The moment most people see or hear the word tithe, they immediately think of the church and corruption. More than likely, thanks to popular news articles and/or movies or tv shows, the church has received a pretty bad reputation when it comes to money. Now at the same time, we are sinful and still in a sinful world and I know we are all capable of making mistakes so I’m not making any excuses for churches that have made mistakes when it comes to financial management.
If there’s ever been corruption, it should be addressed and justice should prevail, but what doesn’t get talked about a lot is how tithing is still for today and how many churches and people get it right when it comes to finances. There are millions of examples you’ll never hear about on the news and they won’t make a movie about it.
What Is The Tithe And Is It Still For Today?
The word tithe means a tenth. It represents a minimum, not a maximum of giving.
We, as followers of Jesus, are called to tithe and be generous, especially since Jesus was so generous to us.
What most people think is that “tithing” is an Old Testament principle and it’s not for us anymore. However, tithing can be found in 3 primary areas of scripture:
- Abram gave a tenth in Genesis 14.
- Malachi 3:10 talks about how God validates the tithe and says to test Him in giving and that we’ll never “out give” God.
- Jesus in Matthew 23:23 corrects the Pharisees for how they were tithing and redirects them for what they should do with the tithe instead. By doing this, we can see it’s still clearly a New Testament principle, Jesus validates it, and makes sure the heart of generosity is present when tithing, not selfish motivations.
As Jesus demonstrated grace towards us, He always raised the bar from the law. Grace raises the bar in everything. (Jesus in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 compares hatred to murder, lusting to adultery, etc.) This means when it comes to tithing, our goal shouldn’t just be to “hit the tenth and be done,” but rather use the tenth as a starting point and increase from there.
The tithe goes to the local church. As the church accomplishes what God calls the body to accomplish, money towards those efforts come from somewhere, and it comes from the tithe. And just as a reminder, Christians are called to be a part of a local body. All of us have roles to play and church community is a command, not just a suggestion for us. We are called to be in community with others, not live our lives in isolation.
Keep this in mind, this isn’t giving God His money, this is ALL already God’s money. This is our reminder of whose money it is.
The point of giving is more about generosity and stewardship than just a “tithe.” Jesus is our example of being generous towards us and as we follow Him, we are to be generous towards others. The only cure for greed and selfishness (both of which are thinking what we have is ours) is to give it away and be reminded of whose it really is. This means we need to be regular givers and it needs to be proactively part of our plan, not just when we have some money leftover.
So Then, What Is An Offering Or “Other” Giving?
The tithe is a responsibility for the follower of Jesus towards the local church and offerings and other giving are opportunities to bless others and to continue to be generous. We always want to seek out additional ways to be generous financially with others.
How Do I Setup Tithing & Offerings/Other Giving In My Budget?
As you make your budget, if the budget isn’t balancing to $0, reduce the tithe line last, and not before working out your other category lines. This should be your first line and top priority in your budget.
Also, separate tithing and offerings/other giving in your budget vs having it all lumped together. That will help you stay on track. Offerings/Other Giving does not have to be your local church, that’s for the tithe, but it can be. If the Holy Spirit says give offering money to the church then you need to do that. And at the same time, God may lead you to designate offerings/other giving towards organizations like Compassion, International Justice Mission, The Salvation Army, Individuals, Missionaries, etc.
Keep giving decisions as well as all budget decisions a prayerful exercise at all times.
What We Do
We made tithing a priority from the beginning and over time we’ve added additional “giving” lines such as our Compassion line (we sponsor some children through that organization) as well as a general “giving to others” line. We want generosity to mark who we are as followers of Jesus and to reflect that financially.
That being said, I simply don’t trust myself. I don’t trust myself to grow in generosity on my own and believe that left to my own doing, I’d become selfish and inward focused and would give less and less over time and want to spend money towards ourselves. So we built in a tithe percentage increase year over year and we tithe on every incoming dollar. I’m not saying everyone must do this or anything like that, but that was worked out really well for us.
Here’s why…I didn’t want to get lost in the “do I tithe on the gross or net” or “do I tithe when someone gives me a gift” or “do I tithe when I get a bonus or a tax return, etc.” If I’m more worried about those specifics of tithing, I’m missing the point. Does God show His grace to me on conditions or is His forgiveness different in various situations? No. So then why should I nickel and dime God when it comes to tithing? I also figured we won’t ever out give God, and it will never hurt us to give more. It’s all God’s money at the end of the day so if He puts an additional $1 in our bank account, we are tithing off of that. Plus, regardless of our income, we increase our percentage each year because it helps us increase our generosity and reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Call To Action
If you haven’t started giving yet, why not? What is stopping you from beginning to take steps towards generosity. Pick a church, ministry, nonprofit organization, etc. and start giving today. You’ll start to notice a huge difference in your mindset and stewardship about money.
The Money Series
- Part 1: An Introduction and My Story
- Part 2: What Is Money?
- Part 3: Make A Budget
- Part 4: Tithes And Offerings
- Part 5: Paying Off Debt
- Part 6: Savings, Investments, And Retirement
- Part 7: Action Steps And Growing In Generosity