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As the old saying goes, we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Save, spend and give are the three big principles of any solid financial plan. Most people forget about the giving part, though, because they think mostly about saving and spending.
But giving is just as important. It softens the heart of the giver and frees their soul from dependence on money. You never walk away from giving feeling bad! Giving comes in many forms, with the tithe being the most important, because it’s a biblical mandate.
What is a tithe?
Let’s start with the basics. Simply put, the tithe is the first 10% of your income that should be given to your local church. It’s strictly measured in money, so you can’t replace it with giving of your time or your talents. According to Leviticus 27:30 (TLB), “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s, and is holy.”
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Why should I tithe?
The tithe was not instituted for God’s benefit, because He already has everything He needs. He doesn’t need our money! (And “our” money is already His anyway.)
Tithing was created for our benefit. It teaches us how to keep God first in our lives and how to live unselfishly. Unselfish people make better spouses, friends, relatives, employees and employers. They usually have better finances. God is trying to teach us how to prosper over time.
After you’ve tithed, you can give in other ways: Giving a cash offering to your church above and beyond the tithe, giving money to a charity you support, giving to a friend or neighbor in need, or giving of your time or talents. Not only does giving of your money or other resources generate good in the lives of others, but it also generates contentment in your heart.
Remember, no one has ever become poor by giving. But what about those times when you’re wondering if your situation is the exception?
What about when you:
- Want to know if it’s okay to pause tithing during tough financial times?
- Want to know if it’s okay to claim a tax deduction for your tithe?
- Are wondering about increasing giving when you start making more money?
Here’s our advice on tithing and giving in those instances.
1. Is it okay to pause tithing in tough financial times?
The Bible doesn’t mention anything about “pausing” tithing. Nor does it say we will go to hell if we don’t tithe.
But get this: Many people have observed that after they stopped tithing, their finances seemed to get worse. In Malachi 3:8–11, God says that if you tithe instead of keeping it for yourself, He will pour out blessing and rebuke your devourers. In other words, He’ll keep you safe from those who might harm you. So keep tithing.
If you can’t live off 90% of your income, then you’re probably struggling to live off 100% anyway , and that means you have bigger financial problems you need to address. It shouldn’t require a miracle for you to get through the month with 10% less in your wallet.
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If you sit down and look at your budget, you’ll see you can make it while giving away at least 10%. That might mean cutting some fun money or increasing your income, but it can be done. Read the Bible and take from it what you will, but remember this: If you tithe, do it out of love for God, not out of guilt.
2. Is it right to count my church tithe on my tax returns?
You were biblically obedient by giving your tithe to your church. The Bible tells us to be good managers of our money, but it does not diminish the sanctity of your gift if you take the tax deduction. It is a way to manage the other 90% of your money. Take the deduction.
Later when you get your income tax refund, remember that this is money you’ve already tithed, although you’re certainly welcome to devote some or all of it back to the Lord as additional thanks for His blessings.
3. I’m making more money now. I want to know how to increase giving above the tithe.
When things are going well and you find yourself with lots more income than you need, that can be a great time to begin thinking about other ways to give above and beyond the tithe. But it can be easy to accidentally spend all the extra cash on yourself. That’s why it’s a good idea to budget what you’ll do with it so you can make sure you’re giving some of it too.
Once you’ve calculated your tithe, plus any savings and spending you’re doing, see how much surplus you have. Divide that surplus among extra giving, extra investing, and some fun money. It might help to specifically budget a certain amount each month for special giving opportunities above the tithe. Then look around you, ask friends if they know of anyone in need, and watch for opportunities to give that money away. If you’re intentional about seeking out those circumstances, you’re going to find them!
And remember, whether you’re giving a tithe, offering, or some other special contribution, it should come from your heart. It’s an important part of any financial plan, and it’s really the most fun you can have with your money!
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