As Christians, we should use our gifts of time, talents and treasures to serve the Lord. How we choose to share these gifts, however, is a matter that is between you and God, as only He truly knows your individual situation.
“Having prayers answered can be hit and miss,” says Karen Childs of BAM! Transcription, “but I believe the places where God makes a promise have got to be something you can ‘take to the bank’,” she says, adding that tithing is one of those.
Childs started tithing because she was “sick of being broke, plain and simple,” she explains, adding that her initial motivation was the reward the provision would bring.
Tithing, according to the dictionary, is “to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of the church,” and the practice goes back to the days of the Old Testament, when members of the nation of Israel were required to tithe.
While it is not law under New Testament to tithe, many Christians choose to give 10 percent of their income to the church, ministries and other Christian organizations out of respect for the Old Testament principle, finding the practice helpful in their giving practices.
“If your first money goes to bills, then you have made a covenant with the world to be slave to its system of debt and lack,” Child’s says, adding, “if your first dollars go back to God, wow! You are now contracted into heaven’s economy and all the provision and privilege that go along with that.”
Childs, who believes tithing is an investment, says that she likes to be diversified, giving to her local church, the poor in her community, and to missions. She gives regularly, usually two times each month when she does an accounting of her finances.
Billy Graham has said on the subject, “We have found in our own home, as have thousands of others, that God’s blessing upon the nine-tenths, when we tithe, helps it to go farther than ten-tenths without His blessing.”
While this view is shared by many, there are always the questions of how, when and to whom one should give. A common question is whether one should tithe from his or her gross or net income. Another question is should your tithe be given to your home church, or can your tithing efforts be fulfilled by also giving to other ministries. The answer to both, According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is that these decisions are a matter of personal conscience.
Tithing is a two-part equation – giving and believing God will do His part, Childs explains, adding that in the beginning, when she wasn’t sure it would work, she willed herself to pray out loud that she wanted to believe, asking God to make her heart line up with her mouth. Now, tithing has become a joy for Childs, who feels good about her part in helping God address financial needs in the world.
One teaching that may be helpful in consideration of the matter of tithing, according to BGEA, is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2, which directs each individual to set aside a “sum of money” on the first day of every week that is in keeping with his income. This passage, BGEA points out, shows us that we should give “individually, regularly, methodically and proportionately.
How much to give, which ministries to support and how often you give is for Christians, a matter that is strictly between you and God, BGEA says, as God knows each of our individual circumstances, including what is within and beyond our control. You should give, not out of a sense of obligation or duty, but rather out of your love for God and a desire to see his kingdom advanced, BGEA emphasizes.
Consider 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, suggests BGEA, which says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The important thing to remember is that our giving practices should be based on a desire to serve the Lord, not out of an obligation to do so or are hoping for a “return” on your investment. The important thing is to put Christ first in your life and then turn to Him for guidance on matters of finance.