Tithing – Gross or Net?

I responded to an e-mail earlier today that asked me if we should tithe on the “gross” or “net” of our salary.  After I responded, I decided it would be beneficial for us all ponder this subject.  Read below, and let me know your thoughts.  And prepare for a dissertation from all our anti-tithing friends in cyberspace – 🙂

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I thank God for the opportunity to tithe, as it has been a blessing in my life.  God has attached his blessing to the tithe, but as New Testament Christians we should strive to exceed that.   It’s a matter of our heart.  When we give our tithe and beyond, it connects are heart to God.

I personally believe I should tithe on my gross salary.    However, there isn’t necessarily a “law” that requires us to tithe on the gross.   We are not under the law, so if a person that starts out tithing only on the net is still doing a good thing that God will honor.  The heart of the matter is not “getting by” with giving the least we “have to”, but to have a lifestyle that continues to give us much as we can.

10 thoughts on “Tithing – Gross or Net?

  1. God defined His tithe in Leviticus 27:30-33 as a tenth of crops and every tenth animal in herds and flocks. You obviously aren’t following God’s definition for His tithe.

    God gave His ordinances, or instructions for His tithe in Numbers 18 where He commanded that His tithe be taken to the Levites. You obviously aren’t following God’s commands to take His tithe to the Levites.

    Just what part of God’s Word are you following when you tithe?

    We have a choice. We can use the Old Testament law as a guideline in our giving, which some refer to as following the spirit of the law, OR we can be Spirit Led and let The Holy Spirit guide us.

    As a Money & Finance Minister who has studied this topic for THOUSANDS OF HOURS, I can tell you that being Spirit Led just might require a person to give 50% or more of their income. I believe some who use the OT tithe as a guideline do so out of fear that The Spirit might want them to give up too much of what they want to keep for themselves.

    Using the OT tithe gives some a false sense of security.

    The New Testament teaches GENEROUS, SACRIFICIAL giving, from the heart, ACCORDING TO OUR MEANS. For some, $1 might be a sacrifice. For others, if they gave 50% or more, they still would have enough to take care of their needs and them some.

  2. Richard Hall

    Based on Malachi 3:10 is says to bring all the tithe into the storehouse.

    My thoughts have always been to tithe on what is brought into “your” storehouse. That said you don’t actually get the “gross” portion of your check only the net therefore you tithe on the net.

    If I am incorrect in my thoughts on this verse then please someone tell me because I don’t want to rob myself of the blessings of God.

  3. In Malachi 3:10 God says to bring all the tithes to the storehouse. The people took the tithes to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities, not to the temple. The Levites took the required tithe of the tithe to the temple. (See Nehemiah 10:37-38) Only those tithes ever made it to the temple. The priests then took those tithes to the storehouse. It
    only makes sense if God is speaking to the priests in this verse.

    THE Storehouse, not A storehouse. THE storehouse was at The Temple.

    YOU don’t have a Biblical storehouse, and neither is a church building a Biblical storehouse.

  4. Ramona

    Everything we have belongs to God and we only act as stewards of God’s resources. In Prov 3:9, it says to honor the Lord with the first fruits of all your increase. To me, this means tithe on your gross. It doesn’t say to bring in your fruits after you pay taxes, healthcare, etc. You can also use this verse to think – what is my increase? Most people think of it as their wages. What about profits on stock sales or bank interest?

    Tithing is more than just an outdated Old Testament law. Abraham tithed before the law was given to Moses. Tithing is an act of obedience and also a tangible way to recognize that it all belongs to Him anyway. In today’s world, the local church is our ‘Storehouse’ or Temple. Our Pastors, like the Levites, dedicate themselves to teaching God’s word and the Bible instructs us to give to those that teach.

  5. Ramona said, “In Prov 3:9, it says to honor the Lord with the first fruits of all your increase. To me, this means tithe on your gross. ”

    If you use a Hebrew dictionary you will find that the words translated to “first fruits of all your increase” literally means the first produce from the crops. It has NOTHING to do with income, or a “person’s increase.” It is pastors who manipulate God’s Word and make church goers believe that first fruits refers to their income. That, my friend, is NOT Biblical.

    The first time tithe is mentioned in the Bible is Abraham’s tithe of pagan spoils of war, and Abraham kept NOTHING for himself. This was NOT an act of worship. The goods that Abraham gave the tenth from didn’t even belong to Abraham:

    Genesis 14:21 (NIV) – The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

    Notice in verse 21 the king of Sodom didn’t ask Abraham if he would give back to him the people, but rather said GIVE ME the people and keep the goods for yourself. The way that is worded indicates that the king of Sodom was claiming that the people and the goods belonged to him and those he represented.

    Genesis 14:22-24 (NIV) – 22But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

    Notice in verses 23 and 24 Abraham also acknowledges that the goods belonged to the king of Sodom and those he represented.

    Therefore, it is clear that both the king of Sodom and Abraham acknowledged that the spoils of war did NOT belong to Abraham, yet he gave a tenth of the spoils to King Melchizedek. This would seem that Abraham did something wrong, if not even illegal, but Biblical historians agree that it was custom in Abraham’s day to give the king a tenth of the war spoils. Had Abraham not given the tenth, he would have gone against custom.

    Conclusion: Abraham did NOT give a tenth of his income, or his wealth. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war that didn’t belong to him. That is NOT an example for Christians to follow today.

    The Levites were NOT like our pastors today. The Levites were the servants to the priests – they were the singers, musicians, ushers, janitors, etc. The tithe went to the Levites, and then they gave a tenth to the priests. Do YOU take the tithe to the singers, musicians, etc?

    The tithe was taken to the Levites to go into their cities, NOT to the Temple. The tenth of the tithe the Levites took to the Temple for the priests went to the storehouse.

    Neither the Levites nor the priests were full-time workers at the Temple. Again, false teaching by pastors. Are you aware that the priests and Levites only worked at the Temple about two weeks per year, on a rotational basis? NOT FULL TIME. The priests and Levites were divided into 24 “courses”. See First Chronicles 24 for the priests and chapters 25 and 26 for the Levites. Each course only ministered in the Temple one week out of twenty four (1 in 24), and, depending on how many families were in each course, each family only ministered in the Temple two or three days during its courses’ week of ministry.

    See how little the pastors tell you in church?

    Tithing was canceled per Hebrews 7:5,12,18. NO ONE is tithing today using God’s definition and God’s ordinances. Just plain false teaching.

  6. Gary –

    You are very well informed on this subject, and I appreciate your contributions. However, why is this so upsetting to you? You seem to have an “edge” when you write about your perspective on tithing.

    Ramona, I agree with your perspective. Tithing is a principal that has been established by God before the law, and I find it a joy to participate in.

  7. This topic is more frustrating to me than upsetting to me. I know too many people who were taught they are robbing God if they don’t tithe, and they just can’t afford it. Some wind up paying the tithe anyway, and then go to friends and family to help them pay their bills.

    It is cruel to tell the poor that they are robbing God if they don’t tithe. Yet, on the other hand, telling the well-to-do that God expect them to tithe can give them a false sense of security.

    Since the New Testament teaches generous, sacrificial giving ACCORDING TO ONE’S MEANS, for some that could mean 50% or more. If we use an OT law as our guideline, we are ignoring The Holy Spirit.

    In the New Testament, God wants our ALL. 100% of us. He doesn’t want a tenth of our money or a tenth of our time or a tenth of our talents. Those of us who pray and are led by The Spirit find that we give a lot more than a tenth of our money (if we’ve been blessed with more than we need), time, talents, etc. to God in one way or another.

    While tithing is a burden to the poor, it can be a false sense of security for the well-to-do or wealthy.

    Having The Holy Spirit, there is just no reason to use an Old Testament law as our guideline.

    Before the law, the ONLY example of a tenth actually being given is Abraham giving a tenth of WAR SPOILS, not his income. That is NOT what the church teaches.

  8. Gary –

    I just haven’t found half your argument to be practically true. I have worked with dozens of low-income families who have found tithing to be a joy and a key to break-through in their lives.

    Now, those with wealth often stop at 10% without letting the Holy Spirit lead them to greater amounts. That part is true in my estimation.

  9. We each are limited to our own experiences.

    A good friend of mine was having financial problems and needed help with his rent, just for the ONE month, not a continuous problem. His own mother said she couldn’t help because the money she had available was for paying the tithe.

    I have a family member that has come to me numerous times needing food money because they gave what they had to the church.

    My whole ministry is dealing with the topic of finances as I am a Money & Finance Minister. I see these type of cases all the time.

  10. Jenni

    This topic of discussion never ceases to be interesting – no matter who the participants are. For me, personally, I began tithing not long after I came back to Christ after a long period of separation. I made the decision to tithe beginning with the next paycheck, only to find myself without a job before the paycheck came. After careful consideration, I decided to continue with my decision to tithe as an act of faith. I have never, not once regretted that decision. I have on occasion found myself in difficult financial situations of my own making, and yet each and every time provision was mine. (Provision was mine – not wealth untold – for I do not believe that the Lord rewards us for our poor choices. But I do believe that, if our motives are pure, He will save us from ourselves and make a way for us to dig ourselves out of the hole we’ve gotten into.) I firmly believe that provision was mine because I was faithful with my tithe always and with my offering over and above the tithe when the opportunity was there. Initially, I tithed on the net of my income. But, after hearing some teaching on the matter, I came to the conclusion that it was good and proper to tithe on the gross. The reasoning is that essentially my employer gives me money to pay for my taxes and insurance. My employer likewise is kind enough to go ahead and make those payments directly for me. It is much like having automatic debit set up for payment of expenses. Even though the money is not actually coming into my household, I am receiving the benefit of it. At the end of each fiscal year, my employer gives me a statement that sets forth the true compensation I receive from my employment for the year and it always includes my taxes, insurance, etc. in addition to just my take-home pay. So, again after careful consideration, I made the decision to begin tithing on my gross. It is another decision I have never regretted making. And I did not feel cursed because I only tithed on my net before. I did it because I believed at the time it was the right thing to do. I do not believe that the Lord holds it against us when we do something out of ignorance. I would encourage Richard to pray and seek the Lord’s wisdom before he does anything, but I believe he will find his blessings to be that much greater if he begins to tithe on his gross. And, frankly, once I got the hang of it, I never missed the extra money. There are times when I look at the amount of money that I give back to the Lord, and I think “Man, I could do [this] and [that] with that money,” and then I remember what my life was like before I began tithing. I think I’ll keep on tithing … because, simply put, it is a principle I believe in and that works for me. My husband and I have somewhat of a competition (only with ourselves) each year to see if we can outgive what we gave the year before, and then make a point to take the time to ponder what is being done in the Kingdom of God with the money we have given. It is such a rewarding experience, and one I would highly recommend to everyone.

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