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Ask Dave

Guidance for Giving From God

Beverly and her husband have an incorporated business. They've been giving a tithe plus 5% on their gross profit. Should they be doing this on the net or the gross?

QUESTION: Beverly in Idaho and her husband have an incorporated business. They’ve been giving a tithe plus 5% on their gross profit. Should they be doing this on the net or the gross?

ANSWER: That would not be a tithe, that would be 15%. The word tithe literally means tenth. You can’t 15% a 10%. You can tithe plus 5%.

Let’s step back and see what the biblical guideline says. The biblical guideline in Deuteronomy 28 is that you give a tenth, a tithe, of your net increase, which in business would be your net profit, not your gross revenues. That’s the biblical guideline and it’s what I tithe on as an evangelical Christian. I take a tenth of my net profits of my business and my investments and whatever else.

But if I spend $100,000 and bring in $1 million, then my net profit is $900,000. It was not a million. That’s your biblical guideline. In addition to that, as Christians, we step back and we say that we don’t own anything. God owns it, so we ask Him what He wants us to do with His stuff.

Then that leaves open the idea for the Lord to impress upon your husband a certain amount. There is not a biblical guideline for what you’ve done other than the fact that God owns it and said to your husband, “Do this.”

I’ve had a few times in my life and my giving, and Sharon and I certainly pray and talk before giving, that I was supposed to do something a little bit unusual and a little bit straining, a little bit sacrificial, and that’s fine because it’s not mine. It’s His, and if I feel that in my prayer and I feel impressed upon, then I’m going to do that.

But that’s just me following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and prayer. That is not a scriptural or a biblical guideline. If Sharon came to me, and she has a good and strong spiritual walk, and she felt impressed upon by the Lord to give 15% of the gross revenues of this company, I would tell her that I don’t think that was God. The reason is because this company doesn’t operate on a 15% margin and that would close us down. I don’t think that’s God’s plan. I would challenge her on that if she were to bring me that.

But if she said she thinks we’re supposed to give some amount and it hurts but it doesn’t put us out on the street, then we’ll give it and we’ll talk about that. But we are going to use wisdom in our interaction with God and the Holy Spirit. He expects us to do that. It’s a wonderful thing to have a generous heart and an open hand, and you should have that. But the difference in what we’re talking about is the biblical guideline in your prayer time and your interaction with God.