“For if something is presented eagerly, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2nd Corinthians 8:12
The Great Commission commanded by Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) is a very expensive endeavor that has been going one for nearly 2,000 years. This is part of God’s plan for those who have been Saved, for those who have repented towards God and by faith believed into Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (Acts 20:21) to be a part of, in one form or another.
The question arises how much should a Christian give, to whom or what should the money go towards and must they give 10% of their income or not? These questions are going to be addressed, noting that much of this is a heart issue of an individual before the Lord, yet the Bible provides clear guidance and direction, as well as examples on tithing.
What sort of example do the members and attendees of a Church set when they allow their building, one set aside for God, to go into disrepair, also allowing a pastor to go without any sort of salary or a salary that would not sustain even a modest form of living? Further said, what about foreign missions funding, money for the distribution of tracts or Bibles, money to support biblical evangelical work or the numerous other things that can/could be done in a fashion that is honoring to God Almighty, as those who proclaim to walk in ‘newness of life’ (Romans 6:4) with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
When speaking of these things, this is mentioned on an aspect of a Church, a group of Believers, who are wholeheartedly serving Jesus Christ, their Savior, in a manner that is separated unto God and done following the Bible, not programs that are contrary to God’s Word, such as a beer festival, rock n’ roll concerts and numerous other programs that are part of the apostasy that is readily seen around the world.
Then the question arises also to whom does the Believer lend the money to, for the service of God.
“He who has pity upon the poor lends to Jehovah, and He will make compensation for what he has given.” Proverbs 19:17
The Bible needs to be looked at to provide a Christian with guidance of what God expects and to follow the edicts that are found in the Holy Scriptures. Though it will be acknowledged that due to not being ‘good stewards’ (1 Peter 4:10) there may be many Believers who find themselves having to clean up the financial mess that they have created in order to find themselves within God’s will regarding tithing.
As 2023 and likely the unforeseen future will result in increase cost of living for many individuals and will limit economic prowess, still we must always remember that the Bible does not have an ‘asterisk’ on verses that allow for ‘situational ethics’ to arise and thereby circumvent the clear teachings of the Bible.
These sorts of thoughts, instead of simply believing God and His Word cause all sort of problems amongst those who proclaim to be Christians, as well as those who in actuality are truly Saved. A prime example could be the following:
“Do not be led astray: Evil company corrupts good character.” 1st Corinthians 15:33
While this portion is not going to fully dig into the truths of this verse, understand that many people who proclaim to be Saved assume themselves to be immune to this biblical Truth. I can attest firsthand as having assumed that under ‘this situation or that’ I would be able to avoid having ‘good character’ corrupted, but in the end I found out that the Bible is indeed God’s absolute truth and a Believer will do well to fully trust in God’s Word, this only provided as an example that many other people, if truthful, could relate to and look back, knowing in their heart, like myself, that the Bible stood and their thoughts did not.
“Therefore hear the Word of Jehovah, all Judah that lives in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by My great name, says Jehovah, that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord Jehovah lives. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good. And all the men of Judah in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end to them. Yet a small number that escapes the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah; and all the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to live there, shall know whose word shall stand, Mine or theirs. And this shall be a sign to you, says Jehovah, that I will punish you in this place, so that you may know that My Words shall be established and confirmed against you for evil. Thus says Jehovah, Behold, I am giving Pharaoh-hophra, king of Egypt, into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of those who seek his life, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy that sought his life.” Jeremiah 44:26-30
Over the years I have went to and visited many different churches, starting from the time of a young child. When it came to the offering, most churches simply have ushers who pass a plate to place the offering in, often returning the plates to the front of the church. Some, though rare, have a box in the back of the Church to place an offering in. I suppose if I were a pastor of a Church, the box in the back would probably be my preferred method. Yet nowadays many websites of churches have digital methods of donations, some which can setup recurring amounts per month.
In and of themselves, there doesn’t necessarily seem to be anything wrong with these methods, but for myself, the reason I would prefer the box in the back of the Church, though an envelope could also be used in a plate, is simply this:
“Take heed that you do not do your deeds of mercy before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in Heaven. Therefore, when you do a deed of mercy, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have praise from men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But when you do a deed of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, that your deed of mercy may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4
Most conservative style churches will use the example of Abraham (Hebrews 7:2) and his giving of a tenth as the standard which Christians are to follow. While this should not be looked at as unbiblical or wrong, there are other pastors who declare that those in attendance and the members must give 10% of there earnings. These sorts of pastors declare that God has proclaimed that a tenth is mandatory.
So let us take a moment to look at some biblical examples of tithing:
“But the Levites shall do the work of service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute, throughout your generations, that they shall have no inheritance among the children of Israel. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering unto Jehovah, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, They shall have no inheritance among the children of Israel. And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it unto Jehovah, a tithe of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering unto Jehovah from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the heave offering of Jehovah from it to Aaron the priest. Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering of Jehovah, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them. Therefore you shall say to them: When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You shall eat it in any place, you and your houses, for it is your wages for your service in the tent of meeting.” Numbers 18:23-31
Those who do work for the Lord often are supported or supplemented by the tithes and offerings given. This was established by God through His servant Moses in regards to the priesthood and the service of the Levites, regarding the holy things of God.
“Let the elders who lead well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and, The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 1st Timothy 5:17-18
“Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet at least I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no authority to not work? Who ever serves military duty at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things only as a man? Or does not the Law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things to you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this authority over you, should we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this authority, but endure all things so that we might not hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so with me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my exulting void.” 1st Corinthians 9:1-15
Quite obviously those who God has gave as ‘some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the full true knowledge of the Son of God, to a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;’ (Ephesians 4: 11b-13) should be supported by those whom are used by God to send the person or the persons who are in the position that God has placed them in.
For example, if God uses a Church to send an individual who is called by Him to be a missionary then that Church should support that missionary until they are either able to support themselves, be supported by those whom they are preaching the Gospel to, or otherwise. The same would also make sense for those who are called by God to be pastors and the programs that they might use, as the Lord leads them, for His glory.
This is not to say that those whom God calls to do something are not exempt from work. For I have known and know of many who preach the Gospel and still hold a job to support themselves. Even Paul who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) wrote much of the New Testament, himself was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3).
How many churches across this country are in a good amount of disrepair? I have seen it first hand, empty rooms, work that needs to be done, oftentimes with no volunteering on the portion of those who attend (stuff can be done quite cheaply when it is done ‘in-house’), as well as seemingly no interest from the leadership, including the pastor to get these things done or seek out volunteers.
What can be said is that if these people who attended these churches were willing and able to provide a helping hand and truly gave 10% of their income, even after taxes and benefit deductions, many of these same churches would be in good order for the Lord, as well as a reasonable salary for the pastor who could spend more time doing the things of God rather that working a nearly full time job on the side.
Yet consider even Israel and the condition of the Temple:
“And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the consecrated things that are brought into the house of Jehovah, each man’s poll tax money, each man’s valuation money, and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of Jehovah; let the priests take it themselves, each from his acquaintance; and let them repair the breaches of the house, wherever any breach is found. But it was so, by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, that the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house. So King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests, and said to them, Why have you not repaired the breaches of the house? Now therefore, do not take more money from your acquaintances, but give it for repairing the breaches of the house. And the priests agreed that they would neither receive more money from the people, nor repair the breaches of the house. And Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the house of Jehovah; and the priests who kept the door put there all the money brought into the house of Jehovah. So it was, whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up and put it in bags, and counted the money that was found in the house of Jehovah. Then they gave the money, which had been weighed out, into the hands of those doing the work, who had the oversight of the house of Jehovah; and they brought it out to the craftsmen and builders who worked on the house of Jehovah, and to masons and stonecutters, and for buying timber and hewn stone, to repair the breaches of the house of Jehovah, and for all that was brought out to make the house strong. However there were not made for the house of Jehovah basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, any articles of gold or articles of silver, from the money brought into the house of Jehovah; for they gave it towards the business of doing the work, to restore the house of Jehovah with it. Moreover they did not require an accounting from the men into whose hands they gave the money to give to the workmen, for they were dealing faithfully. The money from the trespass offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of Jehovah. It belonged to the priests.” 2nd Kings 12:4-16
Consider also this directly from the book of Haggai:
“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the Word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah; and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, Thus says Jehovah of Hosts, saying, This people says, The time has not come, the time for the house of Jehovah to be built. Then the Word of Jehovah came by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, and this house to lie waste? And now, thus says Jehovah of Hosts: Set your heart on your ways. You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but are not filled with drink; you put on clothes, but no one is warm. And, one hiring himself out earns wages for a bag of holes. Thus says Jehovah of Hosts: Set your heart on your ways. Go up to the mountain and bring wood and build this house. And I will be pleased with it, and I will be glorified, says Jehovah. You looked for much, and, lo, it came to little. And when you brought it home, then I blew on it. Why? says Jehovah of Hosts. Because of My house that is in ruins, and you, each man, runs to his own house. On account of this, the heavens above you hold back the dew, and the earth holds back her fruit. And I called for a drought in the land, and on the mountains, and on the grain, and on the new wine, and on the oil, and on that which the ground brings forth, and on man, and on livestock, and on all the labor of your hands. Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of Jehovah their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him. And the people feared before Jehovah. And Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, spoke the message of Jehovah to the people, saying, I am with you, says Jehovah. And Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of Jehovah of Hosts, their God, in the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” Haggai 1
As Solomon said, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9b), so too what we see amongst those who proclaim to be set aside separated unto God do not have much of a heart to show it with their willingness to give or to help out.
Oftentimes it is not that a group is too small to be able to maintain the Church building, pastor, etc., but it is rather a people whose hearts are more focused on the things of this world rather than their Creator.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and its lust; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1st John 2:15-17
“No one is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. It is not possible to serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24
So now the question to be pondered is what percent? Well, R. G. LeTourneau (1888 – 1969) was a successful businessman and industrialist who eventually tithed 90% of his income. This is a heart issue between a Believer and God.
After all, it will not be the unsupported missionary, Church, pastor or others whom a Believer stands before at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but rather our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself.
If we were to turn back the clock to the early 20th century and prior, we would find that a lot of orphanages, public aid (food, housing, etc.) were not supplied by the government, but rather by the piety of society towards God Almighty towards those who were misfortunate. Nowadays, we are taxed and, in theory, those taxes are passed along by whomever the government deems to be necessary to receive aid (food, housing, medical care, etc.), as well as the government has programs for orphans through foster programs.
We would also be wise to understand that when the Levitical system of tithing was originally setup, the tithe was that of goods, not necessarily monetary. Now as society advanced, money became the medium.
For instance, the percentage of farmers and ranches over the last three centuries has collapsed. Our society has changed and the methods of farming have also advanced. So, as was the case with George Mueller who ran large orphanages for Christ in Bristol, England, there would be people who would drop off (tithe) some of their goods (which they could have sold in the market) as a duty to God.
So the question could be asked regarding volunteer service for what might otherwise be paid for by a Church or even another Believer. For instance, if an elderly church member could no longer mow their lawn at their home, thereby needing to contract that to a company, if another Believer were to instead provide that service at no charge, there would be a value to that, just as there is a value to corn heading to a market to be sold.
Now this is not saying that Believers have the liberty to simply volunteer an hour here or there and provide no monetary tithing to the Church. This is mentioned specifically for those who might have gotten themselves into a financial disaster, where they should still trust God, pray about the matter, perhaps they’re on paper essentially bankrupt, needing to get that sorted out, therefore their percent of tithing would be less than what it would be if they were not in that predicament, but they have some available time to also help out in some manner the Church, the saints (other Believers Romans 1:7; 12:13), something along those lines.
What are you saying? Are you saying that I don’t have to tithe 10%? No…I am not listing a percent. Perhaps you tithe 5% or perhaps you tithe 25%.
You see, this is a heart issue of a Believer before God. Can you not live with a little less to further the work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior? In all honesty, usually those who have less are the ones who tithe more and those who have the appearance of being rich, though their dollar amount in the church plate might be higher, are actually robbing God of the tithe.
“And Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people threw money into the treasury. And many who were rich threw in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, Truly, I say to you that this poor widow has thrown in more than all those who have thrown into the treasury; for they all threw in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty threw in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44
The rich businessman who writes the check once per month for a $1,000, might in reality earn $25,000 in a month, therefore a mere 4%, whereas a poorer person who might only earn $2,500 a month, but suffer a bit in their own life to help out another individual Believer who needs new tires on their car and still give a portion to the work done through the Church.
We are not to test God, but the Bible in regards to tithing actually mentions being allowed to do just that:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, How have we robbed You? In the tithe and the offering. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now with this, says Jehovah of Hosts, whether I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing until there is not enough room to store it.” Malachi 3:8-10
In my personal experience, when I determine what God is leading me to do, even in a matter of how much money to tithe to the local Church, as well as ministry work, providing for missions and the poor (Acts 6:1-4), for me it isn’t necessarily a percentage, but usually more of a dollar amount that certainly can be compared and a percentage found.
I have never, nor do I suspect ever, not seen God’s hand provide when myself or my family truly needs something. Thus far in my life, in EVERY instance, even when it seemed hopeless, a solution has been found or someone has provided for that need through some means…every time!
“Cast your bread upon the waters; for you shall find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1
The Bible is also quite clear that we should be supporting our pastors in our churches.
“For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and, The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 1st Timothy 5:18
If we have a godly pastor, one truly called to preach, one who is doing the work of God, we ought to allow them the time necessary to do that calling and support the one whom God has called.
Does that mean the pastor doesn’t hold another job?
Not necessarily, for even Paul the apostle was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3), but he was obviously given enough time to do the work of God.
A dear friend of mine ran a small printing shop and he also ran a ministry for God. While he could have advertised and ran a much bigger business, he certainly had the education and capabilities to do so, he allowed God to operate his business.
When he had work that had to be done for the Lord, business was generally slow and afterwards more work would come in. Likewise, there was always –just- enough money to make the bills every month, some of that money being from others (1 Kings 17:4-6) who would provide that which was needed.
I would dare say for the average American and perhaps a lot of the first world nations, there is this mindset that there is never enough money to tithe 10% or even close.
If we were to listen to the financial gurus, some of which proclaim to be Christians, then we would know that we must ‘invest’ that much in this or that, as well as need this big of a cushion, etc.
Then for those who are parents, college could be Saved for, a bigger house might be needed, the car is getting older and a new one more expensive, this to say nothing about the covetousness that prevails in the American society (Romans 13:9)!
There are truths to these things, but we must remember that God knows our –needs-, which might not always be the same as our desires.
“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8
When our focus in on truly serving God with all of our heart, as servants of Jesus Christ, then these things will naturally work out and won’t be debatable.
“Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Observe the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by being anxious is able to add one cubit to his stature? So why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34
Truly I suspect that there will be a lot of people who will read or listen to this, simply to find out if they can get away or rather have an excuse not to tithe 10%. Well this author is not going to tell you that there is a mandate to tithe 10%, but I will tell you that biblical examples can be made of Believers tithing 10%, regardless of the taxes, expenses of society.
We must never forgot that, if we are truly Saved, it is God who provides for us, He is the one who is responsible for taking care of us, we are simply His servants, doing His will, which includes tithing as well.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up from whatever he is prospered, that there be no collections when I come.” 1st Corinthians 16:2