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How do Christians understand tithing?

I had an interesting and robust discussion with some Christian friends. We discussed that some Christians believe that it is wrong to accumulate wealth. Savings demonstrates a lack of faith. One friend believes we all should give all our money away and live frugally. He also believes that it is wrong to live comfortably while others go hungry, or while mission causes go unfunded. I, and several of my other friends in the discussion, believe that God has given us the ability to make money and we should give but still enjoy the fruits of our labours. Yet, I know there are others who believe that we should not even tithe to our local church until we are prompted by the Holy Spirit and then give spontaneously as we feel prompted, thus planned giving to support our local church is wrong because it is not "Spirit-led." In light of this interesting discussion I had with my friends, I am looking for Biblical and/or theologian referenced answers to the following questions:

1) What place does giving have in the Christian life?

2) Is the tithe to the local church enough or should every Christian give more?

3. What are some principles that should guide any giving above the tithe?

4) Should additional giving go to the local church only, or to other causes as well?

5) How should Christians balance giving for mission causes vs. giving to help the poor?

6) Is it ever right to deprive your local church of God's tithe in order to give to other needs?


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1. Giving is an essential part of the Christian's life- much like stewardship. Giving is more than give monetarily but also of our gifts and talents. Tithing is an important element of giving but not the sole one. In the Old testament, giving to the poor and less fortunate was a way of expressing faith in God and showing God's love. It was a moral and ethical way of living.

See: Kaiser Jr, W. C. (1991). Toward Old Testament Ethics. Zondervan.
Jeavons, T. H., & Basinger, R. B. (2000). Growing Givers' Hearts. Jossey Bass: San Francisco.
Peterman, G. W. (1997). Paul's Gift from Philippi: Conventions of Gift Exchange and Christian Giving (Vol. 92). Cambridge University Press.

2. Tithing to the local church and should Christian's give more to other parachurch agencies : ...

Solution Summary

This response looks at the concept of tithing at church.