The word "tithe" literally means tenth or 10%. Tithing, or giving ten percent of your income, isn't merely giving something to God. It's giving back what was his to begin with. All that we have, or hope to have, comes from him. The Bible says that tithing is a reminder that God is the supplier of everything. It teaches us to always put God first in our lives.
Is Tithing Required in Order to be a Member at New Community?
No. Though we encourage the tithe from our members, we do not demand it. It is required for those who carry formal leadership in the church to tithe, because we believe it is important for the leaders to model the things we expect from the members. At New Community, we hold strong convictions about the importance of tithing, but we realize that circumstances will not always allow the member to tithe right away. We understand that people are at different points of their spiritual growth and life situations. However, we do expect the new member to trust God to grow him or her to the point where they can eventually tithe.
Should my tithe go to the church?
As we attempt to bring as many Old Testament principles concerning tithing over to the New Testament church, we are faced with the fact that the tithe was exclusively brought to the temple in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the temple was God’s central headquarters for His people and His work. Today, the church is the central headquarters for His people and His work. Just as the tithe offerings were used to provide for the priests and those who were disadvantaged in the Old Testament, it seems right for the church to receive all the tithe as it continues to take care of the needs of elders (1 Timothy 5:17,18) and those with other needs (1 Timothy 5:3,4,16; James 1:27). My wife and I bring our tithe to the church, but we give offerings beyond the tithe to other ministries and needs as the Lord leads and provides.
What if there is no way I can start tithing?
First let’s address what your mindset should be. There are many believers living beneath the standards that God has set for them. The reason is because of a lack of faith, not because of a lack of money or other resources.
There are Christians who will not make time to study the Bible, and they say the reason they don’t study is because they don’t have time. Yet, if their schedule was scrutinized we would learn it is not that they don’t have time but it is that they are not willing to make time. It would mean they would have to sacrifice something on their schedule that they are not willing to sacrifice. This is an issue of maturity and faith, not how much time they have. The same thing is true of the management of money. The truth of the matter is that most of us make enough money to tithe, but we are not willing to sacrifice a certain style of living we’ve grown accustomed to in order to tithe.
I remember when Michael Jackson was in his heyday. He had mesmerized the world. Right when music videos became popular, his popularity skyrocketed. I was living in Atlanta at the time and when he came to Atlanta, it was the place to be. One young lady I was working with had been doing very badly in the financial arena. None of us who were working together in that department was making a lot of money. She had her share of financial hardships and she would occasionally talk about them. With all her hardships, that young lady got so excited about Michael Jackson coming to town that she said something I will never forget. It helped me to understand biblical faith. She said, “I don’t have the money, and I don’t know where I’m gonna get it, but I’m gonna be at that concert!” Of course, it shouldn’t surprise you that she went to the concert. She came back to work all pumped about it. That let me know that when people want to do something, guess what? They find the money to do it!
This even applies to the person who may be reading this article. I am certain that you can point to something in your life that you wanted and yet it seemed so out of reach. Despite all that, you now have it. Maybe there was something you wanted to do that seemed so undoable, yet you’ve managed to make it happen. You must take that same determination and belief (another way of saying faith) and use it in the area of being a radical giver for the Lord.
With this in mind, it is more important that you first address your heart and motives concerning tithing, verses how much money you make or your budget. What you want to pray more than “God give me more money” is “God give me more faith.” It is not how much we have that dictates our giving, but how much God has of us!
Remember the widow and her mite? Real faith does not begin until I am doing things out of obedience to God and at the same time I am absolutely clueless as to how he’s going to work them out. This is why my wife and I continue to increase our giving regularly. After a while you’ll get use to tithing and the truth of the matter is that it won’t take much faith to tithe. You’ll be able to see just how you can tithe, pay all your bills and get all the other things you want. Now remember, once you move into the realm where you can see things, you are not walking by faith anymore, but by sight.