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Tithing and Giving

By Rev. Todd Davis

Tithing and Giving are part of our response to “Stewardship.”  From the Christian’s perspective, everything we have is given to us by God – our time, health, environment, talents, relationships, property, and God’s Word, the Bible. Stewardship is the responsible sharing of God’s gifts to us.

A steward is a person who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.  A Christian steward manages God’s gifts in ways that honor God and bless others.  Practicing spiritual disciplines as a Christian steward are “a means (or, way) of receiving God’s grace.”  They allow us to place ourselves before God so God can transform us.

Concerning the spiritual discipline of tithing, or financial giving, as Christians we are called to share a portion of God’s gifts of property or money in service and devotion to God.  According to Scripture, a tithe is one-tenth of one’s income, given back to God in thanksgiving for God’s blessings in a person’s life.

Tithing to one’s church is a spiritual discipline that not only helps a person be truly dependent upon God by faith, it also enables the church to carry out its mission and ministry in Christ’s name.

God’s Word calls believers to give back to God the “first fruits” of God’s blessings to them.  Our offering to God should be the first portion we set aside, not what remains.  For many, it is hard to think about giving away one’s money to the church or charities, let alone giving a tithe.  Taking 10 % of your annual income and designating it to God can cause fear and anxiety.  You may wonder, “Will I be able to pay my bills?”  “Will I be able to maintain the same lifestyle I currently have if I tithe?”

Andrew Schleicher of the Nashville United Methodist Examiner offers these helpful guidelines as you consider practicing the spiritual discipline of tithing:

First, consider what you already give and set yourself on track to increase the percentage of income you are giving by 1% each year. Generally use your before tax income as your reference point, though some subtract retirement savings since they will tithe those earnings later in life.

Second, aim to give a full 10% as your regular offering to your local church’s general funds. Additional giving may then go beyond that. However, one may consider including all charitable giving within the 10% as one is on the way to giving the full tithe to the local congregation.

Remember: Do not get caught up in the legal-sounding language of 10%. This is not a tax imposed by the church. Rather, it is a returning to God what is God’s already. Be generous, even as God is generous with you. While your employer may reduce your income due to cutbacks, if you now get $900/week instead of $1000, then give $90 instead of $100. Furthermore, give it before it’s gone. If God is first in your life, how will you show that with your finances?

Good Reads on Stewardship and Giving:

The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn, 2001 ISBN 1-59052-508-6

First Fruits: 14 Sermons on Stewardship edited by David Mosser and Brian Bauknight, 2003 ISBN 0-687-02512-5

Permanent link to this article: http://www.umcsc.org/home/ministries/lay-leadership/spiritual-formation-task-group/spiritual-practices/tithing-and-giving/