To tithe or not to tithe? This remains to be among the top questions Christians ask today. We want to obey and honor God in our lives — we read the Bible, we pray and go to church, try to be and do good to others — all pretty straightforward. But when it comes to honoring God with our money, we hit a snag. All of a sudden, all these questions about the biblicality of tithing, its relevance to modern-day believers, and whether Christians living under grace and not the law are covered by this command to tithe, assail us.
So the question remains, should we or shouldn’t we give to the Lord a set part of our financial resources as part of our worship?
Tim Greenwood, in his article, “Does Tithing Have A Place in Christian Giving Today?” says
“Most “Christians” (94%+) are not giving anywhere even close to 10% of their income to ministries or churches! Less than 6% of all “Christians” do tithe and many of those actually give less than 10%. And when I say “tithe” that includes all giving to churches and Christian ministries weather you call it tithing, sowing, giving or whatever.”
Meanwhile, the Barna Group, a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization which conducts research and produces resources pertaining to spiritual development, has this study results to show on the American Christians’ giving pattern.
“Tithing remained stable in 2012, though at the lower end of the typical range. The research shows that 5% of adults qualify as having tithed—giving 10% or more of their annual income to a church or non-profit organizations. In 2009, before the financial crisis, tithing was 7%, then dipped to 4% in 2010 and 2011. Among born again Christians, which includes both evangelicals and non-evangelicals, 12% tithed in 2012, which is on par with the average for the past decade.”
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, adds:
“For most Americans, giving is a luxury or a nice thing to do, but not typically viewed as a necessity. While the economy and donor outlook continue to show signs of improvement, it would be a tragedy if donors did not reevaluate the overall basis of their giving—that it’s not just an extra thing to do or for the tax benefits, but rediscovering the truest meaning of generosity.”
It would seem that tithing, no, GIVING—is not only NOT popular, it is NOT really practiced by the majority of believers today!
It is not surprising then why many of us struggle with our finances and strain to make ends meet month after month. It is because we are forgetting a vital principle of biblical financial management:
‟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]
We are struggling to afford things, because we give little. The small measure we use is being used on us! Not only do we fail to go beyond the tithe and to become truly generous, many of us fail to give. Period.
Others even go so far as to argue that stewardship is more than money. While being true that we need to give also of our time, our talents, our gifts and so forth, we cannot neglect or turn a blind eye to the fact that this includes our financial resources. We are required to give our whole self to God, not just the parts we feel like. Again, this includes our money.
Another question attached to tithing is whether one should give out of gross or net. The Bible makes no clear distinction; it simply says to give out of everything that has accrued. Perhaps the best answer to this would be another question: “Would we like to be blessed on the gross or net?”
Are we giving out of reverence for God or out of selfishness? Are we giving because we want to honor him or because we want something in return? Giving to God is not a bargaining tool. It should be an act of worship.
Old Testament believers gave from the best of their crops, not the leftovers. The same principle should apply to our giving today. This is the fail-proof standard of financial stability.
In Malachi [3:10] (NIV), it says, “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 there will not be room enough to store it.”
In Proverbs [11:24]-25 (ESV), “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
One thing is absolutely clear, no matter how much we give, we cannot outgive God. The more we give in service to the Lord, the more we will get in return. It defies logic but that is God’s math!
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)
A believer should give what he believes God would have him give. Again, it all goes back to the attitude of the heart.