A Christian’s Guide to Tithes and Taxes

Josh Watt / September 18, 2015
gospel of mark, money

FAQ About Tithing and Taxes

Should I tithe?

Yes. It is good for you.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Your heart, according to the Bible is the center of all your motivations, feelings, and thoughts. Every aspect of your life has its origins in your heart.

Now the Bible says that one of the key (if not the biggest) influencers of your heart is your money. Jesus says it this way, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So let’s follow the logic.

  • Your heart drives everything about your life.
  • Your money drives your heart (probably) more than anything else.

Therefore,

  • Your money should be used in such a way that drives your heart towards God.

How do you start that process? You give a portion of the first of your money back to God before you use the money for anything else. In other words, you tithe.

Does the Bible say I “ought” to tithe?

Now I get it, a question still arises in a lot of peoples’ minds. “Okay, but does the Bible say we “have to” tithe?” Do you see the premise of the question? People are trying to get to the legal point of the matter. Is tithing a command from God?

Here’s the summary of how God views the two types of people in the world.

If you are not a Christian, you stand condemned under the law.

If you are a Christian, you stand confidently as a free, adopted child of God.

So for Christians, law abiding or breaking is no longer our key question that structures our relationship with God.

He is now our Dad who knows what’s best for us and wants what’s best for us.

So what guidelines has our Father given in the past to his other children?

Israel – Under the Mosaic Law, Jews had to give to the Jewish government system (government taxes) and to a priestly system (religious giving). This total amount ended up being around 25-30% of their income. On top of this, there were various other opportunities for voluntary giving both to public government programs and religious projects.

Church – Under the grace of Christ, different Christians with different means all gave according to the grace they had received. (Zaccheus gave 50% plus some, the poor widow gave “all that she had”, and the early church in Acts gave so that “they had everything in common.”)

Us – What implications do we pull from this today? The tithe isn’t really talked about in the New Testament but giving surely is, and the examples we see are always intentional and voluntary gifts from people whose hearts have been changed by God.

So Israel gave both a required amount (for public services) and a voluntary amount (for public services, welfare, or temple projects).

And the church gave voluntarily to the work and mission of God as they experienced God’s grace personally.

Well how much should Christians give today? If you can’t tell already that really isn’t the question to be asking, but since a lot of people do, I think God has graciously given us the picture of a tithe (1/10 of our money) as a clear way to give to God. It’s not the only way or the ultimate way to give, but it is simple and clear enough for anyone to begin with. So if you are asking the question, start with a tithe and work from there.

Where should I tithe?

Okay, assume you are convinced on the idea of tithing. The question now comes up, “Where do I give my tithe?” Lots of people and organizations are doing work for God, so can I just pick the place(s) that I want to give based on my preference now?

Some people will say they are tithing Biblically when they pay tuition for their child’s Christian education.

Some people will give to the United Way or other charitable organizations and consider that their tithes and offerings.

Is this okay?

Remember Jesus’ words. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is God’s treasure? God’s bride is the church. Anyone who has been saved by Christ is a member of God’s universal church. And God’s method for this universal church to exist and to continue on His mission on earth (read the book of Acts) is for local expressions of the church to be started, established, and grown to maturity wherever the Gospel is received.

God loves the church (universal), and God loves the church (locally). Every book in the New Testament after the four gospels is about and for local churches.

So, how is your heart towards Jesus’ bride, the church? “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

You should strive to love what Jesus loves. He loves his church. Give to His church. Your heart will follow.

What about other ministries outside of the church? Give to them also, but they supplement and come alongside the local church. They are the bridesmaids. You can give to them as well, but you give to the bride first.

How much should I tithe?

Very simple. If you are tithing, the word means a tenth. Give 10% of your income.

But the Bible is clear. Tithing is a personal commitment to be made between you and God. This amount should not be based off a legalistic interaction with God but rather as a recipient of God’ generous grace. Has God blessed you with his undeserving grace? Give according to that grace rather than a desire to meet a standard for God’s approval.

Before or after taxes? Your income is gross. Your income is not net. It just so happens that the government usually takes their cut up front. What the Lord has given you is the gross amount on your paycheck every week. Giving should be from your gross income.

Giving in the Bible is time and time again shown as “the first fruits.” Give your first to God. And let him show you how faithful he can be with the “leftovers” you have to live on.

What if I can’t tithe? 

Start giving something. Know that 10% is a tangible starting point the Lord has shown us throughout His Word.

In Malachi, the Lord tells Israel to “test Him” in the area of financial giving. That is a revealing text about the heart of God. He wants to show off in the life of His people. Test him.

Start with something that is regular and planned. And ask the Lord to give you the trust needed to give more.

For a lot of people, the tithe represents an impossible goal. One pastor I know makes the point. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Take your first bite into financial giving elephant and make the commitment to test him through increasing your giving incrementally.

What should our goal in tithing be?

2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

God loves a cheerful giver. The natural inclination of the human heart is to horde and to take. No one is born a natural cheerful giver. God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit need to move in your life to make this true of you. The means by which God begins to transform you in this area is simple: giving.

Start giving if you are not. Keep giving if you are. Give more if you are able.

God is doing a mighty work through your giving both in this world and in your heart as he transforms once self-seeking sinners into cheerful givers.

– See more at: http://gateway.redemptionaz.com/resources/blog-posts/detail/a-christians-guide-to-tithes-and-taxes/#sthash.beYlitjF.dpuf