Written by Jim Loscheider* (Elder) on March 10, 2023.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;”Proverbs 3:9, ESV
Questions about Tithes and Offerings 
Churchgoers throughout history have been talking about the topic of tithing. Years ago, while serving on the board of the Christian Stewardship Association, we had a national study done on the topic of giving in the church. The study’s title was “Tithing, The Silent Topic in The Church.”
Whether or not you grew up in the church, you’ve probably at least heard about tithing. In our culture, we also hear about generosity, and philanthropy. People, humanly speaking, have some sense of helping others with what they have. Well, the Bible has a lot to say about money and similarly a lot to say about tithing.
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What is a Tithe?
If you’ve been wondering what a tithe is, or how much you should be tithing, and whether you should even be tithing if you’re in debt, you’re not alone. I get this question a lot.
So, let’s start with the basics.
A tithe is a portion (literally a tenth or 10%) of your income given as an offering to your local church. (Fun fact: The word tithe literally means tenth in Hebrew.) Tithing is biblical.
Leviticus 27:30 says, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”
Proverbs 3:9 ESV says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your produce.”
Those gardening metaphors may have thrown you off, but what these verses are really saying is to give a portion (specifically a tenth) of whatever you make back to God. And firstfruits is a biblical way of saying that you should give first—before you do anything else with your money.
A “tenth” is first mentioned in Genesis 14:20 when Abraham gave to Melchizedek. However, in the OT the tithe was only one part of overall giving from one’s agricultural income – giving that was intended to reflect gratitude to God and care for one’s neighbor. The Jews gave up to three tithes in the OT – two tithes each year and a third tithe every third year (see Duet. 14:22-29) – averaging over 20% of their annual income. Further, they were given opportunities to give freewill offerings and gifts (see Duet. 12:17; 16:10). 
The Bible shows us that tithing is an important part of practicing our Christian faith and that your tithe is money you set aside first. That’s why almost all Christian Financial experts list “giving” as the first category in a budget, spending plan, or financial plan that’s built on a Biblical World View. They maintain that the reason for this approach is when you order your giving first, you’re making your giving a priority instead of an afterthought. You’re honoring God by giving your firstfruits instead of your leftovers. Biblically, this is a big deal.
Why Should I Tithe?
The Bible tells us that tithing is a way to show that we trust God with our lives and our finances. Ready for a truth bomb? Tithing isn’t for God’s benefit. He doesn’t need our money. Instead, tithing is meant for our benefit because sacrificing a portion of our income reminds us to rely on God to meet our needs. Plus, it makes us more aware of the needs of others too.
Giving encourages a grateful and generous spirit and can help steer us away from being greedy or loving money too much. Plus, being outrageously generous is a blast!
Bottom line? As fully devoted Christ followers, we are called to be generous. But tithing is more of a spiritual topic than a financial one. It’s actually not about the money—it’s about the heart. It’s living with the attitude that God owns it all, and we’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) says, “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.” Check out 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9.
Years ago, someone told me: “I learned a long time ago, you can’t out give God.” This individual was giving way beyond a tenth!
Generosity is at the heart of God. We see this principle in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Emphasis added.) Being image bearers (made in God’s image), we are called to generosity.
What’s the Difference Between Tithes and Offerings?
Like llamas and alpacas, tithes and offerings are grouped together a lot, but they’re definitely not the same thing. A tithe is a specific amount (10% of your income) that you give first, and an offering is anything extra that you give beyond that.
After you’ve tithed and then paid all your bills and expenses for the month, you can use any extra money in your budget to give even more! This can look like giving a cash offering to your church above and beyond your normal tithe, giving money to a charity you support, giving to a friend in need, or giving your time, skills, or influence by volunteering.
Financial Peace University
Consider taking Financial Peace University! This nine-week course uses biblical wisdom and common sense to help you tackle budgeting, pay off debt, be a better steward of what God has entrusted to you! The last lesson is titled: “Outrageous Generosity” and it builds on what I’ve shared in this article.
You can get more information about the class and register for the class at fpu.com/1153988. FPU starts Thursday, March 23, 2023. We have a limited number of discounted registrations. If interested, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org before you register. Hope to see you there!
Wise Financial Resources is a new ministry launched at Alliance Bible Fellowship that provides curated resources from various trusted Christian authorities/experts at our church.
 NIV Stewardship Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 2009, Article on Stewardship Challenges: Robbing God, Malachi 3:6-9, page 1228