The Grace of Giving

Why Tithe?

In 2 Corinthians 8:7 Paul said, “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

For those who call Encouragers Church home, giving cheerfully and sacrificially of our finances is part of our worship. A believer does not work to accumulate personal wealth or possessions, but to be a good steward of God's resources and model Jesus to our brothers, sisters, and community.

Our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the primary ways we serve God is by cheerfully giving God our “firstfruits” (2 Corinthians 9:7; Proverbs 3:9).  God expects us to give, not to meet some petty, required percentage, but by digging deep and sacrificing for the sake of the gospel because Jesus sacrificed for us and all that we have is His anyway.

People ask questions all the time around the subject of giving and specifically tithing.  Here are responses to some of those questions:

1.    What is the difference between tithing and offerings?

Principle: They are both found in Scripture.  Giving is what we were born to do.  Tithing is a very specific way we give.  Tithing defines God’s beginning point in our giving as Christ followers.

Practice:  Christians love giving.  Most Christians tithe 10% to the local church and some then give to missions, building fund and other heart felt opportunities. Tithing is a floor for many, not a ceiling.  Christians are not paralyzed by meeting some petty, required percentage—we are driven to be good stewards of God’s resources.

2.    What is a tithe?

Principle:  The literal meaning of the word tithe is “a tenth” or 10%.  A tithe is the firstfruit of your harvest.  This is given to God through your home church in faith as a practical means to finance the mission of the church (Malachi 3:8-10, Matthew 23:23)

Practice:  We believe God's plan is for Christians to support the local church and that our tithes make a difference.

3.    How do you tithe?

Principle:  Find a systematic way to tithe.  Such as following each paycheck, once a month, or having it automatically taken out of your check, etc. (1 Corinthians 16:2)

Practice:  Some people write a check once a month. Others have their tithe automatically taken out of their check and their bank sends it.

4.    What kind of attitude should I have when I tithe?

Principle:  The Bible says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Practice:  Most of the time Christians give cheerfully.  Sometimes out of pure discipline. But we do it because we love God and people.  We also think giving is foundational to being a healthy human being (1 Corinthians 13:3).

5.    Isn’t tithing just an Old Testament concept?

Principle:  Giving is a Biblical concept.  Tithing is found in the Old Testament.  Generous and sacrificial giving is found in the New Testament (Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-35). Tithing is not explicitly commanded in the New Testament but the bar is raised considerably by Christ and the apostles of the early church.  Christians must give whenever there is a need to be met.  Those who get lost in a percentage amount have lost the whole point of giving.

Practice:  Usually this question implies the New Testament requires less giving.  Actually the opposite is true.  In the New Testament they actually sold land and gave it to the church.   The New Testament church went way beyond the tithe.  This is why tithing is just a beginning point in my giving.

6.    Should I give first to missions or tithe?

Principle: Our first and foremost responsibility is to tithe.  This is both a scriptural truth and a practical truth.

Practice:  Here are priorities of our giving:  We tithe first, give to missions second and then prioritize our building commitment and other heartfelt areas as God leads us.

7.    What should I do if I can’t afford to tithe? Can I start with a smaller amount?

Principle:  Start somewhere.  The Biblical standard is to tithe. Honestly, you can’t afford NOT to tithe.  If you wait until you can afford it—you will never start.  Start today!

Practice:  I think the big question is “are you going backward or forward with your giving?”  No matter how much you give or don’t give right now—we should always be asking this question.

8.    I want to tithe but my spouse doesn’t want to, what should I do?

Principle:  Very good question.  Be on the same page with your spouse.  Most people don't reject the idea of giving.  Instead of pushing the “tithe” concept agree on charitable giving.  You will be surprised how open your spouse may be about giving if you frame it in the context that we should give back to this world.

Practice:  Tithe on what you make and God will bless your efforts.

9.    Is tithing just an adult thing? When should my children begin to tithe?

Principle:  You can't start too young to teach your kids to tithe (and save).

Practice:  Teach your children the importance of tithing10% and saving 10%.

10.    Do I need to tithe on a financial gift? Tax return? Bonuses?

Principle:  If in doubt, tithe.

Practice:  Yes, on the financial gift and bonuses.  Most people don’t tithe on tax return because they already tithed on their gross.  (Although, a tax return is a great opportunity to be a generous giver)

11.   Can I tithe through volunteering my time and saving the church staffing expense?

Principle:  We need to learn to financially give our money and time. The answer is no.

Practice:  Christians with servants hearts give both time and money.

12.    Is it ok for me to get a tax deduction from giving?

Principle: Yes, this is called wisdom.

Practice:  We get a tax deductions for our giving.

13.    If I tithe will God bless me financially?

Principle:  Yes (Proverbs 11:24-25, Proverbs 3:9-10)

Practice:  His blessings come back, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

14.   Should I tithe off of my gross income or net (after taxes and deductions)?

Principle:  If in doubt, round up.  The firstfruits principle would indicate gross.

Practice:  Tithe on your gross income.

15.    If I am in debt, should I get out of debt before I begin to tithe?

Principle:  No, begin to tithe first.  This may sound strange but God will open up heaven and begin to give you wisdom to get out of debt.

Practice:  Get out of debt.  Depending on how far in debt you are, you may need to seek financial help.  Contact US and we will put you in touch with a financial counselor.