Tithing / Giving

The real question is what should you tithe and how much.  Should you tithe 10%?  Should the 10% be before or after taxes?

What does the word Tithe mean?

When used as a noun:

  1. Sometimes tithes. the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
  2. any tax, levy, or the like, especially of one-tenth.
  3. a tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.

When used as a verb (used with object), tithed, tith·ing.
  1. to give or pay a tithe or tenth of (produce, money, etc.).
  2. to give or pay tithes on (crops, income, etc.).
  3. to exact a tithe from (a person, community, parish, etc.).
  4. to levy a tithe on (crops, income, etc.) 
When used as a verb (used without object), tithed, tith·ing.
  1. to give or pay a tithe.
Here is also the origin of the word Tithe:
 Old English teogoþa (Anglian), teoþa (West Saxon) "tenth," from Proto-Germanic *tegunthon, *tekhunthon. Retained in ecclesiastical sense while the form was replaced in ordinal use by tenth (influenced by ten). Before the year 900.

Since I believe that as a Christian, we only need to abide by the New Testament law because the Old testament law is mainly for the Jewish. So I will not quote anything from the Old Testament.  Yes, the old testament can be good to learn from, but I believe the Law for us as Christian's today is from the New Testament.  Most people when discussing tithing will bring up the Old testament and guilt trip you into tithing.

Here are some versus regarding giving:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
- Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
- Matthew 23:23 (ESV)

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” 
- Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
- Luke 11:42 (ESV)

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  
- Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

From the statement in Matthew 6:1-4, the picture here of the religious person carefully measuring out their spices to ensure that their tithe is exact while ignoring justice and mercy is powerful.  It also mentions about not announcing and showing that you are giving, and that is a good reason to give online.  No one knows how much you give.  There is also no need to walk up in front of the congregation just to show that you are giving.

The widow in Mark 12:41-44 shows the point of this passage is in the faith of the widow to give what she had out of poverty. This is a beautiful picture of trust in God’s provision, and Christ’s response to this act of faith demonstrates God’s feelings toward our sacrifice and generosity.  I am sure that what she gave was well more than 10% of her wealth, if not all of it.

What is also interesting here is the fact that Jesus went out of his way to sit and watch people give their offerings. God’s interest in our giving isn’t cursory. He recognizes more than we do how our faith is revealed in our habits of giving, if it doesn't hurt to give then you aren't giving enough.  Giving can also be your time.  Are you volunteering at your church, does it sometimes hurt for you to go out of your way to do something that the church?  There are many ways to give to God besides money, but giving money to the church helps them do more outreach programs and can bring more people to Christ.

Here are a few points that I read from a pastor online:
  1. Tithing (10%) is not specifically commanded in the NT nor the OT (in fact, in the OT, it's more like 23% when you add up all the temple taxes)
  2. A tithe (10%) is a good place to start when figuring out your offering; keeping in mind that it should be a sacrifice and hurt a little to give it.  Even if you can't give 10%, and if you can only give 1%, if it is given with joy, it will be well recieved by the Lord.
  3. In terms of before or after taxes, I advise people to pray and seek guidance from the Lord on that one. For those with larger incomes, giving before taxes is probably more appropriate. For those barely scraping by, maybe waiting until after taxes is more appropriate.
  4. The bottom line is that giving back to the Lord what was already His should be a joy and not a burden (2 Corinthians 8-9).
In the end it's a personal choice, I can't see God bringing down the hammer on you for tithing the "wrong" amount. If you feel you should tithe on your before tax pay, by all means, do so. I've certainly felt that God has always been watching out for us and I know there have been times where my budget said we don't have enough money, yet somehow things still worked out. So I think God will honor tithing done in an obedient spirit.

Jesus fulfilled the law, tithes included. We're still called to give, but you shouldn't worry about hitting 10% (unless that's what God calls you to give).

In reality, anytime you get anything (free meal, savings dividends, etc.), that's technically an increase. Most of us don't adjust our giving according to those things that seem little, so if you're chasing 10%, you have to work a lot harder to hit it.

I also believe that if you find yourself struggling to give God anything back, then you must be living above your means. I am no financial expert, but you should probably back down your lifestyle and re-evaluate how you live.  I am not one to take all of the Dave Ramsey classes, but he does have good points on how to get out of debt, and if you are struggling I would suggest to check out a class or his books.  Even his podcast is good as well.

Just be a cheerful giver like it says in 2 Corinthians 9.  Please use the word Give instead of Tithe, sounds a lot better and from what I have seen more people would "Give" than to "Tithe".

So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.
- 2 Corinthaisn 2:8-9 (ESV)