QUESTION: Barry in Washington wants to know if the time he spends volunteering for his church counts as a tithe. What does Dave think?
ANSWER: No. You can tithe if you want to with your time; there's nothing wrong with that, with giving a tenth of your time to your church. But the purpose of the tithe is to teach you to give money. You can not give money and God will still love you. That's fine. You can not give money and still be blessed. That's fine.
But you should learn to give off the top of your income before you do anything else instead of trying to figure out a way around it. It's not a duty or a Christian rule. It's an opportunity to learn how to be a generous person. Any time someone asks me a question of how to get out of giving, that tells me you're coming at the question from the wrong side. The other side would be asking how you can increase your giving. That's when you've got it figured out.
Generosity creates the best managers of money. People who are generous win with money like nothing you've ever seen. It sets them up and puts them in a completely different place. When you give, it changes you into a giver. Givers are more attractive people. They are people you want to be around or promote or hire or be married to.
You want someone who is generous because they are not just givers of money. They are just giving people. They give, not take. So many people in our culture today have become transactional. They are takers rather than givers. They just want to receive.
You've got to make a decision about which of those you're going to be. It's not just about a tithe. You don't worry about the technicality of a tithe; wondering if it's from your gross pay or your net. That's not the point.
The point is to be a giver. The point is that when you are generous, it changes you and it opens up doors for you and resets your whole mind. When you get all caught up in the details of giving, it means that you're worried that you're giving too much. You really can't give too much unless you reach the point of irresponsibility where you can't feed your family.