The thought came to me the other day while I was jogging that I need to address the gross or net issue. It came right out of the blue since it was a clear “blue sky” day.
Many times people have asked me, “When it comes to giving to God and tithing, should our tithe be from our gross income (the total amount before taxes, payroll deductions, etc.) or the net amount (What is left after everything gets taken out)?” Here’s my thinking and I believe it captures the heart and intention of God.
1. God wants us to give willingly and cheerfully, whatever the amount. “God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7. “Cheerful” comes from the Greek word hillaros, from which we get our word hilarious. God wants us to give hilariously. It should be one of the most enjoyable things we do for God.
2. God wants us to bring ALL the tithe to Him. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” Mal 3:1 The storehouse then would have been the temple, now it is His church. Tithe literally means a tenth. He instructs us to bring a full tenth of our income to Him. Anything less than a tenth is not a tithe. Anything more than a tenth would be a tithe and an offering. He even goes so far as to classify those who fail to bring the full tithe to Him as robbers of God. “Will a man rob God? … “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.” Mal 3:8-9 God expects a full tithe.
3. When the tithing principle was set down by God there were no taxes or payroll deductions taken out before a person was paid. They were paid by the individual on their own after receiving their pay. So, from the very beginning, the tithing expectation was based on the gross amount of a person’s income rather than the net amount.
4. This is a practical observation. What are our taxes based on? Are they not paid from our gross amount? To pay taxes to the government from our gross amount and then tithe from our net amount is to make a clear statement that the government has a higher priority in our use of money than God.
We live in a financial system that allows us to have almost anything we want deducted from our pay before it ever gets to our hand or bank amount. We can end up receiving a small fraction of our total income in our net pay. When the church receives a tithe from our net amount rather than our gross, I believe we not only disappoint and disobey God, we greatly limit the power and impact of the Body of Christ.
I have to make this same gross/net decision every week myself. The tax laws in America are set up in such a way that I don’t have to pay taxes on the amount of money I spend to provide housing for my family. It is called a “housing allowance”. It is a sizable portion of my total income. It does not appear on my W2 form as income. However, I make sure my giving to God includes a tithe of my housing allowance as well. My love for God and the work of the Kingdom is far greater than a housing allowance deduction and my giving confirms that love. I hope yours does as well.