After this past weekend’s sermon on “The Curse of the First,” I received a couple of questions that I will attempt to answer on my blog this week. I think the idea of tithing is one that troubles most Christians. Most of us want to return to God the First, but many are gripped with the fear that they won’t make it. I believe that most Christ-follower’s have good intentions, but simply don’t live it out.
Today, I want to address a question that many Christians have about the tithe. Here it is:
Do I tithe off the GROSS or the NET of my paycheck?
To most of us, the NET box on our paystub is what we really make. Even though it’s disappointing to see, we all know the reality of the net. Let’s look at this from two perspectives: a practical and a spiritual.
One time some of the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus to find a reason to imprison him. They sent someone to ask him this question, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22)
Jesus replied like this: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Luke 20:25)
Jesus often did not give a straight answer, but instead made you think. What belonged to Caesar was the part you were responsible to pay to the government for taxes. Today, we could associate that with the IRS. It’s our fair share that we pay for the military, government programs, road repair, etc.
But what did Jesus mean when He said, “Give to God what is God’s?” Well, Psalm 24:1a says: “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (NLT) The Creator really owns it all. All that we have and all that we are is by God’s handiwork.
And yet, God doesn’t demand all of our money. Instead, as we learned in week 1 of The Blessed Life, God asks for the First. The First 10% of our increase…belongs to God. (Lev 27:30). Exodus 23:19a says: ““Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.” God wants the “best” or the “first” of our firstfruit increase. The rest we are given to steward for Him.
Should we tithe off the gross or the net? I say gross! I believe that my God is more important than my government. The only reason why we have a “net” amount is because our government doesn’t trust us to pay our “fair share” as a citizen of this country.
Ultimately, I believe we are responsible for both. We are responsible to give God the “best of our firstfruits” and also to pay our due to the government.