How much $$$ are we supposed to give God?

Some say we should tithe.  After all, doesn’t the Bible say, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse”? (Mal. 3.10)  Yes it does but have you ever thought about what the “Whole Tithe” was?  The word tithe means, “tenth part” and in Israel there were three tithes that together comprised the “whole tithe.”

The Levite Tithe: support for the priests (Num. 18)–10% every year

The Festival Tithe:  support for sacred services/celebrations (Deut. 12)–10% every year

The Poor tithe:  Support for the poor, orphans & widows (Deut. 14 & 26)–10% every 3 years

Average the three tithes together and God’s people gave approximately 23% every year!

In response to this some argue, “Tithing was for those living under law but we live under grace.”  I agree.  So here is the question:  Does grace inspire more or less than law?”  Law limits us.  Grace sets us free!  Thus we no longer are constrained by tithing…we can give more!

It has been widely reported that the average Christian in America gives 2.5% to God.  Why do you think this is?

Randy Alcorn writes, “I will listen to the point of view of the Christian who says, ‘Tithing is not meant for today’–provided that he gives regularly and that his giving exceeds the tithe.  But the person who argues against the tithe and proceeds to give less than a tithe is effectively saying God has lowered his standards of giving and that New Testament grace means reduced commitment.”


I unpack the connection between grace and giving in this message on the Grace-Centered life.  It comes down to this:  How much do you want to give God?  Does anyone want to only give God one out of every ten dollars?

Grace-Centered: Part 5 (Pastor Robert Gelinas) from Colorado Community Church on Vimeo.

4 thoughts on “How much $$$ are we supposed to give God?

  1. The “law vs. grace” dichotomy is a false one. God set up Israel as a Theocracy. Later he gave into Israel’s wish to be like the other nations and have a Monarchy. We all know that didn’t work out too well. So the real comparison, I believe, is between the theocracy of Israel and the new testament church. When we make this comparison we can ask “what function did each tithe serve in the Israeli theocracy”? Are those functions still necessary within the new testament church? Second, we can look at the Counsel in Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15 who made it clear that the portions of the Mosaic law that were distinctly Jewish did not apply to the new testament church given that the NT church was both Jewish and Gentile.

    Alcorn also makes some silly statements like he’ll only listen to Christians whose giving exceeds the tithe. What tithe? Anything less than the 23% set out in scripture is a subjective value. So either Mr. Alcorn is advocating a minimum of a 23% tithe on our “before tax income” (remember – first fruits), or the line he chooses to draw in the sand is simply a subjective standard that no one should feel compelled by Mr. Alcorn to meet.

    Second Robert, how do you feel your 5+5 program at CCC fits into the proposal that grace frees us (i.e. true grace compels us) to give more than the law. While the 5+5 program does not restrict people from giving more, it seems to implicitly suggest that a total of 10% is just fine. Maybe that should be tweeked to the 5+5+ program.

  2. Brian,
    Thanks for stopping by. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the validity of the Law/grace dichotomy. I think that Paul made the distinction often.

    Thus I don’t think that Alcorn’s statements, in context, are silly. Probably because my beliefs are more extreme than his. I truly believe that grace inspires more than law. As a matter of fact I think that grace leads us to offering back to God 100% of all that we are. If the parable of the talents is any indicator then grace inspires me to offer back to God more than he gave me–multiplication.

    As far as 5 + 5–In my message I talked about how I think that tithing is a great tool similar to training wheels. Thus if you want to learn the basics of generosity then tithing is great tutor. What we are trying to model as a church is so much more though. Through 5 + 5 we give away 50% of our budget as a church to other churches and ministries. Thus we are not limited by 10% or 23% we feel free to do more.


    • Robert – you’ve been agreeing to disagree with me since you graduated from Central :) Are emoticons proper etiquette in a blog?

      My initial sentence was poorly worded. It’s not that the dichotomy is false, rather, as the rest of the paragraph argues, I don’t believe it’s the most appropriate contrast in this discussion. I’ll enjoy hearing what you think about that when Gwen, I and the boys can see you.

      I agree that God, through Paul, often contrasted the law and grace. But to what end? I believe most, if not all, of those references were in regard to what is necessary for salvation. I don’t think tithing falls into this category. I think Paul was speaking of what attempted adherence to the law could accomplish – nothing, whereas we are saved by grace through faith.

      I also agree that grace does indeed call us beyond what the letter of the law requires. Christ gave us an example of this as recorded in Matthew 19 regarding divorce.

      Lastly, my comment regarding your 5+5 program was not intended to disparage the program. Rather, my point was regarding the mathematical implication – that 10% is sufficient, while both you and Alcorn point out that the law requires at least 23%. Do we spur one another on to give less than what the law requires or do we spur one another on to give more, to give everything? Or do we allow each person to give joyfully as God directs. For some, their understanding of grace is small, and so giving may be small. For others, their understanding of God’s grace is grand, and their giving will be grand. My problem with Alcorn is that, based on his writing, he believes that we are compelled to give at least a tithe. This is in contrast to what Paul plainly says, that no one should be compelled to give. In fact, this is implicit in Peters response to Ananias recorded in Acts 5.


  3. Pingback: Maybe it’s time to give God a raise! « Robert Gelinas

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