By Stephen Phinney

Can you imagine for one moment what it would be like to personally rob something from God? I mean, think about it; attempting to rob from a Being that knows all, sees all, and manages all. How stupid is that? It doesn’t matter how stupid it is. It is done all day, every day, and by some of the most respected Christians in the world.

One of my favorite passages in the entire Bible is Malachi 3:8-10:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Malachi 3:8-10, NASB).

Managing money and salvation through Christ Jesus go hand in hand. Does this sound a bit odd? Allow me to explain by asking you a series of questions:

One: What is the difference between tithes and offerings?

A tithing is completely different than an offering! A tithe is the first 10% of not only one’s income, but also of every blessing that comes one’s way: food, clothing, money, drink, candy – you get the point. Even though 100% of what one earns or is given belongs to the Lord, the 10% is the portion that goes directly to the continuation of the Lord’s work: church, ministries, etc. Tithing was an Old Testament requirement and offerings were added in New Testament times as sacrificial giving, which was in no way to replace tithes to the Lord. Offerings are meant to be the giving portions, which are above and beyond the 10% required of the Lord. These offerings usually go to special needs, i.e. helping a neighbor, giving to the homeless, etc. (See 2 Cor. 9:6-8.)

Two: Is the Lord’s tithe still to be a part of our lives today?

Yes. Tithing was established before God gave the law to Moses (Gen. 14:20). It has always been the Lord’s way of guaranteeing resources for His earthly work. We learn in the book of Matthew that Christ continues to promote this requirement in the New Testament.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Matt. 23:23, NASB).

Jesus not only supports the principle of tithing in this passage, but moves and challenges them to care for others through offerings.

Three: What is the Biblical reason for tithe?

As previously mentioned, tithes are needed for the vital support of the church worldwide, not just in our local communities. It not only keeps the church nourished, but it also puts us in the position of fearing God. Since the fear of God is the beginning of the knowledge of God (Psalm 1), we need to carefully review what develops fear in the believer.

"You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23, NASB).

The reason why the church has gone emergent/lukewarm is because of the lack of respect and fear of God! Tithing is not about money – it is so much more than giving up a few bucks out of one’s wallet. It is for the sole purpose of a relationship with God.

Four: Where should our tithe be given?

We can and should start with the Lord’s local work (church). Is it wrong for us to save a portion of the 10% to go to the Church (Body of Christ) in other parts of the world? Not at all; in fact, that is a good practice. Our 10% is for the function and development of the Body of Christ. We should always care for the church, ministries, and individuals who care for us and our household first. This is why my wife and I use our “offerings” to give above and beyond the Lord’s local work. Here is how we prioritize our giving of offerings: feed our household, feed our needy neighbors, give to the surrounding communities, donate to national ministries, and then give “unto the world.”

Five: When should we pay our tithe?

We should pay our tithe, or at least set it aside, directly after we are paid or given a blessing. Most get in the habit of using the first day of every week, which is not only a good idea, it is Biblical.

“On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2, NASB).

Six: Does tithing include our time?

Yes. We are asked, if not required, to give of our first fruits – no matter what the fruit is. Time, or volunteering, is one of the most valuable tithes and offerings one can give. Don’t fall into the mentality of paying your tithe to the church so the pastor can do the work. This is a great way to burn him out. God wants us to honor Him with every form of substance life has to offer us.

“Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10, NASB).

Seven: What if I am in debt?

It doesn’t matter if we are in debt or not. In fact, it matters more. Someone who is in debt is considered to be a poor steward by the Lord. People who are in debt are usually in debt because they are in a nasty habit of robbing from God by not tithing. Whenever I am working with someone to get them out of debt, I immediately have them start tithing in order to open the flood gates of God’s blessings and the power to deliver them from the debt. People with debt mentality are typically selfish people. Thus, they stop reaching out to help others because they are in a constant influx of their own perceived needs. It is a trap and this is why tithing is very important for those who are enslaved to lenders.

Eight: Should a wife tithe if her husband does not want her to?

Yes, but not with money! She can give her time, labor, and certain material blessings that her husband approves. Most selfish men who don’t want their wives to tithe typically don’t care if their wives give; they just don’t want their wives giving their “hard earned cash.” (See Acts 9:36-43.)

Nine: Should a husband tithe if his wife does not want him to?

Yes, but with a great deal of respect! Even if 87% of the American families do not support the fact that the man is the head of the home, it doesn’t change the Truth of God’s Word. Men should not use this Truth as a whip, but rather as a guiding tool to lead their wife and children to join him where he believes God is at work. It also needs to be noted that in cases of an unequally yoked marriage (one saved, one not), the head of the home should never give his tithe to charities that do not have the mission of leading the receiver to Christ or to a closer walk with Him.

Ten: What about back tithe I have not paid?

This is a decision that will have to be made between you and God. I have had clients who have gone back and calculated an estimate from their first job as a teenager, to those who start fresh from the day of discovery. Personally, I believe it is an issue of clear conscience before God. If He believes it is important to clear the conscious – then so be it. Keep in mind that not tithing is robbing God. Stealing is something most Biblical counselors believe needs to be paid back. Whatever way you believe God is leading you, be cheerful while you do it. (See 2 Cor. 9:6.)

Eleven: Should we tithe on our gross or net income?

We should tithe on what comes into the net – not on what is left after the government takes out its portion of the fish. What is in the net is our first catch – first fruit.

Twelve: Should I tithe on “dirty money?”

No! God doesn’t want any part of man’s dirty money, which would include: netted income from gambling, drug dealing, pornography sales, or any other ill-gotten gain. That is why I pushed that $10,000 check right back in front of the man who was buying my spirituality.

I had another case of ministering to the “number two” Mafia man in a given territory. After a year of difficult counseling, he got saved. His life completely changed and he was very grateful for the work of God through me. One day I was finishing up counseling and the front desk person said I had a client outside who needed to see me. I went out and to my surprise, there was a brand new Mercedes Coupe sitting there. He said, “It’s yours.” Even though his heart was pure, I graciously turned him down. One week later, he drove me out to one of his many building projects and asked me which four story model I liked best. For the fun of it, I told him the one I liked, not knowing what was coming next. He said, “It’s yours.” I asked him if this project was left over money from his Mafia days and he said, “Yes.” I had the unpleasant experience of challenging him with separating himself from every investment and project that had “dirty money” connected to it – and he did!

Thirteen: Should a person tithe when the money is a tithe gift?

Yes, because that is God’s miraculous plan of economy. If every first fruit was tithed, there would be no need for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, or insurance. There has always been plenty of money and resources to care for the wealthy, moderately wealthy, poor, and physically and mentally challenged. Plenty! The reason why we “need” these programs is because of all the wealth and poor stealing from God’s simple 10%.

Fourteen: Can a tithe be used to pay for things spiritual?

Sure, if the item purchased is for the benefit of another. Typically what we need to avoid is using God’s purposed money to personally gain from it. I really don’t think God makes a big deal about using tithe money to purchase a Bible or other items that will benefit our growth, but it is NOT a good habit to get into.

Fifteen: Should I fear consequences if I decide not to tithe?

Absolutely! Robbing God from His storehouse is a serious offense to Him and His church. When we steal from God, we turn His hand of blessing away from us, and move God to bring consequences for our wrong (Malachi 3:8-11; Col. 3:25).

Sixteen: Is it appropriate to involve my children in tithing?

Most certainly – children should be taught as early as they understand the value of material possessions and money. For example: when a child is given a candy bar, he should be taught to break off a 10th of it and give it to another (brother, sister, friend, or even the dog). It is important that we teach our children the practical principles of giving in day-to-day experiences. The best way to do this is by modeling it as parents (Hebrew 11:6).

Seventeen: Should I expect bigger blessings if I give?

If you asked such a question, probably not. Anyone who gives to get is a selfish giver. Plus, this kind of false doctrine falls under the demonic beliefs of prosperity doctrines. God rewards those whom He chooses. My experience is that He is not quick to reward any child of His with a “give to get” motive. We should not give with any expectation of man or God, even though God is known for blessing His givers. Our motives need to be pure in advancing the kingdom of God.

Where is your money going? Is it being dumped into making the rich richer through paying interest on your debt? Is it advancing the kingdom of Satan by drinking, drugging, and sexing it away? Is it being donated to charitable causes that mean absolutely nothing to God? You are the one who has to examine your giving record, or lack of it. God loves a cheerful giver; but He will never bless a donor dollar that benefits the kindness of the Antichrist. Did that sound a bit odd? It should. The Antichrist will be so kind and prone to giving, that the whole world will be donating every spare dollar it can to bless his efforts, which will burn up in the final fire of purification. He will require others to give to him, but he will by no means give unto others. He is a taker of takers. Which side are you on? Something to think about…