Tithe Question

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As some of you have mentioned, I too have been through Dave Ramsey’s FPU classes and my wife and I tithe regularly. I’m looking to have some minor surgery but will be off work a few months only receiving some short term disability benefits.

I have no problem tithing from my gross income but how is this seen? For that matter, what about tax returns? Any honest advice is welcomed.



Luke this subject usually opens up an emotional hornets nest with some readers so before I answer your question let me just say one thing (ok maybe a few things) :).

 Often people stew and worry about their tithe, asking things like “How much do I give?”, “Am I giving too much?”, “Should I even give?”, “What do I give?” The bottom line is that the main reason we should give is because we love God so much and one way we show that love is by giving to Him, helping with His ministry and helping others.

Sadly to say, sometimes we give because we are afraid God won’t bless us if we don’t or because we see others tithing and being blessed and we want that too. In this case we need to ask the question, “Are we willing to give even if we never receive a blessing but just because we love Him?”

One reason I think God asks us to tithe is because a person tends to put his money where his heart is. That’s what it boils down to. The goal for every Christian should be to get to the point of giving with so much love and generosity that not only do you not worry whether you are giving too much but you can hardly control yourself from giving more. Most of us have a long way to go to get to that point.

Now to answer your question.

Your gross income is all the money you earned before anything gets taken out. In the Bible, God asks us to give a tithe (tenth) of everything you earn.

Your net is just what is left after your company takes out some monthly “payroll deductions” like taxes, social security, medical insurance, savings, etc. In the Bible, God asks us to tithe off of the top of what we earn. If you are tithing off of your net income, you are giving your tithe off of your income after you have paid some “bills” first.

Here’s an example of tithing off of the gross – These are just random numbers used for my example:

You get paid $100 for yard work. We are asked to tithe off the top of that, so let’s break it down:

$10 – tithe

 $10 – taxes

 $5 – social security

$5 –  medical

$10 –  savings.

You now have $60 left to spend.


Here is an example of tithing on net

You have the same $100

$10 – taxes

$5 – social security

$5 – medical

$10 – savings

Net $70

$7 – tithe

See the difference?

If  you have already tithed on your gross, then you have tithed on your tax return money. It is pretty easy to figure if you give 10% on any income. If you have already tithed on that income, you don’t have to do it again.

There are 3 ways the Bible teaches about giving

1. Tithe  -10% of everything you earn. I round it up and give more because sometimes I receive a box of tomatoes from a neighbor or sacks of groceries as a thank you for something I did so that way all my income is covered.

2. Giving  – This is giving above your tithe just in gratefulness to God for something like a successful surgery, finding a good job, seeing a special need or just because. Keep in mind that giving shouldn’t be out of a sense of “payment” but gratefulness.

3. Alms – This is giving above the tithe and giving to the poor or needy. Often, people like to substitute this for their tithe because it isn’t quite as hard to give someone a shirt we don’t like or want anymore as it is to give our hard earned cash.

Tithing is a command. The other two are choices. The interesting thing is that the closer we draw to God, the easier and more natural all of these become. When I see my grandkids, no one has to tell me to run and give them a huge hug and pull out some candy to give to them. I don’t count and make sure I only gave them one of my ten candies and not two. Why? Because I love them and can’t give them enough.

Besides, we don’t want God counting and being careful that He is only giving us the exact (minimum) amount of blessings we deserve. Thank goodness He loves me so much that He gives me way more than I deserve, and He doesn’t hesitate in giving that.

Develop your relationship with God above all else. When you do that, the Holy Spirit will give you nudges or send someone your way to let you know if you need to do something more or less. In some ways, it is like with other relationships– The closer you draw to someone and the more you are around them, the more you get to know their needs and their wants and you don’t have to work at it that much.

For example, I know my daughter loves gnomes and my son is crazy about Superman. I don’t have to think about what they would want me to give them these things. I also have a cousin who lives across the country that I haven’t seen in years and years and I would have no clue about what to give him.

I hope this helped to clear up things a little for you.



Photo By: Images_of_Money


  1. Pat says

    When it comes to tithing, we usually ask the question, “how much of my money should I give to God?” The better question to ask is, “How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?” When we ask the second question, it’s a lot easier to tithe off the gross!

  2. Pf says

    Awesome explanation of tithing and the importance of it. Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your faith.

  3. Gayla T says

    My church says the widows need not tith but I seem to have more to give now than when I had a house full of children. I give more to special needs that I see and then just drop what I want to in the collection. I love adopting children in another country, too. I think it’s really between you and God.

  4. Mary says

    That was probably the best explanation of tithing and givning I have ever heard. It is exactly how I have always felt and it is what Larry Burkett always taught. I love Dave Ramsey, but I’m not sure he even explains it as well. It sometimes sounds as if he is saying to tithe after tax income.

  5. grandmommy says

    we live a long distance from church and gas prices can make it difficult to get to any additional services or activities beyond Sunday morning. When my husband’s work is very slow (or nonexistant), he considers the gas money spent to get to church as his tithe.

  6. Jeanne T. says

    As Larry Burkett said, “God owns it all”. So…….

    In the Old Testament the tithe was actually a tax to pay the temple priests. It was not charitable giving; that’s what the “offerings” were. The Israelites paid a ten percent tithe to pay the priests and for the upkeep of the temple, and they also brought offerings for sacrifice.

    The New Testament teaches sacrificial giving. So, a word of caution; While ten percent might indeed be a good place for many people to start, we should not become fixated on that percentage; indeed, we should not be fixated on any percentage, but rather ask God what He would have us give. Many people can actually afford to give more than ten percent. For some people five percent, or even three percent, is truly sacrificial. But as my pastor said, for those making a six-figure income, ten percent is an insult to God.

    There is a danger in fixating on a certain percentage because we may deceive ourselves into believing that we have done all we can, and giving becomes rote. There may be times when can do more, and there may be times when we cannot give ten percent.

    If you seek God’s will in this matter, He will answer you as to how much you should give. And when we trust Him to supply all our needs, we will probably find that we can give more than we do now and discover that God will give us the resources to do so. He not only supplies all of our needs, and He can supply more than we need so that we can give back to Him.

    Reevaluating our spending habits should be part of our self-examination in determining how much to give. If we are spending more on ourselves than we are giving to God, we are robbing God. Remember, He owns it ALL.

    • says

      If we are giving with the right heart and out of love we won’t become fixated on the percentage, making excuses. For myself personally I have never understood saying I can’t give this week because I don’t have very much. I always think of the widows mite. You didn’t get a whole lot poorer then her yet she still gave and she gave her all. There have been weeks when I only got $10 but I still gave my $1.

      • Jeanne T. says

        I agree, Jill. And the widow gave everything she had in humbleness, while the rich boasted about their giving.

        A little story here: I was impressed with a former boss who taught his children to give one-third of their allowances to charity, save one-third, and they were allowed to keep one-third for themselves, in that order. The giving came first, and what they kept for themselves came last. I don’t know how religious they were, or where their giving went, but I thought, “Here is a father who has it right.”

  7. michelle says

    I don’t think it is as simple as you made it sound with the tax return. For example, we have multiple children and each deduction increases the amount of money we get back. I personally don’t believe that is money we have already tithed on.

    • says

      Then tithe on it if you already haven’t. Of course every situation is different and there is no way we can cover each individual thing. We and only give general ideas and then hope most people can take those general ideas and adapt them to their situation.

  8. Carol says

    I remember as a child the church elders coming to our house asking my mom how much she would tithe to our church. My mother was widowed at 48 yrs. old with 5 kids still at home. We went to church regularly and my mother gave what she could afford after meeting her expenses. The elders always wanted her to commit to a certain percentage. Well that wasn’t possible for my mom at that time. Of course as children grew and moved away she gave more to the church, but she always felt that the elders were forcing her to make a commitment she didn’t know if she could keep. I always felt my mother was one of the most God loving people I would ever know. Her strength in the light of tragedy kept our family together, which even in the 1950’s was difficult. She kept a roof over our heads, food on our table, clothes on our backs, and love. Always love. Not just for us, but for her God. I know when she passed away at the age of 92, that God took her into his fold, rewarding her for her devotion to him and to her family. Making sure she knew she had given enough! The lesson here is to tithe with your heart not with just numbers!

    • says

      That is true Sandy. I heard a very sweet and godly woman once teach that on that very same thing but it was the opposite of what you are talking about. You are so right to point that out and we need to tithe our gifts and talents. This woman though was talking to women who would spend 20,30,40 hours a week doing church work and things at the neglect of their families so she said start tithing your waking hours and it will give the your perfect amount of what you should be doing. That was many years ago and the first time I had ever heard about tithing your time.
      To give you and idea of how to figure this everything is counted, church service Sunday morning, devotions each day, if you have the gift of encouragement and you spend an hour on the phone encouraging, if you have the gift of hospitality and have friends over for the evening and of these are things to count.
      I think most Christians who love the Lord automatically tithe their gifts and talents just because it is ingrained and part of their life so they do it without realizing it.

  9. Melba Wallace says

    The question of tithing is found in the New Testament. We do not live under the old testament where they were commanded to tithe but when Jesus died on the cross the old law was done away with and now we go by the new testament where we are told to give as we have prospered. If you tithe do you also offer sacrifices to roll your sins forward? we do not worship on the sabbath but on the lst day of the week. You can’t mix the old and new testaments and live by both.

    • says

      All you said is very true Melba. Tithing is really between you and God. I always say you can tell where someones heart is by where they spend most of their money. I deep down feel Christians should give 50% or more and even sacrificially because everything I have really isn’t mine at all but comes from God. I would love to see people’s faces if I said that on a regular basis. It is so sad that in the human world when a man saves another man’s life and he loses an arm or leg doing it the saved man can never do enough or repay him enough because he is so grateful. We on the other hand when we understand exactly what Jesus did for us seem to get up in arms the minute we have to sacrifice the least little thing. If we are thinking about using 10% of our money to buy a big screen TV, cable, car, better house, take a vacation we think nothing of it but can come up with all kinds of excuses not to give to God.

      What I find interesting is that there are 2-3 words that when mention people always jump up immediately and say that that isn’t in the OT so we shouldn’t go by that and need to separate the OT and NT. Money is one of them. Yet when we are in trouble or need comforting we go to the Psalms. When we need wisdom we open up to Proverbs. We even have plaques with sayings from Joshua hanging on our walls that say Be Strong and of Good Courage. We are like little children going to a buffet. We hit the dessert section but stay away from the greens and things we don’t like as well even though those are best for us. Like I said tithing is between you and God. When a person loves the Lord they just can’t give Him enough because they are so grateful for what He has done.

      The thing that concerns me the most about your statement is where you say that you can’t mix the OT and NT. That is so very wrong. Do you know how many times Christ quoted from the OT. over and over again. I figure if Christ thought there were things we needed to know and use in there then we had better use it. Besides saying that too is like taking a regular novel and saying I will read the last half of the book but don’t need to read the first 10 chapters of it.

  10. Cindy L. says

    This is the only statement that I have trouble with in the article “If you have already tithed on your gross, then you have tithed on your tax return money” That is true UNLESS your tax return is made up of earned income credit. That is not money you paid in, it is money the government gives you for not making about their guidelines, so I would also tithe on it.

    I believe in tithing, I believe it is for the church of today, just as much as I beleieve salvation is. Everything I have is God’s, He is entrusting me to give back His portion, which he set forth in the law. I have proven it in my life over and over, I can NOT afford to NOT tithe. I don’t do it from fear, I do it because I love giving.

  11. says

    God says He gave us the WHOLE bible not just the new testament. Are not the 10 commandments in the Old testament? Did you know there is a third tithe? It Is for the widows and needy. And why would you put money in savings BEFORE you give God His? He gave you that money. You are to give your tithe to a minster if he Is giving you the truth out of the bible…..to grow in grace God says. To teach us Gods word.

    • says

      This is true Karen. People really seem to get hung up on the laws of the Old Testament but the thing is we should be doing everything because of love and not the law. When we make excuses for why we should not do something – like it is an OT law so it doesn’t count – the chances are pretty good you are doing many things because they are the law and not because you love the Lord. I can’t emphasize enough if you are not doing something willingly and because you love the Lord then you may as well not do it at all. The Bible says if you aren’t doing something with the right heart or motive you may as well not do it. God loves a cheerful giver.
      How much more does it mean to us when our child does something willingly and because they love us then if the do everything begrudgingly. When done because they have to it really is frustrating and hurts.

  12. Anne says

    Interesting to read this today. Our Pastor preached on this last Sunday.The command is simple…give a tenth of the first fruits. This is to be to the local church, giving to missions, widows, etc. is to be on top of that. Designated funds are not part of the tithe. If you want to give extra to the building fund that is great, but should not be part of the tithe. If you don’t trust your staff to use the money as God leads then find somewhere you do. I had to reevaluate what I was doing and make some changes. Thanks for sharing on this sometimes difficult topic!

  13. Alma says

    We tithes on gross income last year (2014). My question is: do we tithe the money we get back for the EIC credit and the Child tax credit, which was not part of that income and it’s money we’re getting back on top of the refund we’re getting of excess taxes payed but not owed?? Need an answer asap,today if possible.

    • says

      Alma my mom gave me some advice when I was 6 yrs old on tithing that might help you. I received a quarter allowance and when I was confused on the tithe on it – how can you give 2 1/2 cents. She said to always round it up to 3 cents that way you are covered on those times when maybe you weren’t sure how much to give or what to tithe on and then there were all those blessings like the neighbor giving us free tomatoes that we don’t tithe on etc.
      So over the years I do 2 things – I tithe only on my income I get each month and the other thing is I always round my tithe up. For example if my tithe is $179 I will tithe $200. After you have tithed as long as I have you find that, if you are giving with the right motive, the percent you tithe will start increasing quite a bit and then you won’t worry about these things at all.
      In my old age I have learned to relax with my tithe too because God knows my heart. I love Him and am willing to give to Him anything. I now know He is not going to strike me down dead or turn from me if I am off a little in figuring my tithe. In the same way we don’t punish our young children because they are confused and don’t understand something God isn’t going to punish us if we don’t quite get it right.
      Last but most important pray about it. Trust God will let you know if you ask He what He wants you to do about the money. There is the little nagging in your heart that won’t go away. Chances are it is God gently trying to steer you in the right direction. I guess I figure if I accidentally give God too much He will find away to give it back to me.

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