I was 18 the first time I heard about the “tithe.” I wanted to give to God, but to be honest, I was overwhelmed when I found out what it was. Could I really trust God enough to scrape together 10 percent of my college, minimum wage, part-time worker’s income and give it to my church?
Even if I embraced this idea, I was already justifying all the reasons my tithe didn’t matter. Ten percent of my part-time job would only be about $7 a week. What could God even do with an amount that small?
I was just about to tune my pastor out when he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “God doesn’t want more from you; He wants more for you.”
This didn’t make sense to me at first. How could God want something for me by taking money from me? My problem was that I forgot it was never mine in the first place.
The tithe is the one area of our faith where God gave us permission to test Him (Malachi 3:10). Why choose giving? I think it’s because God is the greatest giver of all time. He paid our permanent debt by sending Jesus to die for our sins. That’s irrational generosity. So when we choose to give our first and best to God, we’re becoming more like Him. This is a way that we can give to God.
The thing about tithing is that it has nothing to do with the money. Sounds weird, right? God doesn’t need your money because He’s, well, God. And the Church? Are they just using Scriptures to guilt you into giving? Not if they’re a good church. See, a good church is looking out for your heart. Why? Because God wants your heart, not your wallet. So what does Jesus tell us about money?
3 Things Jesus Never Said About How to Give to God:
- If you don’t have much to give, you don’t have to give.
- You don’t have to tithe if you do other things, like serving.
- You can love money as long as you still love Me.
3 Things Jesus Actually Said About How to Give to God:
- A limited budget doesn’t have to stop you from living a generous life (Mark 12:41-44). There’s a story in the book of Mark where Jesus watches wealthy hypocrites boast about their offerings. Then, a poor woman gives “a measly two cents.” I’m sure she must’ve felt embarrassed. Not good enough. Not worthy. But then Jesus does something weird. He says the poor woman gave more than the wealthy combined. Why? Because she gave all she had. The wealthy gave something they’d never miss. The story shows us it’s not about the amount we give. It’s about the faith we have.
- If we want to become more like Jesus, we don’t get to skip over the hard parts. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus says we should tithe, but not forget about other important things like justice and mercy. Some people view this as Jesus giving permission not to tithe, but I think the opposite is true. When I started giving, I started thinking of myself less, which made me want to serve more. We don’t get to pick the version of Jesus we want to be.
- Love of money is the number one competitor for our obedience to God (Matthew 6:24). When we trust in money to provide what only God can, we’re turning money into an idol. That’s why Jesus said we can’t serve both God and money. Notice He didn’t say “both God and Satan.” We can’t expect to hoard our money and still please a generous God.
If you’re skeptical about tithing, I understand. I’ve been there. But what I know is I’ve never felt closer to God than when I decided to trust Him in my finances—even when my finances could barely fund my Ramen. Don’t buy the lie that the Church just wants money from you. We are the Church, and God wants generosity for you.