DETERMINING HOW MUCH MONEY TO GIVE TO THE LOCAL CHURCH
Christians often are confused as to how much money they should give to support their local church. Most churches teach that Christians are obligated to give a tithe (10%) of their gross income, and they use verses from the Old Testament to prove their point. However, an objective study of those Old Testament passages by the impartial Bible student reveals that the Old Testament “tithe” wasn’t a free-will gift to God at all, but a tax to support the theocratic government of Israel (like income taxes that are automatically deducted from your paycheck each month to support the local and federal government). We believe the New Testament gives examples of giving to the local church that were based on free-will giving, NOT the O.T. tax of the “tithe.”
Like salvation, which is by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), everything we do should bear that in mind, including financial giving based on “grace.” Since it is impossible for the Christian to pay God back for His “grace” in providing salvation, all financial giving to the local church should also be based on “grace” (which will be referred to from this point on as Grace Giving).
The New Testament gives Four Examples to help the Christian determine how much to contribute to the local church through Grace Giving.
- The first example of Grace Giving is found in I Corinthians 16:1-2 where the Apostle Paul teaches that on the“first day of each week”(Sunday) Christians are to give “as he may prosper.” The phrase “as he may prosper” means that the Corinthians gave a percentage of their earned income. But what percentage is that?
- The second example of Grace Giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7a, where the Apostle Paul taught that giving was to be planned (“das he purposely in his heart”). That means that the percentage amount was decided in the privacy of one’s home, without waiting for an emotional sermon to motivate giving in a spontaneous, haphazard fashion
- The third example of Grace Giving is found in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. There, the Apostle Paul taught that giving to the Lord was sacrificial (“beyond their power”).
- The fourth example of Grace Giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:7b where the Apostle Paul indicated how the Christians determined their “planned sacrificial percentage.” He said, “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Any amount given grudgingly above what can be given “cheerfully” is not Grace Giving.
What was the O.T. Principle of the Tithe?
The Old Testament Principle of the Tithe was based on the fact that (hundreds of years BEFORE God revealed to Moses the Law of the Tithe on Mount Sinai, when the people of Israel were taxed over 30% a year) the “tithe” was given to God as a sign of His ownership of the WHOLE. The tithe of 10% of gross earned income was part of the creation of man having tenfingers and tentoes. The world’s mathematical system is rooted on the base number of 10, so as you count from 1-9 and reach 10, there isn’t a new numeric symbol but rather a “1” with a “0” after it. All numbers, no matter how large, are fixed on the base number of 10. The Principle of the Tithe was what motivated Abraham to give Melchizedek a tenth of his spoils in Genesis 14:20 and what motivated Jacob to give God a tenth of all he owned in Genesis 28:22.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Jesus did NOT say, Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.