Posted by: Hugh Griffiths | April 20, 2006

Tithing – with a money back guarantee

A recent article in the UK's Christianity magazine questioned the applicability of tithing to today's Christian. I have only read the partial extract available on the web and can already understand why some of my friends and colleagues around the country have responded so boldly.

  • You can check out Chris Hamer-Hodges latest post in response here
  • Trevor Lloyd's response is here with some excellent comments from several contributors
  •  Gavin White's letter to the magazine's editor is here

Certainly I was more than surprised that a magazine that (I presume!) was intended to strengthen and encourage the church included the article. To use Christianity magazine's own slogan – it perhaps showed 'Real Life' but certainly didn't show 'Real Faith'.

LifeChurch in the US has a great summary of the principles of tithing but also a really innovative approach to encourage people to give. Since this is the only area where God encourages us to 'test' his promise, they have written a 'money-back' contract that includes the following.

"I would like to test God's faithfulness by accepting the Three-Month Tithe Challenge. I agree that for the three-month period I state below, my household will contribute to God, through LifeChurch.tv, a tithe equal to 10% of our income. At the end of the three-month period, if I am not convinced of God's faithfulness to bless my life as a result of my obedience to His Word, then I will be entitled to request a refund of the full amount of contributions made during that 90-day period"

What a contrast to Andy Hickfod's article in Christianity! I love the boldness of a church that challenges you to have faith in the promise of God and helps you to work it out practically.

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Responses

  1. Reading the various posts in response to the article on tithing I can see it can be a very thorny issue, especially going by the comments some posts received.

    Although I think it is important to back up the principle of tithing 10% with biblical scripture I think the most important test is to ask what your heart is truly telling you. I firmly believe that scripture supports tithing the full 10% but that it requires a strong understanding of scripture both old and new testament to explain how it does support this principle. Simply taking one scripture in isolation as has been seen leads some people to believe that it’s not that straight forward. Only when read in full does it show that a full 10% tithe is biblical.

    I do tithe a full 10% and strongly believe that is what God asks of us. Although that decision was influenced by scripture it was ultimately based on a conviction within me that I should do it. My heart and spirit clearly told me that God wanted me to tithe 10%. I didn’t need to become an expert on biblical tithing in scripture to know it was true.

    People who argue that we do not need to tithe and argue about how much should be tithed need to ask themselves who they are trying to convince. Are they trying to convince other Christians or are they trying to convince themselves. I think every Christian within knows exactly what God wishes us to do with tithe. The danger is when we try and find excuses to attempt to justify to ourselves that we don’t have to do it.

  2. Justin – thanks for providing such a detailed response. I am absolutely thrilled about your convictions regarding giving and completely agree about the dangers of excuses and self-justification in order to avoid tithing. I also agree that personal conviction can be a powerful ally – when the Holy Spirit clearly speaks to us, our faith that comes from hearing the word of God equips us to be obedient.

    However for this area, I do not believe personal conviction is most important or even necessary – since Malachi indicates we can 'test' the promise of God in relation to tithing, it seems Scripture encourages us to rely not on personal faith but on seeing God's faithfulness. That is, even if we are doubting or have no personal conviction in relation to the giving of the first of our income, we can still tithe and participate in the blessing. This is the point when testing (ie obeying despiteany or all of our our uncertainties!) becomes proving – the conviction of faith forms and grows AFTER we have begun giving as God intended and see all that He provides.

    I hope this helps and certainly don't want to minimise the place of faith. But I hope I have communicated a little of the importance of obedience. For some at least I think strong convictions form after tithing begins and not necessarily beforehand.

  3. Tithing can be a very thorny subject indeed. We Christians are quick to point out the scripture on tithing in Malachi. But many Christians do not understand the root of tithing.

    Dueteronomy 14:22-29 gives a very indepth look at tithing that is never mentioned in the Church. The tithe was meant for taking care of God’s servants, but also for taking care of the orphans and widows. Sadly, these areas are now almost completely overlooked in the modern Church.

    The original Tithe was also for a time of celebration with your family. For giving thanks to God for what he provided.

    I think that when we get back to what tithing is supposed to be, we will truly see the blessing of the work of our hand that is mentioned in verse 29.


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