“Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” Proverbs 3:9-10.
Is tithing still an essential part of the Christian value system? Should I be tithing from my business? What is the difference between the tithe and an offering?
Tithing has, unfortunately, become a controversial topic in the kingdom today. Many question whether tithing is still relevant. If it is, should it be from our gross or net pay? Others are asking if you should tithe from your business. Can you split your tithe? Does your tithe have to go to your local church? Does tithing still apply in the New Testament? Should I still tithe if my church is misusing the money? Should I tithe even if I am still in debt?
Whatever your personal views are with respect to tithing, I believe that it is important to let the scriptures speak for itself. Tithing is committing the first tenth of all that God gives you back to the Lord in recognition of His ownership over your life and in appreciation for His goodness towards you (Genesis 28:22.) Tithing allows the non-revenue generating ministries that God wants to see operate have the necessary resources to function. It allows other dimensions of the great commission to be realized. It is a way to provide resources to those who are called to operate in the fivefold ministry of evangelist, teacher, pastor, prophet or apostle (Ephesians 4:11-16, I Timothy 5:17 –18.) The tithe is our first gift that must be paid before we can give an offering. The tithe is an obligation; the offering is a choice (Genesis 4:4.)
Every born-again Christian must be involved in a local assembly, whether it is a home church, small church or a mega-church. While the size of the local assembly is not relevant, it must be led by a shepherd (Hebrews 10:24-25, I Peter 5:1-4.) As individuals our tithe should be committed to supporting the work of the local assembly where we attend (Malachi 3:10.) Our offering can be used to support any ministry that we choose. If you do not trust your local assembly enough to give them your tithe, then you should not trust them with your soul. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21.)
Though the New Testament does not specifically mandate the tithe it should nevertheless be the minimum basis for our giving and not the ceiling. Any New Testament believer who believes that tithing is an Old Testament principle should consistently give beyond the ten percent and never less. Otherwise they are using the Old Testament as a loophole to limit their giving, rather than as an inspiration to increasing their giving (2 Corinthians 9:6-8.)
Kingdom business stewards should not just tithe from their personal income and be generous in their offering, but they should also tithe from their business profits. Though the personal tithe should be committed to supporting the work of the local assembly, the business tithe can be used to support other ministries. The business tithe can be split among several ministries, but personal tithe must be paid fully to your local assembly. This helps to maintain parity within the body of Christ. The business tithe is a tenth of your business profits not the gross revenue. Some businesses do not enjoy a 10 percent gross margin. As such, if businesses are required to tithe from their gross revenue then some will operate at a loss. Of course, we know that operating a kingdom business at a loss is not biblical, since Jesus rebuked the unprofitable servant in Matthew 25:30. The other reason the business tithe should be paid from the profits is because Proverbs 3:9-10 instructs us to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our increase. You do not have an increase if you have not paid for the expenses associated with generating the revenue. The increase is the net income after all expenses are paid. The tithe must be paid in spite of your debt situation. Since you are tithing from your net profits, you can pay the debt from the balance remaining after the tithe. This shows that you are trusting in God and not in your own efforts to become debt-free. Also, if you are in a partnership, make sure that all partners agree before the business commits to tithing. Otherwise you must only tithe from your share of the profits.
Why is business tithing necessary for the kingdom business steward?
1. It sets us apart from other businesses.
2. It recognizes that God is the owner and we are the stewards.
3. It shows our appreciation to God for His goodness towards us.
4. It allows us to be able to finance other work within the kingdom.
5. It enables God to trust us with more.
6. It helps us not to see money as our source.
7. It allows God to open the windows of opportunity for us and protect our production from lost or destruction.
There are many kingdom businesses that have experienced the joy of business tithing: J.C. Penney, John D. Rockefeller, Chick-fil-A, The Timothy Plan and one who recently began: Davis Endodontic.
Though a committed tither from her personal salary, after learning about business tithing, Dr. Davis had her staff review her profits from the past couple of years and gave over $40,000 to support the work of the kingdom as a commitment to paying her past business tithe. That is a powerful and a tremendous commitment to living by the principles of God. If most believers were committed to tithing from their personal income and their business profits, then the work of the kingdom would not lack the resources to feed the hungry, nourish the thirsty, house the homeless, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned (this has implications beyond mercy ministries and applies to grace giving ministries as well.) In addition, God’s ministering servants would not be distracted by other activities and could fully give themselves to praying and ministering the Word of God (Matthew 25:31-40, Acts 6:4.)
Would you want your doctor working another full-time job just to make enough money to be able to practice medicine? Would you want your teacher to work another job to be able to teach? Would you want your pilot working another job just to make ends meet so he can afford to fly? Of course not! We want our professionals to devote themselves fully to servicing us with excellence without other distractions. Why then do we expect those who are called to five-fold ministry to do other things to make ends meet yet expect excellence of ministry? Why do we expect ministries that serve the least of these to devote time to tasks like identifying ways to generate revenue (in the hopes of remaining sustainable) that divert attention away from their primary mission and focus? Sustainability is not always realized through fee-for-service revenue. It can also be realized through the faithful contribution of the faithful saints and the proper stewardship of those contributions. Also do you want the government to be solely responsible for social programs when God intend for us to take care of our own?
As we prepare for the coming year let’s commit ourselves to being a part of God’s work by entrusting our personal and business tithe to His kingdom and enjoying the benefits of being one of the few that the Lord can count on to see His work realized in the earthly realm. As kingdom business stewards we should be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
My prayer for you today is that God will give you the grace to redouble your efforts to tithe in your personal and business life while being generous in your offerings to ensure the advancement of His kingdom.