had the opportunity to deepen their faith by beginning to tithe.
In addition, many promises of God’s blessing are directly connected to the practice of faithful stewardship and generosity. It would be a disservice to the family of God to neglect teaching on these life-changing promises.
Why is it so hard for me to commit? What will happen if I tithe?
Most of us are conditioned to hold and control our financial resources. God knows this, which may be why money and stewardship are talked about so much in the Bible. God wants us to trust Him and worship Him alone. God promises to bless us if we simply trust Him.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “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.” Malachi 3:10
God promises blessing for those who are obedient to tithing. While it may not always be a material/physical blessing, God’s word teaches the benefits. Your heart will also be changed as you learn to tithe. You get to part of God’s work here on earth. Ask people who tithe, and they can tell stories of how God has blessed their generosity.
Tithing is a spiritual discipline. Like all new disciplines, practicing stewardship requires us to rearrange our priorities in favor of this new desire. There is always some frustration as we weigh our previous commitments against our spiritual values and then take action. However, there is also a reward that comes to those who honor God. The sooner you make the effort to embrace this new discipline, the sooner the rewards God promises will begin to surface in your life. At that point this discipline will become a delight.
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25