It takes a leap of faith to write that first tithe check. There are bills to be paid, expenses you haven’t thought of yet, and your fingers shake as you pray, “God let there be enough at the end of the month.”
Tithing is about trusting God, and trusting God is a journey. We’re going to have questions along the way and that’s OK. We’ve received many questions about tithing over the years, but six seem to come up often.
6 Commonly Asked Questions About Tithing
1. What is a tithe?
A tithe—which just means “tenth”—is bringing the first 10 percent of a person’s income back to the local church. Tithing is a principle taught through the entire Bible. When we tithe, we are expressing worship in a tangible way by putting God first in our lives.
2. Why do we tithe?
We believe the top competitor for our devotion to Jesus is money (Matthew 6:24). Giving allows us to demonstrate that He is more important to us than material things.
The idea of bringing the first 10 percent of our income to the Church seems overwhelming. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how much or how little we make, God promises to pour out blessings on us when we tithe. Tithing is about training our heart to trust God at His Word.
In Malachi 3:10, the Lord says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this...and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
When we bring our first and best back to God, He promises to bless the rest.
3. Do I tithe on the gross or the net?
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing,and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
We may not live in agricultural society any more, but the concept of firstfruits still applies. Giving the first of our income to the Lord shows that He is first in our hearts.
So when it comes to tithing on the gross or the net, we have to ask ourselves: Is God first or is He not? Putting God first means putting him at the top of the list, so our tithe comes off the top, or the gross, before anything else is considered.
4. Should I tithe on gifts or scholarships?
2 Corinthians 9:11 says we will “be enriched in every way” so we can “be generous on every occasion.” For some, being enriched might come in the form of income earned for work performed. For others, God might choose to enrich you with a gift or scholarship. Putting God first means we bring the tithe back to Him regardless of the way He chooses to bless us.
5. Do I need to go into debt to tithe?
If you are putting the Lord first with the tithe, but overall you are going into debt, the problem is not the tithe. The best next step is to get on a plan that brings your expenses in line with your income while still keeping God at the top of the priority list. God does not want you to borrow from your future to honor your obedience to Him today.
6. Can I designate my tithe?
The tithe is about trusting God to know better than we do and to do more with what we bring to Him than we can imagine. Retaining control by designating a tithe is not fully trusting God to know better or that He will keep His promises. The opportunity to designate for specific purposes can come in the form of gifts and offerings above and beyond the tithe.
The mistake we make when it comes to tithing is focusing on dollar amounts instead of the role tithing plays in our hearts.
Giving is an overflow of the recognition of what Jesus did for us — saving us from our sin — and what He wants for us — an abundant life. When we allow Jesus to guide our giving decisions, we will always be generous to the church.