Tithing Frequently Asked Questions
First of all, we’re glad you’re asking questions. It shows you care and it’s how we all learn. Secondly, we’re grateful for your partnership in ministry and we realize we have been charged to be trustworthy stewards of the tithes and offerings entrusted to us. Thirdly, the reason for this page is because you’re not the first one to have questions about tithing. We have compiled the questions and answers that come up again and again.
If you are just beginning to tithe then there may be times you may find it difficult to give; you are establishing a new habit of obedience to God! But don’t forget God’s promise, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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 you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10) We think it’s an exciting adventure to trust God and we have found that He proves Himself faithful again and again.
What Is Tithing?
The word “tithe” means “tenth, tenth part, or payment of tenth part.” Tithing is the practice of giving to the Lord 10% of your income. This is done to honor God for all of His provisions for us, to remind us that His the ultimate giver and to teach us to trust Him.
“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.” (Leviticus 27:30)
“The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first in every area of your life.” Deut. 14:23 (LB)
When I calculate my tithe, should it be on my net or my gross income?
A very good rule to apply concerning tithing is that the tithe should be the first and the best, trusting that God will bless the rest. “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” (Proverbs 3:9)
Abraham is the first reference we have in the bible regarding tithing and Genesis 14:20 shows that he tithed on everything: ‘Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything’.
Moreover, Genesis 28:22 shows Jacob vowing to do the same and tithe on all that he received from God, ‘And of all that you give me I will give you a tenth’.
As we apply the principle that tithing should be on the first and the best then it makes sense that we should give our tithes on the gross amount. If you tithe on the net, then how do you define what is meant by net income – is it income after tax, or what about health insurance, trade union membership and pensions? Where do you draw the line? So, tithing should be on the first and the best and by tithing on our gross income we truly honor God and give back to him from the first and the best.
“As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the first fruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.” (2 Chronicles 31:5)
Isn’t tithing under the Old Testament law, so we are exempt from it?
Actually, a biblical study of tithing shows that tithes came before the Old Testament law! Tithing is seen before the law, during the law and after the law. As one preacher put it: “When it comes to tithing, in Genesis 14:20 Abraham commenced it, in Genesis 28:22, Jacob continued it; in Leviticus 27:30, God commanded it, in Malachi 3:10 God confirmed it and in Matthew 23:23, Jesus commended it… who am I to cancel it?”
Secondly, there is a popular but false dichotomy that is often set up between the OT and the NT that goes like this: OT is law, NT is grace. But what people ignore is that the law was given AFTER grace, not before. Reading the OT clearly shows that the law (Ex. 20) was given AFTER God graciously brought the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex. 12-19 or just see Ex 20:1 just before the 10 Commandments start in Ex. 20:2. Same thing in Deut. 5:6ff). In numerous passages, God made it clear that their deliverance was due to His love, grace and favor not due to their obedience or righteousness.
Did Jesus endorse tithing?
Yes. In his warning to the Pharisees about legalism (they were tithing, but ignoring mercy and justice) he tells them that they should not neglect tithing, but also that their hearts should not neglect mercy and justice and other attributes of the law.
“You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. 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.” (Matthew 23:23)
What about the early church in Jerusalem?
The early church showed an example of extreme giving. Some of those first Christ followers sometimes gave everything that they had; 100% instead of just 10%! Those offerings were presented to the church leaders and then distributed as needed to people and the ministry.
“For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)
I’ve heard that if I do not tithe, I’m going to hell. Is that really true?
Absolutely not! Your salvation is not purchased by the tithes of man but by the blood of Jesus Christ!
If I pay tithe on the gross should I pay tithe on the taxes I get back from the government?
No, because you already paid it throughout the year.
If I own a business, do I give tithes on all monies received?
No, because your overhead cost is not profit. You tithe on the profit.
Should a person’s tithe go to their local church or just anywhere?
The precedent that has been set in scripture shows the importance of tithing to the storehouse (the local place of spiritual teaching and nourishment: Temple in the Old Testament, local church in the NT) to provide for the ministry and its mission. The storehouse was a collection point from which distributions were made. An in-depth study of giving and tithing actually shows that the Israelites gave 10% directly to the Temple and gave above that for the needs of the poor. We highly encourage people to give 10% of their income to the local church.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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 you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10)
What about my friends who raise support or other charities?
Give by all means! Remember that tithing 10% is where you start, not the maximum a believer gives. So in light of the previous question, it is appropriate to tithe at least 10% to the local church and then feel free to give above and beyond to anywhere else God leads. All stewardship and giving requires us to go before God and ask for wisdom on such matters. As with any discernment matter we encourage you to search scripture, pray, seek counsel from godly people, and discuss it with the leaders of the church.
What if I give my tithes to someone in need, is that ok?
Giving to those in need is what the Bible calls almsgiving; that is different from the tithe. Giving to others is biblical and kind, but we are not to put their need before obedience to God. The tithe belongs to God.
What if I’m tithing but I’m not getting ahead?
There can be all kinds of things that could be causing you not to increase in your finances. Living above your means is probably the most common. Bad business decisions and being ignorant with other financial obligations are two more out of many others.
Should I tithe if I am in debt?
The tithe helps us to honor God, which is the beginning of wisdom. 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. A farmer always keeps a portion of each harvest as seed stock to be planted the next season. If he didn’t, he would not be able to grow another crop. As Christians, our tithe is our seed stock (2 Corinthians 9:10). We honor God by giving Him the first fruits of our produce (income or compensation). Therefore the first portion of our income belongs to God. It doesn’t belong to anyone else—not even creditors (Proverbs 3:9-10).
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.
Should a person tithe on an inheritance?
Because an inheritance is part of our “increase,” we should give a portion of it back to the Lord to honor Him.
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.”
Wouldn’t you be exempt from tithing if you were on a fixed income and barely making ends meet?
Again, God doesn’t “need” our money. His desire is to bless His children, and it is for our good that He has instituted the principle of tithing in His Word. Remember the widow who put two “pennies” into the treasury? Jesus knew her situation and commended her by saying, “This poor widow put in more than all the contributors; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44).
What if my spouse doesn’t agree with me about tithing?
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 and understand tithing is God-ordained, not just a personal desire that the wife is trying to impose on the husband or vice versa. First, ask your spouse to list reasons why they do not support tithing. Review them and answer them by scripture. Secondly, if they are adamant about not tithing, you cannot make them. You have options. You can tithe from your income and show them how blessings are perpetual in your life. The results from obedience can never be denied. Trust that God will bless your obedience.
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 wife should submit to his wishes, trusting that her submissive attitude may win him to the Lord (1 Peter 3:1-6). One idea is to ask your spouse to join you in taking the challenge God gives in Malachi 3:10. Do the test over a 90-day period. If you are worse off financially as a result of tithing, tell them you will agree to cease to give. But if you are better off, the spouse should be allowed to tithe. Often, this is just the opportunity for God to prove Himself to an unbelieving spouse.
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
What if I don’t have very much money?
That’s not really the point. Remember that tithing is 10% of your income. If you learn to give the “firstfruits” or first 10% to God it doesn’t matter if that equals $10 or $10,000. However, if you wait to tithe with what is left over at the end of the month you will probably find you never have enough to tithe. Tithing may require to you change some of your spending habits and even cut back on things you don’t really need. If we are all honest, we can find lots of things that we spend money on that we don’t need. Here’s something interesting to consider: people who don’t tithe often say “I don’t have any money” and those that do tithe say, “God always provides for all my needs and more!”
“But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42-44)
Can I tithe my time instead of money?
There is no biblical precedent for tithing your time instead of money. As a matter of fact, we are expected to give God our time and our money, not one or the other. The idea of tithing time is often an excuse people give because they don’t want to part with their money. By the way, to actually tithe your time would mean that you give 73 hours per month to ministry service….that’s a part time job.
Shouldn’t I just give whatever amount is on my heart?
God’s word says “The heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9. We have to be very careful about relying on what we feel especially when it comes to money. Often this question or statement is an excuse for those who don’t want to tithe. Sometimes 2 Cor. 9:7 is quoted to support this concept. But 2 Cor. 9 is not referring to the tithe, but to a separate benevolent offeringPaul was taking to relieve the famine stricken Jerusalem church. So yes, give as much or as little as you want for offerings, but the tithe belongs to God. Isn’t it interesting that when we rely on our “hearts” to determine an amount instead of just obeying God, we often shortchange what God desires? What is ironic though is that as we tithe our hearts do change and we do become more generous! This does not mean that we don’t pray and ask for discernment in giving issues. Giving IS a heart matter. We just need to be carful not to fall into the trap of making excuses for our disobedience. And on the flip side we want to be careful that we don’t slip into legalism by approaching tithing as a “10% tax” and ignore the heart issues of giving.
Should I give every week, bi-weekly, or monthly?
That really depends on the person/couple. Some people only get paid bi-weekly so it’s easier to do that. Some people find it easier to give every week…just so they don’t spend it all before they get paid. Those who are on salary often find it easy to calculate a monthly tithe. You should ask others how they find it to work best. The important part is that you tithe not as much if its each week or month.
Is my giving kept private?
Yes. There are only a few people in accounting that see your giving. As a church we record it because be are required to by IRS law. Your giving will never be posted or discussed publicly. Note: If you give cash, please put your money in an envelope and write your name on it.
Is my donation Tax deductible?
Yes. At the end of the year you will receive a receipt from the Open Door Accounting Department who count and record the money throughout the year. Because we are a 501c3 non-profit organization you can count your donation for a tax deduction. Note: If you give cash, please put your money on an envelope and write your name on it.
Do the pastors, staff, and their families tithe?
Of course! Modeling is the best way to lead others and we wouldn’t ask people to do things we the staff weren’t willing to do. We continue to stretch ourselves to give above and beyond 10% of our income. God has always been so faithful to provide for all of our needs and much, much more.
Can I give online through the Internet?
Yes. You can sign up for a secure Open Door Connect account where you can give your tithe in a secure way. Additionally, you can create automatic recurring contributions that will help you be faithful in your giving even when you are away or busy serving.
What are the benefits of giving online?
There are several benefits to online giving for both you and the church.
1. First Fruits – In Proverbs 3:9 we are taught to honor the Lord with the “First Fruits” of our labor. By setting up a recurring contribution that is scheduled to come out of your account on the day you specify you can ensure that your First Fruits are given back to God.
2. Simplicity – You will not need to remember if you gave this month or send in your offering checks when you are out of town.
3. Security – Online giving is more secure than giving with a check in that an electronic gift can’t be lost or stolen.
4. No Distractions – Instead of needing to worry about writing your tithe check during the service, you can be fully engaged with the worship service, knowing that you have already given your offering.
5. Helping Open Door – It is more cost effective for the church to process online contributions. In addition, it also simplifies the financial records the church needs to keep.