God Doesn’t Want 10% of Your Money: 5 Questions About Giving

Should I tithe? What’s it mean to tithe? Do I tithe off my gross or net income? Do I have to give all my tithe to the church? Do I really have to tithe 20% off my gambling winnings? (Okay, no one has really asked that last question.)

These are pretty common questions–questions that I get asked frequently. Here are some brief answers. I limited the number of verses I cited just to make it easier to read.

1. What is a tithe?
I think that a lot people think that tithing is a synonym for giving but that’s not quite right. Tithing is a related to giving but it means something different than that. Tithe means tenth. And it’s clearly taught in the Bible.

Leviticus 27:30 “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.”

2. Is tithing an Old Testament concept? 
It’s true that tithing is talked about a lot in the OT and rarely mentioned in the NT, but I don’t think that means that it’s not binding on us. Jesus seems to affirm the tithe.

Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! 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.”

While it’s clearly not his main emphasis, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they shouldn’t neglect tithing off their income.

3. What if I can’t give 10% of my income right now? 
It is difficult for most people to go from giving a small amount to giving 10% of their income. God knows that. He understands our personal situations and knows our struggles. I think the thing to do is to take a series of small steps toward obeying God and giving more. Maybe this year you will give one more percent of your income on the way to eventually giving 10%?

4. If the OT commands believers to tithe and if Jesus affirms that then why doesn’t God want 10% of my money?
God doesn’t want 10% of your money. He wants 100% of your heart. Too many times we have the perspective of “What’s the least I can give and get God off my back?” Here’s a startling truth: Every dollar you have belongs to God and is a gift from him to you. 

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Your not just accountable to God for the 10% you give. You’re also accountable for the other 90%. Jesus said that we will be held accountable for every careless word we’ve spoken (Matthew 12:36) and I think you could say the same thing about every dollar we’ve spent. After all it’s all God’s.

I think the right way to think about our money is to say, “How can I give more money (and not just money but also time and talent) away and lay up more treasures in heaven?”

And that’s why I think that questions, no matter how earnestly asked, like “Should I tithe on my gross (pre tax) or net (after taxes have been taken out) income?” miss the point. The pastor of the church I attended after becoming a Christian at Mizzou would answer this question by saying, “Do you want gross or net blessings?” I think that he was using humor to make a point. The point is that it’s kind of the wrong question to be asking. God doesn’t need your money. Heaven isn’t going broke. Let’s don’t work at figuring out how little we can give but how much we can give to further God’s causes. 

5. Does all my giving have to go to the church?
No. No one is compelling you to give your money to the church or anywhere else for that matter. You can do with it as you please. I don’t know of a verse in the Bible that tells us exactly where our giving should be directed.

Having said that I think that there is a legitimate principal that says that we should give generously to the place where we are being ministered to. That’s a big reason why Christine and I give the great majority of our giving to The Crossing. This is the primary place that we are being spiritually fed. This church is the place that is helping all of our kids grow to love and follow Jesus. And we know all the ways that God is using The Crossing to make an eternal difference in our friends lives and in the community. We are glad to be invested here.
 

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