One question we Christians face is “How much should I tithe… and if going out to eat after church count towards that tithe?” It does, but only 50% of the check, unless your household income is over $250,000, then it’s 25%.
The common idea is tithing is 10% of your money. But there’s a danger in there somewhere. When people get that 10% number in their heads that might lead them to believe that the other 90% is theirs. That’s false.
It’s all God’s money. 100% of it. He has placed us in charge of a certain amount of money. We are “stewards”. A steward doesn’t own the money, the owner does. Now I’m not saying that budgeting 10% to go to your church or missions or Conrad Tolosa is wrong, but it’s wrong if we think that the other 90% is somehow ours to spend however we want.
Well, why does it matter? If we understand that we are merely stewards of God’s resources, then we won’t blow it on stuff that he doesn’t want. If you were a manager at a car garage, would you use store money to buy dry cleaning equipment? If you were a manager at a day care, would you use office money to buy bear traps? If you were a manager at Taco Bell, would you use store money to hire a janitor? Of course not.
As a steward you are not authorized to spend money outside the scope of the owner’s wishes. And since it’s God’s money – of course he wants it spent on his work – which is tithing. And since it’s not our money, we should be able to part with it happily if we are carrying out the wishes of its owner. That’s why scripture says…
2 Cor 9: 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
So how much should I tithe?
Well, like the verse says, “You should give what you have decided in your heart to give.” In practical terms, to do this properly and intentionally, it means we need to budget. You need to budget for for food, clothing, shelter, toilet paper and of course tithing. Then you need to decide what do tithe to.
Tithing is more than just giving to your church – which obviously you should do. You use their electricity, their air conditioning, their toilet paper. Someone has to pay for that. But it’s also giving to the needy. Giving someone in need a place to stay for a while without reimbursement. Or helping a poor family pay tuition so their kid can stay at the Christian school, or giving them a gift card for groceries.
Think of tithing as resources going towards the Lord’s work. And since the Lord’s work is endless and we’d quickly go bankrupt if we were to try to do it all ourselves, we need to give wisely. Which means we have to budget for it, and at the same time not blow our money on stupid stuff its owner didn’t want. If we do this – our tithing is an extension of being a good steward of God’s money. And that’s why you need to donate money to me because God wants me to buy a Samsung 60 inch LED TV.
2 Corinthians 9: 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Take time to pray: Ask God for a cheerful giving heart and wisdom to budget so that you may tithe wisely and generously. Today’s fruit of the spirit: Faithfulness (to give), self-control (in spending)