When tithing a percentage of my income, should it be off the net or the gross?
This is a bit of a circular question because believers in the church age are not required to tithe. That is, the New Testament does not give a specific comparison of income vs. donation amount. It says to support church staff (1 Timothy 5:17-18), missionaries (1 Corinthians 9:14), and the needy (1 John 3:17-18), and to do so cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) and "in keeping with income" (1 Corinthians 16:2 NIV).
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Many Christians use the "tithe" (ten percent of income) as a reference point for their giving. This is fine as long as it's understood it is not mandated, and God has the right to request more of us. If a believer has decided to give a percentage of her income, should that percentage be taken before or after taxes and other deductions are removed?
There are two schools of thought. One would say that to give out of our leftovers shows an ungrateful heart. We are required to pay taxes, but we benefit from these taxes. Often insurance and investments are taken out of a paycheck before it's delivered but, again, we benefit from those deductions. And to tithe on taxes is to make a conscious effort to support God's work as a representative of a nation, and not just as an individual believer. It is a small way to ensure your country blesses God.
The other point of view comes from 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. In verse 14, Paul talks about supporting others through our abundance, not our gross income. In fact, he says that at any given point, one church's abundance should cover another church's need.
But Paul also points out that the churches we should emulate gave "according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord," despite their extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8:3).
So, it's really six of one, half-dozen of another. It may very well be that 10% of one's gross turns out to be the same amount of money as "beyond [the] means" of one's abundance. Giving to God isn't so rigid as to have strict rules. Remember that everything we have comes from God for the support of His purposes, and give accordingly.
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