The Problem of “Income” 1


What if God taught in His Word that Christians owe a tithe of their income to the church?  In fact, this is what many churchgoers believe because many preachers teach this. What’s so bad about that, anyway? Just use your W2 and move the the decimal point to the left one spot, right?

The problem is–just what exactly is “income”? Is it what you are paid every week, two weeks, or month? Is it the net or the gross amount of your paycheck? Wait a minute! Is it more than just what you are paid for your primary job?
Is it money that you get from any source besides the organization that employs you? What happens if you find a lost dollar on the ground and put it in your wallet or purse? Do you need to calculate this into your tithe?
What about money you get in a birthday card? Make sure you don’t spend it immediately, because you will probably owe on that as well. You don’t want to tithe from debt, now, do you?
Is “income” more than just money that comes in? After all, everything has a value that can be assessed by some independent party in money.
What if someone offered you a choice between receiving a dollar bill or a candy bar worth one dollar as a gift. If you accept the dollar, you can calculate that you will owe one dime to the church. What happens if you choose the candy bar? Do you have to put 1/10 of the candy bar in the offering plate? If so, no one seems to eat candy bars because you have never seen a broken piece of one pass by in the plate before. Would you need to sell the candy bar for money so that you could put a dime in the offering plate? If not, are you now in debt to put a dime in the plate because you penalized yourself by receiving a candy bar as a gift?
Let’s not stop at candy bars. Remember that I mentioned money in a birthday card. Do you need to tithe on your birthday cake? Perhaps you need to invite your pastor to all your birthday parties. If not, are you now in debt to the church for the value of 10% of your birthday cake? What about your birthday presents, hmmm?
What if you become subject to a serious medical condition that requires a surgery that your insurance company refuses to cover. A charity group raises the funds and pays for your operation. You are cured. What if that money passed into your hands first, and you passed it on to the hospital? Was this “income”? Do you now have to work for years to pay a tithe debt to your church that had nothing to do with this medical transaction other than prayers?
Who can come to the rescue to answer all these questions consistently? That’s right–the IRS!
If one needs to tithe of his or her “income” to the church, what better way to figure out what “income” is than an agency of the government that has been working for 100 years to define and redefine and redefine and redefine “income”? Perhaps this is why God said to pay tribute to the government because He expects the government to tell you how you can pay God what you owe Him from your “income.”
The only problem with the IRS is–you need to know the code to know for sure if you are in 100% compliance. You can learn about the nearly 10,000 sections of the IRS code from our wonderful friends at Wikipedia. Do you really know for sure if you are properly paying taxes on all you owe from “income”? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes that occasional audit is done just to make sure.
Now, if we need to pay our tithe tax to the church from “income” just like we need to pay our tax to the government from “income,” may I submit that God knows better than any IRS agent just what “income” is and if you really are paying what you owe on ALL “income from whatever source derived.” You can’t fool God. He sees all!
Or maybe–just maybe–we do not owe a tithe on “income” at all. Perhaps the Bible never talks about tithing from “income.” Perhaps the Bible says people tithed from crops and livestock–not money, fish, hammers, plumbing services, time, talent, or what have you. Perhaps we need to look at what the Bible actually says about tithes instead of just making assumptions and following traditions.
Do you give your church 10% of your paycheck? This is good. I am not telling you that you need to change that. By all means don’t stop on my account. This is called giving, charity, and other spiritual words. It is also good budgeting and planning. What you shouldn’t call it is “tithing”–at least according to what is found in the Bible?


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One thought on “The Problem of “Income”

  • Jeff Snyder Post author

    Hi Daniel. ^_^ Good stuff!!! Jesus was happier with the person who freely gave what little they had as opposed to those who gave of their abundance because the former was given more-so from the heart instead of from a feeling of the ‘need’ to ‘tithe’ as under the old law. God loves a gracious and cheerful giver, but that’s not just from your wealth but from your willingness to give of ‘whatever’ you have to contribute. We seem to be stuck in the concept that ‘tithing’ means a monetary contribution to a physical church or group. A voluntary helping hand to a brother or sister in need, whether monetary or manual (physical) in nature, without the notion of in-kind remuneration was the ‘tithe’ taught by Jesus. Take care of one another and God will take care of you too.