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By Gary Rohrmayer

“The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first place in your life.” Deuteronomy14:23 (LB)

1. What is a tithe?

The word tithe means a tenth part or 10%.  In the Bible, God tells us that we are to give the first 10% of all we earn back to Him.  Giving less than 10% is not tithing.

2. When I calculate my tithe, should it be on my net or gross income?

Proverbs 3:9-10 says that God has asked for our first fruits, which is the first and best of all that we receive.  That means we should tithe from our total income before taxes (gross).  One man said, “What do you want God to bless — your net or your gross?”

3. Where should I give my tithe?

The Bible makes it clear that God expects the tithe to be given back to Him as an act of worship at the place where you worship.  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”  (Malachi 3:10)

The Bible also makes it clear this should be a plan and consistent act of worship.  “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.”  (I Corinthians 16: 2)

4. Could tithe money be used to support secular organizations?

The tithe is given in God’s name and should be used specifically for His work.  Tithing to my church helps me say no to all the secular and Christian appeals without feeling guilty because I know I’m doing what God desires.

5.  What is the difference between a tithe and offerings?

The tithe is the first ten percent of income given as an act of worship to support the general ministries of the Church.  (Malachi 3:10; Proverbs 3:9-10)  Offerings are special gifts which are beyond the tithe given to express one’s deep love and gratitude for God’s tremendous blessings.  These are the gifts which support our missions and building funds or other Christian
ministries.  (Psalm 50:23; Proverbs 7:14)

6. Why should I tithe to the General fund rather than a specific fund?

Because God says in Malachi 3:10, “Bring your whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house.”  Giving is another aspect of worship and to worship God completely involves submitting to God’s will.  So when a person directs their tithe, it’s like giving with strings attached and saying, “God I will worship you my way.”  (Read Leviticus 10:1-6; Acts 5:1-11 to see what God thinks when we worship Him our way and not His way).

7. What should I do when my spouse disagrees?

Larry Burkett puts it this way: “Because tithing involves money, it is a prime candidate for controversy between a husband and wife (many marital problems stem from finances).  However, if both spouses are Christians, they should have a desire to please the Lord.  It’s important for both spouses to be trained in God’s principles of finance.  That way, they’ll understand tithing is God ordained, not just a personal desire that the wife is trying to impose on the husband, or vice versa.

The problem becomes more complicated when one spouse is an unbeliever.  If the wife is an unbeliever, the husband must obey the Lord’s direction.  He must realize, however, that the Lord is more concerned about his wife’s soul than his money.  If tithing becomes a stumbling block to his wife, he should consider not tithing temporarily in order to win his wife to the Lord.

If the unbelieving spouse is the husband, then the believing wife should submit to his wishes, trusting that her submissive attitude may win him to the Lord. (Peter 3:1-6)   But she may still ask him to let her give an amount smaller than the tithe for at least a year.  If, at the end of a year, they are worse off financially as a result of her giving, she will cease to give.  But if they are better off, she will be allowed to give more.  In Malachi 3:10, the Lord asks us to test Him in tithing.  Often, this is just the opportunity for God to prove Himself to an unbelieving spouse.

8.  Doesn’t tithing limit one’s giving?

Larry Burkett gives a good answer to this question:  “One excuse for not tithing is that it “limits” the amount a Christian gives to God.  But the tithe was never meant to be a limit.  In fact, the Jew was admonished to give early one-fourth of his income each year.  With such giving today, the church could replace government welfare programs.  But most people need a starting point.  As best I can tell, God never asked less than a tenth from anyone.  But if “10%” bothers someone, there’s no reason why they can’t give 11%, 12%, or twice as much if they so desire.”

Again, the principle of God’s ownership comes into play.  God doesn’t own just 10% of our money; He owns 100%.  That’s why we should never tithe with the view that the remainder is ours.

After giving our tithe, God may impress on us to give an additional amount to the mission fund, building fund, or other Christian work outside the church.

9. Should I tithe if I am in debt?

The tithe helps us to fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom.  (Proverbs 1:7)  If there is anybody in the world who needs God’s wisdom in the area of finances, it is a person who is already in debt.

10.  Should I tithe from the profits on the sale of my house?

Any profit made from the sale  of a house ought to be tithed upon, because it is, in fact, part of our firstfruits.  Even if the profits are to be reinvested in a new home, a tithe should first be given.

11. Should a person tithe on an inheritance, insurance or legal settlement, or salary bonus?

Because these are all part of our “increase,” we should give a portion of it back to the Lord to honor Him. 

12.  If my parents are in great need, can I give a part of my tithe money to help them?

In Matthew 15:5-6, Jesus condemns the Pharisee’s practice of consecrating their possessions to God while their parents suffered need.  In light of this, if the tithe is the only resource available to help your parents, give it to them.  However, be sure you have sacrificed your portion before you decide to give what belongs to God.

13.  Should I tithe on alimony or child support from my ex-husband?

Alimony is part of your income from which a tithe should be given, but child support belongs to the children and isn’t part of your personal “increase”.

“But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”  II Corinthians 8:7

(Excerpts taken from “Giving & Tithing” by Larry Burkett of Christian Financial Concepts.  For other materials by Larry Burkett, www.cfcministry.org