Tithing and generous giving are biblical injunctions
applicable to all people who choose to follow the way of God. The
dedication of ten percent of one's income to God is a private act of
worship and thanksgiving which recognizes Him as Creator. It is by means
of the tithes and offerings of its faithful membership and interested
co-workers that the scriptural commissions of the Church of God are
The entire universe belongs to God-He designed it and
created it; He sustains and maintains it. God, in fact, owns
God created the material universe, including the
earth and its resources, as a fit environment for an even greater
creation. It was here that God placed man and began the creation of His
own character in children eventually destined to be born into His own
family. Thus, this earth-and its vast store of animal, vegetable, and
mineral resources-is only a preliminary step in a much larger drama
unfolding progressively before mankind. It is God's purpose that human
beings should eventually attain an infinitely greater role in rulership
over God's creation by inheriting not merely this world and its
resources but even the entire universe (Hebrews 2:6-8).
Every human being owes his entire existence to God-his very life and
living. In designing man, God knew it would be in man's best interest to
worship his Creator in the fullest, most logical manner. Prayer is an
important vehicle for that worship. So is obedience to God's Law, which
is His system for governing man's proper behavior and activities.
Tithing is an integral part of that Law.
The biblical precepts of tithing and giving are
essential steps in accomplishing God's ultimate objective for man. The
tithe is established by scriptural command and example. Since it is a
recognized scriptural principle that "he that is faithful in that which
is least is faithful also in much," the steadfast tithing of one's
wealth, whether meager or abundant, serves to teach one a profound
spiritual lesson. If a man can learn not only to share his substance for
the benefit of others in a spirit of humility and generosity, but also
to acknowledge that God is the source of all things, then that man shall
be developing the very same spiritual qualities required to properly
handle the far greater wealth he will inherit in God's Kingdom (Matthew
19:28-29; 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
It is with this perspective that the Church of God
views the subjects of tithing and giving of offerings. In seeking to
more fully understand the mind of God in this respect, we look to the
Bible as the expression of God's will.
Tithing was ordained by God as one of His ways of
teaching man how to honor and worship Him. Tithing is one of the most
important ways by which a godly person of deep conviction and dedication
can express his acknowledgement of, and appreciation for, God's
blessings in his physical life today. Man, through tithing, continuously
acknowledges that God is the Creator and Owner of the Universe, and as
such has a prior claim on the whole content and produce of our lives.
Tithing accomplishes two other important goals in the
Christian's life. Through it we build godly character by developing a
giving spirit. Simultaneously, we are using our resources to share with
others both the message and the blessings of the Christian life. Tithing
serves as a means of expressing one's love towards both God and his
fellow man. The biblical injunction of cheerfully giving ten percent of
one's own income is a physical procedure designed to teach profound
spiritual principles and lessons. It is, indeed, in mankind's best
Since tithing is biblically enjoined upon all who are
called to obey God, the Church of God strongly teaches the overall laws,
principles and basic administrative guidelines for tithing as revealed
in the Old Testament instructions of God. But tithing, like prayer, is a
very private and personal expression of an individual's relationship
with his God. It reflects one's faith in God and one's appreciation for
the blessings that He has bestowed. Therefore, actual implementation of
how one should calculate his tithes is left strictly up to the faith and
understanding of that particular person. Tithing is a matter between a
person and God.
God's Church has always been, and shall always be, a
work of faith-a work totally relying on God for support and sustenance,
as well as for guidance and leadership. Nonetheless, the Work of the
Church in the electronic age of the 21st century requires considerable
resources. Gone are the days when itinerant evangelists would walk from
town to town preaching the gospel wherever they could find an audience.
The media utilized today are the printing press, radio, television,
the Internet and
mass-audience campaigns. It is no longer possible to be effective and
still earn one's own necessary expenses while spreading the gospel.
Moreover, the Church recognizes its responsibility to
help the poor, indigent and needy in (and outside) the Church who are
not always able to receive government help or assistance from some other
Thus, based on biblical precedents, the Church sees
three basic financial needs for which the membership has a
1) Support of the Work of the Church-both in its
efforts to present the gospel to the world, and in providing for the
spiritual care and growth of its membership.
2) Attendance at the annual festivals.
3) Assistance to fellow Church members in
temporary or permanent financial straits.
These needs are met by a three-part system of tithing
on the part of Church members:
1) With some exceptions, all Church members
contribute a tithe of their income for the support of the Work of
the Church. This contribution is generally supplemented by various
voluntary offerings. This goes to carry out the first need indicated
2) Members are expected to set aside a tithe in a
special fund to meet the expenses of the annual festivals. This
money is saved by the individual and does not come to the Church
except for a requested small amount to help meet the expenses of
renting large convention sites, or in voluntary offerings given at
the Feast being observed. While those members who can are encouraged
to save the biblically stated ten percent of their income in this
festival fund, it is recognized that this is not possible for all.
Those whose tithe is more than sufficient are asked to provide help
for those unable to meet their festival expenses.
3) Members who are able have the
responsibility-based upon biblical precedent-to contribute to an
assistance fund to help indigent members (and nonmembers as well).
By these means, each Christian expresses his worship of God and
outgoing concern for his fellow man as he practices true
Christianity and develops character.
The practice of tithing long predates the time of the
nation of Israel. In the book of Genesis, tithing is mentioned twice. In
both instances, tithing is used as a means of honoring God, of showing
one's profound appreciation for the blessings God has given. Abraham
tithed to Melchizedek on the spoils which he had gained from his
slaughter of the five invading kings (Genesis 14:17-20;
Hebrews 7:1-4). His
grandson Jacob promised to give a tenth of all that he acquired to God.
This was after his dream of the "heavenly ladder" at Bethel (Genesis 28).
A detailed tithing system was introduced with the
Levitical priesthood. The entire tribe of Levi was set aside to carry
out the sacral functions with the family of Aaron functioning as a
central priestly core. Numbers 18 recounts the basic method of financing
the Levites who were responsible for all the priestly and temple
services. Various types of offerings came to them, including the
firstfruits, redemption price for the firstborn, firstlings, and
portions of sacrifices. But the major means of sustenance was the tithe.
All agricultural produce was to be tithed at the time of harvest and
the tribe of Levi. The
Levites in turn were to give a tenth to the priests. Leviticus 27:30-33 shows that livestock was to be tithed as
well as vegetable produce. Leviticus 27:30-33 shows that
livestock was to be tithed as well as vegetable produce.
Deuteronomy 14:22-27 describes another type of tithe.
In this case it was not to go to the Levites but was saved by the
individual to meet his expenses for celebrating the festivals at the
central location. This tithe was also levied on plant produce but not on
livestock. Instead the firstling* animals are mentioned as being eaten
at the festival site. This particular tithe is not given a name here; in
later Judaism, it bore the name "second tithe."
*A question arises about firstlings. The
firstling was a firstborn male; if the firstborn was a female,
there was no firstling offered to God from that particular
animal. According to Exodus 13:11-15 and Numbers 18:15-18, the
firstlings were to be sacrificed and given to the priests. One
solution which harmonizes the passages understands that the
priests did not receive the entire firstling but only those
parts which they received from other offerings as well, i.e. the
breast and right thigh. The individual bringing the animal could
then use the rest of the meat for his own festival enjoyment.
Every third year (that is, the third and sixth years
out of a seven year cycle) a tithe of plant produce was set aside for
the poor. It is not clear from the Hebrew whether this was designed to
be another use for the second tithe or whether it was a totally new
tithe in addition to the second. One tradition of interpretation in
later Judaism indeed envisioned two separate tithes from Deuteronomy 14,
making three in all when the tithe to the Levites is counted. However,
most later sources, in discussing the question, see only two uses of the
same tithe. That is, it was saved to meet festival expenses in the
first, second, fourth and fifth years of a sabbatical cycle, whereas in
the third and sixth years it was given to the poor. (In the seventh year
the land rested and no tithes were paid. Presumably, the produce of four
years was sufficient to meet the festival expenses for the full seven
years.) In any event there are three distinct uses for tithes in
the Bible: supporting the Work of God, attending the festivals of God,
and caring for the poor.
Tithing is mentioned in other passages in the Old
Testament. Several texts which describe the revival of temple services
after they had fallen into decay naturally mention the priestly tithe,
since the temple ritual could be maintained only where the priests were
sustained by tithes and offerings (Nehemiah
10:37-38; 12:44; 13:12; 2
In addition, two prophetic passages mention tithing.
Amos 4:4 sarcastically calls on the people to bring their tithes and
sacrifices, because these would obviously be of little value in the
state of moral degradation they were in. Malachi 3:6-12 is delivered in
a different vein: it equates failing to tithe with robbery of God.
Curses result from failing to bring in the full complement of tithes and
offerings, whereas faithful tithing produces bountiful blessings.
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.
But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and
"Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have
robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into
the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove
me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you
the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing" (Malachi
Many Old Testament scriptures emphasize a
responsibility to the poor. In addition to the poor tithe discussed
above, provision was made for them in other regulations having to do
with gleaning, leaving the corners unreaped and not returning to pick up
the forgotten sheaf (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-21). If a poor man had
given his coat as a pledge for a debt, he was to be allowed to have it
during the night to keep himself warm (Deuteronomy 24:10-13); the poor hired
hand was to be paid at the end of the day because he had no money.
One of the major provisions of the sabbatical and
jubilee years was the release of debts (Leviticus 25:2-17; Deuteronomy 15:1-11).
The Israelites were also forbidden to refuse a loan if that refusal was
based on the fact that the year of release was near. Furthermore, they
were not allowed to charge interest on loans to needy persons (Leviticus
Oppression of the poor was considered a proverbial
sign of depravity and godlessness (e.g. Job 20:19; 31:19; Proverbs 14:31;
19:17; 22:22; 28:3). It was the duty of any person of means to help the
less fortunate. It was the duty of kings and rulers to give aid and
protection to the widows, the orphans and the helpless (Deuteronomy
10:18; 27:19; Isaiah 1:17). One's responsibility in this regard was continuous.
There was no reason to think that strict payment of the poor tithe or
other legal demands removed any need for an ongoing, active concern.
Whereas the Old Testament provides a definitive
system forgiving and financial responsibility toward one's God and
fellowman, the New Testament concentrates on the spirit and attitude
behind giving. Christian giving is discussed a great deal in the New
Testament. The proper, godly use of money is an important subject dealt
with by Jesus Christ and the apostles. This use has two aspects: The
first concerns the responsibility of a Christian to help the poor.
Poverty was evidently a major problem in the early Church, as it was in
Palestine as a whole. Acts 4:32-37 describes a period after the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit when the Church continued together in
Jerusalem living on voluntarily donated property and funds. These
donations were not compulsory, so when Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece
of property they were not compelled to donate the funds. As a result,
when they did, but only turned over part of the amount while claiming to
be giving it all, they indicted themselves. Their lie for the sake of
self-aggrandizement met with quick retribution (Acts 5:1-11).
During a time of famine in Judea the churches in the
area of Antioch took up a collection to provide relief. This indicated
that those in Palestine were generally harder hit than those further
north (Acts 11:27-30). Even churches as far away as Asia Minor and
Corinth were encouraged to assist (1
Corinthians 16:1-4; 11 Corinthians 8:1-4; 9:1-5).
This is only one of a number of examples.
A second aspect of Christian giving is support of the
work of the ministry. The apostle Paul was willing to work with his own
hands to earn his living on occasion. However, this was only for the
sake of expediency, because he did not want to offend those sensitive to
such things. 1 Corinthians 9 discusses this in detail. In this passage,
Paul is very strong in his comments. He does not mince words; he does
not apologize. He emphasizes that he has an absolute right to be
supported by the churches in his evangelistic duties. He cites or refers
to several Old Testament laws to support his right in this regard,
including the ones concerning the threshing ox which was not to be
muzzled, and the support of the priests in the Temple. Those who devoted
their time to preaching the gospel should receive their living from this
work. Those who had already benefited from this preaching-those who had
already been converted through his efforts-were the ones who should make
possible the continuation of his work.
Paul also cites a precedent from Jesus Himself. "In
the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel
should get their living by the gospel" (verse 14). This has reference to
the time when Jesus sent out groups of disciples preaching in Palestine.
They were to preach only where they were provided with hospitality (Matthew
10:5-15; Luke. 10:1-12). Thus, Paul states
that Jesus Himself had commanded support of the work of the ministry by
the recipients and beneficiaries of that work. Paul himself had not
taken advantage of this right in the case of the Corinthians because of
their spiritual weakness with regard to this point (verse 12), yet he
gladly received help from other churches (2
Many scriptures discuss one's attitude toward money.
It was on the occasion of asking for famine relief that Paul wrote:
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly
shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall
reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in
his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for
God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace
abound toward you" (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Similarly, Jesus stated, "give, and it will be given
to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will
be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you
get back" (Luke 6:38). Obviously then, generous giving of one's
financial resources to do the Work of God is an absolute command in the
Money is considered to have potential for either good
or evil. It can be used for good, as some of the scriptures mentioned
imply. It can also be a source of oppression, greed, egotism and an
obstacle to the Kingdom of God. The "rich man" is proverbial. He was
generally expected to be arrogant, selfish and despotic (e.g. Matthew
19:24; Mark 10:24; James 2:1-6; 5:1-6). The desire for money is the immediate
source of most evils and is easily capable of leading even the faithful
Christian astray (1 Timothy 6:10).
Thus, a great deal of stress is laid on the right
attitude towards money. On the one hand, it is right and even necessary
to acquire money honestly to provide for oneself and one's family (2
Thessalonians 3:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:8). It is a means of assisting the less
fortunate and of furthering the spreading of the gospel. On the other
hand, it can be the cause of all sorts of wickedness and a major
stumbling block to proper Christian living.
Jesus made reference to the meticulous tithing of the
Pharisees (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). In one of His parables a Pharisee is
made to introduce careful tithing as one of the signs of his
self-righteousness (Luke 18:12). In each case Jesus is condemning the
emphasis on judging righteousness by external rituals rather than by the
internal and true righteousness of the heart. To have the one without
the other is pure hypocrisy. On the other hand, care in these outward
matters is not condemned but rather encouraged, so long as the
"weightier matters of the law" are not omitted.
Consequently then, though it was not His main point,
Jesus instructed His disciples that people who want to follow God
should tithe when He stated "these ought ye to have done" in
reference to tithing (Matthew 23:23).
Another direct New Testament reference to tithing is
to be found in Hebrews 7. Here tithing is used in an argument to show
the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood to the Levitical
priesthood. Even though the Levites received tithes, they had in effect
paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham because Abraham-who as their
ancestor had had them in his generative organs, as it were-had tithed to
Melchizedek. Thus, even though Christ was of the tribe of Judah, which
did not have the priesthood in Israel, He obtained the Melchizedek
priesthood, a superior and perpetual priesthood, through offering
Himself as a sinless sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
Tithing as a subject per se is not discussed
in the New Testament. The question is, Why? The explanation obviously
lies in the historical environment. Tithing never became an issue in the
culture of the early New Testament church; it was simply taken for
The Temple and its related service were still
functioning until sometime after the beginning of the war with Rome in
66 A.D. Faithful Jews of the general Palestinian area would tithe to it.
Since no discussion to the contrary is contained in the New Testament,
continued tithing to the Levites would have been accepted by Christians
in Palestine. Indeed, Matthew 23:23 confirms this from the mouth of
Jesus Christ Himself, since it is safe to assume that Christians in
those first few decades would have followed what Jesus Himself had
stated so recently.
However, it was not considered by the Judaism of the
time that tithing was required for those living outside the borders of
Israel in the same way as it was for the Jews in the Holy Land who had
direct access to the Temple. Therefore, it was probably in the diaspora
that it first became customary to tithe to the Church rather than to the
Levitical priesthood. The fall of the Temple and the attendant
abandonment of the temple system must consequently have produced a
change in Palestine as well.
Unfortunately, our sources outside the New Testament
for the early history of the Church are rather meager. We are not told
how the Palestinian Church met the crisis of the fall of the Temple or
the exact system of financing the work of the ministry throughout the
Roman Empire. The change of situation evidently required a new
application of Old Testament laws.
Recognizing the importance of the existence of the
Temple during New Testament times is extremely
relevant for understanding why tithing per se was not discussed as an
issue. By the time Jerusalem and the Temple fell in 70 A.D., Paul had
already written all of his epistles to the Churches. In them tithing had
not been an issue. It would have been a diametric contradiction of
Jesus' direct words that one "ought" to tithe to the Temple if the
apostles in Jerusalem had decided that Christians should stop paying
tithes to the Temple and start tithing to the Church instead. It would
also have been a severe affront to the priests of God (whom Jesus
Himself had supported), and would have resulted in great additional
accusations and persecutions against the nascent Church. Had such a
radical decision been made, had the Jewish Christians stopped tithing to
the priests and started tithing to the apostles, we would surely have
some record of it. But there is only silence. As a result, the whole
question of tithing as a general Church obligation could not possibly
have arisen until sometime after the Temple had been destroyed.
During the New Testament period, Christians in
Palestine tithed to the Temple and freely gave generous offerings to the
Church. Consequently, those who would use the New Testament's silence on
tithing as supposed "proof" that God's Church cannot (or should not)
teach tithing today betray their historical ignorance.
But when the Temple was no longer in existence, when
the Levitical priesthood was no longer functioning, a new situation
arose. Then, as now, the responsibility of the Church to make binding
decisions in applying the laws of God to changing situations became
In this context, it is worth considering Paul's
discussion of tithing in Hebrew 7. Jesus Christ, though not a Levite,
had a more fundamental (and ancient) right to receive tithes, as "a
priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" to whom Abraham (the
ancestor of Levi) paid tithes. Therefore, it is entirely logical for the
ministers of Jesus Christ to apply the statements regarding tithing
throughout the Old Testament, from the example of Abraham to the
powerful injunction of Malachi, in teaching the Church membership that
they should continue to worship God through the same God-ordained system
of tithing that God has always used, and which Jesus Himself supported
during His earthly ministry. Only now, rather than the Levitical
priesthood, who are no longer carrying out the work of God, Jesus Christ
empowered His ministry to accept the tithes of the Church in order to
continue the Work of God in this generation.
Yet when one examines the intent behind the Old Testament system, three
purposes for tithing stand clear:
1) The Levitical tithe was a means of maintaining
religious worship and instruction. The theocratic government
envisioned for Israel was, of course, replaced by a monarchy. Yet
the original purpose for the priesthood and the Levites was the
fulfillment of many of the governmental and educational functions of
the country, as well as to supply its religious need. In other
words, in the theocracy of Israel, the Levitical tithe was used to
do God's Work.
2) The festival tithe made it possible to attend
worship services at the central altar during the annual festival
seasons. This was necessary for the maintenance of religious unity
as well as being necessary for individual worship.
3) The poor tithe was a major way of helping the
needy, even though other forms of aid were provided to supplement
The Church of God sees similar purposes continuing
today. Tithing, as established by God, is the most equitable, honest and
consistent method of establishing the necessary income for the operation
of the Church. This supportive responsibility is shared equally by all.
Thus, the freewill giving of tithes and offerings-the biblically
revealed system-is the God given responsibility of all the members of
It should be recognized that the Church becomes an
object of disrespect when it receives only the dregs of the incomes of
its members. God should have the first place in a Christian's mind-not
the last-when it comes to the proper use of his financial resources; God
should come at the top of the list in the allocation of one's income,
not as an afterthought.
The Church of God reconfirms and reemphasizes its
adherence to the basic principle of tithing as established and
exemplified in God's Word. The Church teaches the giving of tithes
because it is the law of God. Consequently, the withholding of one's
tithes, which violates that law, is a sin.
Tithing is the biblical method by which God finances
His Work. Not only do members of the Church see the examples of tithing
and giving and the admonition regarding them in the Old Testament, they
have also seen and experienced the blessings which come from faithful
tithing and giving of generous offerings.
Many otherwise nonreligious people have attributed
their financial success to their own freewill giving and philanthropic
activities. They follow the principle of "it is more blessed to give
than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Conversely, history and modern society are
a witness to the evils of selfishness and thanklessness toward God. The
fiscal ruin of governments and nations around the world is, at least in
part, testimony to the results of financial management without regard
for God's laws and principles.
Calculating-Tithes and Offerings
Tithing is an act of worship; it is a private matter
between the individual and God. The Church does not "enforce" or
"police" tithing, but simply teaches the responsibility to tithe. Each
individual has the responsibility to honor the Lord with his substance
and with the firstfruits of all his produce" (Proverbs 3:9). God has
determined that the minimum standard whereby one honors Him is a tithe
of one's income. However, what is to be considered income is not
necessarily the gross amount taken in. In ancient Israel one tithed his
"increase" or produce because there were no tangible expenses. This is
not true in modern society. A continual tithing of one's investment
would erode the money-producing base. Therefore, it is recognized that
what is to be tithed is what comes in over and above the monetary
It is considered the responsibility of each
individual to determine what his "increase" is. A businessman would
naturally deduct the cost of doing business before computing his tithe.
If one invested an amount of money which had already been tithed, he
would not tithe the entire investment each year, only the actual
profits. These examples illustrate that only one's true "increase" is to
be tithed. To reiterate, each person should conscientiously determine
for himself what his increase is as an act of worship and of obedience
Some individuals wonder whether one should tithe
before or after government taxes. Here are some general principles to
First of all, it is not the tithe that has become a
burden, but skyrocketing tax rates. The "tithe" is always a tenth, and
never a burden. But taxation rates vary widely and are subject to
constant adjustments. A fundamental fact generally overlooked is that in
ancient Israel each individual head of household was responsible for
making his own decisions, before his God, as to what constituted
"increase." Nowhere in all the Bible are specific details or regulations
given. God's law provided each head of household with an area of land on
which he did not have to pay property tax-much, less rent or purchase
price (Numbers 27:11; 32:1-5, 33-42;
Joshua 13:8ff., n.b. v. 14). This was
the acme of financial security.
Furthermore, when God gave instructions about tithing
cattle, He did not require the first animal that came down the
chute-even though He could have: He asked for the tenth. If no tenth
animal came through or passed under the rod, God did not take anything.
He simply did not claim the first tenth, only a tenth (Leviticus 27:32-33).
The conclusion is that the Israelites did tithe on the bulk of their
income. God allowed offerings to take care of that. We follow the same
practice today. The Church does not generate a whole legal code
governing the interpretation of "increase."
In Israel, under Saul, ten percent was exacted from
the people for human government in addition to the tithe which was part
of the tithing system God had instituted when He had established the
nation as His own. Many other burdens were imposed by Saul besides the
ten percent tax (1 Samuel 8:10-18). The imposition of taxes in Saul's reign
has an important bearing on the question of tithing before or after
taxes today. Did Samuel make a ruling that Saul's tax was now deductible
from one's increase prior to determining God's tithe? No such ruling is
anywhere recorded in Scripture. The Church today has no biblical
precedent for deciding that all taxes withheld from salaries are
deductible prior to figuring the tithe. On the other hand, the
governments of this world seldom limit themselves to a ten percent tax
structure. Many are collecting twenty-five percent, thirty percent,
forty percent or more in income taxes-oftentimes without allowing any
deductions for donations to charitable or religious organizations. In
effect, this suggests that governments can exercise the right to a prior
claim--prior even, to that of God's-to one's earned income. This becomes
obvious when certain countries have legislated eighty to ninety percent
tax rates for individuals in the upper income bracket. For individuals
in this category to pay tithes on their gross income requires over
one hundred percent of their income, a self-evident logical
Obviously, whenever any government allows its tax
rate to become prohibitive, it is proper for the individual whose tax
burdens are significant to seek relief from that tax burden by modifying
his increase or tithable base. The laws of certain countries-the United
States is the best example, permit the taxpayer to adjust his tax base
downward by the amount of his charitable contributions. This mitigates
the effect of the tax-especially for those in higher tax brackets-and
allows a person to more easily continue to tithe on his gross income. In
any case, the individual, not the Church, must make whatever decision is
appropriate. Whether in a general situation or on any specific question,
the individual himself is responsible before his God and he alone must
answer to God for his stewardship. This is crucial.
Attitude is the key factor. The Church's doctrine
on tithing must not be used by members as if it were a legalistically
worded personal income tax form, hopefully providing various "loopholes"
to lessen tax burdens. No one shall ever enter God's Kingdom with a
miserly, selfish, grasping attitude of "get" instead of the loving,
sharing, helping attitude of "give." The individual must know, in his
deepest conscience before God, that he is living in faith before
God and is staying on the generous side of his personally
calculated tithing obligations.
It is the Church's and the ministry's responsibility
to teach the general principle and to provide biblical examples as
guidelines. With every nation having its own tax laws, and constantly
changing its law at that, there is no possible way for the Church to
make a definitive and equitable decision applicable to everyone in the
matter of tithing before or after taxes. The same principle holds true
for any other potential deduction used to determine one's real
"increase" or tithable base.
Before coming to a decision regarding, whether to
tithe before or after taxes, an individual needs to consider several
things: his own financial capacity, the tax rate, the deductibility or
nondeductibility of charitable donations, and the benefits received from
taxes. These factors vary from country to country. For example, many
countries have free education, free medical care, child allowances, and
many other systems of financial returns on the tax dollar. How one
figures his tithable base and what deductions he makes, are both very
personal, private matters between the individual and his God. Any
questions of conscience should be more than resolved with the giving of
generous offerings when one is able so to give. God is calling us to be
co-workers in His work today and preparing us to be sons in His Family
tomorrow. Our financial responsibilities toward Him are a significant
aspect of our stewardship-they are not part of a game. God knows our
minds and our hearts, and whatever we do or think is obvious to Him.
Other factors may influence one's decisions in
determining the precise nature of his tithing responsibilities. For
example, in a situation where a converted husband has an adamantly
antagonistic mate opposed to tithing, the man may consider his wife
entitled to half the income. This means that the man pays tithes and
offerings only on one-half of his actual income. Further, a wife whose
antagonistic mate prevents her from tithing at all should consider
herself free of any obligation.
God's Church uses the tithes of its members and
interested co-workers to pay for the spreading of the gospel to the
world, which is the Church's commission (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). These
tithes also serve to support the ministry whose primary concern is care
of the local congregations. These two broad concerns cover a multitude
of specific activities on the part of the Church.
Yet the basic tithe on income does not fulfill one's
obligation to God. It simply represents the minimum of a Christian's
responsibility. Most Christians freely give offerings well above what is
In ancient Israel other dues were also required
(firstlings, firstfruits, redemption of the firstborn, etc.). In
addition, the Israelites were commanded not to appear empty-handed at
the annual festivals; they were rather to bring offerings, each
according to God's blessings (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). These were offerings of
animals on the altar. The material offering today is monetary, and is
contributed to help the Church do its Work rather than being burnt on
the altar. The amount is voluntary, to be determined by each person on
the basis of what he can afford and how he has been blessed by God.
is not the policy of the Church to take up offerings at regular Church
services. Normally, each individual sends in his tithe and offerings
privately. The only offerings taken up in services are on the seven
annual holy days in accordance with the biblical command.
Attendance at the annual festivals is considered
mandatory for Church members except under unusual circumstances. Most
holy day services are conducted in the local church areas and do not
require extensive travel or time away from home. However, the Feast of
Tabernacles is conducted at a few central locations and generally
requires some travel as well as necessitating a person's being away from
home for the entire eight days. Consequently, one's participation
requires planning ahead.
Based on the precedent of the Old Testament festival
tithe, the Church teaches its membership to set aside an additional
tithe for festival expenses. Since the calculation of the festival tithe
in the Old Testament was slightly different than for the Levitical tithe
(omitting cattle but including firstlings, which were usually fewer than
ten percent of a flock or herd), the exact percentage of one's income
saved for the festivals may be somewhat variable. Nevertheless, the
biblical standard is a tithe, even though it may be a test of one's
faith to set it aside. If one feels he is unable to save a full tithe,
he should save what he can and still attend the festivals.
The precise administration of the festival tithe, in
both its saving and its spending, is the sole responsibility of each
individual. Those who have more than enough should make their excess
available to those less fortunate who are unable to afford to attend the
Feast. This can be done by sending the excess to a central fund which
the Church maintains to help those with such needs.
The money each member saves in his own festival fund
is, of course, his to use-within biblical parameters-for his own
enjoyment of the festivals. He may wish to take part or all of his holy
day offerings from it, but any given to the Church is done so on a
voluntary basis. The festival fund is not money for the Church, but
money for the individual: to enable him better to worship God, to learn
to be a responsible and mature member of the body of Christ, to enjoy
the physical pleasures God has made available, and to help others
rejoice as well. Because part of the expense of the central Feast of
Tabernacles celebration is the cost of renting facilities, the Church,
as a purely administrative policy, may request the members to send in a
portion of their festival fund to help meet this collective Church
Assistance to the Needy
While the exact implementation of the Old Testament
tithe for "the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow" (Deuteronomy 14:29; 26:12 is not entirely clear, the Church applies it in
principle as a method of providing funds for the assistance of the
needy. A significant number of members either follow precisely the
biblical system of setting aside a tenth of their income in the third
and sixth years in a cycle of seven, or they apply the intent of the law
by averaging the amount of tithe over every year. The primary goal is,
of course, to develop the godly attitude of giving cheerfully to help
one's fellow man. Many people follow this today and have personally
experienced the additional blessings that come from so giving.
One should be willing to help others in whatever way
possible, whether it be in time donated, in gifts of goods or money to
charity, or in one-on-one aid where needed. But for the assistance of
its own members who are in need, the Church maintains this "assistance
fund" to which those who can are asked to donate.
Of course, anything sent in to this fund should be
for the poor, not from the poor. It is neither wisdom nor
godliness to make one's own self and family destitute in order to help
others. It makes no sense at all for a person to attempt to contribute
to the Church's assistance fund when that contribution is going to place
his own family in need of assistance. A person can give to the point
that he destroys his base for producing the income which allows him to
give. This does not reflect the mind of God. One has to be willing to
sacrifice everything, even one's own life, if necessary, in the service
of God. Yet the time for such sacrifice occurs only on rare occasions.
To sacrifice one's health or to ruin one's finances when the occasion
does not demand it is foolish.
On the other hand, to withhold aid when one has the
ability to give, to help and to alleviate suffering is often condemned
in the Bible, Just as one's financial resources may be a means of
showing love to another person, so is excessive concern about material
possessions a way of showing un-concern, selfishness and even hate.
Over-generosity is seldom (never?) criticized in the Bible; lack of
generosity is often censured (Matthew 25:31-36). It is the policy of the
Church that the membership contribute to the assistance fund on an
individual basis according to their individual ability.
In the light of varying laws regarding welfare,
Social Security, national health programs, etc., which can be considered
a part of our assistance to the poor since they are supported by our tax
dollars, there is considerable latitude in the interpretation and
implementation of this special "poor tithe." Consequently a person can
decide on his own what percentage of his income he shall give to help
the poor according as he is able and as God has blessed him. Of course,
it is meaningless for those receiving assistance from the Church or
government to try to aid others until they are financially sound
Christians are to care for those in need who are
ineligible for government welfare, or who cannot subsist on welfare
alone. We must all, as much as possible, go above and beyond the taxes
we pay for welfare in taking care of the needy and the handicapped. In
fact, biblical law teaches that we must do more than fulfill the poor
tithe (Deuteronomy 15:7-11). Even the strict payment of a ten percent poor
tithe did not relieve Christians of their continuing responsibility to
be concerned for the poor.
In summary, it is the policy of the Church to
continue the tradition of the biblical "poor tithe" to take care of its
needy, with whatever modifications are necessary to adapt it to our
present economy. The Church has the God-given responsibility to make
such decisions based on biblical directives and principles, and the
individual member has a similar responsibility to determine what his
proper contribution should be.
The Law of Giving
Service to God consists of many things. A multitude
of people will voice the desire to serve God, whether or not they really
intend to seek out the means of doing so. Perhaps no other area is more
sensitive in this regard than the financial one. But, as the book of
James states, Christian love consists of more than kindly words or sweet
platitudes. One can, of course, serve through encouragement, counsel and
prayer. But the work of the Church cannot go on in this
without the necessary finances. Diligence in this area is often the test
of one's real desire to serve God, to discover whether one is willing to
put one's full faith in His Laws and His Ways.
God is the greatest giver. He is the one who gives
life and makes everything possible and enjoyable by His wonderful
creation. God has set the example of giving by supplying what could
never be repaid, and giving it to those who could never return the
favor. Giving is at the heart of Christian love. We all receive; we show
our appreciation by offering and contributing what we can to God and to
our fellow man. God, in His infinite love, gave us His Son, setting the
ultimate example of generosity. The biblical precept of giving tithes
and offerings provides man with the opportunity to emulate this facet of
God's character in a material as well as a spiritual way.
By establishing a minimum standard of ten percent,
God teaches us that we can give more to Him than is "required"-and makes
us inwardly richer in the process. Many people have liberally given
above and beyond what would be "required" in order to do God's Work more
effectively, and to assist the needy in God's Church more fully. As a
direct result, these generous Christians have experienced the great
rewards, both physically and spiritually, of God's blessing.
Tithing must be-and must so be represented as being-a
very personal matter between the individual and his God. It must never
become a case of some being more "righteous" than others in determining
their tithable base. The offerings of everyone should be sufficiently
above and beyond what is "required" (depending on individual
circumstances, of course) that any doubts about having tithed fully and
properly before God are obviated.
Everyone should be careful in giving specific advice
in matters of tithing to others. How one determines his increase is a
personal matter between that person and God.
The most important point to remember is simply that
tithing, like prayer, demonstrates the very essence of one's own
personal dedication to God, to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and to the very
Work of which Christ is the living Head. We cannot enter into God's
Kingdom by deception, either in our private prayer lives or in our
private tithing lives. We must beware of the "leaven" of the doctrines
of either extreme: of the Pharisees, who tithed with rigorous, minute,
painstaking and self-righteous effort; or, conversely, of those who are
careless with their income, think selfishly and do not have a true
spirit of giving. Christ commands us to "Give, and it shall be given
unto you" (Luke 6:38). Giving is commanded. Nevertheless, God
allows us to decide whether we will obey.
Never should any person attempt to "check up" on
somebody else concerning faithfulness in tithing. We all should
recognize that if a person is being unfaithful in tithing, he will, in
all probability and as a natural consequence, be slackening in other
equally personal aspects of private Christian life. The attitude
and the intent of the heart are the whole thing-they are what
It is not Church policy to disfellowship a Church
member for not tithing. When serious spiritual problems emerge and
tithing is one of several other deeply personal matters which come to
the surface, disfellowship may have to occur. But neither the primary
nor the covert reason for such disfellowship should ever be the amount
of one's contributions.
Those who hold, or seek to hold, offices of spiritual
responsibility in the Church should be judged by a higher standard. The
position of trust that they hold before the brethren presupposes that
they have been found fully faithful in the area of tithing and generous
giving. Those who teach others what to do are required to first set the
proper example in their own lives.
Far more important than an individual member's wisdom
regarding the manner in which he determines his increase is his
attitude toward it. A truly converted Christian is full of the
spirit of giving-and is not filled with greed, covetousness,
selfishness or resentment for having to give to God's work. God looks on
the heart, not in the pocketbook. It is where Christ's ministry must
also look-on the heart. And indeed, this is what the Church stresses.
The Pharisees tithed with punctilious exactness, but it took a widow
with two mites to illustrate generosity of heart-she gave her all.
The Bible is replete with financial admonitions, for
example, in 2 Corinthians 9:5 Paul states: "Therefore I thought it
necessary to exhort the brethren..."
2 Corinthians 9:6-9 goes on to fully
exemplify God's attitude.
"Remember: sparse sowing, sparse reaping; sow
bountifully, and you will reap bountifully. Each person should
give as he decided for himself; there should be no reluctance,
no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver. And it is in
God's power to provide you richly with every good gift; thus you
will have ample means in yourselves to meet each and every
situation, with enough and to spare for every good cause.
Scripture says of such a man: He has lavished his gifts on the
needy, his benevolence stands fast for ever. (NEB)
Tithing is a God-ordained means of giving. It
supports the Church, enabling it to become God's instrument in
performing His Work of giving that most precious thing, knowledge of the
way to salvation and eternal life. Tithing also makes possible material
help to hundreds and thousands of unfortunate people who do not have
enough. Tithing is a natural and living law of God which is awarded in
many ways, even though reward is not the object of that giving. Many
faithful tithe-paying Christians have learned that one cannot out give
God. The opportunity to tithe is considered a privilege. Those who have
dedicated their lives to God can testify that there is no greater
blessing than that which comes from the outgoing actions of helping
others. Tithing is an expression of honor, love and obedience to God and
His laws, and of outgoing concern toward both the brethren in the Church
and the people in the world.
READ THESE SCRIPTURES FROM YOUR OWN BIBLE:
Hebrews 2:6-8 - Man will eventually
rule the Universe.
Matthew 19:28-29 - If we share
our substance, we will reap 100-fold.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 - Trust not in
Genesis 14:17-20; Hebrews 7:1-4 -
Abraham tithes to Melchizedek in Genesis.
Genesis 28 - Jacob tithes.
Malachi 3:6-12 - Failing to tithe is
robbery of God.
Leviticus 25:35-36 - Israelites not
allowed to charge interest on loans to needy persons.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 - Sowing and
Luke 6:38 - Give and it shall be
given unto you.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:8 -
Importance of earning money to provide for your family.
Acts 20:35 - It is more blessed to
give than to receive.
Proverbs 3:9 - Honor the Lord with
Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20 - Church's
commission to spread the gospel.
Deuteronomy 16:16-17 - Holy Day
Matthew 25:31-36 - Jesus admonition
to help the poor and needy.
Deuteronomy 14:29, 26:12 -
Assistance to the needy.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 - Attitude we
must have in helping the poor and needy.
1] The dedication of ten percent of one's income
to God is...
a) a private act of worship
b) an act of thanksgiving
c) a recognition of God as Creator
d) all of the above
2] God owns everything, including all the income we produce. True or
3] It is God's purpose that man would eventually have rulership over...
b) a multitude of nations
c) the World
d) the entire Universe
4] Tithing is an integral part of the Law. True or False?
5] God has a prior claim on the whole content and produce of our
lives. True or False?
a) builds godly character
b) shares the message of the Christian life
c) shares the blessing of the Christian life
d) expresses love toward God and fellow man
e) teaches profound spiritual principles
f) all of the above
7] Tithing is a matter between the one who tithes and ...
a) the ministry
c) the church
d) all of the above
8] Tithing was first introduced to the nation of Israel after they came
out of Egypt. True or False?
9] There are three distinct uses for tithes in the Bible: supporting
the Work of God, attending the festivals of God and caring for the
poor. True or False?
10] Can a man rob God? Yes or No?
11] Complete these verses from 2 Corinthians 9:
a) he which soweth bountifully shall ____also bountifully.
b) God loveth a ________ giver.
12] Giving of one's financial resources to do the Work of God is an
absolute command in the New Testament. True or False?
13] After the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the discontinuance
of the Levitical priesthood, tithing continues to the Church of God.
True or False?
14] The withholding of one's tithes is...
a) unfair to other tithe-paying members
c) a sin
15] Members of the church have experienced blessings for faithful
tithing and giving. True or False?
16] The church is there to enforce and police the member's tithing and
giving. True or False?
17] Fill in the blanks of this scripture from Proverbs 3:9
Honour the Lord with thy _________, and with the __________of all thine
18] The increase of one's income is to be determined by...
c) the church
d) the individual
19] There is nothing in scripture to support deducting tax withholding
from determining increase. True or False?
20] Whenever the government tax becomes prohibitive, it is proper for
the individual to modify his or her increase or tithable base. True or
21] A key factor in tithing and giving is...
a) the Law
b) the church
d) a set formula for figuring increase
22] The basic tithe on income fulfills our obligation to God. True or
23] The Word of God commands us to bring offerings before Him on the
seven annual Holy Days. True or False?
24] Regarding the Festival Fund, which of the following statements are
a) Attendance at annual festivals is mandatory.
b) The Feast of Tabernacles is held at a few central locations and
requires being away from home for eight days.
c) the church teaches membership to set aside an additional tithe for
d) the exact percentage of one's income saved for the festivals may be
e) if one feels unable to save a full 10% tithe, he should save what he
can and still attend.
f) The precise administration of the festival tithe in both its savings
and its spending is the sole responsibility of each individual.
g) Those who have more than enough funds should make their excess
available to those less. fortunate. This can be done by sending the
excess to headquarters.
h) a member may wish to take part or all of his Holy Day offerings from
i) the festival fund is not for the church but for the individual.
j) because of headquarters cost for securing festival sites, the church
may request members to send a portion of their tithe to meet this
collective church expense.
25] Regarding assistance to the needy, which statements are false.
a) the primary goal is to develop the godly attitude of giving
cheerfully to help one's fellow man.
b) no blessings are promised nor implied for helping the poor and needy.
c) Helping the needy could be in the form of time, material goods or
d) the church maintains an assistance fund to which those who can are asked to donate.
e) even the poor should contribute to the fund for the poor.
f) to withhold aid when one has the ability to give is often condemned
in the Bible.
g) one cannot consider welfare laws, Social Security or national health
programs, i.e. our tax dollars earmarked for the poor in deciding what
percentage of his income he shall give to the poor and needy.
h) we must all, as much as possible go above and beyond the taxes we
pay for welfare in taking care of the needy and handicapped.
i) Deuteronomy 15:7-11 states that we must do more than fulfill the
j) each individual member must decide what his or her proper
contribution should be.
26] Regarding the "Law of Giving", which of the following statements
a) God is the greatest giver.
b) God supplies what could never be repaid.
c) Giving is at the heart of Christian love.
d) God gave us His Son, the ultimate example of generosity.
e) the biblical precept of giving titles and offerings provides man
with an opportunity to emulate this facet of God.
27] Since tithing and giving are a private matter between the
individual and God, it should never be used as a tool to appear more
righteous than others because of the amount or how we figure the
amount. True or False?
28] Everyone should be careful in giving specific advice in matters of
tithing to others. True or False?
29] Giving is commanded by God. True or False?
30) It is the policy of the church to disfellowship a member for not
tithing. True or False?
31] A truly converted Christian is full of the spirit of giving. True
32] God looks on the heart, not the pocketbook. True or False?
33] Which of the following statements are false?
a) tithing is a God-ordained means of giving.
b) tithing enables the church to spread the knowledge of the Salvation
c) tithing makes possible material help to hundreds and thousands.
d) tithing is a natural and living law of God.
e) one cannot out give God.
f) the opportunity to tithe is considered a privilege.
g) tithing is an expression of honor, love and obedience to God and His
laws and of outgoing concern toward both the brethren in the church and
people in the world.