There exists a great misunderstanding with regards to Christian giving, regarding how much of one’s income one is to give and where that portion is to be given. The same questions are asked over and over again: Should I give a tenth (a tithe) of my income to the church? Should that tithe be of my pre-tax or post-tax income? Where should I give my tithe, should it be to the general fund of the church, or can I give some of it elsewhere? On and on the questions go, and on and on for decades Christian pastors have been more than happy to give answers to those questions.
If you have been indoctrinated properly, you know beyond a shadow of doubt that your tithe is to be of your gross (pre-tax) income, and all of it is to be designated to the general fund of your local church. The only exception to this rule is if the church is in the midst of a capital campaign to build a new structure for their church, then one’s tithe may be designated to that fund without retribution from God.
In spite of what you may have been taught, I am here to tell you that God does not want neither has he asked from you tenth of all your earnings. For you will find clearly in the Scriptures that the tithe is an institution of the Old Covenant, and it, along with bloody animal sacrifices and the observance of feasts, has been fulfilled and deemed unnecessary by the work of Christ.
And though many still claim that a tithe is still a valid institution, even those who teach and practice it do not do it the way that the Law prescribes. For in the Law, there was not one tithe required but several, and these, because of the time and frequency with which they were collected, amounted to twenty-three percent of one’s income not ten percent.
However, my focus is not the Scriptural validity of the tithe, but it is the reason why the tithe is practiced by many today. The reason the tithe is taught in today’s churches is because the church is filled with religious persons who wish to know the minimum number of laws that they must keep in order to please God. With regards to giving, they believe that if they have given their ten percent to God, they have fulfilled their religious duty and thereby justify how they use their remaining ninety percent. Therefore, since they have ingrained in their consciences that God requires only ten percent, they alleviate themselves of the guilt of using their earnings in ways that do not honor God.
However, Christian giving is not so much the amount that one gives or to whom he gives it, but it is how one lives his life. For God does not need our gifts (as if God ever needed anything from us), but he rather desires from us lifestyles, like those of Abraham and Moses (cf. Heb. 11:9,10, 24), that demonstrate to the world that our hope is in God and the Inheritance that he gives rather than in this world. For this reason, Christ says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things [that you need] will be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). For our main concern in this life should not be our material needs, and especially not our comfort and luxury, but it should be seeking after the Kingdom of Christ Jesus, the glorious Kingdom in which he will rule forever.
Therefore, Christian, do not seek to hide behind some past, misapplied Levitical law to make yourself feel as though you are in right standing with God financially, but rather look at all your possessions as a stewardship and as a means to demonstrate to the world that Jesus Christ is glorious and worthy to be treasured above all the world’s luxuries. Then and only then will you please God with your giving and store up for yourself treasures in heaven, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:20).