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Paying Tithe on Gifts?


I know I have to pay tithe when I earn money. But do I have to pay tithe on money if it’s a gift from another Christian who’s already paid tithe on it?

Steve Answers:

I know I have to pay tithe when I earn money. But do I have to pay tithe on money if it’s a gift from another Christian who’s already paid tithe on it?

First, let me respond to what you’re saying. Then I’ll answer what you probably mean.

I can’t hear your tone of voice when you write, but words such as "have to" sound very different from "get to" or "want to." So when you ask, "Do I have to pay tithe?" it seems to me that what you need most is an attitude adjustment or even a change of heart.

According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, "every one must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes" (TLB).* (I recommend all of 2 Corinthians 9.)

Steve Green sings a children’s song that goes, "God loves a cheerful giver, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" Green suggests that instead of giving until it hurts, we’d be much better off if we kept giving until it tickles! (Can you think of a time when the deacons collected the offering at church, and everyone was smiling or even laughing about it?)

You can look up the word "tithe" in a concordance for your own study. If you do, I think you’ll discover the following two principles:

1. Everything comes from God. Giving a tithe (one tenth) of what we earn reminds us that everything we earn comes from God, not merely from our hard work.

2. Giving is an action of faith. Giving a tithe (one tenth) of anything we receive is an action of faith. This act shows faith that God will provide for us in miraculous ways–that He can make nine tenths give us more than ten tenths. It’s not a matter of math–it’s a matter of faith.

If you "have to" pay tithe to God like you have to pay taxes to the government, you’ll always look for a loophole to get out of it. And if your love for God isn’t strong, you’ll feel as if the money you give God is wasted rather than given or invested. That’s why I suggested that you consider your attitude and your heart.

Now, to answer what I think you mean by your question: no, you don’t have to give God anything. Refer to 2 Corinthians 9:7 again.

Of course, if you look at tithe as a tax you owe God, then treat it like a tax and pay up. But if you recognize that the gift from the Christian is like a gift from God, then why wouldn’t you celebrate that gift and acknowledge it as something God has given you?

Do you trust God to do miraculous things and make nine tenths go farther than ten tenths? Or do you have to hoard every penny, because you feel it’s all up to you? 

*Verses marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. Used by permission.

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