Alan Wildes

Alan Wildes

Tithe: What Does It Really Mean?

One of the most misused words in churches is “Tithe”

There are several different uses and definitions of the word; some accurate and some not so much. According to Merriam-Webster, it means, “to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of a religious establishment or organization.” Here are a few others that I have heard over the years:

  • I tithe to my church; 10% of my income is given to the local church.
  • I tithe to my church; it doesn’t equal 10% because the word tithe is used in place of “give regularly”
  • I tithe. The individual gives 10% but not all of it goes to the local church. The money is split up between the local church and other charitable organizations.

Personally, I believe at least 10% of a person’s giving should go to the local church. I feel that doing so is Biblical. In my work, I choose not to debate the “real” definition of tithe because tithing feels regimented and prescribed. Instead, I choose to talk about living a generous life.

So, what does it look like to live generously? If you are a passionate follower of Jesus, it’s impossible not to live a generous life. If you are living a generous life, you can’t help but be generous with all your resources, which includes your finances.  If you are truly generous with your finances, God will be pleased.

Every church must have an answer to the tithe question. Be prepared to answer the question, but more importantly, be able to discuss what it looks like to live a generous life.

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