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
$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
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!
The way you rephrased that was a real eye opener for me, thank you!
Thank you for these words! Your phrase will become a motto of our family’s budgeting :)
Awesome explanation of tithing and the importance of it. Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your faith.
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.
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.
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.
You have truly answered this question well. The only thing I would add is that God Loves a cheerful giver.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
Margaret Mary Myers
Carol, thank you for sharing your beautiful story.
Tithing just doesn’t include money, either, right? God gave us gifts and talents to use for others also, and we should not be stingy with those.
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.
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.
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.
This may not be popular but I have always believed in my heart that God has shown us we cannot “pick or choose” from what we want to believe or follow from the Old Test. or New Testament. In other words, a good example is my mom does not believe some of the things in certain chapters (true example) of the Bible are literal. She believes what she believes and I believe God’s Word is without error. One day God put on my heart that we can’t pick or choose. If it’s in His Word, it’s His Word. So, I don’t do the Old Test. or New Test. pick and choose method and I hope I am saying this in a way that makes sense and doesn’t sound like I am not intending. But, based on that I do believe personally, I need to give 10 percent (or more if I can). I love your examples and truly enjoy your wisdom and show. I am closer to your age than Mike and Tawra and always enjoy hearing your testimony.
Yes Margaret you are sooo right. We either believe the Bible or we don’t. It boils down to trust which is not always mentioned. I completely trust God so that if He says I should or shouldn’t do something it is because I trust that He knows what is best for me and I don’t question it or not believe part of it. The interesting thing is that anything He has asked me to do has always ended up being the best thing I could have done even though sometimes I don’t find out until years later.
On the tithe, I could never understand how someone who loves the Lord very very much would even hesitate in wanting to give to Him any more than I would hesitate or question giving to someone I loved like my spouse, kids or grand kids especially since He has given it all to me in the first place. I had better not get started or this will be 10 paragraphs long. :) Anyway thank you so much for your great comment. I appreciate it.
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.
Yes, many of us pay taxes each year and do not get a refund or big refund at all. We try to make it where we break as even as possible, but we have never had a “big refund”, ever. If one does get EIC, I do agree on tithing on it.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The New Testament clearly says that no one should give out of compulsion or obligation, but rather out of cheerful giving from the heart. Jesus wants your heart more than He wants your money.
Give what you feel cheerful about giving. Tithing is not required under the new covenant of Jesus (although you would be hard pressed to find any church that actually sticks to the Bible on this one).
The thing that many over look though is that if your heart really belongs to Jesus the way it should then you will have a cheerful heart and nothing can stop you from giving – when you really love Him you can’t give enough because you realize how much He did for you so you try to give in every aspect of your life to him. What usually happens in that case is that most who love Him so find they give way,way more then 10%, even when they have little. Example the widow’s mite. Oh and my church does stick to what you just said and each offering say only give what the Lord has laid on your heart.
You have to be careful following what you said how ever because I find so often that people love using this as an excuse not to give and it is remiss to lead people into thinking that they can have an Oh Ho whatever attitude about tithing. God is serious about giving just read the book of Malachi and see what happened to the people because they took such a laid back attitude to giving.
Please don’t say that we don’t need to listen to the Old Testament either because Jesus quoted from it all the time and He followed it so I believe we should be Christ like in all things including that. We are just blessed now that our salvation does not depend on rules and regulations but on believing in Christ and what He did for us.
Bottom line – I love my kids, my husband, my parents so much that I am forever giving them as much as I can even if I have to sacrifice something for my own comfort. The sad thing is most of us don’t love the Lord anywhere close to that and so are forever finding reasons not to give. I don’t God does want us to give if we are forcing ourselves too.
we had lot unexpected hospital bills and are dogs got sick over 2200 dollars and we had a roof put on and we paid cash for that but the people we hired did it wrong had to do it over again by another company paid 3200 dollars for that and had to take out a loan. i became disabled so my income has had a big change so i cant work my wife works at the church and babysits different familys kids she has 3 jobs. its not that we are not trying . we believe in paying what we owe and we have good credit and dont want to ruin it, we sold our home that was 1400 month now bought a home for 223 mo can we not tithe until we catch up so these bills will not mess up are credit
Eddie it sounds like you guys are really on the right track,doing a good job and trying to do the responsible thing. I really think God will honor that. The thing is though are you trusting God to get you out of your difficult times or are you trying to do it all yourself? No matter what was going on in my world around me God needs to come first bar none. Giving to Him after I paid my bills or did other things was not putting Him first. Let me give you an example. You love your dogs very much (loved mine too so I understand) and you were willing to sacrifice 2200 for them because you loved them. You didn’t say well I will pay all my bills and if I have some left over then I will take them to the vet and get them help. Of course you didn’t say that because you love them and they are high on your priority list but yet we are forever putting God on the back burner why because the bottom line is He is not top priority with us.Even though we go through all the other motions of acting like Christians the bottom line is we put our money where our heart is and most of the time that is not with God. I was willing to tithe even if it meant my own discomfort.
What makes me sad is that one of the most exciting things to happen to me was when things got as bad for me as your situation I still tithed first, did all I could and left the rest to God. Time after time after time He was faithful. It is like He is pleading with us to just try me and see if what I promise isn’t true (II Cor. 8:8,9 & 12). I would be so hard pressed sometimes and in the most unbelievable ways He helped me. He came through every time even when I was going to loose my home and have no place to go. I am sad though because so many Christians miss out on the exciting blessings God wants to give them because they didn’t truly trust Him by stepping out and putting God first and tithing. He didn’t say tithe when you get all your bills paid (which that in most cases will never happen) but He said tithe first and we just refuse to do it and think of so many excuses why not too. The main thing God wants from us is to Trust and Obey. TRULY trust and obey.