I’ve heard this question too often: Should I tithe on the gross or net? The conventional answer often given in church is: Do you want God to bless you on the gross or net? I’m not a conventional type of person, so I’m not going to give you that answer. The answer is you should not tithe off the gross or the net. Tithing is not required, so there is no reason to worry about the gross or net.
Do we find ourselves asking this type of question when we seek other ways to worship God? Do you calculate how much time you should spend with God once you’ve subtracted time for work, sleeping, and eating? Does it seem a little strange to you that we are legalistic about giving on the gross or net when we aren’t this legalistic about any other area of our service toward God? Seriously, what kind of standards do you have about praying? Come on, I would think we should have some sort of time minimum with praying, right? Ok, well, what about reading the bible? That’s like God’s letter directly written for you. I would think we should have some sort of calculation to help us figure out how much to read. No? Ok, well, what about serving? If no one serves, who will do what needs to be done for church? Shouldn’t we need some sort of minimum standard for how much you should serve in church?
We are beings that have been born again in his Spirit, so naturally, we should be led and instructed by the Holy Spirit on how to give. We should not let petty percentages dictate how our love is worked out. I am a married man, and if i gave to my wife the way most people give to God, then our marriage would be dead. Our God is alive and he speaks to us. It’s about time we start acting like it with Spirit-led, sacrificial giving instead of this monotonous, mechanical, automated, impersonal, habitual, routine we call tithing.
I’m sorry . . . did I offend some of you? Were you looking for some answer to whether or not you should tithe on the gross or net? Well, you aren’t going to get it here. Gimme a break, has our worship towards God become so religious that we cannot see how mechanical our relationship with God has become? We give like a bunch of pagans. Hold on, maybe I’m not clear as to what I’m saying . . . . tithing is paganism. Go ahead, whip out Malachi 3, Leviticus 27, and Matthew 23.
What would you do if you heard of a group of people sacrificing sheep in the woods today? The first thing that would come to your mind is some sort of witch cult. Yet, this very practice is completely biblical. As a matter of fact, Abraham sacrificed sheep. So why is tithing paganism? Well, for starters, all religions or cults give no differently to their own gods than we give to ours. Second, tithing was an old testament ritual just like animal sacrifices. Third, tithing was practiced by pagan cultures, such as the Egyptians and Babylonians prior to Abraham.
A huge difference between Buddha and Yahweh is that our God is not made of metal or wood. Our God is alive, and yet, we are satisfied with giving to our God as if he has nothing to say. Imagine if I gave my wife the same thoughtless gift every year and never asked her what she wanted. Don’t you think my wife wants me to ask her, and also has her own wishes? What makes you think that God is satisfied with this impersonal type of giving as well? God didn’t tear the veil so that we can continue old testament practices that permit us to ignore the direct channel we have to the holy room of God.
When you drive by a graveyard, you will see hundreds of flowers sitting on top of everyone’s grave. Do you see jewelry, clothes, a watch, shoes, vacation tickets, or a pedicure coupon? No. Because giving flowers, just like everyone else, is the only way we know how to express love to a dead person. We don’t know what they want, nor have we been in touch with them to even instinctively understand what they desire. This is because they are dead! Our relationship with a dead person is all one-sided. We can talk to them, but they don’t talk back. This sounds a lot like how Christians want their God to be. We want him to hear when we need something; other than that we hope He stays dormant.
When I see the plate passed around in church it is much like watching people visiting their loved ones in the graveyard. They all come with the same gift in hand because tithing seems to be the universally accepted gift for someone who’s been dead to us all week.
If you don’t agree with what I’m saying about tithing, just look at how most tithers give offerings above and beyond. Because of my past experience, I would venture to say some of you give a couple of extra percentage points above the tithe into the offering plate. If you were like me, you gave 11% to make sure that extra percent covers any oversight in calculating your tithe, and to provide you the opportunity to give that cheerful offering above the tithe.
Although we define offerings as Spirit led giving, there is no philosophical difference between tithing and offerings because we still mimic the same mechanical procedure we had with tithing. Technically, the only difference we see between Spirit led giving and tithing is what is typed on a calculator or planned in our budget. For those of you who don’t calculate your offering above the tithe, don’t think you are off the hook, because I would venture to guess that your offering above the tithe is much like throwing darts blindfolded.
Some of us even think giving is like throwing gifts into the center of a volcano in hopes to appease the angry god from spewing out his wrath on our little village.
In the end, instead of acting like children worshiping a living God; tithing has taught us nothing but to be good little disciplined pagans. Sorry for those who thought they were getting an answer about tithing on the gross or net.