A Pastor’s Perspective, Let’s Get Real About Tithing


By: Michael Upchurch

Let’s Get Real About Tithing

I have written before about tithing. And pro-con arguments and discussions concerning the tithe and tithing certainly abound on the Internet, but let’s have a look at it today from perhaps a different perspective. Yes, I know tithing isn’t mentioned in the New Testament (other than by Jesus prior to the Cross). And yes, I do know we’re under grace and not under the Law. Yes, I know all of the points that many use to illustrate that Old Testament tithing applied to crops and to livestock and not to income. Been there and bought the T-shirt.

You can use New Testament scripture in explaining to me that you don’t have to tithe 10%, and I’ll nod in agreement. I’ll concede the fact you’re under grace. You win that argument. However……
I would like to highlight a scripture for your consideration. One that has nothing to do with levitical tithing, but everything to do with your handling of your money.

I would like to show you a verse that is the VERY reason that I tithe. And I tithe from the gross of my pay not the net, for those who might waver on that subject. More on that in a moment. But this verse was spoken over 400 years before the Law came into being, so it is not in defense of the Law concerning tithing. It’s about the heart. The heart of one man. A man who recognized the wonder of the presence of the Lord, and that everything that he had came from God.

I haven’t really been able to produce a thing on my own in this life and so, when I discovered this verse, I took it for my own. It became the sole reason for my tithing. I tithe off of every amount of money that comes to me. And again I tithe off my gross income, due to the fact that if I didn’t have a paycheck, then I wouldn’t have the excellent Health Insurance Plan I have. Nor would I have any money being paid into my Retirement Plan, and there wouldn’t be deductions for any other thing that I have as a result of my job, which the Lord opened the door for. Therefore, I err to the side of gross pay before deductions, rather than the splitting of hairs over the net amount while foolishly being careful not to give too much.

So, what verse is it that would compel me to tithe off each nickel coming to me? It is a verse bearing record of a statement made by a man who had an encounter with the Lord. The man was Jacob, who would later become Israel.

Jacob was traveling and had stopped to rest for the night. Taking a stone for a pillow, he fell fast asleep. As he slept he had a dream, the details of which I’m sure most of you are aware. In this dream there was a ladder reaching up to heaven, with angels going up and down the ladder. These verses record the dream, and Jacob’s reaction to the dream…..

“And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭28:13-22‬

That last part of verse 22 is simply golden, and the very reason that I give my tithe!

“and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

It wasn’t about the Law for Jacob, as no Law had been given at that time. That wouldn’t come for another 400 + years. And it’s not about the Law for me either. I’m not required to give my tithe. It’s not about any command from the Lord. It’s about the condition of my heart. Jacob was so moved by being in the presence of the Lord, and by what He spoke to him, that he vowed then and there to tithe without any knowledge of what Moses would establish four centuries later. It’s also important to note that Jacob was referring to the pillar he set up as Bethel. ‘Beth-El’ means house of God in Hebrew. Today we give our tithe to the house of God as well. But I digress.

I can’t take credit for having anything or owning anything on my own. It’s all a result of His gifting me and opening doors for me and allowing me to earn what I have. I can’t even breathe on my own or cause my own heart to beat. I owe EVERYTHING to Him including my life, so what’s the paltry sum of 10% by comparison, whether based on gross or net pay?

You may not be moved by Jacob’s vow. You may not feel compelled to tithe to the Lord’s work. Fair enough. Let your conscience be your guide. But let us consider yet another perspective. Let me ask you some questions if you don’t currently tithe.

Have you ever sat in your church and complained? Was the A/C not working properly at one time and were you stuffy? Was the sound system having issues at some point and was it unbearable for you? Did they ever run out of communion cups or elements and your row didn’t get any? Did your kids ever not have snacks in Children’s Church or the Nursery? Was your church’s sign in need of repair and yet remained broken as an embarrassment to you? Has the youth group at your church not had money for decent worship band equipment or for a Van in good running order to travel in? Were there any of these issues at your church and did it bother you and you complained? Did you ever consider that if everyone tithed, including you, the church might have the funds to address those problems? Or do you think that the Lord provides the money Himself and that He doesn’t need your help? Really? You think that?? Really???

Seriously Folks, tithing is what keeps the local churches afloat. Yes God could easily send money to each church, as He owns it all (Haggai 2:8), but He would rather we support our churches with OUR giving. Paul instructed churches in Macedonia and Asia to support the church in Jerusalem, as they were impoverished. Here is his instruction to the church at Corinth….

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 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. When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem;”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:1-3‬

The church was to give out of its own means to support the work of the Jerusalem church. Yes, God could have blessed that church so that they’d have no lack, but He desired that those churches that were prospering to help instead. It would be a lofty thing if our churches would reach out to other fellowships who may not be prospering and some churches do that. And that support comes from the tithes of its members. Not tithing commanded by the Law, but tithing as a matter of the heart!

If you are not happy about the things your church is lacking, your checkbook might be the best way to address that. And if you’re grateful for all that you have, your checkbook is also an excellent way to show your appreciation to the Lord as well.

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike